Friday, 4 October 2013

Friday Feature: Interview with Jessica Spotswood

Really pleased to present my first author interview for a few weeks, with the brilliant Jessica Spotswood, author of the Cahill Witch Chronicles!

1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Honestly, I think of twelve or thirteen year old me – desperate for stories about clever, independent girls who have fantastic adventures but also get in a fair amount of swoony kissing, often while dealing with fraught issues with families or friends.


2. I really enjoyed the interaction between the three sisters at the centre of the Cahill Witch Chronicles. Who’s your favourite fictional family?

I love the March sisters of Little Women: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. There are some ways in which LW (which I loved as a child) feels very dated now, but Louisa May Alcott was brilliant at capturing that mix of love and rivalry between sisters. I also adore the Weasleys from the Harry Potter books. Who doesn’t?

I definitely do! Weasleys are fab, as are the Marches.


3. I also found the setting of the Cahill Witch Chronicles – an alternate history version of New England at the end of the nineteenth century - to be really intriguing. How much research did you have to do?

Thank you! I did lots of research into the fashion, food, home d├ęcor, architecture, and technology of the late Victorian era. I wanted to capture that sumptuous, elegant world of carriages and corsets and candlesticks, even as I gave it a little twist.


4. On that subject, what’s your favourite fictional setting?

Hogwarts! Hands-down. If I could visit any fictional setting, I’d want to spend a day at Hogwarts: owl delivery, McGonagall’s Transfiguration class, Charms, Herbology, Care of Magical Creatures with Hagrid, time for exploring the castle, and of course a Quidditch game!

Sounds like a plan! Would certainly join you in the classes there. 


5. Finn must be a dream boy for most YA readers. Not only is he sensitive and charming, his family have a book store! If you owned your own book store, what would be the five books you’d be trying to sell to everyone who came in?

Oh, I love this question! I’d recommend my 4 favorite books so far this year: OUT OF THE EASY by Ruta Sepetys, which is the story of the clever, wistful daughter of a prostitute who dreams of escaping the tawdry French Quarter of 1950s New Orleans for an Eastern college; THE LUCY VARIATIONS by Sara Zarr, which is a brilliant exploration of the relationship between love and art and what we owe to our families and what we owe to ourselves, told via a prickly teenaged pianist; RELIC by Renee Collins, which features a imaginative version of the Old West in which people mine for magical relics instead of gold; and BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA by April Genevieve Tucholke, which is moody and atmospheric and creepy-lovely. And then I’d recommend one of my all-time favorite books, CHIME by Franny Billingsley, which I feel like not enough people have read yet!

Some fab recs there - I hadn't heard of RELIC or BETWEEN THE DEVIL OR THE DEEP BLUE SEA, so I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for them.


6. Your website is absolutely gorgeous – I particularly love the purple flowers and the beautiful font for your name. How much input did you have into its design?

Thank you! I really wanted to incorporate roses in some way, since the rose garden is an important setting in BORN WICKED and since Cate loves her flowers! I think they’ve very romantic. I chose the haunted house and tree pictures from stock photos to give it a witchy feel. But my web designer (Maddee at xuni.com) chose the gorgeous purple color and the design for my name, and she made the rose border at the top look so pretty.


7. Speaking of your website, your reading list there says your goal is 100 books. That’s seriously impressive – how do you fit in the time around writing, and where do you do most of your reading?

I think I’ve recently downgraded my reading goal to 75, because I have no hope of reaching 100 this year! Alas. I wish I were much better at finding more time for reading – I spend entirely too much time on twitter and Facebook and reading random articles online! I do most of my reading in bed, late at night, while my husband and my cat are snoring away.

Agree completely about online articles taking time away from reading books - I keep falling into that trap too!


8. I also noticed on your reading list that you’ve read a couple by Julia Quinn this year. She’s one of the few authors who can drag me away from YA to read adult novels! Are you a fan, and is there anyone else writing historical romances like hers that you could recommend?

Yes! I still have to read the last two Bridgerton books, but I love the first 6. My favorite is #3, AN OFFER FROM A GENTLEMAN, which is a bit of a Cinderella story and features swoony, artistic Benedict Bridgerton. If you’re also fond of Regency romances, I highly recommend Sarah MacLean’s series beginning with 9 RULES TO BREAK WHEN ROMANCING A RAKE, and Eloisa James’ Essex Sisters series.

The MacLean has been on my list for ages because the title is just fabulous - I'm glad the book lives up to it!


9. If you could ask any author any question, what would you ask and who would you ask it to?

I’d ask Kristin Cashore to tell me about her world-building process. GRACELING, FIRE, and BITTERBLUE are some of my favorite books ever, and I’m in awe of her complex, wonderful writing.


10. What’s next for Jessica Spotswood?

That’s a fantastic question! I’m waiting for copyedits on SISTERS’ FATE, the third book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles, which will be out August 2014. Now I’m turning my attention to putting together a proposal for something totally new! Stay tuned for more info later this fall!


Thanks so much for that wonderful interview, Jessica!

Jessica can be found online at her blog, on Twitter and Facebook. You can also check out the Cahill Witch Inspiration pinboard!

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