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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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?
- 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.
- 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.
(okay, Harry probably isn’t that trope buuut it’s just too perfect a gif)
- 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.
- 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!