Yes! I am almost always listening to music, and it’s a must-have when I write. When I first drafted Caraval I listened to the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack by Hans Zimmer obsessively, especially the first song on it, Discombulate. It’s quirky, peculiar, a little sinister, and for me it set the opening tone for this book. I wish that everyone could listen to that song as they read chapter two, because it is what I wrote to.
2. Top 3 tips you’d give to struggling writers?
Write the book you want to read. I think, especially in those stages where you’re struggling to get published it can be easy to try and write trends, or to work on a story because you think it will sell. But I urge, write the story that you are dying to read and become immersed in, because if the tale really speaks to you and your heart, it will speak to others too. When I first wrote Caraval I was told by more than one person that the fantasy market was getting saturated and that it was a bad idea to write a book that had a circus-feel to it, because it had been done before. But this was the story I’d been wanting to experience, so I ignored the advice and I went with what was burning inside of my heart.
Make friends with other writers. Writing is a wonderful and magical thing, but it’s also a very challenging industry to work in. Before Caraval sold I wrote five other books that didn’t sell, and received countless rejections. I would have given up without my friends, they encouraged me, and they also helped me to grow as a writer. Also, everything is better with friends; the difficult times are easier when you have friends to cheer you up and cheer you on, and the joyful times are better when you have friends to cheer with.
3. If you could jump into any fictional world, which would you pick?
Oh, there are so many fictional worlds I’d love to see. But I think if I could visit any, I would want to be a student at Hogwarts. I want to take a potions class, drink butterbeer, visit Diagon Alley, hang out in the Hufflepuff common room, see if I could conjure a Patronus, try to spot a dragon!
4. One book you always find yourself shoving into the hands of others? (New or old)
I am always shoving books at people. This last year I was probably the most aggressive with The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman, which I always describe as a Victorian Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with a very swoon worthy love interest (Lord Carlston can have my heart any day). This next year I have a feeling I will be telling everyone to read A Potion Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess, which also takes place in an alternate Victorian London, full of monsters, magicians, sorcerers, and so many surprises!
5. What is your favourite (non-spoilery) line or scene in Caraval?
My favourite line has stayed the same since the moment I wrote it, it’s from the middle of the book, and I don’t think it’s spoilery, so I’ll share it: “Not quite sure how far she’d already fallen, she imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars came out.”
6. What would your (carnival) performer act and name be?
This is such a fun question! I would totally want to be a fortuneteller. Maybe I’d go by Stephanie Strange, and claim to be related to the fictional Lazlo Strange of Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer – this is the book I’m currently reading and it is utterly fantastic.
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