Monday, October 15, 2018

The ending we've been waiting for: An interview with Jessica Cluess

Hello friends! If you know me, I love Young Adult Fantasy and I love getting into the author's head when it comes to worldbuilding and plotting. So when I saw that A Sorrow Fierce and Falling was coming out, I knew I had to ask Jessica Cluess a million questions about finishing her debut series. 

Du Livre: What inspired you to write A Shadow Bright and Burning? Bonus question: Where were you when inspiration struck? 

Jessica Cluess: Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens inspired me, particularly the scene where Nicholas physically stops a cruel schoolmaster from beating a helpless boy. I wondered how a Victorian girl would’ve handled the same situation, and I suddenly had this image of her opening her hands and shooting flames at the scoundrel. I was walking to work when I had this idea. I worked in a cafĂ© at the time, so I was ambling along with my apron over my shoulder, and I remember stopping dead on the sidewalk and thinking I wanted to write that story.

Du Livre: Wow. I'm uncultured so I haven't read anything by Dickens but that's so cool how one scene can stay with you. The Kingdom on Fire series is extremely character driven with a lot of the characters experiencing some major character development. Were there any characters that kind of surprised you in the end? Maybe their arc didn't end as you had expected? 

Jessica Cluess: There are a couple of characters that were supposed to die, so I was very surprised when they turned up alive! One of them has a happy ending, the other…less so. Of the main players, I think Rook also took me a bit by surprise. He obviously underwent a major change in the second book, so I went into this one unsure how he’d react to certain people and events. He ended up having a very emotional arc for me, which kind of was a shock. 

Du Livre: Um, don't I know it! I cried with a specific Rook scene. Speaking of the characters, who was the most challenging character to write in this series? 

Jessica Cluess: I think Blackwood. In a way, he was my deconstruction of the Darcy idea, the brooding, aristocratic man who challenges but also secretly loves the heroine. Of all the characters, I think his arc is the most complicated. He’s a deeply good person in many ways, and absolutely dutiful, but he’s also been warped by his circumstances. He had terrible parents and an isolated childhood, not to mention shouldering massive responsibility at such a young age. He’s guilty, and doesn’t know how to have a healthy relationship with anybody. Trying to find where to show his good and bad colors was a real challenge. It’s easier for me to write characters like Magnus and Mickelmas, the extroverted jokester characters, because that’s much more in line with my own personality.

Du Livre: Now that you've said it, all I see is Mr Darcy now and I love how you made him complicated. Did you listen to any particular playlists while writing A Sorrow Fierce
 and Falling? 

Jessica Cluess: I don’t really keep playlists for books, but I do have songs. I can listen to a song over and over and over again, usually while walking around the neighborhood. It gets to a point where I almost enter a trance state where I’m not really actively thinking about anything, and images pop into my head. For the whole Kingdom on Fire series, I’ve listened to Florence + the Machine’s Seven Devils more times than I can count. It’s pretty obvious, even for me. Seven Devils, seven Ancients, boom.

Du Livre: Are you working on anything next? Can you tell us about it??

Jessica Cluess: I am! I can’t, not yet! But I can say that it has dragons.

About Jessica Cluess

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.
Website | Twitter | Instagram

Wow, did I hear that right? DRAGONS? I guess I'll set aside my preorder money right now then.

What song can you listen to over and over again? 
Have you read this series yet? 
What kind of character do you prefer: dark and brooding or the extrovert jokester?
What's your favorite book about dragons?
If you could ask Jessica Cluess any question, what would it be? 


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