An interview with Cathrine Swift, author of Let It Reign
Sit down with us as we talk about Cathrine's first published novel, magical writing, and coffee shops.
Andrew: Firstly, can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
Cathrine: As an author, I want to raise the vibration of my readers and the world around us. I want to empower them, turn them on, and inspire them to go after whatever it is they want. Sky’s the limit; from ordering pizza for dinner to support a local restaurant when they are too tired to cook, to asking for a raise, or starting a political party. If imaginary characters can achieve their goals and survive all the forked-up things us writers put them through, we humans can do hard things too.
As a woman/ human I wear many hats. I am a wife, mother and friend. I’m also a wedding & lifestyle photographer, a YouTuber and a list hoarder. I strive to do these things to the best of my ability every single day while juggling anxiety and depression, and my fanfiction addiction. I am a recovering perfectionist, and I am super passionate about intentional living and mind/ body/ soul and spiritual wellness beyond pretty bubble baths. I’m nearly four years sober and currently identify as bisexual.
Andrew: Your debut novel, Let It Reign, is launching on June 29th. Could you tell us more about it?
Cathrine: Let it Reign is approximately the twelfth novel I have written, but the first I’ve had the guts to publish. Which is ironic, as it’s easily the most intense I’ve created- to date.
It is the steamy and empowering LGBTQ+ friendly, medieval romance the world has been waiting for.
The first draft was written in November of 2018, and since then I have worked on it practically every single day, turning it into this beautiful story about love, loss, trauma, redemption, inner strength, boundaries, community, and friendship.
Set between 1456-1458 in the fictional kingdoms of Dathoviel (Dath-o-vell) and Petrovia (Pe-tro-veah), Let it Reign is the story of a queen and her loyal companions standing up against oppression and fighting back. And... occasionally taking a break here and there to ‘get it on’.
Because I wrote it during a very intense time in our modern history (BLM movement, human rights issues, pandemic, etc) my core values and beliefs naturally seeped in there too. Around the third or fourth draft I gave my cast of characters a bit of an overhaul so I could do my part in encouraging artists and the media to show diverse representation in their art.
I’m proud to say that Let it Reign has cultural, racial, religious and sexual diversity across the board.
Andrew: What is your favourite scene in Let It Reign, and why?
Cathrine: This question is so hard! You might as well ask me which character is my favorite lol (Please don’t lol)
At best, I can give you my top 3.
There is a scene in Chapter 10 where Queen Amelia-our heroine- is struggling with grief and trauma. Her love interest sits her down and teaches her about a version of therapy that is slowly catching on in our modern world where you just scream your face off instead of bottling up your emotions. As a woman who holds a lot of stuff in, this scene really stood out to me.
In Act 3, we get to see the above-mentioned love interest, Caroline come out to her “traditional” minded mother. There is a lot to unpack in this scene for readers who are LGBTQ themselves, but also parents who may not know how to act or what to say when their children come to them with conversations about gender equality and sexuality.
The epic battle scene has to be mentioned as well. It’s going to look stunning on screen one day, I just know it! Readers can prepare themselves for a rollercoaster of emotion. We lose two integral characters during this scene and I’m certain I will receive a well-deserved Howler or two for one of them.
Andrew: What inspired you to become an author?
Cathrine: When I think of all the great writers who came before me whose names have been forgotten with time, yet their stories are still an integral part of our society. Even beyond novels and poems and songs; stories are everything. The love stories that made each of us possible, the inspirational story behind the creation of the device you are reading this on, and beyond. Back and back, and back in time. Or forward.
It’s utterly overwhelming, isn’t it? How could I not want to be part of that?
To put it plainly: Writing is magical, and I think magic is beautiful.
Andrew: For most writers, it would be a dream come true for their writing to make it to either the big or small screen. If Let It Reign became a movie, who would you like to star in it?
Cathrine: I made a cast list very early for Let it Reign. I believe in big dreams and seeing my story on screen is definitely part of mine. I really wanted to select actors whose nationalities and sexualities were reflected in the characters they would be portraying. Even if it was only in my head. I’ve seen one to many articles or interviews where actors and audiences expressed how important it would have been for them to see proper representation of themselves on screen.
