Katee Robert discusses finally getting to write about pirates in ‘Hunt on Dark Waters’

Check out our interview with Neon Gods author Katee Robert, as she introduces her new fantasy romance with Book One in the Crimson Sails series, Hunt on Dark Waters.

I’m pretty new to the romantasy genre (thanks, Fourth Wing), but I’ve always loved fantasy, and over the last year or two, I’ve been diving head first into any and all romance novels I can put my hands on. My obsession started with Neon Gods, and I’m so happy to be here talking about a brand-new Katee Robert series.

The premise to Hunt on Dark Waters immediately stole my attention: It’s about Evelyn, a witch and a thief, who comes across a pirate captain named Bowen, who’s not only telekinetic but is also part of the Cŵn Annwn—aka the Wild Hunt. They patrol Threshold, the magical sea between realms, and keep the portals to other worlds safe.

As you can imagine, Evelyn and Bowen don’t get off to a great start, even if their chemistry is immediately obvious. She’s forced to join the Cŵn Annwn, or else they’ll be forced to kill her, but she won’t go gently into that good night. Evelyn questions anyone and everything around her, and it seems to be contagious. Suddenly, the stalwart captain doesn’t know which way is up, and he must reckon with the truth of his past while he navigates the path to his inevitable future.

I absolutely devoured this book, and if you’re interested in reading a more in-depth (and spoiler-free!) article about it, then please check out my Hunt on Dark Waters book review.

In the meantime, check out the official synopsis below, then jump on to my interview with Katee Robert, who talks about her inspiration for this series, how many books she thinks we’ll get, and whether or not any of those portals might lead to Olympus.

And while you’re at it, be sure to read my interview with her about Wicked Beauty and the Dark Olympus series, if you haven’t already. You can also read all of my reviews for Neon Gods, Electric Idol, Wicked Beauty, Radiant Sin, and Cruel Seduction. I’ll also have upcoming coverage for Midnight Ruin (Dark Olympus #6), as well as Wicked Pursuit (Second Generation Wicked Villains #1).

About ‘Hunt on Dark Waters’ by Katee Robert

A stern captain meets his witchy match in this captivating first fantasy romance novel in the Crimson Sails series from Katee Robert, the New York Times bestselling author of the TikTok smash-hit Neon Gods.

Evelyn is a witch with a perfect storm of impulses: terrible taste in bed partners, sticky fingers, and a lust for danger. After she steals from her vampire ex and falls through a portal to another realm, she’s fished out of the waters by a band of seafarers and their telekinetic captain. She’s immediately given a choice—join their ship’s crew or die.

Bowen has no memory of his life before he became one of the Cŵn Annwn. He and his band of pirates are bound by vow to patrol through Threshold, the magical sea in between realms, keeping the portals to other worlds safe. When he rescues Evelyn, he doesn’t expect to be attracted to the unflappably brassy pickpocket. The longer he spends in her presence, the more he begins to question if his heart is the next thing she’ll steal.

But as tension heats up between Bowen and Evelyn, the danger at sea escalates as well. Because Evelyn has no intention of keeping her vows to the Cŵn Annwn, and if she betrays the crew, both she and Bowen will pay the ultimate price….

Interview with Katee Robert

hunt on dark waters book review

What initially inspired the idea for the Crimson Sails series?

I’ve wanted to write pirates forever, probably since I was approximately eight and sitting on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disneyland. I’ve been deeply into Celtic mythology for about as long. So, when it came time to write a fantasy romance novel, it was only natural to meld the two into a fun romp of a story.

In your author’s note, you said you were a bit nervous to send an email to your agent regarding this idea, and that both of you are excited about having finally sold a pirate book. What makes this series different, and what does it mean to you, personally?

I’ve been an author a long time, which means I’ve experienced rejection in every way, shape, and form when it comes to new story ideas. This one, in particular, felt like a bit of a long shot. It has pirates, it’s not necessarily a story that would appeal to traditional fantasy readers, and each book in the trilogy is incredibly queer. It’s amazing to have had the interest to publish it, and then for that interest to develop into a whole lot of support on the sales side of things.

How do the Hunt on Dark Waters characters tie into some of your other books?

At this time, there’s only one specific one who does. Lizzie, who is Evelyn’s (very hot, very evil) ex, is the older sister of one of my vampire heroes in Court of the Vampire Queen. In addition to that, there’s a tiny Easter egg in The Kraken’s Sacrifice that mentions the Cŵn Annwn, which is the group that Bowen is initially part of in the book.

Congratulations on the success of the Dangerous Tides Kickstarter! What was your initial reaction to the support, and how excited are you for the next one?

Thank you! It’s still a bit mind-blowing that it was so successful. We worked really hard to stack the deck with amazing authors and amazing stories that we felt would appeal to readers, but the way people showed up for it is truly amazing. I’m exceedingly excited for the next one, which centers around an illicit auction. Every time I think we can’t go harder, the project and authors prove me wrong. I’m very excited to share the line up and more details soon!

You’re writing quite a few series at the same time right now. Is that difficult to balance, or do you find switching between worlds keeps things interesting?

