Wednesday, March 8, 2023

6 Books with Cass Morris

Cass Morris is a writer and research editor living in central Virginia. Her debut series, The Aven Cycle, is Roman-flavored historical fantasy. She is also one-third of the team behind the Hugo Award Finalist podcast Worldbuilding for Masochists. She currently works as Research Editor and Worldbuilding Specialist at Plato Learning, a company which runs mythology-themed summer camps and other educational programming. She holds a Master of Letters in Shakespeare studies from Mary Baldwin University and a BA in English and History from the College of William and Mary. She reads voraciously, wears corsets voluntarily, and will beat you at Mario Kart.

Today she tells us about her Six Books

1. What book are you currently reading?

I am always reading several books simultaneously, but since this is six books, I’ll pick just one! I’m reading my dear friend Rowenna Miller’s The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill, which I’ve been yearning for since she first told me about the concept. It’s an enchanting exploration of a farming family and how fairy magic weaves into and warps their lives.


2. What upcoming book are you really excited about?

Elyse John’s Orphia and Eurydicius. I absolutely squealed when I saw its announcement! I love mythological retellings, and the gender-flip on this one is going to be so exciting.


3. Is there a book you’re currently itching to re-read?

I literally always want to be re-reading something from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Right now I’d love to revisit the Lancre Witches in Wyrd Sisters.


4. How about a book you’ve changed your mind about – either positively or negatively?

Mists of Avalon. That book is the reason that the past few years’ worth of horribleness from JKR haven’t spun me for as much of a loop as a lot of HP fans, because I’ve already been through this rodeo with a beloved text once. Mists of Avalon was absolutely foundational to me as both a feminist and a pagan, but the revelations that came out about Marion Zimmer Bradley killed all of my joy for it.

 Beyond that, though, looking back, I can also see the huge flaws in the text that weren’t apparent to me when I read it (and made it part of my personality) as a teenager. It’s very gender essentialist in ways that I now recognize as extremely limited and limiting, as a worldview. Its version of paganism is one I now find reductive and unsatisfying. Its feminism no longer represents the kind of feminist I want to be. I can never deny the role that the book played in my development, but I also never feel the need to revisit it.

5. What’s one book, which you read as a child or a young adult, that holds a special place in your heart?

 Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman. I used to re-read it at least once every year. I adored it so much for being one of the first books I read that really explored a feminine viewpoint within a historical context. It had that in common with the American Girl books that I also loved, but Catherine, Called Birdy had a particular sense of humor that absolutely enchanted me. And it was so unflinching about certain realities of cis-girlhood! Growing breasts and menstruating and how the world starts treating you differently when those things happen. No book had ever spoken to me about those things in such a real way.


6. And speaking of that, what’s your latest book, and why is it awesome?

My latest book is The Bloodstained Shade, Book 3 of the Aven Cycle, historical fantasy set in a version of ancient Rome re-imagined with magic. It’s awesome because it turns the heat up on the political and magical conflicts to an absolutely sizzling degree! Our protagonists are wrangling with desperate situations and dire temptations, and their antagonist mirrors are eager to shove them over the brink. The whole civilization stands ready to fall into chaos -- or be wrenched back from the edge, but at what cost?

Thank you, Cass!

NB: Reviews of the first two novels, From Unseen Fire and Give Way to Night, are available here at Nerds of a Feather.

POSTED BY: Paul Weimer. Ubiquitous in Shadow, but I’m just this guy, you know? @princejvstin.