Welcome to our weekly special feature post, Author Of The Week!!
Each week we will be interviewing a different YA author and highlighting their upcoming release!
We will also be hosting a giveaway of the book we are highlighting!!
Introducing Claire Legrand, YABC's Author of the Week!
Claire Legrand is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for young readers, most notably the Empirium Trilogy, as well as The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, the Edgar Award-nominated Some Kind of Happiness, and Sawkill Girls, which has been nominated for both a Stoker Award and a Lambda Literary Award. She lives in central New Jersey.
The incredible conclusion to the trilogy that started with the instant New York Times bestsellers Furyborn and Kingsbane!
In this epic finale to the Empirium Trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claire Legrand, two queens, separated by a thousand years must face their ultimate destinies.
Queen Rielle, pushed away from everything she loves, turns to Corien and his promises of glory. Meanwhile, whispers from the empirium slowly drive her mad, urging her to open the Gate. Separated from Audric and Ludivine, she embraces the role of Blood Queen and her place by Corien’s side, determined to become the monster the world believes her to be.
In the future, Eliana arrives in the Empire’s capital as a broken shell of herself. Betrayed and abandoned, she fights to keep her power at bay—and away from Corien, who will stop at nothing to travel back in time to Rielle, even if that means destroying her daughter.
But when the mysterious Prophet reveals themselves at last, everything changes, giving Rielle and Eliana a second chance for salvation—or the destruction their world has been dreading.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
When I was 18 years old, I was on a plane coming back from a family vacation and listening to Howard Shore’s score for Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. As I listened, a vision came to me of a young woman—beautiful, angry, sad, and powerful—surrounded by a field of fire. She was clearly at some pivotal point in her life, and I was immediately fascinated by her. Who was she? What was happening to her? What kind of power did she have, and why, and who hated her for it, and who loved her? As I began asking and then answering these questions, the character of Rielle was born, and the rest of the series grew around her.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
That’s such a hard question! I’ve spent so much time with these characters—16 years, to be exact—that I feel like I know them as well as I know myself, and I love them all deeply. But if I had to choose, I think I’d choose Eliana. She started out the series feeling really lost, not knowing what she believed in and how to fight for it, not even really knowing who she was. But the series’ events put her through the wringer—especially the events of Lightbringer—and as she kept showing me how resilient she was, and how strong her convictions actually are, I grew to love her more than I ever thought possible.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel, definitely.C Each book in the Empirium Trilogy has had other titles over the years. Originally, for example, the series title was The Glow of Years, and the first book’s title was With Sceptre and Spear. Book One later became With Blood and Crown, and then Ashborn, and then Furyborn. Once Furyborn was decided on, it was very clear to me what the other two titles should be. I love the symmetry of the titles as they stand now—each a portmanteau, each one word combined with another word that begins with the letter B, each referring to a different character (or, depending on your interpretation, referring to multiple characters).
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
The three chapters at the end of Lightbringer contain some of the best writing I’ve ever done. I’m immensely proud of them and of the way the book ends overall. The ending of the series hasn’t changed at all over the years—the characters’ ultimate fates are what I’ve always wanted them to be—and it was incredibly satisfying to write chapters I felt were worthy of the finale I had always envisioned.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I’m going to cheat a little and list the three most important things I’ve learned: 1. To write stories you actually love, stories that bring you true joy (because, in my experience, anything else is unfulfilling and a waste of time, not to mention usually results in subpar final products). 2. To be patient with yourself and your path, even if it’s weirder and more disjointed and longer than other people’s paths, even if it’s not what you’d planned would happen. 3. To take care of yourself—body, mind, and spirit—and not sacrifice your own health and happiness for work, career, or other people’s expectations.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
The three covers for this series are all absolutely fantastic. Sourcebooks art director and designer Nicole Hower and illustrator David Curtis did an amazing job unifying the colors, iconography, and general aesthetic of not only the covers but the actual physical books. What I love about Lightbringer’s cover is the symbolism of the two crossed swords—how the Sun Queen’s crown is on the Blood Queen’s sword, and vice-versa. To me, this beautifully illustrates one of the main themes of the book—“good vs evil” is rarely as simple as that, and everyone carries both goodness and cruelty inside them.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2020-2021?
One of my most anticipated books in ages actually comes out next week, October 20—Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth. I’ve been a fan of Danforth’s writing since her 2012 debut, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, and I was thrilled to the point of tearfully fangirling in my apartment when I found out about her new book, Plain Bad Heroines. This is “a sapphic-gothic haunted house novel,” as described on the author’s website, and it’s kind of spooky every time I remember it exists, as it seems like a book eerily tailor-made for me and my very specific book-reading tastes. I can’t wait for my copy to arrive.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2020?
One of my favorite reads in 2020 was When the Stars Lead To You by Ronni Davis. This beautifully written book is about high school senior Devon, who is ambitious and funny and kind and looking toward her future as a scientist with stars in her eyes—all while falling in love for the first time. One of the things this book does with gorgeous sensitivity is address what it’s like to live with and love someone who is mentally ill. I read it during a particularly challenging time, when my own mental illnesses were consuming me, and it brought me comfort to feel so seen and understood by Davis’s portrayal of depression.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
My next book, out April 20, 2021, is Thornlight, a fantasy novel for middle grade readers. It’s a companion to my 2016 novel, Foxheart, meaning that it takes place in the same world but features a different set of characters. Thornlight is a story about how you don’t have to be a warrior or a talented magician or someone who other people find impressive to change the world. It’s about the power and heroism of gentleness and compassion, and how different people can come together to learn from their mistakes and right past wrongs. If you’re a fan of Tahereh Mafi’s Whichwood, Diana Wynne Jones’s novels, and Miyazaki films, I think you’ll love Thornlight.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
One of the organizations I regularly donate to is called Partners in Health, which works to provide quality healthcare to people in impoverished communities. They partner with sister clinics and hospitals around the world to provide outpatient and home visits as well as women’s health check-ups and mental health check-ups, and they also focus on providing training and mentorship for healthcare professionals. The fact that there is not universal access to good and equitable healthcare across the globe, regardless of location and income, is one of the great injustices of our time. Everyone should have access to physical and mental healthcare, and Partners in Health is one of the many organizations working to make this happen.
By: Claire Legrand
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: October 13th, 2020
Three winners will receive a paperback copy of Furyborn, the first book in the Empirium Trilogy.~ (INT)