Saturday, September 2, 2017

Writer Chat: Heather Fawcett, Author of EVEN THE DARKEST STARS

"I was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, where I enjoy wandering around in the wilderness and only occasionally getting lost. I’ve also spent extended periods of time in Italy, where I learned very little Italian but ate quite a lot of pizza, and Ireland, where I searched half-successfully for puffins and selkies.

Before becoming a writer I worked, among other things, as an archaeologist, a technical writer, and a backstage assistant for a Shakespearean theatre company (which I could write several novels about). I have a Master’s degree in English Literature and briefly considered becoming a professor, before I realized it involved more than reading books, drinking excessive amounts of tea, and wearing colourful elbow patches."

(text and photo taken from Fawcett's
Have you always wanted to write a young adult novel?

I've always wanted to write something--I wrote my first novel at age 14, which was a space opera fantasy with wizards and time travel (sadly, no interest from publishers) but I didn't write anything YA until a few years ago. I've always read and loved YA, though.

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what do you listen to?  

Yes, I almost always have my earbuds in while writing. I mostly listen to random indie music. Arcade Fire; Of Monsters and Men; Beach House; etc. I also have a strange obsession with 80s power ballads. Very motivating.

Are you more of a coffee or a tea person when writing?

Definitely tea.

What makes your protagonist stand out from other YA heroines?

Kamzin may be unusual among YA fantasy heroines in that she doesn't possess any innate magical abilities. She isn't in any way the Chosen One (not to dismiss books with those protagonists; some of them are my among my all-time favourites). She's a 17-year-old with dreams and ambitions, who wants to live life on her own terms. She launches herself on an adventure of her own choosing, though (naturally) things doesn't turn out quite as planned.

Did you have a writing schedule while you worked on Even the Darkest Stars? What did your average day of writing look like?  

When I'm writing a novel, I generally set an average daily goal of 1000 words or so, which means that the draft comes together fairly quickly. My personal preference is to spend more time on the planning and revising stages. Get it down on paper, then fix what doesn't work. An average day of writing almost always includes reading--I know authors who prefer not to read anything while they're drafting a novel, but I find it can trigger unexpected insights and ideas for solving problems I might be having with my own story.

What is an underrated book you would like to recommend to everyone?

Oh, good question! I'm a huge Diana Wynne Jones fan, so I'll recommend one of her lesser-read books, Fire and Hemlock. It's strange, intricate, and completely fascinating. A more recently published book I read and loved is Lightfinder by Aaron Paquette.

About Fawcett's upcoming release, which will hit shelves on September 5:  

Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the Emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.

But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer who is determined to best River, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.

The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and even worse at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth of their mission and of her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced. (taken from