So, I wrote a collection of short fiction with my then-boyfriend, like, he wrote a bunch, and I wrote a bunch, and so I shared them with him. And then I wrote another novel in high school that was also terrible. Well, just the act of writing something long, you know, just putting that many words on paper, is an important part of becoming a writer. I mean…. You mentioned Stephen King. It was, yeah. They actually brought in a speaker who I think was supposed to be inspiring to us as the senior class, but all I heard the whole time he was talking about how he had a Lambo and worked for Merrill Lynch and had this great office and…but all I heard was.
Well, maybe it was…maybe he was the perfect speaker. It was a year or two of working kind of horrible jobs. I sold garbage at one point. So that was my chance. So, I asked my parents if they were cool if I moved back in with them. And, yeah, I took out just massive student loans and went to London—with a friend! That helped. I always wanted to live abroad. So, yeah, it was only…it was a thirteen-month program, I think? And it was wonderful. Just really relaxed. Laid back. So, I get varying degrees of was it worth it or not, depending on who you talk to. What was your experience doing it formally?
Oh, well, they…my professors were wonderful. It was a really small class. Like I said. It was just a very small program.
And it was a supportive and collaborative kind of environment. But they were very open to whatever our natural voices and our natural inclinations were. I mean, I love literary fiction, and I do write it occasionally, so I was trying to do that.
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They got me an internship with a literary agency in London, so I had some work experience and got to see things from the other side of the desk, and they just embraced my voice. I never had a…I took one creative writing course in university. They just found him a mentor who could, who could help him with that. So, obviously it just depends on the program. So, you went on from there. Your first book, Anna Dressed in Blood. Were you actually working on that while you were still doing your masters? Did that sort of start during that time or did it start afterwards? No, it definitely started afterwards.
Probably about six months afterwards was when I started writing? And I was…I worked on a different novel during my, for my dissertation, and I completed it. A trilogy? What would you call it? So, the Three Dark Crowns series is set on an island. So, you can be like an elemental, for example, so you can control one or more of the elements. You can also be a poisoner, so poisoners really like to ingest poison, because it has no effect and it kind of gives them a rush, actually, to ingest poison, and they really like poisoning other people.
So, Three Dark Crowns is the story of one such generation of these sisters and how they deal with their battle to the death. Now, you mentioned, that you, you know, your fantasy often also dips into the horror side.
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That certainly seems to be the case in Three Dark Crowns. Is that common in all of your fantasy? Do you…does it always have that kind of dark edge to it? I would say so. Well I certainly noticed them making their appearance in Three Dark Crowns. So, what are the…what is the seed for you for a book? I mean, this one, specifically, but also any of your books. How do the ideas come to you that you then develop into a book?
Three Dark Crowns, with its triplet sisters who have to kill each other, actually came from a ball of bees, like a swarm of bees? Are you familiar with beekeeping at all? And everybody was fine and that was true, but since there was a beekeeper there—I mean, what have I ever met a beekeeper? That seems very inconvenient.
Does she do this a lot? But that is the only time—the only time—that I can pinpoint exactly when an idea arrived. It depends very much on the on the particular story. But it may be has gained something in the time that it was gone. Well, so once you had this this initial idea of this case—this is good, because at least you remember this one—how do you go about fleshing it out and developing it into a story?
I do not. You know, there was something going around on Twitter yesterday, like, one of those square, you know, tables, like a chart, and you could kind of.. Are you a lawful plotter? Are you a chaotic pantser? I had the idea in , spring of So, initially I met the three queens, you know, the three sisters kind of introduced themselves to me and told me what their names were, which I love, because I hate naming characters.
Please just introduce yourself to me! And I knew what their gifts were. And I kind of knew…over time, I grew to knew what their situation was, you know, what their culture was like in the different cities, because on the island different cities foster different gifts. So, the poisoners have a city, the naturalists have a city, the elementals have a city, and each one has a different culture because each gift values different things and are raising these girls differently.
And so, by the time I started writing I had a pretty good sense of who these girls were and where they were coming from. But I had no idea what would happen once I threw them together. And that is the ultimate joy that I have as a writer, is I love my characters, and they are real people to me.
And then after that I just depend on it to fill itself in. I did have…with Three Dark Crowns , I did know the secret. So, I did know that that is what would be revealed at the end. It was very going in blind, and it usually is, as far as my books are concerned.
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Or do you? I write from start to finish. So, what is your actual physical writing process?