Friday, September 23, 2016

Celebrating Debutantes 2016: A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Hi guys! For today, I interviewed the author of one of my most anticipated releases for 2016. If you've noticed the books that I review and feature, you would know that I'm a fantasy enthusiast. And like many people out there, I am so excited for A Shadow Bright and Burning!


Could you tell us about your writing style and writing process? I’m halfway between a plotter and a pantser. Before I start a book, I need to know a few things: the characters’ basic wants, the catalyst for the plot, the choice the protagonist makes at the end of the first act, the midpoint (where things change), the darkest moment, and the climax. I also have to have an idea of exactly how the book ends, even if I change it later. But after I have those things lined up, I generally just get started. Anytime I’ve tried to rigorously outline a book, things change drastically and I end up in a difficult place. I’m going to have to outline more for my third book in my current Kingdom on Fire series, but that’s at least a little different. At that point, I know the characters so well.

Could you tell us about your world building process? Most of my story ideas come from a single image. For ASBAB, it was a girl in Victorian dress shooting fire from her hands. That picture made me ask a lot of questions, like ‘What time in the Victorian era was this? If she has magic, is it out in the open or hidden? Why? Are they at war? Is it a magical war? Who are they fighting? What type of magical creature is she?’ and so on. For me, world building sort of flows organically out of the initial inspiration.

Could you tell us about Henrietta? How did you first conceive the idea of her? Has she always been a sorcerer in your head? From the moment I got the idea, I knew Henrietta was going to be a magical person. At first, I really thought she was simply a sorcerer. However, when I realized I needed more magical races, and that magicians were even wackier and more out there than sorcerers, I wanted to put her into that category. My books are not message books at all, but I thought it would be a good way to touch on the rigid class structures in Victorian England. I wanted to have a girl who was of a lower magical class, and watch how she navigates the upper crust of magical society.

How do you mold/create your boys for the novel? In a review, the boys have a Jane Austen-esque quality. Why is this? What I love about writing first person is that you can have an unreliable narrator. Henrietta isn’t a full-on untrustworthy narrator, but she has her own biases. I deliberately made it so that each of the three boys in ASBAB could slot into neat, archetypal boxes. You’ve got the rogue, the brooding one, the sweet one. As the series progresses, my hope is that Henrietta—and the audience—comes to see that the boys are more than their initial impression would give. As for Austen-esque, first of all, thank you! Second, I love me some banter, and Austen’s banter was often excellent. It’s a good source of inspiration!

What was the most difficult scene to write? Why? Without spoiling things, there’s a scene towards the end where Henrietta’s expectations are thrown off course. It was heartwrenching to write a moment where her trust is so thoroughly shattered.

If you could change a scene in the novel, what would it be and why? I don’t think I’d change anything per se, though I think I’d have added another make out. Those are always fun.

Thank you for sharing, Jessica!

About the Author:

JESSICA CLUESS is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she's not writing books, she's an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.

Find Jessica: Twitter | Goodreads | Website | Pinterest

Book Description:

Hardcover, 416 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by Random House Books for Young Readers

Henrietta can burst into flames.

Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s named the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years and invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the prophesied one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta is not the chosen one.

As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?


What's up for grabs: Final Hardcover of A Shadow Bright and Burning
Scope: US!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2016 experience. Click the image below for the full schedule and links to the posts!

1 comment:

  1. the synopsis looks super intriguing so i'm quite excited