Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Eleven Up: Interview with Rae Carson

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

ut she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who needs her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.


Doesn't that sound absolutely FANTASTIC? I've been DYING to read this book since I first saw the deal on Publishers Marketplace, and I am so, so excited that THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS is finally out today! Onto the interview!

1. A lot of YA Books are filled with flawless heroines and uber-hot love interests, but in your novel, Elisa struggles with her body weight and self-image. Why did you choose to write about an overweight heroine?

I loved fantasy novels growing up. But as I got older, the common tropes of fantasy began to fall flat to me. For instance: The chosen one, the amulet of power, the epic travelogue, the beautiful princess… There are reasons these conventions of fantasy sing to us, but I started asking myself things like: What if the chosen one was not just a few swordsmanship lessons away from heroism? What if the princess was not beautiful? So I decided to write a novel that subverted these tropes as much as possible.

I specifically chose to write about a girl who was overweight because I had met so many teens with body image issues, and I wanted to explore the idea that someone imperfect in the eyes of everyone around her could still become extraordinary.

2. Be honest: who's your favorite character in THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS? Is there any character in particular that you identify with?

Lord Hector is my favorite character. I feel like so much is going on in his head that is only hinted at on the page. I’m excited to get to know him better in future books.

The character I relate to most is Alodia, Elisa’s older sister. Like Alodia, I’m a bossy older sister who thinks she knows what’s best for her siblings. I, too, had an exasperating younger sister, and like Elisa, my little sis grew up to be one of the most remarkable women I know.

3. Are there any novels or writers that were a huge influence on you and TGOFAT?

My favorite childhood book is ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS by Scott O’Dell. I’ve read it seven or eight times. It’s possible that all of my novels will have a survival element thanks to that book.

4. Can you tell us a bit about your path to publication?

I wrote the first draft of this book many years ago and trunked it. I resurrected it and redrafted it for an online contest in late 2009—which I won! The contest resulted in an offer from a terrific publisher, but by that time, I had gotten myself a new agent with the redrafted book, who sent it off on exclusive submission. We had a pre-emptive offer from Greenwillow within 48 hours. So, my publication journey took either two days or seven years, depending on how you look at it.

5. So far, what's been one of the most exciting moments on the journey to publication?

Every milestone moment—signing with the perfect agent, getting that first offer, selling in other countries—has been amazing. But they are also tinged by this nebulous sense of expectation and pressure and STRESS. So the best moments, for me, have been when I could celebrate the milestones of writer friends. For instance, I was in chat with long-time friend (and Apocalypsie!) Jodi Meadows when her book went to auction. That was awesome.

6. I'm sure you're super-busy with TGOFAT's release, but I'm curious: what are you working on right now? Any news about THE CROWN OF EMBERS?

I’m deep in revisions for THE CROWN OF EMBERS, which I feel is both the best and worst book I’ve ever written (first drafts can suck, right?) and I’ve just started drafting the third book, THE BITTER KINGDOM. I love my job!

Finally, since this is the Apocalypsies' blog, I gotta ask: 
7. Zombies are laying siege to your house. You only have time to grab three books to bring with you into the bunker. What books do you take?

This is the future, amiright? So I’d take my e-reader. (And a solar-powered batter charger. Don’t laugh. I actually own one.) All the books of the world will be mine! *crazy laugh*

8. Do you think Elisa is capable of surviving a zombie apocalypse? Out of the main characters in TGOFAT, who would survive the apocalypse--and who would perish?

Elisa would totally survive! If she can outsmart an enemy invasion force, she can totally take on a bunch of dumb zombies. King Alejandro would not fare so well. He’d likely huddle in the wine cellar, hoping for someone to come along and rescue him, but I’m pretty sure the zombies would get him first. Everyone knows hot royals are the tastiest of all.

9. Family excluded, who is one person (living, dead, fictional, etc.) that you'd want at your side to fight off the zombie/alien/infected hordes? Your weapon of choice?

I’d want Katsa from GRACELING on my side, because of her epic badassery. And my weapon of choice is a rocket launcher, because when it comes to zombie hordes, size matters.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Rae! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS! You can find out more about Rae on her website, twitter, and goodreads page!


  1. Oh, this interview makes me even more excited for Girl of Fire and Thorns! I was planning to wait for next week, but I might have to give in and buy it this week because I just can't wait. (Also that whole first week purchase = good thing always gets to me)

  2. This has been one of my favorite reads of the year! I adore Elisa. And I agree with Ms. Carson, Hector has so much going on, I can't wait to find out more about him. Wonderful interview!