Friday 1 February 2013

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2013 YA UK Debut Interview: Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

We all like supporting YA and New Adult debut authors, but this year, rather than just read their books, I'll be highlighting them on my blog too, so you can hear about these wonderful authors.

Today I'm interviewing YA author Jessica Spotswood whose debut YA novel, Born Wicked, is being published by Penguin in the UK on 7th February 2013. Read on for more:

Jessica SpotswoodBorn Wicked by Jessica Spotswood - Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.

Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.

If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other.
 From Goodreads.

Born Wicked by Jessica SpotswoodCan you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in Washington, DC with my playwright husband and a very cuddly cat named Monkey. Since we both work from home, The Playwright and I often have coffee-shop writing dates in our neighbourhood. When I’m not writing, I might be in yoga class, teaching a writing workshop for 8-10 year olds through Writopia, seeing a play, or playing board games with friends. You can find out more about me at my blog!

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Yes and no. I started writing in fourth grade, but in college I veered away from writing towards theater  In grad school, I studied theater history & criticism with a focus on new play dramaturgy. But by the end of my course, I was miserable; I loved working with playwrights to develop new scripts, but I really missed being a writer myself. I started writing again that fall, in 2006, and I haven’t looked back since. Which isn’t to say it’s been an entirely smooth path – my first ms, a fantasy called INHERITING GAROLASS, snagged me an agent and went on submission but never sold.

How did you come up with the idea for Born Wicked?

Like Cate, I’m the oldest of three sisters. I had a dream that my sisters and I were fighting over a magical locket from our mother. There’s no magical locket in BW, but the idea of three sisters with a complicated magical inheritance stuck.

If you could describe Born Wicked in three words, what would they be?

Witches + sisters + kissing!

Why will readers like your main character, Cate Cahill?

I hope anyone with siblings will recognize both the fierce, protective love she has for Maura and Tess and the occasional jealousy and rivalry between them. Cate can be prickly and bossy and stubborn, but her heart is always in a good place. She is desperate to keep the promise she made her mother to keep her sisters safe and keep their witchery a secret.

What research did you have to do for Born Wicked? Was there anything you found that surprised you?

One of my earliest notes from my editor was that she wanted me to “ruffle my corsets” more - to give a richer, fuller sense of the time and place of the Cahill sisters. BORN WICKED takes place in 1896 New England, but it’s an alternate version, in which first witches and then the patriarchal Brotherhood govern New England, the South is colonized by the Spanish, and the West is a territory of Indo-China. I spent a lot of time researching the fashion (so fun!), interior design, and technology of that time – and the etymology of certain words and phrases to see if they’d been invented yet. I was surprised that some phrases that seem very modern to us were in use by 1896; I just wrote a blog post on slang that was invented in 1896!

Tell us about how you write; do you write in a particular place? Do you have any music playing? Do you have any must-haves with you while writing?

I tend to do a lot of editing, email, and interviews during the afternoon at coffee shops. I prefer the quiet babble around me, but if someone’s particularly distracting I’ll put on headphones. For the Cahill Witch Chronicles, I’ve listened to a lot of Mumford & Sons, Snow Patrol, Florence + the Machine, and Amanda Palmer. For drafting (I’m working on book 3 now), I’m very much a night owl. I write in my office, with a cup of tea, no music.

What was most surprising to you during the writing process?

There are two minor characters whose roles originally didn’t continue past BORN WICKED. But I loved writing them so much that they worked their way into all three books, and I’d love to write a short story from their points of view sometime!

How does it feel to know your book will soon be in the hands of readers?

I’m so excited that the Cahill Witch Chronicles will be published in the UK! It’s been out in the US for a year (since Feb 7, 2012), and I absolutely love hearing from readers. Getting emails, tweets, and Facebook messages absolutely makes my day – so please feel free to reach out!

Anything else you would like to add?

I can’t wait to share Cate and her sisters and Finn with UK readers!

Thank you, Jessica, for such a great interview! I really like the sound of this book! Such an intriguing fantasy premise! You can find Jessica on her website, Twitter, Jessica's Facebook page and the Cahill Witch series Facebook page.


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