An Interview With Holly Black

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We are big fans of YA books here at Missy.ie.

So our Editor, Dani, was pretty excited when she had the chance to sit down and chat with Best-Selling YA author, Holly Black.

Holly was in Dublin to talk about her latest book, The Cruel PrinceAnd we think that you are going to love it!

Incase you didn't already know, Holly is kinda a big deal! Some of her previous books include the Modern Faerie Tales series, Doll Bones and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Her series, The Spiderwick Chronicles, was also made into movie.

The Cruel Prince is the first book in a new YA series from Holly.

The Cruel Prince is set in the same world as the Modern Tale of Faerie trilogy.

The Cruel Prince is the first book in an entirely new series, but fans of Holly's previous books will be happy to hear that some old characters will be reappearing.

"It’s its own story" says Holly. "But because it’s set in the same world we get to see a few of the characters from the previous series. We see some Modern Faerie Tale characters and we see some characters from The Darkest Part of the Forest hanging around!"

Getting to spend a bit more time with some of her previous characters was definitely something that Holly enjoyed.

"It’s interesting how easy it is to go back to writing them. They're people who I know so well. I know how they sound automatically. It's fun to check in with them and it's fun to have them in a position that is not entirely in charity with the people in this book." Holly cryptically teased.

The Cruel Prince Synopsis missy.ie

Jude Is Different.

Jude is the main protagonist of The Cruel Prince, but she mightn't be what readers of YA are used to experiencing. Holly reveals that she has an intriguing and complicated back story.

 

"I think she's an interesting character. She's a person who is human, and it's kinda a reverse changeling story. She grows up in Faerie being raised by the person who killed her parents. So, he is both her parent and the murder of her parents. And she lives there with her twin sister and her older sister who is his biological child and his heir."

"And I think growing up in Faerie like that, in this state of constant low-level fear for her life has produced in her the ability to withstand high levels of anxiety. Which makes her good at doing a lot of intense stuff. And I think that's what I’m particularly interested in about her. That she finds things going pretty wrong to be more normal than things going very right. And it's obviously not healthy, but in this particular case it may be useful."

Exploring Through A Fantasy Lens

Holly's creative mind obviously knows no bounds as her novels are based in a fantasy world that she has expertly woven. For Holly its a chance to tell a story in a different way.

"I think that all fantasy looks at the world slant. When you look at a werewolf; we all have experienced anger such that we are afraid we might say or do something or hurt people we care about. And when we tell stories about anger we’re asking the question "Is it okay to feel to feel this anger? Is there something wrong with the person who experiences anger?

But when you're talking about a werewolf you're not telling that story, your telling a different story because we take it that a werewolf can't control his or her anger. And so what happens then? What kinds of stories do you tell then? What kinds of stories about anger can you tell then?"

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Book 2 Is On The Way!

The Cruel Prince may have just been released, but Book 2 in the series, The Wicked King, is already scheduled to be out January 8th 2019.

Holly told us that it's already finished and that she has already begun writing Book 3. Which is great news for all of us who are dying to find out what happens next! There's also talk of a movie.

Why YA Is The Best

We wondered how Holly found herself writing for the YA genre. And it seems it was pretty natural progression.

"When I wrote my first book I actually didn’t think of it as a YA book. I thought of it as an adult book. It’s the story of a girl who discovers she’s a fairy changeling. If she discovered she was a fairy changeling at 30 I feel like I might not think she was the sharpest knife in the drawer." she says with a laugh.

"So, it didn't occur to me and then I met a children’s librarian who said to me “I think this is a YA book” and I hadn't read YA in a long time and this is way back in 2000. So, she handed me Garth Nix and Tammy Pierce and set me off to study it and I realised how exciting the genre was. And how much experimenting there was and how much I did wanna be part of it."

"So, I’ve been here in YA ever since. It's changed a lot in the time I've been publishing in it. But it is a really exciting category.

Holly's love of YA is all to do with the loyal readers.

"It’s really exciting how engaged readers are with it and how passionate they are. And how YA is about people who are doing things for the first time and who are making huge decisions about their own lives and that's pretty reflective of where often readers are."

 

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Working With Cassandra Clare

We've mentioned before that we are big fans of Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices series on Missy.ie. We're not sure how both Holly and Cassandra have found the time, but along with their own books they joined forces a few years ago to co-write the Magisterium series.

"Cassie and I have been friends for a long-long time. We met in 2002 actually. For a long time we had the idea that we might one day do a project together. And then when we finally hit on Magisterium we were like “ahh this is the one! This is going to be really great!" And it has been. It’s been really fun." says Holly.

Writing with someone else sounds like such a challenge. We wondered how the two managed - it turns out that they're super organised!

"I’m not the greatest at sticking to my outlines and Cassie does. So she forces me to stick to the outline, which is very good for me" explains Holly.

"What we do is we sit down and I’ll write 400 words and then she’ll write over the words. Then she’ll change them up and she’ll make them longer. And then she’ll write 400 words and I will go in and write over them to perhaps make them shorter. But what we’re doing is trying to unify the voice because unlike a lot of people who collaborate we didn't write two people point of view, it’s all just Call's point of view. And so his voice has to be consistent."

"There’s things about that I’m sure that sound anxiety inducing for some people but, I think because we’re really good friends and it turns out that our writing styles were pretty compatible that I found it to be really reassuring to know that somebody was going to go over my work. The Golden Tower is the last book. Find out what happens there!"

 

Holly Always Wanted To Be A Writer.

"I always wanted to be a writer" Holly says, even if she wasn't so great to begin with, "I made up stories from the time I was a kid. I wrote a very bad novel, when I guess I was 13 or 14. Which I have read aloud now on panels to great hilarity. It’s kinda a mash-up of Lord Of The Rings and Interview With The Vampire. It was a really bad novel" she says with a big emphasis on really and bad.

But the thing that Holly really stressed is that it takes time to learn about writing a book and finding your own voice. She advised people to keep writing no matter what your internet critic says.

 

Holly's Advice To Her Younger Self

"I have a lot of writing advice for my younger self. I need to get with the program. Get my first book out sooner!" Holly laughs. “I don't know. Buy a structured blazer! Save up and buy on-brand Doc Martin’s and not the army boots that you're wearing right now, younger self. They just don't looks right! Save up. Convince your mom!" she laughs.

 

Holly's Advice To Aspiring Authors

Holly gave us lots of great advice for aspiring writers. We will cover all of that in a separate careers article. It's really awesome, if we do say so ourselves!

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The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, the first book in the The Folk of the Air series is available in hardback now.

To be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of The Cruel Prince head over to our Facebook page.

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