I am such a sucker for sci-fi novels (even though I’m currently in a romance mood) and I’ve been following Caitlin Lochner’s A Soldier and A Liar for literal months now!
I first heard about it through the cover voting on Swoon Reads (very excited that the cover I voted for won, not gonna lie) and was immediately captured by the summary that promised high-stakes action and superpowered teens working together!
So I’m extraordinarily excited to share with you an interview I hosted with Caitlin Lochner herself, as I chat with her about the Nytes (the superpowered teens in the story), writing advice, and so much more!
Plus there’s a little surprise at the end, so make sure you stay tuned for that *wink wink*
Without further ado, enjoy!
I’m so excited to be interviewing you today on your debut, A Soldier and a Liar. This sounds like such a cool sci-fi novel, but I’m sure readers want to hear what it’s about from you. For those unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe A Soldier and a Liar?
It’s so exciting to be doing this interview, thank you for having me! The overarching story of A Soldier and a Liar is about a team of teenage soldiers with superpowers having to band together to try and stop a civil war from breaking out between the gifted and ungifted. But the core of this story (to me, at least) is the characters and their relationships. At the start of the novel, the four main characters would rather kill each other than work together (always a fun starting point), and so we get to watch their relationships progress from there. And over the course of the story, they have to learn how to navigate situations where the line between right and wrong isn’t so clear, decide how much they can really trust their teammates when they know they’re lying, and learn how, despite their individual strengths, they’re stronger together than they are apart.
From your summary, the concept of Nytes—supernaturally gifted teens—is sooo cool, and I’m so excited to read about their gifts in A Soldier and a Liar. I think empowering teens this way in fiction is really interesting because it lets readers, especially teen ones, see themselves as strong and capable physically, and kind of translates into a reassuring message that they’re strong and capable of doing what they set their mind to. (And they totally are!) In what ways do you think A Soldier and a Liar will empower teen readers?
Oh, I love this question! Each of the four main characters have their own personal goals aside from trying to stop a war, and we watch them struggle to accomplish these throughout the book. But in the end, they don’t get want they want by using their supernatural gifts (though they certainly help at points). In the end, the things that help each character get closer to their goals are 1) his or her own perseverance and 2) the help of others. Because no matter what kind of strengths you have, supernatural or not, I think refusing to give up on what you want and being willing to accept help when you need it are the most important qualities of strength. And I really hope everyone who reads A Soldier and a Liar will see all the different things that can make a person strong.
I have to ask—what part of A Soldier and a Liar do you think readers will love the most? Whether it’s a certain character or a romantic subplot or something as broad as the action, what should we readers look forward to when picking up A Soldier and a Liar?
This is such a hard question, because I think everyone looks for something different in a story. When I first sold this book, I was shocked by how much my editors were in love with all the action and fight scenes, because to me, those were secondary to all the complicated, messy character relationships that kept shifting over the course of the story. So, uh, your mileage may vary? But I hear the action is great! Personally, the character dynamics are my favorite (Lai and Erik’s especially, in case you’re curious—something about how they constantly clash, in part because they’re both so cynical, mistrustful, and calculating, is just so much fun to write. It’s pretty much just a constant battle of wills and each of them trying to one-up the other to get the advantage in their weird frenemyship. Whenever they’re on the page together, their interactions constantly surprises me.)
I love how new post-apocalyptic science fiction stories are emerging—these are such fast paced and engrossing stories, I always have an amazing time reading. Yet, there’s obviously a bunch of hard work put into writing an engaging story, so what was the part of writing A Soldier and a Liar that was the hardest for you, and what would you recommend writers to do in that situation?
I think the biggest challenge for me was keeping the pacing compelling while still taking the time I needed to give each character their respective dues. I never wanted there to be a dull moment, or an end of a chapter where a reader could think Oh, this is a good place to stop. I wanted everyone to feel like they HAD to keep reading to find out what happens next. A pretty lofty goal, but a fun one! The problem with this was that I have a lot of characters, and each one has their own distinct arc (even if it’s not fully realized by the end of A Soldier and a Liar). I wanted to focus on each of the four main characters and give them the depth and focus they deserved. And at times in the drafting stage, this focus felt like it was distracting from the overall plot.
So, I found ways to tie in each character’s arc to the overall plot so that they would be absolutely necessary for the overarching story to reach its conclusion. For example, it seems like we’re focusing an awful lot on Erik’s forgotten past? Well, it must be because his memories are one of the keys to resolving everything. Lai’s visits to A Certain Place are happening pretty often? It must be because this is going to affect her and everyone she loves in a pretty significant way later. So, basically, the process was a lot of finding ways to tie character paths into the overall plot so that I could have my cake and eat it, too.
To end things off with something fun, if you could spend one day with one of the characters in A Soldier and a Liar, who would it be and what would you do?
I’m a little worried several of them would try to kill me if I ever met them—and not just because of what I put them through in the story. That said, I think Jay would be a fun (and safe) choice! I’d probably ask him to teach me piano for a bit, and then I’d take him to do something fun and relaxing because the guy needs a good break. He never really got the chance to be a kid, so I think something like going to a theme park (Disney, anyone?) would be great.
THAT WAS SO AWESOME! I’m so excited to dive in and it sounds so action-y and thrilling–I absolutely cannot wait!
Also, that last question gives me serious 👀👀👀 because like . . . ouch. Harsh. Although, I feel like a lot of characters would really hate their authors, what do you think?
If you liked this post, please make sure to let Caitlin know on her social media! I’m sure it will brighten her day!
More About the Book
A Soldier and a Liar by Caitlin Lochner
Hardcover, 352 pages
February 19th 2019 by Swoon Reads
In a world on the brink of war, four superpowered teens must learn to work together for peace in Caitlin Lochner’s action-packed debut novel, A Soldier and A Liar.
Lai Cathwell is good at keeping secrets. As a Nyte, a supernaturally gifted teenager who is feared and shunned by the ungifted, this skill is essential to survival. Orchestrating her own imprisonment to escape military duty has only honed her ability to deceive others. But when rebels start attacking the city, Lai is dragged back into the fight with a new team of Nytes.
Thrown together with Jay, a self-conscious perfectionist consumed by the desire to be accepted; Al, a short-tempered fighter lying for the sake of revenge; and Erik, an amnesiac hell-bent on finding his memories and his place in the world, Lai realizes she’s facing an entirely different kind of challenge—one that might just be impossible. But if this team can’t learn to work together, the entire sector will be plunged into war.
More About the Author
Caitlin Lochner is a long-time nerd, traveler, and architecture enthusiast who worked as an assistant English teacher in Tokyo for three years before pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Central Florida. She can typically be found absorbed in books, games, or manga, or else obsessing over said books, games, and manga. A Soldier and a Liar is her debut novel.
Photo Credit: Roger Zhao
This isn’t a lie–we’ve really got a giveaway for two copies of A Soldier and A Liar today! Enter through the Rafflecopter button below where two lucky winners will receive hardcover copies of A Soldier and A Liar! (US only)
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AHHH–are you excited for A Soldier and A Liar?
Not gonna lie, I’m really happy that this entire blog series hasn’t crashed and burned so far, and I’m so glad that I get to bring all of this cool content your way!