Hey guys! Kyleigh Castronaro, author of the Grace of Gods series, agreed to do an interview with me! We had a lots of fun discussing her books, writing habits, and she even shared her dream cast for the characters in her books! You can find the interview below to read Kyleigh’s responses!
About Kyleigh Castronaro
Yes, Ode to the Queen is my first novel. It’s actually the first full-length novel I’ve ever completed. My documents folder is overflowing with half-finished stories I didn’t have the confidence to finish until Ode to the Queen. Completing a full length book taught me I can do it and ever since then it’s like a part of me was unlocked, allowing me to finish projects that have been half-started for years. So no old projects, but plenty of new ones on the way.
I did NaNoWriMo in 2012 and that’s what lead me to finishing Ode to the Queen. I knew I could write 50 000 words in a month so I pushed myself to do it. The program is so great and supportive, I met a lot of local writers and going to meet-ins encouraged me to keep going when I felt like giving in.
The story itself is derived from a role-play site I ran when I was younger. I’ve always loved Greek Mythology so I created a site with friends about the reincarnation of Greek Gods. That was the first time I met Savannah and she lived in my head for a while before I actually wrote out the story.
No I didn’t. I’ve been reading the myths since I was a child. They’re very close to my heart. I also took classics in university so when I had moments of forgetfulness I could always refer to my textbooks. I think being so familiar with the myths is partially why I was so successful in completing the novel.
That’s very interesting. Greek Mythology was covered in middle school for me, but only minimally. I found that I learned a lot from reading Ode to the Queen and Gods Save the Princess!
Did you always intend for Ode to the Queen to become a series? Or did the second book develop while you were writing the first?
That was one of my intentions – I wanted to bring the myths to life in this retelling while being true to the originals for readers who might not be familiar. I’m glad that worked out.
Well I was familiar with all the characters of the story but didn’t want to write from a third person perspective to tell it. I felt that the character development and inner struggle the characters go through to become who they do was just as important as the underlying trouble for them. I wanted Grace of Gods to be a narrative of fate versus freewill and our human nature to resist doing as we’re told. So I guess it was inevitable for it to develop into a series simply through my will to want to share each individual with my readers.
Well thank you, I’m glad to hear that! My favourite place to write is a strange one. I have a monthly bus pass and I love taking my laptop with me on the bus and writing during commutes. I have no idea why but I write so much faster and the ideas flow easier when I’m on a bus. Usually a double decker too right at the top front.
As for writing rituals, I have curated playlists for each character and couple. For couples the songs inspire the type of relationship they have and maybe sometimes the sentiment. For characters the songs more represent the feeling of the character. I develop my playlists before I even start writing with songs that represent the character to me. Even if the playlist is just one or two songs I’ll play them on repeat over and over again. Then, as I get further into the story and hear another song that inspires me the playlist grows. Usually by the end of the book I have about 30 songs on a playlist.
I would imagine a bus is similar to coffee shops that people write in- with it being public and noisy but not too noisy- so can I understand the appeal! Music is a must when I’m blogging. I love that you make playlists for each couple!One of my favorite aspects of your books are the characters! In the Grace of Gods series, there’s several main characters, and even more secondary characters… do you have any favorites? If you had to spend a month stranded on an island with only one of the characters, which character would you choose and why?
Yeah I want to share the playlists one day so my readers can see into my head when it comes to certain couples.
I’d have to say Savannah is probably my favourite because she is the closest to my heart. A lot of people don’t like her because she’s vain and self-absorbed but it comes from a place of deep, dark insecurity which I can relate to. She just desperately wants people to like her and she wants so badly to be loved in that hopeless romantic way that she ends up obsessing about herself to the point of vanity trying to appeal to others. That’s why I love her dynamic with Aidan because he shows her she’s beautiful without even trying and most especially when she’s not being so desperate. I put a lot of my younger self into Savannah because I went through a similar kind of desperation and it was only through meeting my soul mate that I learned to love myself. That being said though I wouldn’t have Savannah on a desert island with me because she has no survival skills whatsoever. Just blind luck from a deeply rooted sense of self-preservation. I would probably take Royce with me because he’s the God of Fire and he’s also a blacksmith/builder so I would have cooked meals and a place to sleep. But that’s just my own self-preservation coming into play.
