So, we wanted to do something spectacular for the release of Legacy. Cayla is a super awesome person, we love her book, she loves…well, she  likes our podcast at the very least. And Legacy was a fantastic book. And Cayla said she’d do something on our blog, so we just had to come up with something for her to do.


Skip ahead three weeks when we realize the release date is in less than seven days and we still haven’t come up with anything. We quickly decided a nice author interview would be good. And, can I just say, I love Cayla’s answers. She’s so funny.

I also urge you to listen to the episode of our podcast that Cayla co-hosted with us. It was a lot of fun and we spoke about all the different types of publishing out there.

What We Thought of Legacy

Caitlin: Legacy is an epic fantasy about a girl learning to become a strong woman. It’s got a huge cast of characters, with developing arcs and motivations. A world with history and politics and intrigues. What’s not to love? I did think the beginning was a little slow, but it’s like a game of chess. Once all the pieces are in place in moves along with alacrity and brutality. Character dynamics were complicated and thought out. I really loved the complicated political intrigue and how the reader can see that neither side is completely evil nor are they completely good. Both sides are made up of people, and people have both good and bad in them. I especially love how Narian comes on the scene and just challenges everything Alera believes about her country and herself and a woman’s place in the world. I loved the world and how all the characters felt like a real part of it. And I’d really like to read the second one. Now please.

Christine: When Caitlin told me about Legacy, I was a bit skeptical that I’d like it. I’ve tried pure fantasy books before and found them to be too bogged down in descriptions to move the pace along fast enough for my interest. A couple of chapters in and I’m done. But not so with Legacy. I think the main reason for that was London. From the beginning, he captured my attention and I couldn’t let go until the last page. Honestly, I wish he’d been featured more, but there are two more books, so I know he’ll be around again. Aside from London, I loved the interactions between Alera and Miranna (it’s so nice to see sisters who get along) and the mystery surrounding Narian was enough to keep me guessing (still haven’t figured it out). Also, have you seen the cover? It’s so pretty. So, really, you should read Legacy. If a non-fantasy person like me can like it, you have no excuse to not at least give it a try.

Interrogation of the Author

1. What was the spark for the story of Legacy?

I was eleven years old and I had this epiphany that I could create my own characters to love and gush over instead of always loving and gushing over everyone else’s. I came up with the name Narian, and made up a life for him that I found to be thrilling and satisfactorily dramatic. I used to run around in the backyard and pretend to be him. Years later, Narian became the centerpiece of my novel. Everyone else, including Alera, the main character, was invented in order to tell Narian’s story.

2. What about the story made you confident enough to seek publication at such a young age?

First off, I was young enough to believe that publication would be easy. (It isn’t. Lesson learned.) I’d spent my life, from age four on up, imagining that I would be a writer. At the age of four, of course, I was concentrating more on books like The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar and Sleeping Beauty, but there was still a strong part of me that wanted words and pages and pictures and stories to be my medium. There was never in all my life a part of me that considered I wouldn’t be able to accomplish that goal. Call it naiveté, confidence, or dumb luck (I call it all three), but when I had something I’d poured my heart into and actually completed, I sent it out the door.

3. From the beginning, I loved London. How did you come up with his character? Did you base him on someone?

London originally popped onto the page to be a goofy side character. I added him on a whim because it occurred to me that Princess Alera would probably have had a bodyguard. When I hit page 20 of my first draft and realized I needed to figure out how the plot was going to unfold, London presented himself as the perfect means to reveal a great deal of information, and using him in this fashion allowed me to invent a dark and interesting past for him. The main staples of London’s character are his sarcasm and his stability. In retrospect I think I wrote him as the kind of man (older brother or father) I always wanted to have around. He gives Alera a bad time about things, teases her and makes her laugh, but most importantly he embodies a sense of safety. While I wrote, I always felt like nothing could hurt Alera when London was around.

4. I loved the interactions between Alera and Miranna. Did you base them on personal experiences with a sister or a best friend?

With some exceptions, I can say that Alera is my older sister and I am Miranna. I tend to be a bit more light-hearted, optimistic and flirtatious than Cara is. She’s more serious, pays a great deal of attention to important issues, and doesn’t take well to being told where she does and doesn’t belong. I agree almost unequivocally with her positions, but I’m not as aggressive or assertive as she is. The relationship between Alera and Miranna is definitely based on my relationship with my older sister. Cara and I have a great time together and I don’t know what I’d do without her.

5. How did you think up or research the weapons and fighting sequences? Narian’s belt is ingenious. Was that something you made up?

I researched medieval English weaponry as a base for Hytanica’s arsenal. The Cokyrian weaponry, including Narian’s hidden weapons, is completely made up. I’m sure there are cultures in which similar things are/were used, but I don’t know anything about them! I remember putting on layers and layers of clothing one day, staring in a mirror, and asking, “Now where could I hide weapons?” Everything I came up with went into the book.

