PC and Kristin Cast are mother-daughter authors best known for the Night house series, written by PC and edited by Kristin at the age of 19. They have lived in the Portland area since 2014. photos courtesy of PC and Kristin Cast
As young adult writers, PC and Kristin Cast don’t disparage their readers.
PC, who taught high school for ten years, said teens would measure up and yearn for more abstract thoughts if you ask them. With that, however, comes ramifications from some parents.
“There are a lot of writers who feel what I’m doing about this, who ignore the whining and crying of parents who say we can’t put sex in our books because, ‘So my teenager will want to have sex. sex! ‘”said PC. “Well, news flash, okay. Your teens don’t have to read my book to want to have sex.
The Sisters of Salem series is the third collaboration between PC and Kristin and the first installment, Spell problem, was released in May 2021. The mother-daughter authors are best known for the “House of Night” series, which PC wrote and which Kristin edited at the age of 19. They have lived in the Portland area since 2014.
Although PC has published both adult and teenage novels, both New York Times Best-selling authors have been an integral part of the YA genre over the years and have witnessed changes within it.
One of the major changes has been the content of the novels. While editors still act as gatekeepers, Kristin said their grip has loosened on what should and shouldn’t be censored in a YA book; however, she noted that there was still a lot of “disrespect” towards young readers as to what they could handle.
“[Publishers] don’t think that they can handle some things that not only exist in our world, but that people handle very well every day, ”she said,“ and [readers] can also learn characters with different experiences.
While YA saw more diversity with BIPOC and LGBTQ + writers presenting a more diverse portrayal of the characters, and there was more sexual content allowed in the novels, Kristin said there was always not a good image of drug and alcohol abuse.
“Sometimes it feels like we always operate with the belief that young people won’t be affected if adults just don’t talk about it,” she said. “This thought process is not working.”
By the time Kristin graduated from high school two of her peers had died of overdoses and in college she knew more people who had drug and alcohol problems than not. In her twenties, Kristin had her own addiction issues and said she wanted to post to “allow stories to be told, regardless of the main character’s demons.”
Kristin also grapples with mental health issues and has said there is a direct influence on who she is and her lived experiences that are built into her characters. Through them, Kristin explores what it looks like when a character continues on an anger fueled path, as well as when and how the healing process takes place.
For example, in Spell problem, the character Kristin wrote – Hunter – deals with feelings of inadequacy and rage.
“My characters always have, I call it a bit of darkness. but I don’t mean that in a negative connotation, ”she said. “I like to explore more stereotypical negative emotions and how living with them will impact someone.”
Kristin added that her main characters are all cathartic ways to experience feelings of anxiety, low self-confidence, PTSD, and depression. She enjoys understanding how her characters deal with each emotion and finding out what works for them.
When PC and Kristin write their books, they don’t dwell on the fact that they are writing for the YA genre. Kristin writes for a younger version of herself and PC has said she’s writing a young character that’s allowed to make mistakes.
“The only difference in the writing style of [adult novels] and Sisters of Salem it’s that my adult characters can’t get away with the immature things that my younger characters can, ”she said. “I go into creating a character and a setting, and I make the characters respond to the Age of Conflict appropriately.”
PC added that she loves to take a character who makes a lot of mistakes and watch them grow over the course of the novel. When people ask her about the paranormal elements in her books, she says they only “freeze” the story.
“My YA books are about growing children,” she said. “That’s what’s most important and what’s most interesting and successful in our genre.”
“Sometimes it feels like we always operate with the belief that young people won’t be affected if adults just don’t talk about it. This thought process does not work.
PC started writing YA in 2005 when his agent brought up the idea of an adult series about a vampire finishing school with “sexy college girls.” Back then, PC was teaching high school students and arguing instead that the series should be YA, which was taking off at the time.
But it’s not just teens who read YA anymore. Kristin said one of the other changes to the YA genre is about its audience: As readers who discovered YA when the genre took off 15 years ago are approaching their 30s, editors have now changed their tactics of sale to reach an older population.
“It’s weird to me because watching the start of YA, it was Harry Potter, House of Night and Suzanne Collins – teens were buying them on purpose,” she said. ” Sell to [readers] 15 more years is a change that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Mainly because I’m not writing a book for a 35-year-old.
The publishing industry as a whole has also changed over the years. Kristin said publishers have shifted the responsibility of generating sales to the author, without increasing their percentage. Although it’s been happening since before the COVID-19 pandemic, Kristin said the pandemic has exacerbated the challenge of promoting their work.
Support Portland mercury
“We just had a wave of not just writers, but everyone selling anything, having a way, which was to put it online, mostly on social media,” she said. . “Consumers were exhausted. No one wants to log in and see ‘buy this’, they want real interaction. “
This interaction is important to Kristin. She said she wanted to leave readers with a theme or sentiment.
“I like my readers to feel seen, and when I think about my audience, that’s important to me,” she said. “I want to point my finger at you in the crowd and say, ‘I understand you and I see you, and I feel your story very much. “”