I have ADHD, so I’ve found that I can only force myself to write two books in the same series in a row before I crash and burn. Juggling multiple series pleases my brain and I’m still a little baffled that I never get turned around with them, but the characters are so real in my head that they are uniquely themselves.

If you got dropped into Threshold, would you be more of a paladin like Bowen, a chaotic, thieving witch like Evelyn, or more like someone else entirely?

I would love to say I’d be as cool as Evelyn or as (misguidedly) honorable as Bowen, but I’d probably be like Maeve (the selkie heroine of the second book) who has spent her life quietly doing really important work to help people. Or I’d die immediately because I am an inside kid and not meant to live in a fantasy world.

It feels like Threshold has limitless possibilities. How much of it do you suspect we’ll see over the course of this series? Could any of those portals lead to, I don’t know…Olympus?

Threshold really does have endless ways to expand. I’ve kind of made my peace with the fact that Olympus’s realm might look like our real world in a lot of ways, but it’s absolutely in a different one, so it’s entirely possible that one of those portals might connect. But I have other plans in mind for the future of the Crimson Sails series, so we’ll just have to buckle up and see how it goes!

Did you know from the start that Bowen would use his powers for Evelyn’s personal enjoyment, or did that come up organically as you were writing? Also—how fun was it to add a new dimension to those spicy scenes in that way!?

I’ll be honest, I almost missed that opportunity. I was at the end of the book and wrapping things up and had this moment of “Oh my god, I wrote Chekov’s telekinetic powers and then didn’t fulfill on the promise!!” Like, Evelyn comments multiple times on how good his control is. Thankfully, that’s what edits are for!

What was your favorite scene from this book? (Mine was the tattooing scene, FYI.)

I also really love the tattooing scene! But the little snippet after their first kiss where she tells him to stop being charming because it’s upsetting is still one of my favorites. It made me laugh entirely too hard and it really sums up their relationship and dynamic.

Are there any monsters or mythological creatures you’d love to write about someday that you just haven’t found room for yet?

I really want to write scary faeries. I love reading the sexy fae books that are out now, but so many fae stories are so deeply upsetting and terrifying, and I want to dig into that at some point and see where I end up.

What was the thought behind the decision to make mermaids the one creature Evelyn had no qualms about killing?

This is almost entirely Mira Grant’s fault. Her short story and novel about mermaids in the Mariana Trench totally changed the way I look at mermaids, and I’ll never go back. They terrify me. I don’t think Evelyn would go on a crusade to exterminate them, but if they’re attacking the ship? There’s no reasoning with them.

What can you tease us about Lizzie’s story, Blood on the Tide?

It’s SO FUN. Her heroine is Maeve, a selkie who’s lost her skin, and it’s a sapphic morality chain, which I’ve been dying to write for ages. A lot of “Lizzie, you absolutely CANNOT murder everyone” and Lizzie going “FIIIIIIIINE.” Also orgasmic vampire bites.

blood on the tide cover

Will this be another 10-book series like Dark Olympus?

Oh boy, I don’t think so. That was an endeavor that I’m still shocked I got away with selling/publishing. But I do have plans that extend past a trilogy, so we’ll see how it goes!

You also mentioned you’ve got this ongoing joke of “no side character left behind.” Have you come across any side characters in the Crimson Sails series that you’re considering writing a novel or short story for?

The main one is Nox, who walked on the page and I was like “Hello, yes, I’m obsessed with you,” so now they’re one of the triad in the third book. I expect there will be more as I dig into that particular book, though. And I loved Dia, but she’s rebellious, and while we’ll see her again for sure, I don’t think she’ll have a book.

What are some of the best books you’ve read this year?

How long have you got? Okay, no, seriously, this is my favorite question. I just finished Elizabeth Stephen’s Dark City Omega, which was a sexy and cracky post-apoc/fantasy romance and felt like it was written just for me. I can’t stop talking about I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast is Me by Jamison Shea, which is a YA horror that is like “What if Center Stage had more demon deals and feral girls being unapologetically monstrous?” The Hurricane Wars by Thea Guanzon is one of the giddiest enemies-to-lovers I’ve ever read, all set in a stunning fantasy world. I’ll limit myself to one last one. Consort of Fire by Kit Rocha is a triad with a dragon god, the woman sent to marry and then assassinate him, and her murderous handmaiden. It’s a shout of pure queer joy, and I couldn’t put it down.

Are there any other upcoming projects you’d like to promote or tease us about?

Endlessly! The two I’m most excited about are Wicked Pursuit, which is my addition to the next Kickstarter. It’s a second-generation Wicked Villains book and a stalker romance, and I shocked myself several times while writing it. And the other is Midnight Ruin, the next Dark Olympus book. It’s friends-to-lovers and second chance romance and is a book-long grovel with puppy play. Yes, puppy play.

‘Hunt on Dark Waters’ published on November 7, 2023.

Buy Hunt on Dark Waters by Katee Robert from Penguin Random House, Bookshop.org, or Amazon. You can also add it to your Goodreads list.

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