The time it was about A Shadow Bright and Burning

Posted September 12, 2016 by Stacee in Blog Tours, Giveaways, Interviews | 10 Comments

I was intrigued by A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess after seeing that gorgeous cover.  I devoured it and couldn’t sign up for the blog tour fast enough.


Before we get to Jessica’s interview, let’s check out the book.

21I am Henrietta Howel.

The first female sorcerer in hundreds of years.

The prophesied one.

Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.

Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one. 

As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess’s spellbinding fantasy introduces a powerful, unforgettably heroine, and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal. Hand to fans of Libba Bray, Sarah J. Maas, and Cassandra Clare.

Pre-order at IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Sounds good, right?


1. Please give the elevator pitch for A Shadow Bright and Burning.

Very brief pitch: Jane Eyre battles Cthulu

Brief pitch: In an alternate Victorian England, a young girl joins the ranks of the elite, all-male sorcerers to battle fierce monsters from another dimension.

2. Where did the idea come from?

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, specifically the scene where Nicholas rescues a boy from abuse. I wondered how a girl in the Victorian era would stop such a thing, and then had this image of her shooting fire out of her hands. That image—girl in Victorian dress shooting fire—was the catalyst.

3. Why do you love Henrietta and why should we root for her?

I love her for two big reasons: she is practical, and she is flawed. I wanted to write a teenage girl protagonist who, because of the war, her impoverished upbringing, etc., couldn’t be wildly swayed by her emotions. I also wanted a girl who had serious character flaws, and Henrietta’s biggest flaws are that she doesn’t trust anyone, and she lies constantly. They sort of feed each other. I hope people root for her because, while she’s very flawed, she’s also brave, determined, and fundamentally kind-hearted. Plus, she lights things on fire. That’s always interesting.

4. You have a great cast of characters here. Excluding Henrietta, who was the easiest and hardest to work with and why?

Easiest is a toss up between Hargrove and Magnus. They’re both characters who like to constantly crack wise, and I relate to that. Hardest would definitely be Rook. He changed the most during revision, and finding a way to walk that balance between fragile and strong is hard for me. I’m still trying to master it, if I’m honest.

5. What was the weirdest thing you googled while researching?

I didn’t google it, but during my research I found out there’s a “medical” reason why girls in the Victorian era were encouraged to sit still. Physicians thought a lady’s uterus wasn’t attached to her insides, but free-floated all over the place. If she did too much physical activity, she might damage her ability to have children. I originally had a quick scene where a doctor fretfully tells Henrietta not to destroy her “equipment” with monster fighting, but it sort of interrupted the flow of the narrative. Plus, it’s just a strange conversation to have.

Speed [ish] round:

1. You get the call/email/letter that says you’re being published for the first time. Describe the next 5 minutes.

I was getting ready for work when I heard my phone ring. I’d assigned my agent a special ring tone for the submission round, and when I heard it I realized he probably wouldn’t call out of the blue with a rejection. So I got so excited I forgot to open the bathroom door and ran face first into it. Then I stumbled into the bedroom and jumped to get the phone, which sent me rolling across the bed and onto the floor. Finally, I got on the phone, and when my agent told me we had an offer for the whole trilogy, I fell to my knees and started screaming. A lot. He had to wait a few minutes before he could go into detail. Basically, it was a lot of slapstick comedy followed by intense histrionics: the perfect start to any Wednesday.

2. What three things would you take to a desert island?

  • How To Survive On A Deserted Island: The Guide
  • A boat
  • A team of people devoted to my happiness and comfort

3. You can only read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?

The Pillars of the Earth, because at the rate I’m going it’ll take the rest of my life to finish it.

4. Who is your favorite book boyfriend and book BFF?

Boyfriend is Gansey from the Raven Cycle, hands down. He’s funny, charming, confident, driven, loves his friends and is all about questing. My ideal man. As for BFF, that’s a little tougher. I’ve always been fond of Amelia Peabody from the Elizabeth Peters’ Egyptology mysteries. She’s sassy.

5. What is the one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?

How it moves at only two speeds: glacial pace, and complete insanity.

6. You wake up and discover you are Bella in Twilight. You know how it plays out. What do you do differently? {Huge thanks to Bookish Broads for letting me use this question}

Never let Jacob babysit.


jessicaJessica Cluess is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel.

When she’s not writing books, she’s an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.


Huge thanks to Rockstar Book Tours for the invite and to Jessica for taking the time.  Make sure you’re checking out Jessica’s website, following her on Twitter and Pinterest, and adding her books to your Goodreads TBR.

Definitely check out the rest of the tour stops for extra goodies and keep scrolling for a giveaway!

**Good Luck!!**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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