Pleased to welcome Cass Morris to the blog this week. Her second in the Aven Cycle fantasy series–Give Way to Night–launches today!
Author Name: Cass Morris
Book Title: Give Way to Night, Book Two of the Aven Cycle
Book Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 12/29/2020
Publisher: DAW Books
How would you describe Give Way to Night?
A cadre of female mages unite to protect their city from attack by a banished and blasphemous cult, while in a far-off province, their nation’s legions face down blood magic and haunting spirits.
In what ways do you think you’ve evolved as an author since your first book came out?
I think I’ve become a better evaluator of my own work, although it was a rocky process. When From Unseen Fire came out in 2018, I was not well-governed when it came to reading reviews. I knew I shouldn’t, and yet I did anyway. It really messed with my head. I found myself, while writing Give Way to Night, trying to make too many people happy — and I was miserable. It took me a while to shake that out of my system, look at the mess of a draft I had, and figure out what story it was that I actually wanted to tell. I’d learned some other craft lessons along the way, too, particularly about pacing, but the biggest thing was learning to see my own work with clearer eyes and edit accordingly. Ultimately I think Give Way to Night is a stronger book than From Unseen Fire because of what that process taught me.
What a valuable lesson! What’s your favorite part about writing? What do you find challenging?
I just love stories. I always have, since I was a very small thing. I love creating a world and filling it with a wide variety of characters. I think it’s the chance to explore so many different emotions and to imagine life on a bigger scale than what my everyday surroundings afford me.
What’s challenging is all the pressure I put on myself. I wrestle with a lot of anxiety and it gives rise both to perfectionism and to a sense of “no matter how much I am doing, it is never enough.”
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I play a lot of Mario Kart and Civilization, and I watch a lot of the same TV shows over and over again (mostly Star Trek and various historical dramas). I also embroider when I can settle my brain down for it, and I love historical fashion.
What are you working on now?
Book Three of the Aven Cycle! My goal was to get it drafted before Give Way to Night hit shelves, which I… did not do! Oh, 2020. But I’m probably two-thirds of the way there. I’m hoping to wrap that up soon, then while my editor has it, I’ll be working on a secondworld fantasy to give to my agent.
How are you adjusting to marketing a book during a pandemic?
I would not have thought, after my debut, that trying to promote a book could feel more like shouting into the void — but it turns out I was wrong! It’s so hard to feel like this matters amid all the chaos of this year. Except of course it does. We need fiction and escape more than ever, and so what authors and other creators do is important. So, without in-person events, I’ve amped up my game on Twitter and Instagram with a full month of daily posts featuring the characters and the world. I’ve done a couple of virtual events, and I’m looking forward to doing more. I really miss events and conventions, though. I’m such an extrovert and I love talking to people.
Where can readers find you?
I’m @cassrmorris on both Twitter and Instagram, and I’m Very Online, so those are the easiest places to find me. My website is cassrmorris.com, where I also blog. I have a Patreon (patreon.com/cassrmorris) where I share microfiction, academia, behind-the-page writing craft stuff, and whatever else floats through my head. I’m one-third of the team at the Worldbuilding for Masochists podcast (worldbuildingformasochists.podbean.com), where we discuss considerations and craft for creating fantasy worlds. Also this week, I’m on CerebroCast (anchor.fm/cerebrocast) discussing my favorite X-Man, Rogue, and I’ll be on Fictitious (fictitiouspodcast.com) on December 31 discussing Give Way to Night!
Thank you, Cass! Give Way to Night is available as of TODAY!
The second book of the Aven Cycle explores a magical Rome-inspired empire, where senators, generals, and elemental mages vie for power.
Latona of the Vitelliae, mage of Spirit and Fire, is eager to wield her newfound empowerment on behalf of the citizens of Aven–but societal forces conspire to keep her from exercising her gifts, even when the resurgence of a banished cult plots the city’s ruin. To combat this threat, Latona must ally with Fracture mage Vibia, the distrustful sister of Sempronius Tarren.
While Latona struggles to defend their home, Sempronius leads soldiers through wartorn provinces to lift the siege of Toletum, where Latona’s brother Gaius is hemmed in by supernatural forces. Sempronius must contend not only with the war-king Ekialde and his sorcerers, but with the machinations of political rivals and the temptations of his own soul, ever-susceptible to the darker side of ambition.
Though separated by many miles soon after their love affair began, Latona and Sempronius are united by passion as they strive to protect Aven and build its glorious future.
Cass Morris works as an educator in central Virginia and as a bookseller on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She holds a Master of Letters from Mary Baldwin University and a BA in English with a minor in history from the College of William and Mary. She reads voraciously, wears corsets voluntarily, and will beat you at MarioKart.