Today I’m participating in my first ever Sunday Street Team post, run by the fabulous Nori from ReadWriteLove28. I’m so excited to share my interview with Jessica Cluess with you because A Shadow Bright and Burning is one of my most anticipated reads of 2016!
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she’s brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?
INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA CLUESS
- What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Two things: finish what you start, and don’t quit. You can’t do anything until you have a completed and polished manuscript. And then when you have one, keep trying, and keep listening to the feedback you get from readers, from agents, from editors. Above all, remember that a rejection isn’t the end of the world. All of this has been said before, yes, but it really bears repeating.
- What are a few of your favorite songs to listen to while writing?
It depends on the book. For ASBAB, I kept going back to Seven Devils by Florence + The Machine, much of the musical Sweeney Todd, and Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. My mood and the scene dictate what kind of music I need to listen to that day.
- What keeps you motivated when you have writer’s block?
For me, if I have a block, one of two things has happened. I either took the story in a direction that’s wrong for the characters, or I’m psyching myself out. If it’s the former, I go back to the place that last felt good and brainstorm a different way forward. If it’s the latter, I go for a walk or make some coffee or talk my anxiety out with someone, but I make a rule to always go back to the manuscript that day. It’s a lot like falling off a horse: if you don’t get right back on, you never will.
- What would be the favorite Disney movie of Henrietta, the main character of A Shadow Bright and Burning?
I think it’s Beauty and the Beast, because of Belle. She’s a bookworm who manages to assert herself and be strong while also being feminine and making no apologies for that. I think Henrietta would find a lot to admire in that.
- What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2016?
This is impossible. Okay, since I have to pick one, I’ll go with what’s on my mind at the moment. And that’s The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. It’s so lush and atmospheric, the story is wonderful, and the writing is a dream.
- What three words best describe A Shadow Bright and Burning?
Action-packed. Romantic. Monsters.
- How did you come up with Henrietta Howel’s name?
For her first name, I knew I wanted something that sounded kind of plain and ungainly. Growing up with a boring, ordinary name myself, I always envied girls in adventure stories who had romantic, unusual names. So I decided to create a heroine with a somewhat derpy name. After I had her first name, I had to choose her surname. I knew early on that her father was Welsh, so I hunted through lists of Welsh last names. For a short while, her name was Henrietta Embrey, but that didn’t sound right. Then, while going through my old closet at my parents’ house, I found my copy of Howl’s Moving Castle. I remembered that Howl’s real name is Howell Jenkins—and he was Welsh. So I knocked off an L and named her Howel in honor of that book. Also, Howl’s last name, Jenkins, found its way to another character in my book: Jenkins Hargrove, the magician.
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.
Have you been lucky enough to read A Shadow Bright and Burning yet? If so, what did you think? If not, are you anticipating reading it as much as I am?
Let me know in the comments!