A Poison Dark and Drowning (Kingdom on Fire #2) by Jessica Cluess ~ Interview

A Poison Dark and Drowning (Kingdom on Fire #2)
Hardcover432 pages
Published September 19th 2017 
by Random House Books for Young Readers


Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the bloodthirsty Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.

Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own.

So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth.

Interview with Jessica Cluess:

1) Did you have to do any research for A Poison Dark and Drowning?
Most of what I knew about the Victorian era—the manners, the customs, etc.—I’d already learned during my research for A Shadow Bright and Burning. However, I did need to do a little bit of reading on Cornwall, which I loved. If you’ve seen the show Poldark, you’ll know Cornwall has these rugged seaside cliffs, which are gorgeous. Also, I did a tiny bit of research into poisonous plants. Why, I can’t say.
2) What is your favorite read so far in 2017?
This is impossible. I loved An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson, which is the most delicious romantic faerie tale I’ve read in a long time. Also, Traci Chee’s The Speaker is excellent. It’s her sequel to The Reader, and it provides the perfect setup for a pulse pounding series ender.
3) What was your favorite scene to write in A Poison Dark and Drowning and why?
So many possibilities for spoilers. A certain scene at the climax between Henrietta and a major adversary is full of intense emotions. Whenever I’m typing as fast as I can, my heart pounding to see what happens next, I know I’m onto something. This is vague, but it has to be. You’ll get it when you read the book.
4) What is your next project going to be? (If you can not say too much what genre will it be)
It hasn’t been sold yet—fingers crossed. However, I can say that it’s another YA fantasy, and that this time it’s set in a secondary world. I’d like to leave historical behind for a while.
5) Who was your favorite character to write?
I think the answer has to by default be Henrietta, because she’s the protagonist and the camera on the world. She faces so many challenges in this book, some of which she handles well, some of which she botches completely. I like main characters that have serious flaws but are also strong and motivated, and I think she fits the bill. I love writing Mickelmas, because he’s the old curmudgeon I secretly am at heart. Also, as far as new characters go, there’s a girl named Maria who’s entering the group of friends. She has many secrets of her own, and is a great foil to Henrietta. I loved writing their friendship. I think friendships between girls are as important when you’re growing up as relationships with boys. I loved showing a girl friendship that’s extremely positive and supportive.
6) What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
How important it is to tell the truth, even when you know it will cost you.
7) Whose writing most inspires you?
I’m rereading the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor, and I’m in awe of her descriptive writing. Her prose is simultaneously ornate and muscular; beautiful, but it does its job to push the story forward. I wish I could do what she does.
8) What inspired you to write this series?
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. I wondered what a girl hero in Victorian London would look like. The magic fire powers came as a bonus.
9) What TV show is a must for you to watch? (for example I can not miss Once Upon a Time)
It’s over now, but Game of Thrones is the obvious answer. Outlander just started back up, so that’s exciting. Any big budgeted historical and/or fantasy show tends to do it for me. I can never get into sitcoms, I don’t know why.
10) What was the hardest character to write in A Poison Dark and Drowning?
Blackwood. I knew his character journey from draft, like, five of A Shadow Bright and Burning. Taking him down that path is fun, but in some ways it’s not what some readers have anticipated. Trying to make him understandable and still true to his evolution has been very tricky.

Buy Links:

About the Author:
Jessica Cluess is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she’s not writing books, she’s an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.

Long bio: This probably won’t be very long, because most of my life is spent sitting in dark rooms, writing and hissing at the sun. Clearly Los Angeles was a superb choice for a hometown, because there’s plenty of sun to hiss at.
As a kid, I sort of knew how to skateboard. My list of impressive accomplishments dies there.
In high school, I didn’t hang out with the cool kids, but I was in their AP classes.
In college, I finally found a group of people who have seen Eddie Izzard’s stand-up concert ‘Dressed To Kill’ and I knew I’d discovered my tribe.
After college, I had an assortment of odd jobs. I performed Cinderella for most of Texas, moderated a radio news site, served coffee to Orson Scott Card and was probably working for the NSA at some point. It was a sketchy time.
Throughout these years, I wrote many bad things. Then I wrote something that was okay. Then, with the help of some friends, I started writing things that were kind of good. Hopefully, I keep going.
Final thoughts: if you haven’t seen Bram Stoker’s Dracula, get on it. That movie is wonderfully insane.

Interviews: Bustle

Reviews: USA Today


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