Kindle Vella Author Interview: Jenn Lessmann on Cate the Curst and her upcoming series Sixes
In my interview with the author, Jenn Lessmann discusses the writing of Cate the Curst, what inspired her story, plus her intriguing upcoming series Sixes.
Intimately written, Cate the Curst, on Kindle Vella, jumps into action quickly in this paranormal series. For fans of magic and mystery, this coming of age Vella delivers a unique story world and plot.
What would you say inspired Cate the Curst?
This story takes elements from a lot of different sources. I’m a former English teacher, and I love Shakespeare, so the title (and some characterization probably), comes from Taming of the Shrew. There’s a little Hamlet in the main character coming home from college and finding things are not the same at home.
I first wrote about a non-magical character who was born into a magical family when I was trying out Harry Potter fanfic in college, so I owe that detail to Rowling’s squibs.
The search for her father and the emotional journey Cate takes came out of my own grief after my dad died.
Framing it all through Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey was something I did when I decided to release it as a serialized Vella instead of waiting to complete the novel. That framework gave me a structure for the episodes and helped me keep track of where I was in the overall plot.
Who is your favorite character(s) in the Cate the Curst so far? I know it can be hard to choose!
I really liked writing Thomas in the beginning because he basically exists to have fun. I think that’s something that got away from me as I got further into the drama in Cate’s story. There will definitely be more Thomas in the revised novel.
I’m also really curious about Elspeth. She started out as this golden child. She’s everything that Cate was meant to be, and that is especially hard for Cate because Elspeth is just a genuinely good person, so it’s impossible to be jealous or angry. But she has secrets, too.
What’s your writing process like, especially pertaining this work?
I started writing Cate the Curst when we were first sent home to quarantine, before anybody really knew there was a pandemic. We were just home for an undefined amount of time, waiting to find out when we would go back to school. So it was very hit and miss. I would write when I had time, sometimes for twenty minutes, sometimes for three or four hours straight.
Now I have a schedule. I write three days a week, and I try to keep writing until I hit a word count goal.
I’m going to try and write the sequel during Nanowrimo, so the schedule is about to get a bit more intense.
What made you want to put it on Kindle Vella instead of E-book?
Writing for Vella helped motivate me to keep up with it, since I knew there was someone waiting for the next episode. I’m still planning to ultimately revise Cate the Curst and publish it as a novel, but I felt like this was a manageable way to get back into the habit of writing.
What’s coming up next for your writing, Kindle Vella or otherwise?
My next Kindle Vella story is going live Thursday, October 21st. I have five episodes of a 13-episode series ready to go, and they’ll be released once a week. This time I’m writing the story directly for the serialized format, so it’s set up much more like a tv show, with self-contained stories in each episode that all tie into a broader arc over the season.
The story is called Sixes, and it’s a dark academia dramedy about college students on a haunted campus. All of the ghost stories they learn about are based on real experiences people have had in Williamsburg.
America’s oldest colleges are home to some not-so-secret societies. When six freshmen are tapped to join one that specializes in the supernatural, it’s up to them to protect their classmates from the things that go bump in the night. Can they keep everyone safe while watching their grades, avoiding the freshman fifteen, and competing with rivals who don’t even know they exist? Who’ll know if they fail? Who watches the watchers?
The Starstrike is coming to Kindle Vella this November 2021! Follow GG5 in a coming of age & dystopian story, of a girl born from a star in a technologically advanced Victorian world.