Author of the YA series, The Frean Chronicles, discusses inspiration and challenges in writing for the young adult audience.
What has been most challenging about writing this series?
The language when writing within a matriarchal world. Oh nelly, I was not expecting words to fail me, but the English language, I discovered, is patriarchal in nature. So many things I didn’t expect needed to be renamed or reworded. Specifically the titles—many of the female titles we have did not carry the same power behind them. For example, in our world we have Lord and Lady, so to simply switch the power of these two would not convey the same message to the reader given the reader expectations, plus I wanted to leave it more open for same gender couples. That’s where Lord and Genteel came from. Lord is gendered female, and Genteel is the gender-neutral term for a Lord’s spouse. Also, balancing the language and the power dynamics in a heterosexual kissing scene was way more complicated than it should be! Who makes the first move? Who is being acted upon? How is it described? What are my world’s expectations on how that should look?
What draws you to young adult fantasy?
Young adult fiction is so full of hope. The themes can be cleaner, the message can be clearer, and the world can believe in a certain degree of magic without it feeling cheesy or silly. With regards to fantasy, there’s just something so compelling about entering an entirely new world. C.S. Lewis said something along the lines of: “If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy, I can only conclude that I was not made for here” (sorry if that’s a misquote!) and I think that beautifully sums up that wanderlust of the imagination that fantasy is able to satisfy.
If you were stuck on a deserted island, which three books would you want with you?
1. Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (it’s also quite long so I will have a lot to read)
2. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas (hopefully I will also get some ideas about how to escape as well)
3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (there will never be a more perfect work of fiction)
If you could live in any fantasy world, which would you choose?
The world from Avatar the Last Airbender ONLY if I am a bender . . . It would be torture to live amongst magic without any of your own. If I could choose, I’d love to be an airbender—but have been told by several friends that I’m more of a waterbender so would be happy with that element too!
What’s your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?
Favourite part has to be when a character starts to speak for themselves. It can sometimes put a spanner in the works if you need them to say or do one thing, but they decide to do something else, but it always feels more authentic when you listen to them.
Least favourite part is editing punctuation for dialog . . . my poor editor can attest to the fact that it is my major area of weakness and no matter how many grammar books I read, I can never seem to get it right the first time.
Can you say anything about what might come next for your characters?
Careful not to give me an inch, or I will take a mile! I love any excuse to talk about my imaginary pals—however I know how much more enjoyable a book is when you haven’t had the good bits spoiled ahead of time so I will simply say this: after the events of Queen’s Catacombs, many of our favourites are incredibly worse for wear, and the Griffins are out for blood. Jacs and Connor will need to overcome the realm divide once again, but is their bond strong enough to withstand the forces driving them apart?
For more information about the author and the first two books in The Frean Chronicles, visit Book Review + Giveaway: Queen’s Catacombs.