I’m so super excited to have to opportunity today to interview Ms. Jen Castleberry, author of Cargo! Definitely check out this awesome book, guys! Let’s jump right in!
1. Hi Ms. Castleberry! Thanks for stopping by my little patch of internet today! So what were some of the inspirations behind Cargo?
Thank you for having me! Cargo actually began as a fun side project in the midst of another piece I was working on. It was just meant to be something quick and fun, something to reenergize my creativity, but it took on a whole life of its own!
For inspiration, I drew on my own introspective experiences as a teenager. Cass is a character I identify with closely. I think, if I were to face Cass’s world at her age, I would carry a lot of the same insecurities, I would make the same choices she makes and perceive things the way she perceives them. The emotional baggage that accompanies such an abrupt change of pace is something I can relate to. So I pulled a lot of inspiration from my own flaws and my own tendencies, especially those that were identifiers for me when I was a young(er) person.
2. If you had to choose three songs to describe Cargo, what songs would you choose and why?
Your Heart Is an Empty Room, by Death Cab for Cutie. This song makes me think of Cass as a child, the young version of her that we meet in the prologue. In the midst of the assault, all she wants is to abandon the hostility of her household and find a friend. There’s a certain sense of liberation in being chosen for bunker life. She’s disparaged her home for so long, and she’s certain that a better life must await her elsewhere.
When the Morning Comes, by A Great Big World. This song makes me think of Nathan. He’s someone we’ll get to know quite a bit better in book two, but I think we see enough of him in book one to make an estimation of his character. He’s someone who keeps moving forward, no matter what ensnare him. He’s courageous, and he’s a protector, but he’s not someone who will save a person who could just as easily save themselves. In his own subtle way, he insists that Cass be courageous, too.
This song also calls to mind the budding romance between Nathan and Cass, how it’s blossoming in spite of her hang ups about him, and how it’s stunted, too, by the way she thinks he’s mistreated her. She hasn’t got a broad enough perspective, yet, to understand that he’s been giving her opportunities to be brave.
Thistle & Weeds by Mumford & Sons. This song has such a dark tone, and yet, it talks about holding onto hope in the midst of death. For me, it calls to mind Cass’s desperation and her sorrow, wondering what’s happened to Nars wondering if he’s made it out of the desert alive, and knowing that no amount of hope will provide the answers she seeks. She’s living in a world where life and survival are exceptions to the rule. The likelihood that Nars has either been killed by the sun or murdered in the caves is a difficult thing for her to face. The most she can do is hope that he’s okay, or be swallowed up by her suspicions and all of the associated despair.
3. What astrological signs are your characters?
I love this question! It’s a bit tricky to choose, since so many constellations have full-fledged backstories of their own!
For Cass, I chose Europa, a pretty girl stolen from her home and given three gifts by her abductor: a guard to protect her, a dog to feed her, and a weapon to aid her in battle.
For Nathan, I chose Pegasus, a winged horse born of something beautiful and something monstrous, a brave helper who once made his rider feel utterly victorious, and a creature who spends its time fetching the instruments requested by Zeus.
For Adrienne, Callisto, a beautiful nymph whose love for her family nearly destroys her.
And for Nars, Centaurus, a wonderful friend and a terrible coward whose selfish, exclusionary tendencies backfire, leaving him to suffer the endlessness of immortality alone.
4. It’s midnight. What are your characters up to?
Adrienne’s probably searching for someone to snuggle with. She’s eternally one half of a whole. She’s not meant to be alone.
Nars is kicking a wall somewhere. Contentment will never come easy for him.
Cass is creeping through the launch station, and Nathan is watching her.
5. If you could ride Disneyland’s The Whirling Teacups with three of your all-time favorite authors, who would you choose?
Carl Hiasson. I spent a long time trying to mimic his style, before I learned to be proud of my own. He’s so clever and silly. Anyone who can write sixteen different characters and near as many competing and interweaving plot twists and maintain utter clarity is a genius; there’s no debating it.
Jane Austen. She’s a master of the understated romance and of thought-provoking, social-change-enacting humor.
Lauren Oliver. Her characters are so endearing, and her world-building is so vivid, maybe the Whirling Teacups will shake some of her talent into my hand!
6. What do you hope readers take away from Cargo? Any particular message or experience?
The Reservation Trilogy, as a whole, takes on a profoundly familial theme. We’ll see it repeated in new ways over the course of the next two installments. In book one, we get to experience the bond that Adrienne and Cass share, and that was a very special relationship for me to write, having two sisters of my own. I hope readers turn the last page on Cargo with a sense of just how impactful a friendship can be, whether it’s the friendship shared by siblings or spouses or schoolmates. Friendship is such a powerful force in the midst of self-discovery . It shapes us, but we shape ourselves, too, and I hope readers see that in Cass. She’s figuring out who she is, and who she wants to be, and she looks to Adrienne for courage and inspiration even though circumstances have separated them.
Thanks again to Ms. Castleberry for stopping by! If Cargo sounds like something you’re interested in, read more about it below and stick around for the giveaway at the bottom!
About Cargo (The Reservation Trilogy #1)
About Jen Castleberry
HOORAY! A GIVEAWAY!
This giveaway is US ONLY. Enter to win a copy of Cargo and some fun swag as well!