6. What’s one thing about the character of London that no one else knows, that you can share with us?

London comes from a very poor, village background, and he struggled as a child because he was significantly more intelligent than his family and the others around him. He was outcast as being odd, and survived by reading books his mother would buy for him when she could afford it, and by drawing. London is an accomplished artist. Until he met Destari in military school, he assumed he had been “made wrong” and would be strange wherever he went. As a side note, I find this to be the experience of many, many bookworms.

7.Who drew the maps at the beginning of the book? You? Or did you have to describe them to someone?

I drew basic location maps. I am not, and I repeat, NOT, an artist. It would be a travesty if anything I’ve drawn were to surface for the public eye. Children would cry, and souls would weep. The maps were drawn by Kirk Caldwell, a fabulous artist. You can check out some more of his stuff here:

8. How did you come up with the names for the different countries?

Some of them were names from stories I’d written years ago that were going nowhere (recycling is good for the environment and for writers’ sanity). For others, I just messed around with different syllables until I found something semi-coherent. The best one is the country of Emotana – spelled backward, it’s “Anatome”. I was staring at season two of Grey’s Anatomy when I came up with that one.

9. Why did you end Legacy where you did? You realize you’re purposely torturing us, right?

I ended it where I did to purposely torture you, actually. For real. One of my earliest concepts for the novel was that it would be romantic and sweeping, and have a chopped off, heart-wrenching, torturously mean ending to prove that real life hardly ever goes the way we want it to. (I was kind of a strange child.)

10. What can you tell us about the next book, Allegiance?

In some ways, Legacy is just a precursor to Allegiance. Legacy sets everything up, it introduces the characters and the setting and the plot. It’s like the climb to the top of the Log Ride at Camp Snoopy. It’s fun, it makes you smile, there’s a lot to see, and there are some mini-drops along the way. Allegiance is right when you get to the top of that final slide, and the whole book is the plummet. It’s a lot faster than Legacy, it’s darker, there’s more turmoil, and the characters, especially Alera, are forced to make tough decisions. The theme of the book is kind of “choose the lesser of two evils”. There’s very little the characters encounter that’s easy to deal with.

11. Did you like working with Harlequin Teen? I know they are a relatively new imprint and I’m excited to see more from them.

I love working with Harlequin Teen. They’ve got a fabulous house style and a dedicated team. My editor, Natashya Wilson, opened my eyes to so many things just through working on one manuscript with me. I can’t wait to work with her more, and as a reader, I am stoked to see what else HQT will put on the shelves. HQT, for the win.

12. Are there any big differences between the original publication and the Harlequin Teen version?

Not content-wise. The progression of the story is identical in both versions, but the Harlequin Teen edition is much cleaner and crisper. Irrelevant bits were cut, descriptions and such were made concise where they had been a tad lengthy. The first chapter holds the biggest differences – I was never quite satisfied with the first 20 or so pages, but after working with Natashya, I am completely and utterly content with what has been published. The woman is a genius.

13. What are your top five favorite couples of all time?

Lauren and Puck on Glee; Jo and Laurie in Little Women even though they don’t end up together (they’re just so darn cute); Sherlock and Watson (they’re not really a couple, but they are the original bromance); Pooh and Piglet on the same grounds; and Shawn and Juliet on Psych.

14. If you could pick any period of dress to have an awesome Halloween costume from, which period would it be? If there is a specific dress feel free to include a picture.

I would want this awesome piece of renaissance-themed awesomeness:

15. What do you want your legacy to be?

I want to write books that people will remember. I want to write books that will make a difference to somebody. As I go forward, I plan to explore some different, perhaps difficult topics and hopefully benefit people who are in need of help. I also want to step out from behind my desk (so to speak) and talk to people. I want to inspire and aid and maybe, through work with charities and other actions, make people see the world in a new light, and see their own potential and power. There are so many brilliant individuals in the world who never surface because they’ve been discouraged. I want to encourage them, for their benefit, for the benefit of the rest of the world, and for my own benefit – I want to meet those people and learn from them. Most of all, I never want to stop learning.


That’s right! As if Cayla wasn’t already supremely awesome, she has generously offered to give one signed, finished copy of Legacy to a winner from our blog! Yay!

The giveaway is open to US/Canada residents and ends 11:59pm PST on Tuesday July 5th. (Yeesh..where did June go??)

You can get one extra entry by doing one of two things. Either tweet about the contest (please include @whatchyareading in the tweet!) or leave us a tagline (preferably a fun one) about Legacy in the form below. Keep in mind we might share these taglines.

Enter by filling out THIS FORM.

Good luck! And I hope you will all check out Legacy!

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