Author Of The Week: Chat with Robin LaFevers (Courting Darkness), Plus Giveaway!
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 Robin LaFevers, YABC's Author of the Week!!
Robin LaFevers, author of the New York Times best-selling His Fair Assassin books, was raised on fairy tales, Bulfinch's mythology, and nineteenth-century poetry. It is not surprising that she grew up to be a hopeless romantic. She was lucky enough to find her one true love, and is living happily ever after with him in California. Visit her online at robinlafevers.com [robinlafevers.com] and on Twitter @RLLaFevers.
First in a duology, this darkly thrilling page-turner set in the world of the best-selling His Fair Assassin series is perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, Red Queen, and Game of Thrones. Told in alternating perspectives, when Sybella discovers there is another trained assassin from St. Mortain’s convent deep undercover in the French court, she must use every skill in her arsenal to navigate the deadly royal politics and find her sister in arms before her time—and that of the newly crowned queen—runs out.
When Sybella accompanies the Duchess to France, she expects trouble, but she isn’t expecting a deadly trap. Surrounded by enemies both known and unknown, Sybella searches for the undercover assassins from the convent of St. Mortain who were placed in the French court years ago.
Genevieve has been undercover for so many years, she no longer knows who she is or what she’s supposed to be fighting for. When she discovers a hidden prisoner who may be of importance, she takes matters into her own hands.
As these two worlds collide, the fate of the Duchess, Brittany, and everything Sybella and Genevieve have come to love hangs in the balance.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I had been hit with some fairly severe ergonomic issues after completing Mortal Heart and that, along with creative exhaustion, rendered me somewhat immobile for several months. I couldn’t sit or write or read or do much of anything other than my PT exercises, lying flat, and walking for short periods of time.
Did I mention laying flat? Because I did that A LOT. And as I lay there, wondering if my ergonomic issues would ever get better enough to let me write again, a voice started whispering in my head. It didn’t take me long to recognize that voice—it was Sybella. And being Sybella, her voice was not a particularly indulgent or comforting one. But what she basically told me was that I’d left her story incomplete. She had achieved progress—recognizing what was wrong and having a radical shift in perspective—but that was only the first step. And I realized she was right.
Her voice was quickly joined by another, earthier and more pragmatic voice. Genevieve appeared, almost whole cloth, with a chip on her shoulder and a driving hunger to prove to the world, to herself, that she was more than a tavern girl’s unwanted get, but a person with power and agency in her own right. And the more these two girls talked to me, the more I realized that their paths needed to cross. They had important things to teach each other.
Also any excuse to get more Beast and Sybella on the page was a good one in my mind.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Well as I’ve mentioned, I’ve always had an enormous soft spot for both Sybella and Beast, so they are perennial favorites.
But from the moment Genevieve first started whispering in my ear, daring me to ignore her, I fell in love with her. She was so earthy and pragmatic. So determined and stubborn, but with a wildly practical streak that I couldn’t help but admire.
As her backstory unfolded, I became more and more intrigued by this girl who was raised in such a supportive, loving environment, even though it was the most lowly of beginnings. What type of daughter would a woman who invited Death into her bed on a dare raise? And what parts of her upbringing would she carry bring with her to life at the convent?
She wasn’t escaping a brutal reality or haunted by a traumatic past. Her family wanted to give her more opportunities than they had had—but that comes at a cost: the loss of family and support. And I was fascinated—and impressed by—her determination to do something to make those costs worthwhile.
I also admired the hell out of how she just did not take any nonsense from any men. Ever. Wasn’t having any of it.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
- The novel definitely came first, but due to the thematic nature of both Sybella and Genevieve’s struggles, the title showed up pretty quickly. And stuck! That’s probably the more surprising thing. Working titles are often just that—and change once it’s time to think about marketing the book, but this one stayed.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
I started to answer this question, then paused it occurred to me how much my answer has changed over the years! Ten years ago, I would have said, Protect the work, was the most important thing I’d learned. Five years ago it would have been that writers have to find joy in the process or it can be a soulless slog of a career. But now, today, I have a different answer.
I’ve often thought we writers are drawn to writing for deep-seated reasons, although those are rarely the ones we admit to when we begin to pursue a path to publication. But the truth is, writers, or other artists, are often those who were voiceless at one time, unseen, unheard. Or perhaps they were wounded, and the best way to know and understand that scar tissue is through the act of writing. Or the best way to heal. Or maybe some fundamental tragedy in their lives has given them a question they are driven to answer. But just like our characters can’t admit to their deepest fear, we can’t admit to our deepest, rawest truths. Not until we’ve had some practice telling personal truths in small doses.
