If you haven’t read anything by Holly Black you need to correct this! She’s perhaps most well-known for the Spiderwick Chronicles and her dark faerie series that begins with Tithe, but has also been involved with some kick ass anthologies like Geektastic and Zombies vs. Unicorns. If my Twitter feed doesn’t lead me astray Holly hangs out with some of the coolest authors in YA, including Cassandra Clare and Scott Westerfeld.
What really got me into her writing is the Curse Worker series. You can read my reviews of all three books on this blog.
I had the honour of asking her a few questions as part of the Black Heart Blog Tour.
1.Cassel is my favourite male character in YA fiction, partly because the details make him feel real. Where do you get your inspiration for him?
“Thank you so much! That really means a lot to me.
My initial inspiration for Cassel came from a true crime book called SON OF A GRIFTER, about a kid who’d been raised (by his mother) to be a con artist and to sneer at people who obeyed laws. When he got to be an adult, he had to basically invent a moral system for himself, because he’d never had one. I was fascinated with a character who was torn between what he knew was possible to get away with and what he thought was right.
Cassel is also inspired by the classic noir hero who was damaged by something in his past (usually by WWI), who believes that he’s completely jaded — until a lady walks in. He knows she’s no good, but he burns down what’s left of his world to help her, even though she often turns out to be even worse than he thought. It’s an incredibly romantic shape for a book — and I wanted to tell my own version of it.”
2. In Cassel’s world being a worker is hereditary but there doesn’t seem to be a pattern in families regarding what type of worker an individual is. When writing the series did you shape characters around their power or did you provide a power you thought suited their personality?
“Being a worker is more prevalent in some families, but some workers are born into non-worker families, so it’s not purely genetic.
I chose the type of worker sometimes to parallel the character’s personality (Barron) and sometimes to contrast with it (Daneca), but I always knew the character before I decided on the power. When I first started writing WHITE CAT, I wasn’t sure which of the two brothers would wind up being the memory worker, but once I knew more about them, it was easy to choose.”
3. The worker Mafia continues to play a role in the third book. Did you research any crime families to help you write about the Zacharovs?
“I did a lot of research on crime families — on the East Coast, on the West Coast, in Japan, and in Russia. I wanted to create a worker world that felt both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time, which meant cherry picking from research and also making up things. In different times and places, organizations did things differently, but there is often an element of giving up one’s old life, being loyal first and foremost to the organization and some form of marking oneself.
From there, I came up with the idea of the light cutting of the throat — to mark the death of the old life — and the rubbing ash in the wound to create keloid scars, for the permanent commitment that the marks would create. I love the idea of it and I loved the idea of how scary it would be to see someone with those marks and know what it meant.”
” I hope that it will be satisfying, fun, and full of surprises. This is the end of what we see of Cassel’s journey, but there’s still a lot ahead of him. He has to make some big, final choices — about love, about family, and ultimately about who he wants to be.”
5. Can we expect any more from the Curse Workers series, or at least something set in that world?
“Right now, I’m not planning any more in the series, but I will never say never. This is a good stopping place, though. It feels like the right ending — at least for now.
Next year, I have two stand alone books coming out, both very different from the Curse Workers series: a middle grade (my first since Spiderwick!) called DOLL BONES and a teen book called THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN.”
Thank you to Holly Black for answering my questions! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour.