Welcome to YA Books Central's "Indie Superstars" column. This event will spotlight the best and brightest of the indie community.
You don’t want to miss out on these talented authors
This week we’re interviewing Claire Luana, author of "The Confectioner’s Chronicles"
Welcome to YABC, Laura!
Melissa A. Craven: The Confectioner’s Guild offer such a unique reading experience for mystery lovers (and lovers of all things confectionary!) What was your inspiration for this amazing world of magical intrigue among the different guilds?
Claire Luana: I love magic systems, so the idea of using magic in different ways has always intrigued me. I also live in Seattle, where foodie culture is huge! People get so into their little niche food world—be it ice cream, or craft cocktails, or goat cheese! I got the idea to blend the two by creating a world where the magical properties of food fall within the container of the guild system. And Maradis was born!
Melissa: Wren is such a wonderful character with a brilliant sense of humor. But she has a very sad background before magical cupcakes change her life forever. What was your inspiration for her character?
Claire: I wanted a character who was different than the traditional YA fantasy female lead we often see—the capable fearless extrovert who takes the world by storm. I wanted to write a character who had grown small—and had to find a way to conquer her fear and find her way back to taking up space in the world. Giving Wren a sad background was the most logical way to get there, and it felt like the right contrast to all the sugary sweetness!
Melissa: Hale is such a yummy character (see what I did there? Lol) Can you tell us something delicious about him that didn’t end up in the book? (No spoilers of course).
Claire: I did! This series has birthed so many great food puns JHale actually has his own prequel novella, The Confectioner’s Exile—so for readers who want more Hale, that’d be a great place to start! (Subscribers to my newsletter get this novella for free!) But another secret: the character inspiration for Hale is Chris Hemsworth!
Melissa: Snacks had to be involved in the making of this book. What was your favorite go-to culinary treat for inspiration?
Claire: I am a definite chocolate fiend, so there was a lot of chocolate consumed! My favorite candy is Cadbury Mini Eggs, but I seriously can’t say no to them, so I’m grateful they’re only around a few times a year!
Melissa: Are you a baker? Can you share your favorite recipe with us? Or your worst baking disaster if you’re like me and not a genius in the kitchen.
Claire: I am an amateur baker—I love to bake but I feel like the tough recipes never turn out quite right. I had to do a lot of research for the book, especially about how to make candy! I did create/adapt four recipes as a fun giveaway for those who preordered the book, so I’ll share one here!
Hale’s Coffee Salted Caramels
1 cup butter
2 ¼ cups packed brown sugar
2 cups light cream
1 cup light-colored corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons instant coffee
¼ teaspoon sea salt and more to garnish
In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add brown sugar, light cream, corn syrup, and instant coffee grounds and mix well. Cook over medium-high heat until it boils. Using a candy thermometer, continue to boil at medium heat until the thermometer reaches 250 degrees. Stir throughout.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in vanilla and ¼ teaspoon sea salt. Pour the caramel into a 8x8x2 inch baking pan lined with foil. When firm, cut into squares with a buttered knife. Sprinkle with sea salt to garnish.
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, 12thEdition
Melissa: If you had to give up snacks, drinks or music during the writing process, which would you find most difficult to say goodbye to? (Yes, your book made me hungry lol!)
Claire: Drinks probably! I down a lot of tea while writing. I can’t write with music—I wish I could, but my brain doesn’t work that way. And snacks—I try to limit those, as writing is pretty sedentary! I wasn’t totally successful writing this series though, and I’ve had several readers say the books should come with a warning because of how hungry they make them!
Melissa: Do you prefer audiobooks, physical books, or e-books? Why?
Claire: My first love will always be physical books, if I had to choose, I’d pick a physical book every time. I do love audiobooks to listen to while running or driving, and I love e-books for traveling! So I guess they each have their place in my heart and my life J
Melissa: What is the funniest typo you’ve ever written? Or the one spelling mistake you make everytime.
Claire: For some reason my word processing program always autocorrects the word “waterskin” as “waterski” which always cracks me up, imagining my fantasy characters hauling a waterski through their desert quest! I’m also a lawyer for my day job, so whenever I mean to write “statue” I end up writing “statute” instead, which is the fancy lawyer word for a law. I haven’t been able to kick that habit!
Melissa: What's the strangest thing you have ever had to research for any your books?
Claire: Varieties of goats that existed in 11th Century England? My newest series is an Arthurian Legend retelling, so there was a lot of research into old-timey medieval stuff! Luckily, my co-writer, Jesikah Sundin, is a researcher extraordinaire, so she did most of the heavy lifting!
Melissa: For those just starting this series, can you give us a hint into what’s next for Wren?
Claire: It gets a lot harder before it gets easier! The second book in the series introduces a new guild member and a new mystery Wren has to solve. Tensions heat up between the guilds and the king, and the romance heats up between some of the main characters, too!
Melissa: Here at YABC, we think indie authors are pretty spectacular. What advice would you give to anyone who is considering indie-publishing?
Claire: Make friends! The indie author community is one of the best parts of being an indie author (besides our readers, of course!). You can get such fantastic advice and support from other authors and writers during every stage of the journey. Writing can feel like a solitary endeavor, especially when you are writing and publishing your first book, so having friends who understand is key!
Melissa: What are you working on now?
Claire: I am finishing editing a stand-alone paranormal romance called Orion’s Kiss, which will be featured exclusively in the Cursed Lands box set, releasing in May. I’m also plotting out a new 10-book fantasy series (eek!) that will take me through the next several years. But I’m super excited about the idea and the world!
Claire Luana grew up reading everything she could get her hands on and writing every chance she could. Eventually, adulthood won out, and she turned her writing talents to more scholarly pursuits, going to work as a commercial litigation attorney.
While continuing to practice law, Claire decided to return to her roots and try her hand once again at creative writing. She has written and published the Moonburner Cycle, the Confectioner Chronicles, and the Knights of Caerleon trilogy, co-written with Jesikah Sundin.
She lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and two dogs. In her (little) remaining spare time, she loves to hike, travel, binge-watch CW shows, and of course, fall into a good book.
A magic cupcake. A culinary killer. The perfect recipe for murder.
Wren knew her sweet treats could work wonders, but she never knew they could work magic. She barely has time to wrap her head around the stunning revelation when the head of the prestigious Confectioner’s Guild falls down dead before her. Poisoned by hercupcake.
Now facing murder charges in a magical world she doesn’t understand, Wren must discover the true killer or face the headsman’s axe. With the help of a handsome inspector and several new friends, Wren just might manage to learn the ropes, master her new powers, and find out who framed her. But when their search for clues leads to a deep-rooted conspiracy that goes all the way to the top, she realizes that the guild master isn’t the only one at risk of death by chocolate.
If Wren can’t bring the powerful culprit to justice, she and her friends will meet a bittersweet end.
The Confectioner’s Guildis a delicious YA fantasy mystery. If you like spunky chefs and twisty mysteries with a drizzle of romance, then Claire Luana’s scrumptious tale is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
One winner will receive a signed copy of The Confectioner’s Guild(Claire Luana) ~
Four winners will receive a signed Confectioner's Guild poster
(US and International)