Which writing stories allows us to do. With each story we tell, we share a few more personal truths, whether we realize it or not. And we become more comfortable living with those truths, and so dare to expose a few more.
So with all those thoughts rattling around in my head, I realized that the most important thing I’ve learned about writing is that we might not understand the deepest, most fundamental reasons as to WHY we write until we’ve ventured fairly far down our writing path. And that’s absolutely okay. What’s important is that we keep writing, for our own sake if not for publishing’s, and that we stay open to what new internal landscape we might discover. Doing that will produce our most powerful and compelling work. With the added benefit of leading us to greater self-understanding. J
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Oh gosh, I love how fierce it is—the piercing beauty of it and the unapologetic darkness of it all. I love that it has just enough subtler, softer elements that hint that it is a female centered story with the promise of hope and lightness rather than unrelentingly grim. I love that the knife looks almost metallic, and how the entire book—from the brocade on the cover to the end papers to the case binding—is filled with texture and richness and little surprises. It is simply gorgeous!
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2019?
Oh, there are so many great books coming in 2019! The Wicked King by Holly Black, King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo, Enchantee by Gita Trelease, The Afterward by E. K. Johnston, We Hunt the Flame, by Hafsah Faizal, Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan. And that’s just the first half of the year!
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2018?
- Sadly, I didn’t read nearly as many books as I’d have liked to—when I’m on deadline it can be hard for me to read fiction. But I loved Boneless Mercies by April Tucholke, Wild Beauty by Anna Marie McLemore, Voices by David Elliot, Dread Nation by Justina Ireland, Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan, and The Afterward by E. K. Johnston, Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman, Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Dance of Thieves by Mary Pearson, and Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (Yes, I’m a little bit behind!)
YABC: What’s up next for you?
The second book in the Courting Darkness duology! I’m in the midst of writing that right now and having so much fun tripping all the mousetraps I set up in the first book.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Ha! The answer to this is also one of my favorite characters in the book—Genevieve! As much as I loved her, she was very tricky to write. Our culture has a very narrow definition of what is likeable in a heroine, and I found myself wanting to push against that definition a little bit. Or maybe it was Genevieve herself who wanted to push against that.
Because I was exploring what makes a heroine “likeable” or relatable, I of necessity bumping up against some boundaries of what some readers might be able to connect with. Making it even more difficult, I wasn’t giving her a deep traumatic past or emotional wound that would predispose the reader to forgiving her all her sins. And that was a tricky, tricky line—writing a girl who was fierce and driven and ambitious—not because of the wrong that was done to her, but simply because of the belief she had in herself.
Some of the early responses to her have been hugely supportive, but there have also been some readers who are put off by her. And for me, part of writing a book is posing a question, then asking readers to examine their answer to that question. At the very least, I hope Genevieve will accomplish that. But oh my! What a huge learning curve and story trajectory that girl has in front of her! I can’t wait to take her on the rest of that journey and be by her side as she learns so much more about the world and herself.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I’m one of those odd birds who enjoy both drafting and revising. For me, drafting a new book, building a new world and characters, is the closest I come to that same sense of free playing I had as a child. I’m creating new things, following wild hairs, making new discoveries. Although I will say, the sense of play is much stronger if I’m not drafting on a deadline!
But I also love revising because that’s when I get to shape the draft into the actual story I want it to become. It’s when I get out my entire toolbox—and maybe go in search of a few new tools—and hack and saw and hammer and chisel until I get the entire thing as close to the vision in my head as possible. The act of taking the raw material and refining it is hugely satisfying to me, especially when I can see the real story begin to take its final shape.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
Finding lost things. It is a legend in our household. Random stuff we haven’t talked about or seen or touched in fifteen years, I can walk right to and put my hands on it.
By: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: HMH BYR
Release Date: February 5th, 2019
One winner will receive a copy of Courting Darkness (Robin LaFevers)
Plus a new rejacketed paperback edition of Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph, and Mortal Heart ~ US Only
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*
I like the cover a lot. The black, gold, and silver color scheme is really eye-catching. The story sounds amazing! I love stories where people are undercover.
The cover is stunning! The detailing in the background of the book and in the sword is breathtakingly beautiful!
The story sounds amazing. Anything to do with French court, kings/queens, and assassins makes my hands tingle like I'm in a candy store!
I'm beyond excited to get my hands on this book!