We had seen Claire for Furyborn and I knew as soon as it was announced that she was coming to Mysterious Galaxy, we’d be going.
I met up with Michelle and Jessica and we grabbed food and did the regular Target stop before heading to the bookstore to run amok. We chatted with our favorite booksellers, perused all of the new pretties, and talked about review books.
Claire came out just after 7pm. She talked about what the books were about and then did a reading. Before deciding what section to read, she polled the audience to see who had read which book. Only one person said they had read Kingsbane, so Claire was hesitant to read the prologue from Kingsbane…but she did.
The prologue of book 1 has stayed nearly the same when I wrote it 15 years ago. I had just turned 18 and was listening to the lord of the rings soundtrack and saw a woman surrounded by fire. I started asking myself questions about power and what her powers were and the dynamics of it. As I started answering the questions, I came up with Rielle.
I was in college and changed my major to be a writer and wrote the first draft and it was 340k words, which is way longer than any book should be. I tried to get it published and no one wanted it.
I set it aside and started working on other things. Cavendish was the first book I sold. In between writing other things, I would always come back to this one. As I became a better writer, it became a sellable book.
It’s been the most fun thing. It still feels surreal.
Considering that’s a 180k word book, how did you find the time for it?
Well, the first draft was 250k words. I’ve just accepted that it’s how my brain works. I wrote it in 5 months while I was working at the library. It was actually a terrible time in my life and I just made the time for it. I would arrange my life around it.
How is your mental health reflected in your work?
Sometimes, it’s very obvious. I think all of my characters are dealing with something. In book 3, one of the characters is dealing with debilitating depression. I think it’s important to write about it so the language is there and people who don’t experience mental illness can experience it in some way.
In my middle grade book, Some Kind of Happiness, the main character has undiagnosed anxiety and depression. When I do school visits, I am quite open about it and I’ve seen kids get laser focused when I’m talking about those subjects. I’ve had teachers pull me aside and thank me for talking about it.
Will we get to know more about Simon?
Yes. There is some of that in book 2 and even more in book 3.
When you finished book 1, did you know what was going to happen?
We sold it on a partial. I’ve had my vision planned out for several years. Everything is layered with purpose. I always know what the ending will be from the beginning. It may shift, but that’s okay.
How many drafts of Furyborn were there?
I know at least 4. At one point, my agent and i reworked it and thought about it being set partially in our world. So there are little nods here and there. Let’s just say at least half a dozen drafts.
Was there anything added and where did you get the idea for the empirium?
Yes, that idea was always there. I love the trope of there being a cosmic force, like the force in Star Wars or the dust in His Dark Materials. That is how I personally view the world. The way the empirium is viewed, that’s has been the same throughout.
There is a new character in book 2 who becomes a narrator. They are new and came up when I was drafting this book. They were on the edge, but became more and that was interesting.
If you could control any of the elements and what would your casting be?
I think it would be sunlight because I struggle in the winter when it’s grey and cold. For purely selfish reasons, I would want to control the sun. There is a casting that appears in book 2 and it would be that. I don’t want to spoil it, but I will say that I want to be able to go on Etsy and buy it or them.
What influenced the prophecy?
His Dark Materials is one of my favorite books and there’s a prophecy in it. I just really like them. I think it was a natural evolution of their characters and plot development.
How do you decide the epigraphs?
They’re my favorite thing. They’re such a great cheat. I can’t have 350k word books, so I have to figure out how to share world building things and the epigraphs are perfect. I wrote the epigraphs for book 2 after I was done, during copy edits.
Will you still play with the world in your head when it’s done?
Like is it constantly evolving? I know them pretty well, but they’re set. There are a few things here and there and details do pop up, but it’s not really changing.
From there, the signing line got started and when we got up to Claire, we chatted about the new trailer for the His Dark Materials show with LMM. We also talked about how I read the last page first and I apologized for not reading her books yet.
As always, Claire is an amazing author to see. I love hearing her talk about her books and writing process and if you get the chance to see her, I highly recommend it.