A Soldier and a Liar
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: February 19th 2019
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
In a world on the brink of war, four superpowered teens must learn to work together for peace in Caitlin Lochner’s action-packed debut novel, A Soldier and A Liar.
Lai Cathwell is good at keeping secrets. As a Nyte, a supernaturally gifted teenager who is feared and shunned by the ungifted, this skill is essential to survival. Orchestrating her own imprisonment to escape military duty has only honed her ability to deceive others. But when rebels start attacking the city, Lai is dragged back into the fight with a new team of Nytes.
Thrown together with Jay, a self-conscious perfectionist consumed by the desire to be accepted; Al, a short-tempered fighter lying for the sake of revenge; and Erik, an amnesiac hell-bent on finding his memories and his place in the world, Lai realizes she’s facing an entirely different kind of challenge–one that might just be impossible. But if this team can’t learn to work together, the entire sector will be plunged into war.
1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
Oh, I always knew I wanted to be a writer, for sure. But in high school, I took some architecture/engineering-focused drafting classes and really fell in love with the work, and since I knew being a published author wasn’t a realistic career path, I decided to pursue architecture. I thought I would be an architect as my Real Life Adult Job and write books on the side.
However, a year into majoring in pre-architecture in university, I faced some pretty crushing disappointment with my lack of ability in the field. I ended up deciding to continue my love of architecture as a hobby and switched majors to Creative Writing—a choice which has opened so many doors and great opportunities for me. I’m still trying to figure out what my Real Life Adult Job will be, but I can safely say I’ve never regretted my decision to pursue writing seriously.
2. What elements do you think make a great story line?
For me, it’s characters all the way! I think there are a lot of essential components to a good story, like sustained tension, conflict that doesn’t rely on miscommunication or otherwise easily solvable problems, and continuous obstacles that lead to character growth, but for me, the difference between a good story and a truly great story lies in the characters and their relationships with one another.
I love flawed characters and unlikable characters (when done right), characters whose morality is a bit gray, characters who struggle and fight and just keep going no matter how many times they fall. I love watching characters’ relationships, both platonic and romantic, develop over the course of the story. I love watching female characters in particular support one another and sustain ride-or-die friendships. I love complicated, messy friendships and banter and characters with history having to make hard choices involving the people in their lives. I think it’s just so exciting to see how far characters can go.
3. How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
I think I’m up to nine now (although A Soldier and a Liar is the only one published). And so many unfinished 50K starts of books and even more shorter beginnings that I never felt passionate enough about to continue.
I started writing seriously back in high school, when I participated in my first NaNoWriMo in 2009. I finished my first book that year, but it was…not great. I scrapped it pretty quickly, and basically repeated this process until I wrote book #5 in 2011. That was the very first (very awful) draft of what would eventually become A Soldier and a Liar. But it was bad. Like, really, really bad. So although I loved the characters and certain aspects of the story, I moved on to book #6. I enjoyed writing it, and might someday even unearth it and give it the total revamp it would need to be readable, but it didn’t have the same spark that #5 had for me. So I took the characters and bits that I loved from #5, scrapped the rest, and did a total rewrite with a better plot and more interesting events. This became book #7, which I would continue to edit, rewrite, cut, add to, and rewrite yet again for several years, until I posted it on Swoon Reads in the fall of 2015 and it was selected for publication early the next year.
I worked on another book between edits on A Soldier and a Liar (there would sometimes be months before I’d hear back from my editor about the next round of edits, and I couldn’t not be working on something), and I finished that book at the end of October last year. Lucky #8. But because NaNoWriMo was right around the corner, and because I had participated every year for the last ten years, of course I needed to write a new book. And so that book became #9.
As for my favorite, it’s a really, really hard toss up between #7 (A Soldier and a Liar) and #8, which I would love to talk more about, but probably shouldn’t until I hear more from my editor.
4. Where do you write?
I love to write in cafes! Anywhere there are other people working is great, though. There’s just something really nice about being surrounded by people who are also getting stuff done. Plus it adds just enough pressure for me to feel like I should be working!
5. What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I feel like I’m probably a very boring person, to be honest. I love reading, playing video games (terribly), watching anime and cartoons, scrapbooking, studying Japanese, and singing when no one else is around to hear me.
6. Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such?
Oh, absolutely! I have a core group of writer friends I trust, almost all of whom I met in high school and have continued to be great friends with since. Whenever I’m stuck or need advice on my writing, I always ask one or more of them for their thoughts. They’re always incredibly supportive and helpful. None of us really have time for beta reading entire novels anymore, especially now that I have deadlines, but we read one another’s works and offer feedback when we can.
7. Are you working on anything now?
Yes! My current WIP (#9) is a Japanese-based fantasy about an empire of floating islands and that country’s prince trying to stop a coup d’état and save his family while trying to figure out what kind of person he really wants to be. It’s been a lot of fun to write and figure out who the characters are, but it still needs a lot of work before I can consider trying to publish it.
8. Tell us 5 things that make you smile.
Other than the obvious ones like my amazing family and friends: coffee, music, Kingdom Hearts, hearing from readers, and chocolate (specifically dark).
(Um, so, wow bios are hard.) I studied creative writing at the University of South Florida and used my BA in words to become an English teaching assistant in Tokyo. I’m in love with storytelling of any kind, but especially in the form of books, manga, and video games. If you ever want to talk nerdy, I am VERY down.
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