Interview with Talitha M. Brummel, Author of Caligara

27 Apr 2023

What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Caligara?

What inspired me was a vivid dream I had when I was in middle school. Almost like the story of creation in the Bible, I felt my spirit travel through the stars approaching a new, unformed planet. This planet was as gigantic as Jupiter, but oddly enough, it could hold life like Earth. My new planet would later be called Caligara, after I toyed with names. In my dream, flashes of all the potential Caligara could produce circled within a smoky, chaotic atmosphere. Characters, future concept art of mystical animals, and book scenes, flashed in my mind. When I woke up in the morning, excitement raged through me. My uncles, who inspired two of my characters, were the first I told. Before I penned my plot, I did a lot of research and created multiple concept sketches. I wanted to make sure that I accumulated a rich background so I could easily write a series.

Since 2003, Caligara has both ignited unbelievable creativity, and long seasons of writer’s block in my life. Several times, all my work was lost from my computer or floppy disk. The first version of Caligara had to be completely re-written. Ultimately, I wanted to write a series that readers would not only enjoy, but that would remind them of their favorite fantasy and sic-fi combined.

If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Caligara, what would they be?

For me and for many of my characters, ‘Dream On’, by Aerosmith, almost completely sums up the entire book. I encourage you to listen and read the lyrics to this song, then read Caligara. Try to relate the book to the song. Reading the history behind ‘Dream On’ is also inspiring.

What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?

My favorite genre to read has always been fantasy. In elementary school, my teachers found out that I had a learning disability when it came to certain subjects. Reading and writing were two of them. These subjects didn’t click with me. Nothing helped. Yet when I started reading Harry Potter, my eyes were opened wide, and the blockage was gone!

Now I enjoy not only fantasy, but other genres as well. Though it’s true that I don’t enjoy reading sic-fi novels as much as fantasy, I still find a thrill in learning, and penning them. Most of the inspiration I have for writing sci-fi comes from movies. Watching movies with my uncles also helps me write well.

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Oh man! I have a huge TBR pile! There seems to be so much I want to read! I have a huge home library of books that still need to be read. From finishing Eldest, by Christopher Paolini, to books about earth history and the history of the Americas; I read for both enjoyment and research!

I have art books that I consistently reference to, so I know what kind of anatomy I need to draw for different creatures. Many of which haven’t been read through but used for imagery and practice. Bible prophecy is also a subject I dive into. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, is the only book from C.S. Louis that I have read, so reading his other works are also on my list. Right now, I am reading J.R.R Tolken’s novels and biography. Magazines and newsletters are piled somewhere on my desk as well!

What scene in your book was your favorite to write?

A very hard question to answer! I have so many! However, my favorite scene to write about was when A-rayin met the first Ancient. Something resonated deep inside of me. For A-rayin, because he received almost a lifelong mission from this point on, and for me, because Caligara will be a lifelong desire to write about.

Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)

Yes! Most definitely! I listen to 80’s and 90’s music when I am typing on my PC. Rarely do I play anything else when I am working on my PC. Much inspiration has come from these songs. Usually when I start writing with pen and paper, I listen to Beethoven and Mozart on CD.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

“I want you to read and flip through Caligara so you can really THINK about what you are reading.”

If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?

That mental illness is not what it seems.


Talitha M. Brummel is the author of the new book Caligara

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