It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.
I would like to thank Ms. Soria in taking the time in answering these questions.
What was it like writing this book or describe your writing process.
Iron Cast actually began as a novel for National Novel Writing Month. I wrote 50k words in one month in a caffeine-induced haze. Then I spent a couple of months editing like a madwoman, before finally sending the whole thing off to my agent with my fingers crossed. I work a day job, so all of my writing happens in the evenings (and late into the night, more often than not).
What kind of research did you do? What was the most interesting fact that you picked up in your research?
I’d say it was about a 70/30 split between web research and good old fashioned library books. Sometimes the research was pretty mind-numbingly boring (I spent a lot of time just determining the years that various words originated), but some of it was fascinating! I loved learning about politics and cultures of the time period—trying to decipher the “spirit” of the age. My favorite piece of research I came across was a detailed map of Boston from 1917. It was great being able to see the city layout as it would have been in 1919, which is the year that Iron Cast is set.
Describe how you would see yourself in a 1920’s setting? (Or if you place yourself in Corinne or Ada’s shoes how would you see yourself?)
I very much hope I would have been a flapper—short skirts, short hair, and kicking up my heels every night. In the world of Iron Cast, I would also hope to be a wordsmith like Corinne, creating illusions by reciting poetry. Being a songsmith like Ada would be awesome too, but other than a brief stint with the clarinet in high school, music has never been my forte.
Do you have any favorite jazz singers? (Or tell us about the music you listen to while writing.)
I confess I don’t listen to a lot of jazz, but I love the classics like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nina Simone. My favorite jazz song while writing this novel was “I Want to Be Bad” by Zelma O’Neal, which is a perfect theme for Iron Cast’s heroines. My writing playlist also featured several songs from Baz Luhrmmann’s The Great Gatsby soundtrack, as well as some random favorites that captured the feel of the story, like Lorde, Marina and the Diamonds, and Bastille.
Why did you choose Boston as the setting instead of New York or Chicago in 1919?
I had every second of the Chicago film adaptation memorized when I was in high school, and I’ve read a lot of Prohibition-era books set in New York that loved, but I wanted something different for Iron Cast. To be honest, I used Boston in an early draft on a whim, but the more I researched the city’s colorful history, the less I could picture the illustrious Cast Iron club existing anywhere else.
Can you describe Hemopaths (or describe your two main characters)?
Hemopaths are people with a special component in their blood that gives talented individuals the ability to manipulate people’s minds and emotions, and in some cases, much more than that…but no spoilers! As I mentioned above, Corinne is a wordsmith, meaning she can create illusions through poetry. As a songsmith, Ada can manipulate people’s emotions with her violin. The novel also features a painter and several thespians, but I’ll let their particular talents surprise you.
Is there a favorite quote from your book that you can share?
Sure! Here’s a snippet that touches on the club’s origins. The Cast Iron plays a big role in the novel, and in each of the character’s lives, and this is one of my favorite passages highlighting that.
For Corinne, it was something deep-rooted, stretching far beyond the Cast Iron’s role as safe haven, farther than its history in Boston, when the city’s artists—hemopath and nonhemopath alike—would gather around crackling fires upstairs and speak of Titian and Mozart and Kant, spinning ideas like golden thread, tearing down kings and sparking revolutions. For Corinne the Cast Iron was an unbreakable fact. Something that had always existed and always would.
Did anything surprise you while writing this book?
Did you know that the word “backstory” didn’t come into use until the 1980s? #TheMoreYouKnow
Describe your book in a sentence? (Or two)
It’s got all the basics: kickass lady con artists, mobsters, a shady government agency, and also socialists.
Who are your favorite authors?
That’s an ever-expanding list that’s hard to narrow down, but some of my tried-and-true favorites are Guy Gavriel Kay, Neil Gaiman, Dianna Wynne Jones, Jane Austen, and Eoin Colfer.
Is there anything else that you do other than write?
Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. But I do occasionally find time to play with my cat Sophie, hula hoop badly, and behave irresponsibly at food festivals. Fellow author Kathryn Ormsbee and I are also co-creators of a Shakespearean web series that is currently in its second season. If you’re curious, you can see more at shakeswebseries.com.
Can you tell us what comes next?
On the writing front, I do have a new project in the works! But I like to play things close to the vest, so unfortunately that’s all I can say about that. How about instead I leave you with some lines about the future from “Love Song” by William Carlos Williams, which makes an appearance in the novel:
Who shall hear of us
in the time to come?
Let him say there was
a burst of fragrance
from black branches.
More about the Author:
Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Destiny Soria writes Young Adult fiction. Her debut novel, IRON CAST, will be published by Abrams/Amulet in Fall 2016.
Destiny lives in Birmingham, AL, where she spends her time trying to come up with bios that make her sound kind of cool. She has yet to succeed.