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Monday, February 1, 2010

Interview with Kate Cann, Author of Possessed


Today I'd like to extend a warm welcome to Kate Cann, who stopped by to discuss the U.S. release of Possessed, a spine-tingling novel involving a young girl and an old manor house full of ancient secrets and creepy, supernatural appeal.

In Possessed, Rayne leaves the claustrophobia and demands of her life behind when she leaves East London to work at Morton Keep, an old beautiful residence with a long, mysterious history and shrouded in the supernatural. Are you like Rayne at all, in her desire to leave the hustle and bustle of busy city life for the peace of the countryside?

Perceptive question! A lot of the fuel for Possessed came from my longing to move from London to the countryside. Not so much for peace as for something wilder and more natural, to see the stars at night and hear the wind in the trees. We moved while I was writing the sequel to Possessed, and it really helped with research. Now I can see deer from our bedroom window; pheasants stalk into our garden, and owls hunt there at night. I love it.

Did you visit any haunted locations to help really capture the spooky, terrified feelings Rayne goes through in the Possessed? If so, did you have any experiences you can share with us?

I was able to spend the whole day - and then the night! - at an ancient manor house that a friend of my husband is the trustee of. It was wonderful; I had total freedom to roam the place, taking notes furiously. The atmosphere was charged, clotted; I really felt the weight of its history, of all that had happened there. The housekeeper told me all the ghost stories associated with the place just before bed, and the night was probably one of the scariest I’ve ever spent! The first night that Rayne spends in the Old Sty was based on what I felt then – too afraid to put out my hand to pick up a glass of water and so on. The whole visit was an absolute gift; my imagination was in overdrive.

Possessed contains a lot of interesting history, both in the architecture of Morton Keep itself and in the local customs of the town. For instance, Fire dancers perform regularly and there are mysterious ritualistic activities within the woods. Even the fireplace in Morton Keep sprouts pagan images of two-legged goat men. What type of research in these avenues did you do in preparation for writing Possessed?

The fireplace was a direct pinch from the old manor house! Apart from my time there, I did no specific research, although I was very influenced by going to the autumn fire festivals at Newick and Lewes in Sussex (check out the photos on my website). I love the idea that these old traditions continue even though most people have forgotten their origins, and found myself thinking - what if they’d been put in place as protection, and one day that protection was needed again ….?

Can you tell what inspired you to write a novel steeped in Gothic mystery, eerie presences and old, historical mansions with sordid pasts?

I love the Gothic genre, its subtlety and dark, romantic atmosphere - hints and whispers and half-understood things. I wanted to create a true Gothic heroine who has to confront her deepest fears and survive. And I loved the idea of having to burrow back into history to find the solution to a present threat.

There are numerous supernatural forces at work in Possessed, including the “green lady”, full of “fire, flood and fury”. Out of all the elements of your book, was there one aspect in particular that was the most fun or spooky to write about?

I think you’ve hit on the one that meant the most to me! I loved the idea that the green lady had dwindled down to being an old myth, old stories, but she was still there, ready to come back in force when the area was threatened. I wanted her to be half illusion – in leaves, birds, and carved in stone. I didn’t want to overwrite her – I felt she was far more powerful as just a fleeting presence in the book, remembered through old rhymes and stories.

Can you share with us a snippet of one of your favorite passages, scenes or lines from Possessed?

End of chapter 30 – the first appearance of the green lady, ‘becoming’ the palm that has broken through the greenhouse roof. That was one of the first images I had for the book – I love the idea of nature crashing through its man-made restraints.

Currently, the follow up to Possessed (or Possessing Rayne in the U.K.) has already been released for U.K. fans. Will there be more installments in this series?

I don’t think so. I see the books as two halves of a whole; when I wrote the sequel, in some ways it felt not so much a progression as going deeper into the first book – uncovering deeper, darker layers. It was almost spooky the way it all unravelled, as though I’d planned it subconsciously. It was very exciting to write. At the end of Book II, it’s like the circle is closed …but I suppose it could always break open again ….

