Hi, thank you so much for agreeing to take part in this Q+A!
Thanks for having me!
I was totally enamoured with Ironskin, and I cannot wait to read Copperhead. But it is only natural to draw some comparisons between your book and Charlotte Bronte’s. How far do you feel the story was shaped or guided by the Jane Eyre references when writing it?
Thank you! The book grew out of a short story about a girl who came to work for a man who made strange masks. She goes into his studio at midnight and finds a beautiful one—of her own face. When I decided to expand it into a novel, one thing that interested me were the Jane Eyre elements of the story. I’ve always loved Jane Eyre, and I really enjoyed working with and alluding to Bronte’s text as I shaped the story and themes of Ironskin.
The gothic vibe Ironskin has was so engaging. For me, it takes an ever darker turn when Jane and Rochart share a ‘moment’ in the presence of an operating table… and a patient! Some chilling and somewhat disturbing imagery follows concerning the adding and removal of masks. Did you intend it to be so macabre? (and I use that word in the best possible sense!)
Ha! That’s the scene that all my draft readers said: Did you really go there? Yes. Yes I did. That image was in my head pretty early on. I find that if I have a strong visceral reaction to something, then it’s usually worth exploring on the page.
Copperhead sees a change in protagonist. Will the mood or tone change along with it? Or will Helen continue down a darker path?
Copperhead is dark, but I think of it more as candlelit chandelier dark than gothic dark. If that makes any sense. It’s all in the city, as opposed to the windswept moors of Ironskin. I really loved getting to explore Helen as a character, and see her through her own eyes instead of through Jane’s. And Helen meets up with a number of different women in the city, which gave me a whole bunch of interesting perspectives to explore. And then, there’s theatre people in Copperhead, so I loved writing about that. One of them, a flamboyant theatre actress named Frye, was just supposed to be a minor character, but she swept onstage and made herself integral to the plot.
Is a third instalment for this series in the works?
Yes! I’m just about finished with the edits on the final book, Silverblind. It’s set 18 years later and features a grown-up Dorie. That will be out this fall. I’ve been wanting to write Dorie’s story since the beginning. She is in such an unusual position—torn between the humans and the fey—that I knew I wanted to explore her story. And then Tam, who’s a young boy in Copperhead, is a major character in Silverblind as well.
As my blog suggests, I am always ‘A Bit Behind on Books’. Is there a book or a series that you feel like you should have read by now, but you simply haven’t yet?
Oh, interesting question. I have a three-year-old and a three-month-old, so I’ve been behind on books for awhile myself! Recently with the new baby I’ve actually been able to catch up a bit on my TBR pile while holding the baby, which has been wonderful. I think as soon as Silverblind goes in I’m going to start on Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon’s Lexicon series, which a friend lent to me a whole year ago (oops!) and I haven’t read yet.
And some for funsies! What is your favourite fruit, and why?
I used to think that fruit was not that interesting . . . until we moved to the Pacific Northwest here in the US. There are SO many good berries and local fruit trees here. So different than the grocery store fruit that has to stand up to being shipped cross-country. So. Favorite fruit now is plums. Second is blueberries, Hood strawberries, and really really ripe peaches. (You didn’t ask, but I’ve also been having some very serious conversations with myself lately about my favorite nut, and I’ve decided it’s pecan.)
You’re having a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – which other literary characters do you send invitations to?
Ha! Okay, limiting myself to my children’s books:
The Gnome King from the Oz books—I think it would be funny seeing him be all grumpy and cross.
Mr Bass from the Mushroom Planet books—I adored him and so wanted to go to there.
Space Cat—to curl up on the table and be disdainful.
The kids from A Tale of Time City, and they would bring a bunch of butter-pies with them to share. Also Chrestomanci to sit at the head of the table in his dressing gown.
Betsy from the Betsy-Tacy books and Emily from LM Montgomery’s series—because I think they would enjoy this nonsense tea party and we would have fun laughing about it together.
And finally, not a question, but thank you again for taking part! I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed Ironskin. 😀
Thank you so much! And thanks for having me on the blog!
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- Cue crazy fangirling for a Dorie based story! One of my wishes came true (click)