Talking Tropes with Jess Cluess

Hi! Carrie here! I’m pleased to unveil a new, ongoing feature on the blog, TALKING TROPES. These will be fun interviews with some really great authors, where we discuss their books, their favorite stories, and also tropes they love, and tropes they hate. One of the things I’ve noticed as BroodingYAHero is that people sometimes fall into the thinking that all tropes are awful, and that’s not true. Some certainly are, and some are overused to the point of absurdity, but some tropes are useful tools!

In this inaugural blog, I’ll be interviewing the fabulous Jessica Cluess, author of A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING, one of my favorite reads in 2016! It has some FABULOUS trope subversion that you need to read to believe.

Oh, and I’ll also be doing a giveaway of its sequel, A POISON DARK AND DROWNING, so definitely read until the end!

Without further ado, let’s begin!

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  1. So, first of all, your book is incredible! Can you tell me a little of your inspiration for it?

J: Thank you! I got the idea from Nicholas Nickleby, actually. There’s a scene where Nicholas physically stops an assault on a defenseless boy. Since it’s set in Victorian England, I wondered how a girl of the time might have managed something like that. Then I had this image of her blasting fire out of her hands, and bam. That was it.

  1. One of the things I loved about A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING is how complex all the characters are. Without spoilers, it’s fair to say no one is quite as they seem. Do you have any favorites among the cast?

J: I think my two favorites are Henrietta and the magician Hargrove. Henrietta’s the lead and the narrator, so it’s very fortunate that she’s one of my favorites. I’d have a hard time writing the series if I didn’t like her! As for Hargrove, he’s got a lot of secrets, but he also has a lot of fun. I enjoy characters who enjoy themselves. He doesn’t angst endlessly over his past, and I admire that.

  1. What other books/tv/movies have you enjoyed this year?

J:  Man, where to start? Traci Chee’s THE READER, Tara Sim’s TIMEKEEPER, Roshani Chokshi’s THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN, Alwyn Hamilton’s REBEL OF THE SANDS, Emily Skrutskie’s THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US, all incredible 2016 YA debuts. Then there’s CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber, too!

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I’ve been spoiled with the incredible amount of great books I’ve read. That’s an excellent way to be spoiled, of course. As for movies and TV, I find I have less and less time these days. One thing I’m currently deep into is Mr. Robot. It’s really doing wonders to increase my paranoia, so…actually, that’s not a good thing. Eh. What can you do?

  1. Let’s talk tropes. I know you’re a fan of BroodingYAhero. Are there any other character tropes you love?

J: Ah, Brooding YA Hero is one of my favorite things on the internet. I can’t wait for the book. Hmm. As far as tropes go, I’m a sucker for the ‘person has to confront their past’ storyline, in pretty much any form. I think the only way to really move into the future is to contend with past failures or problems. Also, it’s heavily dramatic. I’ve come to realize that a lot of my stories deal with characters having to deal with secrets from the past, be it family or society. The cycle doesn’t end until you break it, so to speak.

  1. Any you hate?

J: That asshole YA hero who always says and does asshole things? And then people call him charming? That’s not charm. That’s being a jackass. There’s a difference.

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(okay, Harry probably isn’t that trope buuut it’s just too perfect a gif)
  1. What about plot tropes?

J: I love the ragtag bunch of heroes coming together and realizing they need each other, even if they want to kill each other. I really, really dislike plots that are built upon constant misunderstanding and miscommunication. That’s forcing characters to behave like idiots so that we can have a story.

  1. What’s one piece of writing advice you have for aspiring authors?

J: Originally, the hero of Star Wars was going to be named Jason Starkiller. It was a very, very different script, and not a very good one. My point is that your first draft is not going to be close to what you see in your head on the first try. Don’t get frustrated. Learn to love the rewrite process, because it’s what separates the Jason Starkillers from the Luke Skywalkers.

Thank you again, Jessica, for this awesome interview!

And now, for the giveaway!

  Click HERE for a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal: GOLDEN by K.M. Robinson!

Do you love fairytale retellings?

How about badass heroines saving the day AND finding love?

I DO!

That’s why I’m so excited to take part in the cover reveal of GOLDEN by  K.M. Robinson 

When the girl with the golden hair betrays everyone, not even she has hope of surviving.

The stories say that Goldilocks was a naïve girl who wandered into a house one day. Those stories were wrong. She was never naïve. It was all a perfectly executed plan to get her into the Baers’ group to destroy them.

Trained by her cousin, Lowell, and handler, Shadoe, Auluria’s mission is to destroy the Baers by getting close to the youngest brother, Dov, his brother and sister-in-law and the leaders of the Baers’ group. When she realizes Dov isn’t as evil as her cousin led her to believe, she must figure out how to play both sides or her deception will cause everyone in her world to burn.

If her allegiances are discovered, either side could destroy her…if the Society doesn’t get her first.

Check out the cover after the jump!

Continue reading

Little Things To Keep You Going

Taking a break from all the fun and squeeing over my book that sold, I wanted to talk about something a little less fun.

How to keep yourself moving forward creatively when the state of the world (or your personal life) make you want to curl up in a ball and never leave your bed?

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I wish I had an easy answer. I certainly do not.

First of all, whatever’s got you feeling this low, your feelings are valid. Secondly, please don’t be afraid to seek help, or at least reach out to a friend or family.

But maybe it’s not depression. Maybe it’s just the mean reds, as made famous in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S

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Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?

Paul Varjak: The mean reds. You mean like the blues?

Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat, and maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re just sad, that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid, and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

Sound about right? Somehow, for me as a writer, I run into these mean reds often. I read an amazing book, and it throws me into a deep sulk that I’ll never be as good of a writer as that one is. Or I’ll get feedback that I don’t know how to handle, and I’ll feel like a fake writer.

Or, you know, there will be an election, and the whole world will catch on fire. That too.

Regardless of what’s got you feeling like crap, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite small things to cheer up:

  • Look at old photos of good times.(also BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS. ahem.)
  • Have a cup of tea. I’m not sure what it is about tea that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, but it works every time.
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  • Go for a walk. I was amazed to realize my saddest days are also my lowest step count days.
  • Write something fun. Like fanfic.
  • Treat yourself to a fancy pastry. If it’s got a French name, I bet it’s super fancy and very yummy.
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  • Watch a movie. I just watched LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP and found it absolutely adorable.
  • Call a friend/family member/someone you’d like to be friends with.

Binge a series. May I suggest YURI ON ICE? Cutest show EVER.c596942844b963666866f1c4c3d216a7

So, tell me, what helps you get out of a creative bout of the mean reds?