Every Tuesday, get to know a bit about the stories behind the books you love, and discover your next favourite novel.
Sabitha: Rachel A Rosen is here! One of the founding creators of Night Beats, plus activist, writer, and all around fantastic human being, Rachel is going to tell us about her novel, Cascade, and all things magical and climate change. Rachel, take us away!
Rachel: Cascade is set a generation after climate change returns magic to the world—for better or worse, but mostly worse. A small number of people are able to channel otherwise unpredictable magical energy, and one of them, Ian Mallory, works for the Canadian government, using his precognitive abilities to keep the ruling minority party in power. But when the disaster he predicts is much larger than the usual sordid affair, expense scandal, or minor terrorist incident that he’s hired to avert, it falls to the magic-loathing photojournalist Tobias, land rights activist Jonah, climate scientist Blythe, and Ian’s emoji-spell wielding intern Sujay, to prevent a future cataclysm bigger than politics or ideology.
Sabitha: What inspired you to write this book?
Rachel: For most of my life, I’ve worked in one way or another for social change—as an activist, educator, union member, and a volunteer for political parties. The majority of that time has been spent on the losing side of one struggle or another. Sometimes you just want to wave a magic wand and make people see reason. But of course, people being people, the realist in you knows that we’d find a way to screw that up too. Cascade, which is about magic colliding with the political process, is about that inherent contradiction.
Sabitha: We have a lot of writers in our community. What’s your writing process?
Rachel: I’m what’s known euphemistically as a discovery writer and more commonly as a pantser, which is to say that I don’t make detailed outlines or attempt to follow commercial story beats. I do have a vague plan for where the story goes—and I generally have the last scenes of each book in my mind. But the story itself comes to me in very distinct images and I write around those.
Sabitha: Which character do you relate to the most and why?
Rachel: They’re all kind of me at some level.
Sabitha: Even the villains?
Rachel: Especially the villains.
That said, in many ways Sujay is my younger self, with her insecurity and nerdy optimism, and Ian, with his cynicism and rage, is my older self. And Eric, alas, is how I often cope in a crisis.
Sabitha: Did anything change from when you started planning your first draft to the published version? What?
Rachel: My original draft was 20,000 words longer. Much of it was supplementary material—chat logs, reports, even a Wikipedia entry. But I also cut plotlines and scenes and combined characters, in particular two pairs of important secondary characters. And there is one scene at the end that changed quite dramatically.
Sabitha: What do you want readers to take away from your book?
Rachel: Cascade is about climate catastrophe, rising fascism, and widespread apathy in the country currently known as Canada, and it’s entirely possible that my bleak novel is too optimistic. It could not only happen here, but it is happening here. And the wizards aren’t here to save us. If there’s any takeaway, it’s the pressing need for ordinary people to fight for a better world.
Sabitha: Obviously I loved this book and I think everyone else would too. Where can they find it? And you?
Rachel: You can find Cascade in various digital formats here, in paperback on Amazon, or at the BumblePuppy Press. You can connect with me through my website or on Instagram. Or, hey, right here on the Night Beats blog.