Keeping that in mind, I selected Kristen Stewart as Queen Amelia and Lili Reinhart as her love interest Lady Caroline. Their friends and enemies are rounded out with fantastic actors and actresses such as Poorna Jagannathan (Regina, the castle cook), Sterling K. Brown (Fredrick, the military leader), Devery Jacobs (Leah, the king’s mistress who will be a main character in the sequel), Daniel Henney (Kwan, the tavern keeper with a mysterious past), Zachary Levi (King Spencer), Raza Jaffrey (Julian, the court jester) and quite a few more.
One thing Let it Reign is NOT lacking in is a ton of amazing characters to fall in love with.
Andrew: Have any of your own experiences helped to shape Let It Reign?
Cathrine: At first, I would say no, given that I am not a medieval queen faced with saving her kingdom. However, I believe this past year (2020) has really taught us the importance of community and equality and representation. Let it Reign was my way of doing my part to spread these important thoughts to a greater audience and hopefully inspire more open conversation.
Andrew: What is the most positive experience you’ve had so far as an LGBTQ author?
Cathrine: The connections that I have made in the community. Never before have I been surrounded by such welcoming and understanding people who care so damn much about one another. I know it’s not perfect and there’s still so much we’re all learning- about ourselves and one another, but it’s been nothing short of inspiring to feel the support I have as I’ve progressed through writing, editing and publishing.
Andrew: What’s the best book you’ve ever read – LGBTQ or otherwise?
Cathrine: One of my absolute favorite books is called “Dealing with Dragons” by Patricia C. Wrede. It shaped so much of my identity as a young woman and influenced Let it Reign in its own special ways. I truly believe it’s a series that should be on the shelves for anyone who loves fantasy and sharp-witted fiction.
Andrew: What’s the best piece of advice you could offer to other LGBTQ authors?
Cathrine: There will absolutely be people out there who are not going to like you and the things you have to say. And those people could be those closest to you. But that shouldn’t hold you back from saying the truth in your heart and soul.
If writing and releasing Let it Reign has taught me anything, it’s that your true family will find you. You just have to put yourself out there and you’ll find the people that are meant to be there for you. Who will love you for who you are, and keep you writing on hard days when you think giving up is your only choice.
Andrew: You run the group Wellness Awareness for Creative Beings, which seems like a terrific group. Can you give us more info about it?
Cathrine: Unfortunately my wellness group has moved to the back burner in recent months as I’ve had to focus hard into the world of publishing, but I am looking forward to dipping back into it and hopefully watching it grow as my audience on YouTube grows as well.
As a creative soul, I know it’s easy to give too much of yourself to your art sometimes. To feel raw after writing or creating. And self-care is so important to re-center ourselves and help avoiding or recovering from burnout.
WAfCB was created as a safe place for anyone who want to prioritize their mind, body, soul and spiritual wellness. Where we can come together and share resources, challenges and ultimately support one another.
Andrew: What are you currently reading?
Cathrine: I haven’t had a ton of time to read the last few years aside from the bedtime stories I read to my daughter every night and the fanfiction audiobooks I listen to while I do chores around the house. (Thank you ETL Echo Audiobooks) But I did recently crack open my copy of The Song of Achilles and I have a whole bookshelf patiently waiting for me to delve into this summer.
Andrew: What are you working on currently?
Cathrine: Marketing and promotion for Let it Reign mostly and putting all the lovely final touches on her before her grand debut. After nearly three years of juggling real life and bringing this book into physical existence I am looking forward to working on nothing for the month of August. Then starting September I will be jumping into plotting the sequel for LIR and will writing the first draft for NaNoWriMo in November!
Andrew: What have you missed the most during the pandemic, and were there any positive experiences for you?
Cathrine: I have missed writing in coffee shops so much. I don’t even drink coffee but there is just something about the atmosphere of sitting in a café and occasionally looking up from my screen or notebook to people watch and wonder what their stories are.
Unfortunately, my husband was out of work for most of 2020 which forced us to downsize our home, but it turned out to be a blessing of sorts. We got to spend a lot of time together as a family and he got to enjoy watching our daughter grow up a little more intently than he would have had he been working full time.
Andrew: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Cathrine: Thank you so much for the opportunity of this interview. I cannot wait for Let it Reign to be out into the world. I sincerely hope it inspires positive change and perhaps even a love story or two of its own.
Thanks for joining us Cathrine!
You can find Cathrine across the internet:
You can order Let It Reign on Amazon here: http://mybook.to/letitreign