I’d say self-preservation is a pretty good reason to choose Royce! Haha! As for Savannah, I think reading about her from Valentina’s perspective made me like her more, because of how much she looked up to her at times.What is it like to self-publish your own books? What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of self-publishing? The hardest part? Easiest?
I’m glad to hear you’re coming around to her.
Self publishing… Is a lot a work. I did everything on my own because of limited resources; editing, formatting, cover design. My book is far from perfect but it also belongs to me entirely. I have no one to blame or thank for successes and failures. The easiest part was the writing and cover design. The hardest was formatting and editing. I think editing is my least favourite part because I re-read the book so many times it gets to the point where I start to hate it and am bored of it and want to give up. Self publishing is a lot of mental focus because you have to believe in yourself and you have to get to a point where you say “it’s good enough” and you stop nitpicking at it. I think that’s why editing is so hard for me because I’m a perfectionist by nature so I don’t want to ever stop until it’s right. But it’s never going to be, even best sellers have issues in them, maybe not as glaring as mine but nonetheless they are there to be found. My favourite part though is talking to my readers. I love being able to talk about my characters and my stories with people who know them and want to know more about them. That’s how, as an author, I know I’ve done my job.
It sounds like the hard parts seem to be worth it, though. And your hard work has definitely paid off in my opinion- Gods Save the Princess was amazingly well written.If Ode to the Queen was made into a movie, what actors would be the main cast? What about the soundtrack? If any, what songs would you pick and for what scenes?
I’ve actually been asked that before – at a Staff Christmas party – where a male colleague argued with me over my own casting choices. For Savannah I see Candice Accola from The Vampire Diaries, Aidan would be either Theo James or Daniel Sharman, Valentina would be Sarah Bolger and Griffin would be Xavier Samuel. Atlas I picture Scott Eastwood or Chris Hemsworth, with contacts to make their eyes as blue as they’re supposed to be. [Click Here to See Pictures of the Actors]
For the soundtrack I’d probably track from my playlists so some sample tracks are for Savannah and Aidan:
– In Spite of All the Danger – The Beatles/The Quarry Men
– Never Leave This Bed – Maroon 5
– Ever After – Mariana’s Trench
And specifically I would pick Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri for when Savannah catches Aidan with Charlotte the second time.
For Valentina and Griffin:
– I Won’t Give Up – Jason Mraz
– Part of Me – Katy Perry (This is Valentina’s theme song haha)
– Blackbird – The Beatles
Specifically I would use Things We Lost in the Fire by Bastille when after Griffin’s failed date with Valentina; I’m trying not to give too much away there!
Oh my! That’s so funny! I hope you won the argument lol! I could totally see Candice Accola as Savannah. And Theo James- swooning already! I have the urge to re-read the books just so I can picture this cast and the songs as I read! I suppose I didn’t really consider spoilers with this question- oops! : ) But I love your song choices!Do you have any tips or advice to younger/newer writers? Is there any advice that someone shared with you that you feel helped you immensely? What about bad advice- did anyone give you awful advice that you’re glad you ignored?
I did in the end! I love Theo James and I think he’d make a great Aidan. I’ve actually been considering doing a “listen-along” playlist for when reading my books. Maybe I will after this and include it on my website for readers.
My tip for new writers would be don’t stop writing when you run out of ideas each day. Stop writing while you still have ideas so when you go back to it the next day you pick right up and keep writing.
The biggest piece of advice I received and wished I’d listened to was write a handful of books first before publishing them. Success for indie authors comes from having a backlist. How many times do you find a new author and love the book you have only to go out and buy all their others? I do it all the time so if you’re looking to truly make writing a career launch your career with five (at least) titles under your belt and don’t stop writing for the first year.
Bad advice I ignored was getting a professional editor. I couldn’t do it financially but I’ve also read books that were supposedly professionally edited and I know mine is better than them. Sometimes just because you pay for something doesn’t make it better. If you’re unsure of wording/grammar, ask the people around you and Google. I’ve learned a lot about grammar in the last year because I googled all my questions. I feel grammatically I get stronger with every book and in the long run that will be better for my writing all together.