Are you working on any other new projects at the moment?

I’m finishing off a book I’m writing for adults (as opposed to young adults!), then I really hope to be able to finish a Young Adult book I’ve started called Witch Crag. It’s set in a dystopian world where rebellious women are persecuted as witches and the only way they can protect themselves is by fleeing to a gloomy crag and then acting as witches to scare their persecutors away. It’s about how we mythologize ourselves - about image and reality and truth, and the crossings over between them. With a fair bit of gore and lust and fear thrown in …


Kate Cann lives in England with her husband, daughter, son, and dog. She worked as an editor for many years before writing several books for teens, inclduing Spanish Holiday and Grecian Holiday. For more about Kate and her novels, visit www.katecann.com.

28 comments:

Melissa said...

Brilliant interview! I love the sound of the story :)

The Graef Family! said...

That was a great interview!!! It gave awesome insight into the book! Loved it! Thank.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Wow this sounds great. Fantastic questions Kim. I'm off to add this to my TBR list.

Book Crazy Jenn said...

Goodness this book sounds amazing - LOVED your interview, I cant wait to pick up this one!

Nikki @ Bookizzle said...

I'm really excited for this book! I would love to spend the night in an old mansion, trying to discover its secrets. Fantastic interview!

AlexReadsBooks said...

You asked great questions! I can't wait to read her books~

Bethie said...

I love that you spent a night in an old manor house. We had an old house by where I grew up and we heard a ton of ghost stories about. But I don't know anyone who actually got to go in.

Lea said...

Awesome interview! That's so cool that she got to spend the day/night in an ancient manor!

Natasha said...

I agree with Lea. That's very cool that she got to spend time in an ancient manor!!
Great interview. I can't wait to read this:)

Emily said...

Very cool interview! I would hate to spend the night in a large haunted mansion, just thinking about it gives me the creeps! Kate, you are BRAVE!

Kristen said...

She sounds fantastic! I can't wait to read her books. And it sounds like we won't have too terribly long to wait for another. :)

Mar said...

Sounds really good. Looking forward to reading this!

Jill of The O.W.L. said...

I could've never stay at that place alone like she did! And roam around during the night! No way!!! Great interview.

donnas said...

Great interview. It sounds like a really great book. I am really looking forward to reading it.

Katie said...

Sweet! I'm definitely going to get this book this weekend xD

Kate Cann said...

Hello - I've just caught up on all these comments and am beyond chuffed by the kind things you say, thank you! Yes, Morton's Keep, 1000 years old, really does exist - under another name - and I wholeheartedly agree I was very brave to stay there. Do let me know what you think of POSSESSED ...Love Kate xx

Jennie Smith said...

Great interview! Can't wait to read this one... I feel a good spooky story coming on! Yeah!!

Jennifer G. said...

You're braver than I am! My husband and I did a ghost tour on a weekend getaway, and luckily our cute little bed-and-breakfast did NOT show up on the tour. I still got freaked out during the night though and made my husband switch sides of the bed with me so anything supernatural had to go through him before it got to me! *blushes*

Cherie J said...

Great interview! I am definitely intrigued by your books. I will have to give one a try real soon.

Jessy said...

I'm glad to see I have another series to look forward to. I'm also excited about the distopian novel you'll be writing.

LCzinha said...

Great interview. Makes me want to read this book more and looking forward to see more of her work.

Anonymous said...

valiantice@hotmail.com
Sounds good.

Anonymous said...

valiantice@hotmail.com
Giggity! This is a book I definitely want to read.

Emily W. said...

This book sounds really good! I know it's been said about 5 million times above, but great interview!

Cats on the Shelf said...

I think it was very nice of her to take the time for an interview. And I soo can't wait to read this book!

Meg said...

awesome interview!
I loveee the UK cover! more than the US one I have to admit...

Anita Yancey said...

Loved the interview, and the book sounds great. I'd really like to read it.

ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

elizabeth said...

Awesome interview! This book sounds really good.