Recently I read Captive Prince which took me far out of my comfort zone and left me curious about the author.
We learned a little more about C.S Pacat and her career in this recent interview.
Welcome to Beauty and Lace, thanks for speaking with us.
Thank you so much for having me!
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but for a long time it was a desire that I buried, because I wasn’t courageous enough to acknowledge it to myself – it can be scary to admit that you want to be a writer. I think this can be the same in terms of any creative pursuit, because you have to work at it whole-heartedly, for a long time, with no certainty of outcome.
Your journey to publication is an exciting story and this is not the first time Captive Prince has seen publication. Can you tell us a little about the journey?
When I started to write Captive Prince there was nothing that was really like it in bookstores. But I knew that online there was this vast community of readers and writers who were reading and creating online in part because they were seeking something that they weren’t finding on commercial bookshelves. It was also an incredibly accessible space with no barrier to entry, and so I started to write Captive Prince, and as I wrote, I posted each chapter to my fiction blog.
Captive Prince ran as a free online serial for over three years, and during that time, the readership grew from (literally) six people to tens of thousands of readers who would return to the blog each time a chapter was posted. I was receiving a lot of requests from readers for a paperback version, and so I self published using Amazon’s self publication platform. And the book just took off – it was incredibly successful on Amazon, and there was so much word of mouth on blogs and in places like Goodreads, that it started to pick up reviews from mainstream review sites.
After only four weeks I was approached by a New York agent who said, “I’d like to represent you. I think we can sell your book to a Big Six publisher in New York.” I signed with her in the spirit of pure optimism. It seemed inconceivable to me that Captive Prince would get an offer from a Big Six! But we ended up with two offers, the most robust of which was from Penguin. Now Captive Prince is being published in multiple countries and translated into multiple languages – it’s been an incredible year.
How much has the story changed since its beginning as a web serial?
The biggest change is that the additional “bonus chapters” that came with the first release will be included in the paperback edition in the US, and in the ebooks in Australia.
In every other regard, Penguin wanted to respect the original editions as much as possible, so the changes are minimal, just a sentence tweak here or there.
Can you tell us a little about Captive Prince?
Captive Prince tells the story of Damen, the rightful prince of Akielos, who is sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a slave when his half brother seizes power in a coup. Prince Laurent, Damen’s new master, is beautiful, manipulative and deadly, an ice prince who cannot be thawed, and who would kill Damen in an instant – if he knew his true identity. To survive, Damen has to navigate palace intrigue and politics, and he must work together with Laurent to save his country. But most of all he has to hide his identity from Laurent – who has more reason to hate him than anyone else. It’s a slow-burn enemies-to-lovers story with an explosive secret at its centre.
Where did the inspiration for the story come from?
I wanted to write the book that I wanted to read. I love high-octane escapism, adventure, swordfights, chases, escapes, true love, intrigue, high stakes – and homoerotica, themes of sex, power and sexuality.
I am also fascinated by princes–not in the fairytale sense of “Prince Charming”, but because they are liminal, they are in a state of becoming, and they must displace someone else in order to fulfill their promise and become King. Displacement is incredibly powerful to me as a theme. I was immediately caught up by the idea of a prince who becomes a slave.
How did you go about your world building?
I’m really interested in the Mediterranean basin and its ancient cultures and history – my family hails from that region – and I began my world building with real-world research. I wanted the world of Captive Prince to feel authentic and rooted in the real. As well as research I also used a lot of pictorial references for interiors and geographic locations. On top of that, I layered the world building of the individual countries in Captive Prince themselves – they are ultimately different to any real-world counterparts, so it was a question of crafting new social systems and social norms.
Why did you choose this genre?
I think the fantasy genre offers an exploration of extremes in a way that realism does not. Realism as a technique is very good at describing actions and behaviours within a certain bandwidth, but because extreme acts and situations can seem so fantastical that they explode believability even if they are true, they often sit awkwardly in a realist setting. In a fantasy setting, the extreme and the fantastical are assumed to be plausible, and can be explored in depth.
Fantasy also allows for the construction of worlds with different cultural norms, different approaches to sex and sexuality – in the case of Captive Prince I was interested in creating a society that was a lot more homonormative than our own, for example.
Are you working on anything new you can tell us about?
I have a mini-project in the works that is Captive Prince adjacent, although I can’t reveal any of the details yet. I am ridiculously excited though, and can’t wait to share the news. Stay tuned!
When can we expect books 2 and 3 to be released?
Prince’s Gambit will be released July 7th, with the final book in the trilogy Kings Rising to follow.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Being a woman to me means simply this: If you identify as a woman, you are a woman. Beyond that, I’m not certain I can answer, or am qualified to answer.
Captive Prince is available now through Penguin Books and where good books are sold.