I think a listen-along would be really fun! That’s very interesting advice! I’ve never considered the editing aspect of publishing much, but I have to imagine it’s a ton of work! Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview! I’ve had a lot of fun talking to you and getting to understand some of the details behind self-publishing.
To wrap things up, can you talk about what to expect from you in the future? I know book 3 of the Grace of Gods series is up and coming (and from Griffin’s perspective), but is there anything planned for after that? I saw on your blog that there’s going to be a book 4, is there any thing you can share about it?
Thank you so much for having me. I had a lot of fun too.
Well, I am hoping to have a pretty big year for publishing. Over Christmas I wrapped up the first book in a new series I’m starting for adults which is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with vampires. Each book in this series will be a fairy tale retold using supernatural creatures – so far I have plans for werewolves, faeries and witches. I also started the first episode in a serial I’m planning to release in the fall about a MC club which is going to be an adult romance series. Then obviously carrying on my Grace of Gods series. Book 3 – Tyranny of a Prince, is from Griffin’s perspective and picks up about halfway through Valentina’s story explaining Griffin’s side of things. It then goes on into more depth about the main conflict that was presented at the end of Valentina’s story. There’s a huge shock at the end of Book 3 that was incredibly hard for me to write but consequently I felt was necessary. Book 4 – All Hail the King, will be in Aidan’s perspective and it picks right up where Griffin finishes. Originally I had planned for 5 books but when I finish Aidan’s I’ll see if there is need for a fifth or if there might be more.
I have a couple novellas planned as well including a prologue from Atlas’ point of view which will be released in an Anthology in May hopefully. It will also be available through my newsletter to anyone who signs up for it. I have another novella planned from Nicola’s perspective talking about the infamous Aphrodite/Hephaestus/Ares love triangle which takes place in between all the action of both Valentina’s and Griffin’s stories. Finally I also have a novella planned for Jed (Dionysus) which tells the story of his god and mortal lover Ariadne. That will take place in the middle of the action of Aidan’s story.
So I have lots planned for fans of the series. Depending on the reception of the novellas I might write more. I’ve even considered doing one from Charlotte’s perspective but I’m not sure how much that’ll go over with people considering she’s very much a character I love to hate. I love this world and all it’s characters so as long as there’s people who want to read about them I’m more than happy to write about the drama of being Gods and trying to have freewill.
Thanks again for interviewing me, I’ve had a blast!
Savannah has been kidnapped. By a man who claims he’s a Titan and she’s a Greek Goddess. It’s a little farfetched and she wishes it isn’t true but the evidence is piling up against her. Except, she doesn’t know who her Goddess is and no one will tell her.
Instead, Charlotte is happy to make her life a living hell and the friends she does make turn to enemies. And then there’s Aidan: the arrogant and mysterious King of the Gods. Savannah finds herself drawn to him despite her best efforts not to get involved with another guy. She doesn’t need this kind of trouble when her life is already upside down; being a Goddess is hard enough.
Driven by fate and a past she knows nothing about Savannah tries to navigate her new world as one of the Twelve Olympians. Is history going to repeat itself or will the New Olympians write their own myths? (My Review)
In a world of Gods and mythologies Valentina still struggles to identify her own Goddess. Despite feeling out of place amongst others of her kind, nothing will stop her from protecting her friends from the dangers that begin to surround their new reign.
While grappling to name her inner Goddess, Valentina finds herself torn by the mysterious Griffin who leaves her frustrated and confused. She doesn’t understand the connection she feels toward him or why every time they start to get close he pulls away.
But relationships are the least of her problems when she’s kidnapped and trapped in the Underworld. Her Goddess has no choice but to awaken to help Valentina navigate her way through the doomed hallways of Hades and try to get back to Olympus before it’s too late for all the Olympians.
With a reluctant Goddess in her mind, Valentina fights to survive in a realm where death is the only outcome. Will history repeat itself or will the New Olympians write their own myths? (My Review)