INTERVIEW: Adam-Troy Castro, author of “Cerile and the Journeyer”

Tell us a bit about your story. What’s it about?

“Cerile and the Journeyer” is a fairy tale about an adventurer who goes searching for a witch with almost limitless power. It’s about why he’s searching for her, and what happens to both of them when he finds her.

What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

I’m afraid I only recall the professional circumstances, the opening of an anthology called 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, which invited up to two contributions per author. Coming up with two very different stories, one after the other, in a very short period of time, was the kind of challenge that gets me into anthologies.

I want to mention here that the story was pirated a few years ago, by an internet person who did give me credit for writing it but also posted it all over the place, after changing the name of its titular sorceress to “Titania.” Even today, a search of the phrase “Titania and the Journeyer” might locate a copy of this illegal version.

For the record, the author hates it. Hates, hates, hates, hates, HATES it.

My efforts to put the genie back in the bottle prompted some along the way to opine (along with the usual bleatings to the effect that if I was a real author I wouldn’t care so much about being paid), that “Titania” was a much better name for my all-powerful sorceress than “Cerile.” My only possible answer to those who contended that was, first, that their tin-eared sense of character names is why I was the writer of the story and they were not; and second, that I chose the name “Cerile” for very deliberate reasons, best determined by, you know, pronouncing it out loud. (i.e. “Surreal.”) I’ll treasure this anthology for giving me a chance to restore the tale to its intended form.  

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

Far from it. “Cerile” came out in one white heat, a couple of hours for composition with a second pass, a day later, for cleanup. I knew the emotional core of the story going in, so I was confident enough to be as over-the-top as possible in describing the scale of the hero’s quest.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

If there’s any personal element to this story at all, I suppose it’s that I question emotional validation almost as reflexively as its protagonist. “Thanks for the compliment…I don’t deserve it.”

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I had to hike across to endless desert, hack my way through the darkest forest, and sit my butt on the chair long enough to make the whole thing up.

What are some of your favorite examples of wizard fiction, and what makes them your favorites?

I’m afraid I have to be boring and mention the same two everybody else is gonna mention, Tolkien and Rowling. They’re terrific, what-happens-next type stories. I confess that I have empathy for the other side as well, and appreciate Conan’s manner of dealing with any wizards in his path…