Hi friends! Welcome to the publisher-hosted blog tour for A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess. I adored this book, and I'm excited to share an interview with Jessica.
(Photo from Jessica's website.)
Alyssa: Hi Jessica! Thank you so much for joining me today. Your book has a beautiful cover! Tell me about your reaction, when you first saw it. :)
Jessica: I distinctly remember my jaw dropping. The idea of a rose on fire was such a fantastic concept anyway, but when I saw the colors—the bright orange embers, the teal flame turning a cooler, more electric blue—I knew it was incredibly special. I just think of it as a really great piece of art.
Alyssa: How about the evolution of the title—were you calling the book something else at any point?
Jessica: When I started querying, the book had the very expressive title of Sorcerer’s Flame. Genius, I know. My agent rightly thought it sounded too bland, so we came up with A Cloak of Flame, which Random House bought…and then rightly thought didn’t sound epic enough. So that spurred a two or three week email chain between my agent, my editor, and me, while we tried to figure out what to call the book. It had to relate to fire, it had to sound epic but also Victorian…we were all going nuts by the end of it. Finally, my editor looked at a pile of words we’d been throwing around and came up with the current title. I’m so glad she did, because it ties in so nicely to the book. It is about a girl who sets herself on fire, yes, and she does fight a shadow monster. But it’s also about bringing truth forth from lies—burning away the shadows, as it were.
Alyssa: Will the titles of the rest of the books in the series follow the same pattern?
Jessica: They will! We have books two and three titled already. If you’re paying attention as you read, you might be able to piece them together…
Alyssa: So this is a trilogy! Were you planning on writing that many when you wrote this book?
Jessica: I always knew I wanted this to be a multi book series. For a while I couldn’t figure if I wanted it to be three or four, but I think three is a perfect number. I was so lucky and thankful when Random House bought the entire trilogy.
Alyssa: Can you tell us anything about book two? A little snippet, sneak peek, hint, title, etc?
Jessica: I can’t say much, but I’ll say this: We go outside of London. Some secrets are brought to light. We meet an important new character. There is a lot of kissing and crying.
Alyssa: What is one thing you hope readers will get out of A Shadow Bright and Burning?
Jessica: I hope they enjoy themselves. I honestly write in the hope that someone will read my book and get taken away from their everyday problems, because that’s what books have always been to me: a safe haven. However, if they think about anything after finishing, I hope that they consider how pointless it is to base someone’s worth on how they’re born. That’s a pretty ridiculous thing to do.
Alyssa: Thank you, Jessica!
About the Author:
Jessica 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.
About the Book:
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Book One of the Kingdom on Fire series
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Summary (from Goodreads):
I 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.