I'm Caitlin Sweet, and with the exception of stints in Quebec, Switzerland and Mexico, I’ve always lived in the city I grew up in: Toronto.
I've been calling myself a writer since I was seven (though I stopped doing this for a time during my university days, because every time someone said, “Oh, really? And what have you published?”, I'd reply, “Well, nothing yet” and feel like some sort of imposter). I'm not sure what made me start writing stories that were way too long for the orange Hilroy notebooks we used in my grade two classroom. I remember reading all the time (authors like Rosemary Sutcliff, Ursula LeGuin, and Lloyd Alexander), and daydreaming; being in my own world, which was always a fantastical place, full of magic and possibility—and, of course, grand, starring roles for me. I wrote my first novel at 14. It was, unsurprisingly, a young adult fantasy, as were the two that followed it (when I was 16 and 17). I started what would end up being my first published novel when I was 21, at university in Montreal. It was quite autobiographical and intense and hard to write; it took me six years to finish, and then it sat in a box for three more years. Finally, spurred on by the intense boredom of my day job and the stress of being a new mother, I got myself an agent and a publisher, quite effortlessly. (It was never so easy again!) In 2003, twelve years after I’d begun writing it, A Telling of Stars was published by Penguin Canada. Its prequel, The Silences of Home, followed in 2005.
Trying to write a third novel was fraught, for various personal and artistic reasons—and when I finally emailed the manuscript to my agent, in the fall of 2009, he didn’t know what to do with it. He said no major publisher would touch it, as it didn’t fit any of the three bestselling fantasy models: young adult, epic, and paranormal romance. After I’d rolled myself out of a self-pitying foetal ball, I decided that I’d investigate the small press scene. Thankfully, the experience of Dave Nickle (who’s also a Goodreads author) led me to ChiZine Publications. Their tagline is “Publisher of surreal, disturbing dark fiction”—and they were a perfect home for this book. My editor and I spent about two weeks going back and forth about possible titles; we eventually agreed on The Pattern Scars (though it did take several days of mumbling it in the shower and on the way to the grocery store for me to get used to it!). A few months after this, it was time for CZP’s cover designer, Erik Mohr, to get to work on mine. This was possibly the most exciting part of the process. His covers are things of beauty, each of them utterly unique—and he’s totally open to having authors comment on early layouts. Which I did. Erik and I spent a morning on some ideas; by lunch, my cover was done. It’s insanely beautiful, and I’m betting many readers will pick the book up because of it.
Another brilliant touch on CZP’s part was including interior illustrations. They’re by Martin Springett, who did the cover for my first book (as well as for Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry). Martin read the book and produced some deliciously raw, stark images, which are scattered throughout the text. A couple of the illustrations will be in full colour in the limited edition hardcover, too. (I haven’t actually seen the hardcover yet, and am dying to.)
So now The Pattern Scars is “out there.” Things have changed a lot in the book world since my first two novels were published, and I’m feeling both exhilarated and overwhelmed. Doing interviews again is a big part of getting back in the game—so thanks, Sandra for this opportunity!
Readers can find me online at:
and on facebook (where basically all I do is post links to my blog!)