TCR: What inspired your main character, Elisa?
RC: When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a princess. Preferably a princess with shiny hair buns and a laser pistol. But as I got older, the idea of royalty began to rankle. Why are royals considered special? Because they had the good luck to be born into a certain family? Unless you believe in the divine right of kings—and I do not—there is no good reason to laud royals as anything other than regular folks. So I got to thinking: What if a princess wasn’t all that special? What if she wasn’t beautiful or brave or accomplished and had to earn her specialness just like the rest of us? And the character of Elisa was born.
TCR: I love the Spanish influence on the setting of The Girl of Fire and Thorns. What led you to incorporating that in the book?
RC: Thanks! I was teaching myself Spanish when I started writing this book, so it was fresh in my mind. It’s such a beautiful language, and its speakers tend to be exuberant and warm—which makes it one of the easier languages to learn. For the book, I confess I took some liberties, adding French and Portuguese influences as needed to evoke a certain mood or image. So it’s not exactly Spanish. Just mostly. :)
TCR: One of my favorite elements of The Girl of Fire and Thorns was Elisa's struggle with accepting her fate and the Godstone she carries. Did you experience any challenges building the religion in the book and the struggle Elisa has with her place in it?
RC: Definitely. I worked very hard to get inside the head of a person of faith. Religion is a prime mover of history in our own world, so it seemed to me that a fantasy word—especially a pre-industrial one—should have a strong religious element. And just like in our world, some characters in The Girl of Fire and Thorns will do anything in the name of their god, while feeling assured that they are on the side of truth and rightness.
I live in a country where 83% of citizens claim affiliation with some religious denomination. Of those, the vast majority are monotheists. I think it’s safe to conclude that religion is an important part of the coming-of-age experience. How do teens decide what they believe about religion when they are surrounded by so many contradictory views and messages? I wanted to do justice to this struggle without condemning or condoning any particular faith. It was a difficult balance.
TCR: What are some of your favorite YA fantasy reads?
RC: I recently read Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock, which I loved. The worldbuilding is incredible. Tamora Pierce is a favorite, because her protagonists are never limited by their femaleness. When I was a teen, I loved David Eddings’ Belgariad series, which is ostensibly adult fiction, but I think is much more suited to a young adult audience. (If I were his publisher, I would repackage it and put it on YA shelves!)
TCR: Can you tell us anything about the next book(s)?
RC: Sure! In The Crown of Embers, Elisa is now queen of a country in post-war shambles. How can a 17-year-old foreigner navigate court politics, assassination attempts, and the threat of civil war to rule effectively? Naturally, the solution lies in epic adventuring. Also, kissing.
Thank you, Rae! If you want to know even more, here is a video of Rae talking about the book!
And if you live in the Columbus, OH area, you can see Rae at her launch party! Here are the details!
Tuesday, September 20th
Cover to Cover Bookstore
3560 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43214
Keep following the blog tour by checking in at goodbooksandgoodwine.com!