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21 September 2011 @ 09:35 am
Interview with Rae Carson, author of THE GIRL OF FIRE & THORNS  
I’m thrilled to welcome debut author Rae Carson to the Inkpot today! Rae’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns, which went on sale yesterday, is the first in a new high fantasy trilogy featuring intrigue, religion, ancient mysteries, desert battles, and a princess named Elisa who is not yet aware of her strengths.

Happy Belated Release Day, Rae! I loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns, and am happy to get the chance to grill you about it.
The country in which The Girl of Fire and Thorns is set has, to me, a Mediterranean-like feel. Am I completely off-base? If not, where did that come from?

You are not off-base! I knew I wanted to write a desert fantasy, and since ancient texts and secret scriptures play such an important part in Elisa’s story, it made sense to draw inspiration from desert countries with rich manuscript traditions like Israel and Turkey and Egypt. The language of the book is a pseudo-Spanish, morphed to show some Italian and Arabic influences. I took a lot of inspiration from Spanish Morocco for this.

When your novel starts, your main character, Elisa, is very overweight. What was your inspiration for that aspect of her character (something we don't see much of in YA novels)?

I was dating this guy. He considered himself an “encourager.” His encouragements tended to be things like, “Are you sure you want to eat that?” And, “Wow, Rae, if you lost another five pounds, you’d be reeeally hot.” And, “Did you get your run in today?” I was a size 6 at the time.

After a year, I came to my senses and broke up with his sorry @$$. I spent the next day eating ice cream and thinking about all the fabulous women I knew and the qualities I admired in each of them. I was on my second pint of Ben & Jerry’s (cookie dough) when I realized it hadn’t once occurred to me to put “skinny” on that list of admirable qualities.

I then jotted down the fictitious diary entry of an overweight and seemingly-inadequate princess named Elisa who was destined to save the world using smarts, courage, and determination—traits my real-life girlfriends have in abundance. That diary entry didn’t make it into the book, but it was the seed of an idea that eventually became The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

The desert survival scenes and war strategy in the book seemed very realistic to me. What kind of research did you do for those parts of the book?

I have a very strange uncle. He wears a totem around his neck, braids his beard hair, and insists that “Jericho” is his true name, even though he was born a “Dave.” My very strange Uncle Jericho is one of my favorite people in the world, and I spent a lot of time hanging out with him when I was a little girl. He taught me how to catch brook trout with my bare hands, start a fire with flint and steel, shoot a gun, and even skin roadkill. *wince* So I grew up knowing some survivalist lore, which I put to use in the book whenever possible. I also read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, which is fabulous and fascinating and totally stands up to modern reading.

I was very intrigued by one character we don't see much of -- Elisa's sister. Do we get to see more of her in later books?

I’m so glad you liked Alodia! She’s a favorite of mine, too, and yes, we’ll see more of her. In the second book, The Crown of Embers, she is a shadow character whose presence is definitely felt. She’ll get more face time in The Bitter Kingdom, when Elisa’s world experiences an unusual convergence of female rulers that will change history forever… *acts mysterious*

Thank you, Rae!
You can find out more about The Girl of Fire and Thorns at Rae’s website: http://www.raecarson.com. Or, you know, you could just go buy it... ;)
Devadeva_fagan on September 21st, 2011 01:41 pm (UTC)
I'm very excited to read this! Thank you both for the interview!
carmenferreirocarmenferreiro on September 21st, 2011 02:06 pm (UTC)
Uncle Jericho

What an interesting character, your uncle. Is he going to have a guest appearance in your trilogy?
Rae Carsonraecarson on September 22nd, 2011 01:16 am (UTC)
Re: Uncle Jericho
You know, you may have just given me an idea...
carmenferreirocarmenferreiro on September 22nd, 2011 12:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Uncle Jericho
I can't wait to read it.
cindachimacindachima on September 21st, 2011 03:08 pm (UTC)
This is an awesome read! Get right on it!
(no subject) - ZMarriott on September 21st, 2011 03:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
keelyinkster on September 30th, 2011 07:32 pm (UTC)
I just finished reading this book and LOVED it! This world is so uniquely imagined and I loved that the main character is overweight - she has such an original voice,
and the 'minor' characters were so richly developed, can't wait to read the next two books!