Q & A with Claire Legrand

Posted by Goodreads on May 4, 2018
Claire Legrand
Author Claire Legrand has mesmerized both young adult and middle-grade audiences with enchanting novels like Winterspell and Foxheart. In her latest young adult series, the Empirium trilogy, she introduces readers to a world where "angels and humans are at war, and have been for centuries." At the center of this epic conflict, two young human women emerge, both born a thousand years apart. Though the paths they take are different, Legrand assures us that their destinies will eventually converge: "Each girl is trying to figure out if she is the subject of an ancient prophecy that says two Queens will rise—one of blood, and one of light—and that their arrival will mean the return of the angels, and their revenge. Which girl is the 'good' queen, and which is the 'bad'? Or is morality perhaps a little more complicated than that? (Of course it is.)"




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Goodreads: What inspired you to write Furyborn?

Claire Legrand: When I was 18 years old, I was daydreaming and listening to music (specifically, Howard Shore's score for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King). It sounds cheesy, but I had a vision of a young woman, very powerful and very sad, and surrounded by fire. I was so gripped by the image that I started asking myself questions about her: Who is this woman? What kind of power does she have? Who does she love, and who loves her? As I explored these questions, I built the character of Rielle, and the rest of the story grew up around her.

GR: What lessons have you learned since writing your last few books? How did they affect your approach to writing Furyborn?

CL: Some Kind of Happiness taught me how to be more precise with my language because Finley's voice is so thoughtful and deliberate. Foxheart taught me how to balance a big, sprawling story with consistent, energetic pacing. Winterspell helped me experiment with language and world-building. All of these lessons proved helpful when writing Furyborn, and I think that's true of any author's journey. Each book teaches you something new about yourself and your process, and you then carry on that knowledge to the next project.

GR: You've written both middle-grade and young adult fiction. What was the main difference between writing for these two categories?

CL: The main difference is the internal life and voice of the protagonist. A middle-grade character is straddling that line between childhood and adolescence, and much of their experience remains relegated to the relationships they have with their family and friends. They might wonder: "How do I stay friends with someone I've known my whole life, even though we're both changing a lot? How do I talk to my parents now that I'm starting to understand they're real people with real problems?"

A young adult character straddles the line between adolescence and adulthood, and a lot of the questions they grapple with are of a larger scope: "How do I fit into the world beyond my family and friends? What kind of person am I becoming? What do I believe in, and how will I fight for those things once I leave home?"

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GR: Furyborn introduces two main characters: Rielle Dardenne and Eliana Ferracora. What can you tell us about them?

CL: Rielle and Eliana are, in many ways, two sides of the same coin. They both have an immense capacity for love and are fiercely devoted to their friends and families. They are both incredibly stubborn, which often gets them in serious trouble. And, sadly for their poor beleaguered loved ones, they both tend to make decisions rashly.

But Rielle has been hiding who she truly is her whole life, so once her secret is revealed and she can exist as her true self, she develops an insatiable hunger for the spotlight. She craves acceptance and adoration; she loves showing off what she can do.

Eliana, on the other hand, simply wants to live under the radar, providing for her family and ensuring they can all enjoy a quiet, safe life. She doesn't want to be bothered, and she certainly doesn't crave attention. Unfortunately for her, that quiet, safe life she's worked so hard to build stays neither quiet nor safe for very long.

GR: Rielle and Eliana exist in the same world but in two different time periods that are a millennia apart. Why did you decide to write your novel this way?

CL: The two-narrators, two-time-periods structure of the Empirium trilogy grew out of my love for big, epic stories that span generations—whether that's a fantasy story with its own elaborate history or a contemporary story chronicling the life of a family over several decades. We can also blame my parents for raising me on Star Trek. The time travel episodes were always my favorites.

GR: What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

CL: I hope that readers—especially teen girl readers—fall in love with my messy, flawed, passionate protagonists and feel encouraged to embrace their own flaws and passions. I also hope readers of Furyborn feel transported. My favorite reading experiences are ones in which I slip completely into the world the author has created—a world that feels real and lived-in, uniquely textured and lovingly crafted. I want to give readers that same experience.

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GR: What young adult books would you recommend to our readers?

CL: We are lucky to be living in an era of exceptional young adult literature. A few titles I would recommend: What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold, the Metamorphosis trilogy by Sarah McCarry (beginning with All Our Pretty Songs), The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, anything by Anna-Marie McLemore (her upcoming Blanca & Roja is particularly stunning), and any of Frances Hardinge's books, especially The Lie Tree.

GR: What writing projects are you working on now?

CL: Right now, I'm working on book two of the Empirium trilogy. Soon I'll be revising Thornlight, a companion to my middle-grade fantasy novel, Foxheart, and then after that I'm not sure. I have several ideas for new projects that have been swimming around in my mind—some for months, others for years. I'm excited to spend time with them this summer.

GR: What books do you plan to read next?

CL: I'm currently working my way through Karen Russell's Vampires in the Lemon Grove, after which I'm going to start Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie. A few others on my soon-to-be-read list are A History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund, The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, and Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie.



Claire Legrand's Furyborn will be available on May 22. Don't forget to add it to your Want to Read shelf! Be sure to also read more of our exclusive author interviews and get more great book recommendations.

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