Published May 20th, 2014
Yasmin is a descendant of the Manticore. A creature of Persian mythology. A Legendary.
But she doesn’t want to be. Unlike the Legendaries in The Red, Yasmin wants nothing more than an ordinary life. She tries to fool herself into believing that she doesn’t change into a beast every full moon and savagely kill innocent people.
But when Yasmin starts hearing a voice in her head and is drawn into dreams that aren’t her own, she is led to Fray—a girl who once saved Yasmin from hunters, who has shadowy memories that hint at her having Legendary magic—and Yasmin is catapulted into a life of Majick and malevolence.
Despite the danger around her and Fray, Yasmin might finally have a chance at being a normal girl with a normal girlfriend. But with Legendaries being killed, a war between the Gods brewing, and the beast inside Yasmin becoming stronger each moon, her mundane life is little more than a dream.
Thank you, Miss. Saruuh Kelsey
The Persian Mythology is not well known. Tell us more about the myths that inspired The Beast of Callaire, please.
The Beast of Callaire is mostly inspired by classical mythology - the Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses that everyone is familiar with - and though Yasmin, the protagonist, is descended from a Persian mythological creature, there aren’t any other Persian creature or Gods in the first book. (There will be at least one more Persian Legendary in future books.)
I was first inspired to make Yasmin mythological because I wanted to write a paranormal romance, but didn’t want her to be the common werewolf. That’s where the manticore came into play. But the world of The Beast of Callaire - The Legend Mirror - with its mixed mythologies wasn’t originally a part of the book, but it expanded from Yasmin’s back story when I started to ask questions. What was responsible for Yasmin being a shape changer? Were her parents, her family line, the same as her? Were there others out there who Changed too? The answer to those questions eventually came together to make a story of classical, Persian, Celtic, Norse, and Indian mythologies and countless other folk tales.
I think a writer has to honour the basics of mythology - if a God is cruel, don’t make them compassionate, for example - but because most of the stories are so short, there are so many ways they can be interpreted and changed while still keeping the themes of the original myth. As long as the mythology is still recognisable and true to itself, the story can become anything.
It’s seems that in our day fantasy, paranormal stories the sex must be present. How true it is and what is in your opinion the purpose of the intimate scenes, especial in an YA?
Sex in YA is important, especially consensual sex. The majority of sex scenes in young adult fiction focus on sex in a negative light - rape is more common than consensual sex. And while it is so so important for teenagers, especially girls, to be informed about non-consensual sex, to know that is not the norm, and it is not acceptable, it’s equally important that teenagers know sex itself is not the villain, that it can be healthy and normal and fun - as long as both parties are consenting, and practise safe sex.
I would also like to see more books with asexual characters, who don’t engage in sex, but who show their affection in the little things, in non-sexual intimacy, because while the majority of healthy relationships lead to sex, some don’t, and I have yet to see this represented in YA.
You are pretty harsh in your reviews. Did your review activity change the way you write? How is to be the critic and not the writer?
I don’t think of anything but getting words on the page when I’m writing, but when I’m reading the near-final draft of my books I do occasionally think ‘I can see this being brought up in a review’ or ‘some people might not like this part’. The Gods in The Beast of Callaire don’t have a fixed gender, and often go between male, female, and gender neutral, so when the characters talk about them, instead of saying ‘he’ or ‘she’, they use ‘they’ - I remember thinking that could lead to confusion and that confusion could be reflecting in reviews, but other than little things like that, I wouldn’t say critical reviews, mine or otherwise, changed my writing.
Reviewing has made me aware of what I like to read in a book, though, and I make notes of those things, along with anything I see a lot of other reviewers finding problematic.
Tell us three things that we will not find in The Beast of Callaire.
A love triangle. I’m not really a fan of how the choice between love interests becomes the main focus of a character's story, when there are other, better (in my opinion) stories to be told.
A happy ending. The Beast of Callaire ends on kind of an ominous note. Many characters are in peril. I’m so sorry, readers, but happiness is a long way off.
A typical love interest. There’s no hulky guy, shrouded in mystery and aloofness, in this book. There is however, a ditsy girl with a quest for knowledge and a hidden past.
Saruuh Kelsey is the author of the Lux Guardians series. Her debut and the first in series, THE FORGOTTEN, a YA science fiction set in Victorian London and London 25 years in the future, is out now for free. Book two, THE REVELATION, releases October 7th. THE BEAST OF CALLAIRE, the first novel of a new YA fantasy series, with a same sex paranormal romance, is out May 20th.