Hey guys! I’m participating in Sunday Street Team. I have an interview with Jessica Cluess, author of A Shadow Bright and Burning.
Title: A Shadow Bright and Burning
Author: Jessica Cluess
Release Day: September 20, 2016
Summary: 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?
Author Interview with Jessica Cluess:
- A Shadow Bright and Buring is your debut novel. Have you written any novels before this that you have kept to yourself?
Yes! ASBAB was my sixth manuscript. Before that, I wrote some really hilarious-in-a-bad-way books. The one I wrote when I was fifteen involved high school filmmakers, evil farmers, and men who kept their sister’s body in the attic. It was priceless. I did write an adult urban fantasy novel that I actually tried to get published, but no one wanted it. Basically, the book itself wasn’t as good as it could have been, and the market in 2012 was oversaturated. But I believe that failure can lead to the bigger success, so I didn’t give up.
- In 2012 you were published in the anthology Midnight Symphony: Tales of the Macabre and Supernatural. What did you write about in this anthology?
Oh dear. Okay, so remember that urban fantasy novel I mentioned? Well, one of the main characters in it was a demon called Malcolm, and the story (it’s really a novelette) showed him in Victorian London trying to destroy people. I would really, really suggest that younger readers not pick this up, because it’s a hard R in terms of sex and violence. Also, the writing is unedited and kind of ridiculous in places. However, it does show that I have an unending fascination with taking Victorian England and stuffing monsters and weird creatures into the mix.
- How long have you wanted to be an author for and is there any time in particular that made you realize you wanted to do this?
I’ve enjoyed writing my entire life, but I didn’t get serious about it until I was 24. The recession hit, and I was just out of school and working jobs that didn’t pay much. It wasn’t a particularly hopeful time, and I remember thinking ‘I don’t want to be here right now. I want to escape.’ So I picked up Dune by Frank Herbert. The truth is, I wasn’t a huge sci-fi or fantasy fan up to that point, but the book absolutely took me away. I thought I was walking around on a scorching desert planet in the middle of a Chicago winter. I realized that genre fiction is incredibly powerful, a great way for people to have these huge, emotional experiences. I also realized I wanted to write books that would make people feel the way that I had after reading Dune, so I started writing in earnest.
- If you could wish for one thing to happen in the world what would you wish for? Remember you can’t undo your wish (No pressure or anything).
Oh man! Um, let’s see. I would wish that everyone on earth could have one really great, delicious, filling meal. I know that sounds dumb, but people tend to think clearer on a full stomach, and if I start saying things like world peace or erasure of nuclear arms it could have disastrous and unforeseen consequences. At least a meal is relatively harmless. Yes, I am all about food.
- While writing your novel did you listen to music? If so what songs were on it?
I listen to music while I’m walking to get ideas, or right before I start writing. But usually when I’m working, I need silence. I listened to that one Florence + The Machine song, Seven Devils, pretty much on repeat. If you listen to the lyrics, it really feels like she’s singing about the Seven Ancients, so I used that. I listened to Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, because Victorian with lots of blood. I listened to everything from Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos to hours of Two Steps From Hell, lots of trailer and video game music. I’d love to say I have playlists, but when I’m working it’s a little bit of everything. Whatever catches my ear at the moment, I use.
- In A Shadow Bright and Burning is there a sexy love interest that will make everyone reading start swooning?
I would say there are multiple guys running around, but—but!—it’s not really a love triangle situation. By that I mean Henrietta’s focus is always on what she is and how to win the war, not on whether or not a hot guy likes her. That’s not to say there are no hot guys. There are many different flavors—the brooding one, the kind one, the funny one, etc. So far, I’ve had people shipping multiple characters, which is cool and nerve-wracking at the same time. And it’s not just about the guys that are obvious romantic interests—one person asked ‘is it weird if I find Agrippa hot?’ And hey, he may be a man in his sixties, but why not? I believe in finding fictional characters hot according to your own personal preference. Enjoy yourself.
- What was the hardest part to write in A Shadow Bright and Burning?
There is no way to talk about this without spoilers, but Henrietta is surprised by something towards the end of the book. Writing her emotional state was pretty painful, because she has terrible trust issues, and that’s something I relate to. So it was basically digging in to all my worst fears to write that chapter.
- Raeleen at padfootandprongs07 on YouTube created a tag called Book Math. What you do is you add and subtract elements of books to create another book (Example from Raeleen: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (the war element) + Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma (the incest) – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (the dystopian element) = How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff). What books would work with A Shadow Bright and Burning?
Wow! Okay, let me think.
The Infernal Devices (warriors in Victorian England) + the Grisha trilogy (girl with magical power brought to the capital) – Harry Potter (she’s not really the chosen one) = A Shadow Bright and Burning
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.