Today we have an interview with debut novelist Rae Carson. Her book Girl of Fire and Thorns is a fantastic fantasy with strong characters and an amazing world.
Yesterday Rae also released the book trailer for The Girl of Fire and Thorns which was created by The Hillywood Show! It’s amazing – check it out after the interview.
Tell us 5 random facts about yourself?
1. I used to compete in beauty pageants. 2. My issue platform was “youth literacy,” which was ironically spelled “litaracy” in my first pageant program. 3. The scariest thing I’ve ever done is play piano in front of thousands of people for the talent competition. 4. I can only play three songs on the piano because I can’t read music, and it takes lot of time to figure them out by ear, but those three that I play, I play very well! (Or, I used to. I’m out of practice.) 5. I’m very glad I don’t do pageants anymore; I had a blast and learned a lot, but the grown-up me finds them degrading to women.
Tell us a little bit about your process and how you became a writer.
I became a writer by writing, writing, writing. And then writing some more. And then showing my writing to people who helpfully tore it into a million tiny, humiliating shreds. And then picking my self-esteem up off of the floor and writing better and harder. Lather, rinse, repeat, until I got a publishing contract. Basically, I stubborned my way into writing professionally.
Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
I’ve been reading young adult fiction for years. It struck me one day that YA books contain soooo many improbably beautiful and perfect girls, and it made me sad to think that teen readers might get the message that they had to be perfect to be the hero of their own story. So I set out to write about a girl who was more like the rest of us. When the story begins, Elisa has a lousy self-esteem and an unhealthy relationship with food. But over time, she overcomes these things to find her hero-potential.
And that’s what most of us must do. We don’t all have lousy self-esteems like Elisa, but we do overcome hard, deeply personal things to find success and joy. I believe today’s teens are particularly resilient and determined to succeed, and I felt they deserved a fictional hero who reflects this extraordinary quality.
What was your favorite chapter/scene to write and why?
My favorite scene to write was the one where [redacted!] is killed. I worked hard to earn that scene, setting it up chapters in advance. I cried over it, laughed over it with evil glee, and when I finally put the finishing touches on it, I was as proud of it as anything I’ve written.
How did you create Elisa’s character? Does she have traits from yourself or people around you?
Elisa is a lot like me in that we both love food with passionate love (mmm, pastries). But that’s about it! Everything else is so different, from her appearance to her beliefs to her likes and dislikes. It was fun to write about a person so unlike me.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The hardest thing for me to hear is that my story is too “adult” or “sophisticated” for teens. It’s like a stab in the heart! The best compliments come from reader fanmail. My favorite (so far) said, “I feel like you wrote this story just for me.” I admit it—I teared up.
Do you have things you need in order to write ie. coffee, cupcakes, music?
I’m incapable of writing without music. I listen to different types for different reasons. Need motivation? Eminem. Something chill and dreamy? Daft Punk. Something upbeat and slightly ridiculous? Black Eyed Peas. Actiony? The Transformers movie score. And those are just a few examples. My music library is ginormous.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the third book of the trilogy, called The Bitter Kingdom, which will be published Fall 2013. Holy cow, I will have written a whole trilogy. That’s more than 1200 pages! *boggles*