Author Interview: Miri Castor

I’m very excited to have author Miri Castor on the blog today! She’s here to talk about her series, Opal Charm, and the second book will be released this month! Learn more about her book and her inspiration below!

As well, once you’re finished with this interview you can join us on Twitter from 6-7pm CST for the second Ask the Author chat! This is a chance for you to ask your own questions of the authors, whether about the book, writing advice, or general queries! To participate, all you need to do is use the hashtag #asktheauthor and you can also tag Miri @charmedcastor and myself @spinesinaline. See the Ask the Author page for more details.

If you’re not able to join us at this time, you can still ask your questions. Either tweet them earlier in the day, leave your questions on this post, or you can ask them over on our Goodreads group and I’ll make sure they get asked during the chat!

Hope to chat with many of you tonight!

The Path to Dawn (Opal Charm #1)
by Miri Castor

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Audience: YA

Opal is a young girl living in Dewdrop, a bustling suburb southeast of New York. Life is a constant struggle for her, until she befriends newcomer, Hope Adaire. With the girls’ friendship slowly beginning to grow, Opal’s life begins to change in mysterious ways, as the secrets of Hope’s enigmatic life begins to unfold.

In the process of taking new paths and unveiling truths, a new world is discovered and with it, the discovery of a Gift a power that can make Opal stronger than she ever imagined. Yet with every truth, lies must be shattered. Now, when Dewdrop and the new world is threatened, this temperamental teen with too much emotional baggage, must learn how to control her Gift, and protect everyone living in her world and the new one—or face the consequences of unmasked truths.

The Path to Dawn is a coming-of-age story geared towards young adults and teens. It is a story that should make one question the power of truth and lies.

Get it here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depo | Indiebound

And get the second book, Hope in Nautical Dusk, on Amazon!

Sam/Spines: Let’s start off with a little game to learn more about you: what are two truths and a lie about yourself?

Miri Castor: My truths: I only used to eat the Oreo cream from an Oreo cookie when I was little. Summer is my favorite season. 1 lie: I love swimming in the ocean. I especially love knowing there are fish touching me when I swim.

S: How did you get started in writing?

MC: I got started with my first story when I was six years old. It was a cute, slice-of-life, short story about me, inspired by many adventure books I’d read. It was incredibly silly, but I did enjoy writing it. It wasn’t until I started writing fanfiction that I took my writing hobby seriously.

S: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

MC: Hmm, I’ve always wanted to be a casual writer. Someone holed up in their room, putting their imagination on paper, and being able to share it with a few people. Being a professional writer, what I consider myself as now, was a possibility, and more of a dream than a goal. And now my dream’s come true!

S: As a newly-published author, are there any lessons you’ve learned about the publishing process that you think up-and-coming writers should know?

MC: It’s funny, because I’ve shared tips for the publishing process with others before. And whenever I’m asked for more tips, they’re always new! I’m always learning something new even after publishing my first book.

  1. Write on your own time. Don’t get intimidated or hindered when you see someone else’s progress.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take a break from writing.
  3. The publishing process is tedious. If you’re self-publishing, like me, go over your work very carefully. And if you’re going traditional, or an indie company, try not to get bogged down by the rejections. You’re not a terrible writer, I can promise you!

S: You’re also currently in grad school working towards a PhD in biochemistry, which seems quite removed from your work as an author. Can you tell us about the research you’re working on?

MC: Well, I just entered this program as a first year, haha! I don’t have a thesis or a research topic yet, just doing lab rotations at different schools. But my primary interest is protein chemistry, DNA replication, and enzymology.

S: Have you found ways to bring these studies into your writing, or ways that your writing has influenced your pursuit of research?

MC: Yes! One of my characters is a biochemistry scientist, Adaeze, and she spills facts like nobody’s business. In a way, she did push me to pursue my PhD after getting my bachelor’s. As I wrote more about her, I thought, “If I join a PhD program, I’d learn way more than I did in any of these classes. And I can include more scientific jargon for my stories!” and here I am.

S: Can you tell us a little about your book, The Path to Dawn

MC: So The Path to Dawn tells the story of Opal Charm, a 13 year old in junior high. As a result of her stressful life at school and home, she lives life with this self-imposed negativity, and it makes her lash out often. Then a new student, Hope Adaire, joins her class, and Opal gets sucked into her strange life. On top of that, she discovers an alternate world from Earth, and that she has powers that can be used to protect her world and the alternate world from a mysterious overlord who seeks to find and end her family. In order to accept her role, and protect both worlds, she has to accept her truth and gain her power, or lose everything important to her.

At the time I wrote this story, I really wanted to show a black girl struggling to understand herself. I think it’s important to have stories where people can see black kids frustrated, and sad sometimes, and then eventually pull themselves out of their rut. We’re sort of conditioned to see black kids as invincible, especially black girls. That’s the main idea for The Path to Dawn.

S: You’ve been working on this book for a long time; has it changed over the years? 

MC: Haha, it’s changed so much since the very first draft from eighth grade. I actually cringe from reading the first draft. It’s changed by my maturation, and was influenced by whatever show or video game I really enjoyed at the time.

S: What are you working on next?

MC: Since Book 2 Hope in Nautical Dusk is finished and coming out in March, I’m working on Book 3, and some secret stuff for Opal Charm. In between, I’m focusing on shorter spec fiction stories completely unrelated, and touching up on older stories.

S: And now for some fun questions: What is your Hogwarts house?

MC: Ravenclaw, baby!

S: Favourite flavour of ice cream?

MC: Cake batter, or anything including chocolate chip cookie dough.

S: Dogs or cats?

MC: Dogs are the best!

S: And finally, where can we find you?

MC: You can find me on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram! For professional things, you can go on my site.

About the Author:Miri Castormiri-imageis the author of the Opal Charm series. She spent many recesses in middle school writing fantasy stories, The Path to Dawn being one of many. She has written for Black Girl Magic Literary Magazine and was featured as a Spotlight New Author in January 2016.

She attends graduate school on the East Coast and aims to receive her PhD in biochemistry. Meanwhile, Miri is working on her second novel and more urban fantasy series for the future. When she’s not being an introverted bookworm or purifying proteins, she plays video games, attends music concerts, and takes stroll through the City.

Thank you, Miri, for sharing so much about yourself and your writing here!

But there’s still more to learn! Don’t forget to join us tonight on Twitter from 6-7pm CST and use the hashtag #asktheauthor. See you then!

And happy March, everyone!



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