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November 16, 2011

Cast Away: P.C. Cast on House of Night


Bestselling prose author branches out into comics with her supernatural House of Night comics. But these aren't just adaptations of her popular books. Instead, these fill in the blanks in between books, offering new insights into her characters and her stories. Here's her take on working in comics.

It turns out your prose books are perfectly suited to the comics format. Were you surprised by how well the comics turned out?
You know what, I wasn’t surprised as in surprised at the quality, because I’m very familiar with Dark Horse and I respect their work so much. What I was surprised at was how close to some of the stuff in my head the comics are. It’s like, wow, is Joëlle Jones inside my head somewhere? The art is so beautiful and represents so much of the stuff I made up that it’s kind of—I don’t want to say creepy in a bad way. It’s creepy in a good way. I have some of her work framed on my walls, work that has nothing to do with The House of Night. She was right on right from the beginning. There were no changes at all to how she portrayed Damien and Stevie Rae. Zoey took a little bit, because I wanted her to be exactly like what I saw in my head. Joëlle is awesome.
How will these comics add to the canon of House of Night?
The first comic takes place between the first two books. It is as if you get a little glimpse into what happens to Zoey and the rest of the group when they’re not on the pages of The House of Night. They’re woven between books. And what it does is it explains even more about why she is who she is and why she behaves like she does—Zoey and the rest of the main characters, as well.

Without giving too much away, will there be any surprises for longtime readers as well as new ones?
I think longtime readers are going to see some scenes that will make them laugh and make them go, “Ooooooh!” Longtime readers will be happy, especially as each story goes back in vampire history. There’s a current-day House of Night theme that goes all the way through with the current characters, and then there’s also a story in each one that goes back to vampire history. The first one goes back to 61 A.D. Those stories are all so cool. They’re all-vampire. It’s history that I’ve turned into vampire history.
How mapped out do you have this world that you’ve envisioned and created? Is the whole House of Night world clearly plotted out in your head?
Yes, it is. I just finished the ninth book, so I know the world very well. I did not plan on writing 12 books when I started The House of Night, so after about Book 4, I stopped and went back and did a whole canon. I did a House of Night bible and answered questions like, Can vampires ever have children? Historically, what happened and when did vampires come out of the coffin? That kind of stuff.

Did you base it on previous mythologies or invent your own?
I’m a big reader of old vampire stuff like Anne Rice and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Bram Stoker and more. But my editor calls this “PC World,” which does not mean “politically correct.” I just make up stuff. It’s my stuff and mythologies. I also wove a lot of pagan elements to make up The House of Night rules or religion, however you want to call it. I also relied heavily on biology. My dad’s a biologist, and he and I sat down and came up with the reason for the physiological change that happens. Then of course I made everything matriarchal. And my magic is almost exclusively earth magic.
Is any of it based on your own beliefs?
All of my books, and I’ve published like 20-some of them, are based around strong women. Even in my romances, you will never see a man come in and rescue the girl and have her live her whole life around him. My women usually take care of the men by the end, and they’re equal partners by the end. And that’s the same in my paranormal romances. It’s who I am, what I believe, so that came true in The House of Night world. And then my dad being a biologist I was a literature major and secondary education minor, but I also had enough biology hours to practically have a minor in biology, just because my family is all scientific—I’m the literature freak in my family—so I’m very comfortable with the biological aspects. Because I knew what junk DNA was before I started doing this. So I already knew about that stuff.

Were you influcenced by comics as a writer?
Old ’70s comics. Big time. I grew up reading Swamp Thing and Thor and Fantastic Four and Superman. And you know what? If I was reading all those when I was a kid, it used to make me really mad that there was not enough romance in them. So I will be changing that in mine. Especially the future one where we’ve brainstormed an idea for future House of Night comics that go outside the book world. They stay in that world, but they go beyond it. They will be geared more toward adults, although my teen readers are going to like them, too. And they will have romance in them. Because there’s no reason that comics can’t have sex, too.
So you plan to do more comics?
Yes, with Dark Horse. I will stay with Dark Horse. I respect them and appreciate them too much to jump ship. Goddess of the Rose is my retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and Kent Dalian is adapting that next for them. From there, it’ll be about time to move into those future House of Night books. So yes, I plan on a lot more comics and working with Dark Horse for a very long time.