Over the course of nine novels, with sales exceeding five million copies, PC Cast has built Zoey Redbird into a multilayered, mythological heroine with legions of loyal fans. The “House of Night” series takes place in an eponymous boarding school for young vampyrs and other mystically talented youth. Zoey’s journey over the novels has taken her from fish out of water in a new school — an intrinsically awkward situation made worse by Zoey’s special destiny, chosen by the goddess Nyx and already bearing adult vamp markings — to savior of the Earth several times over.
This week, Dark Horse released the first issue of its “House of Night” miniseries, co-written by Cast and screenwriter Kent Dalian with art by JoÃ«lle Jones and Karl Kerschl. Future issues feature art by Josh Covey, Daniel Krall and others. The five-issue miniseries is set during “Betrayed,” the second “House of Night” novel.
Comic Book Resources spoke with Cast about the miniseries, critiquing comics art, and her collaborative writing process.
CBR News: “House of Night” #1 is in stores today, but I reckon you’ve already seen a copy.
PC Cast: I got to see one at our book launch event in New York. My brother smuggled it out of the little gift packages for people at the launch event. So I have one copy right now! [Laughs]
One copy! Hopefully Dark Horse can snag you a couple in the event of a sell out. You’ve published a number of novels but this is your first comic. How does it feel, first to see JoÃ«lle and Karl’s artwork coming in, and then to hold a copy in your hands — is it different from what goes through your head when you get fresh copies of your novels?
Well, it’s like the “beginning publishing” process happens all over again for me, because I’m so new to it. JoÃ«lle and Karl are incredible, and the comic is a piece of art. It is just beautiful, I couldn’t be happier with it. Kent Dalian is my adapter, and he and I work very closely together and we also work very closely with the artists. We get the pages ahead of time and we get to look at everything, to tweak it and make changes, talk to the artists — And here’s what usually happens. Especially after we see the colorized art, my comments are usually like this: “Oooooh! It’s beauuuuuutiful!” And then Kent’s are like, “It’s awesome, but on page ten, panel four, there shouldn’t be a filled in crescent.” Kent can actually think through the process. I am more like, “Oh my God, look at the trees!” [Laughs] I’m useless about that kind of stuff. I think it’s so pretty that it’s like a shiny object to me. I get completely wrapped into its beauty and sucked into the world that JoÃ«lle creates — actually, I think sometimes she’s inside my head part of the time, because her stuff is so much like what I see that it’s scary.
Continuing on the art for a moment, you touched on this briefly, but what do artists like JoÃ«lle Jones, Karl Kerschl and the others you’re working with for this story bring to your story and the expanded “House of Night” world?
JoÃ«lle is doing all the “modern” art, through all five issues, then we have a different artist for each of the historical stories through each of the comics. So that will be a different style in each one; they’re all just awesome, though. JoÃ«lle in particular, I think she really adds a depth to the “House of Night” world that my fans are going to absolutely love. Just like it does for me. It is Zoey. JoÃ«lle and I worked together very closely on creating the Zoey I see in my head, and she has done a beautiful job of bringing alive the world and the school. I think that my fans, my current readers, are going to be just mesmerized by it and my hope is that new readers will find it so beautiful and so interesting that they are pulled into the world, as well.
You work with your daughter Kristin on the novels, and here you’re working with Kent Dalian and, of course, the artists. What do enjoy about collaborating with other writers and creative people on your stories?
Well, my daughter really acts like my “teen voice” editor. I do all the writing and after the manuscripts are complete they go to Kristin. She is part of the editorial process. Kent and I work differently. We brainstorm together and he writes the first draft and sends it to our editorial team at Dark Horse — they’re wonderful — and he sends the draft to me, as well. I go through, literally line by line, and tweak and make notes and change. But Kent is a fabulous writer. He knows the “House of Night” world and the characters’ voices very well, so I don’t have to do a lot of changing. But it’s really more of a collaboration with Kent than how I write with Kristin. It’s really cool, though. I really enjoy it, because writing is such a solitary job. If you put your ego aside — and really, I think the writer’s ego is a pretty silly thing to begin with — it’s just a job I do and I do it well. It’s no different from when I was a teacher and I taught well, I like to co-teach with other teachers. It’s the same thing, you just put your ego aside and you get more ideas and you don’t have to do it alone!
Speaking a bit to the story itself, when the book begins we’re quickly introduced to Zoey, who has recently been made leader of the Dark Daughters quite against her wishes, and Aphrodite, who previously held that role. How would you describe their relationship and the conflict between them at this stage in “House of Night” saga?
It’s very early in the series. At this stage, they’re antagonists. They do not get along. Aphrodite is the stereotypical “mean girl” and Zoey is just a new kid coming in who has special powers she does not want. She just wants to fit in to her new school, just like any teen would. Now, this relationship, as readers of my novels know, will change drastically, as both characters learn and grow and go through experiences together. But in the beginning, it’s the typical “mean girl vs. the new kid” thing, but that changes quickly.
The parallel story sees Freya try to establish a House of Night in 13th century Scandinavia. What does this particular episode bring to the “House of Night” world, and how does it reflect on Zoey in particular?
All of [the historical stories], including this first one, are woven between early books, which was a nightmare for Kent, poor guy. Anything he wrote, he had to make sure it didn’t have a domino effect and screw up [later events]. You know, I have nine books out. So he couldn’t do anything where my fans would go, “Wait! That couldn’t happen, because then this, this, and this wouldn’t happen!” That was a nightmare for him, but he did it very well. I think what he did was add another layer to the story my fans already know. They get insight into Zoey and the main characters that they don’t get to see in the novels. The historical stories that are told in each one — I think Boudicca is the next one, Freya in this one, we have Cleopatra and Hercules, a bunch of them — they give insight into vampyre society. And it’s through each one of these that Zoey learns a lesson in the present House of Night.
Great. Before we go, is there anything else you can say about the “House of Night” comic series?
It was an honor to be able to bring “House of Night” to this format. I’ve been a comics fan since I was a young girl and it’s such a pleasure to see this world brought alive by Dark Horse and the talented team there.
“House of Night” #1 is available now in stores and on digital.darkhorse.com