1. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been a writer since fourth grade, when I started writing stories about the horses at the stable where I took riding lessons. But I grew up in a tiny one-stoplight town. I didn’t know anyone who was an author; I’m not sure I ever dared to dream so big. I thought perhaps I’d be a teacher, though I don’t love public speaking. Then I stopped writing in college and started working with playwrights on their new plays instead. But after grad school (where I studied theatre history & criticism), I was miserable; I really missed writing. After years of reading only plays, I started reading fiction for fun again, including books like TWILIGHT,
, and WICKED LOVELY. When I started
writing again, I was writing YA fantasy. VAMPIRE ACADEMY
2. What was your inspiration for BORN WICKED?
I had a dream where my sisters and I were fighting over a magical locket from our mom. There’s no magical locket in BW, but I loved the notion of writing about the mix of love and sibling rivalry between sisters, especially sisters with a complicated magical inheritance.
3. What drew you to create the Cahills’ world? Why witches?
I wanted to write about strong, independent girls in a society that doesn’t value them. I loved the idea of setting their story in the Victorian age, contrasting the romanticism of candles and carriages and corsets and courtship against the lack of control women had over their daily lives. Making the Cahill girls witches in a society where magic is outlawed gave them the opportunity – maybe even the responsibility? – to take control of their lives. It also puts them in a great deal of danger, which is great for storytelling purposes.
4. In the spirit of BORN WICKED, what power would you choose to possess if you were a Cahill witch?
Healing. Although I would be a terrible nurse – I have a bit of a hospital phobia.
5. BORN WICKED plays with feminist themes. Why was it important to you to address those in your book?
Because the women I know – my best friends, sisters, mother, grandmothers – are strong, smart, talented, independent women. They may have romantic relationships, but that isn’t the be-all and end-all of their lives; their friendships and families and careers and passions are important to them, too. I wanted to reflect that in my characters.
6. What tidbits of advice would you give to aspiring authors out there?
Find people you trust to read your work and give you feedback. Ask them what they like and want to see more of, as well as what confuses them and what didn’t work for them. It’s scary, I know, but so helpful. Learning to take constructive criticism and making writer-friends will be invaluable!
7. If you had to attribute your success as a writer to one thing, one quality, what would it be?
Persistence. It’s so cliché, I know! My first ms didn’t quite work, so I rewrote it from third-past to first-present. It took nine months. And then I rewrote it more. It was two years before I was ready to query, but I got an agent (Jim McCarthy at DGLM) in my first batch of queries. That ms went on submission but didn’t sell, which was heartbreaking at the time – but I wrote BORN WICKED while it was on sub, and that sold in a week. Don’t give up!
8. Name three books that impacted your love of reading or style of writing in a big way.
My first favorite book (I read it over and over in second grade) was LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott. It feels a little overly moralistic now, but I still love stories about sisters. My favorite book in high school (and the book that made me want to be a writer) was GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell. Growing up near the
battlefield with a history-buff dad,
I was fascinated by the Civil War, and I loved this novel about a strong,
clever, selfish woman in a society that didn’t value that. And more recently, my
favorite series consists of GRACELING, FIRE, and BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore.
I’m in awe of her world-building, and I love that she writes such fascinating,
independent heroines – who still get in a fair amount of swoony
9. Where can people find more info about you and your books online?
You can find out about my books at www.jessicaspotswood.com, read my blog at www.jessicaspotswood.com/blog, follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/jessica_shea, or “like” The Cahill Witch Chronicles on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cahillwitchchronicles.