Curbing curiosities, or an interview with Heather Fawcett author of Even the Darkest Stars (and a giveaway)


even the daarkest stars

Even the Darkest Stars (Even the Darkest Stars #1)

By: Heather Fawcett

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: September 5th, 2017

Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the Emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.

But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means climbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer who is determined to best River, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.

The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and even worse at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth of their mission and of her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.

1) What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster? Which do you prefer: drafting or revising?

I’m definitely a plotter—everything has to be laid out in detail, chapter by chapter, before I start writing. I would say I enjoy both drafting and revising, but for different reasons: revising is often more satisfying (you get to watch your manuscript improving, piece by piece), while with drafting you have that sense of possibility and freedom that comes with not knowing exactly how things will turn out (even if you’re a dedicated plotter like me!)


2) A book goes through a lot of different versions and rounds of editing before it’s complete.  What are some “fun facts” or behind the scenes info you can share about the characters from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book?

Well, the ending changed three times. And by changed, I mean, I wrote three completely different endings. They all ended up in the same place, though. I also changed one of the character’s genders: Aimo was a man (with a different name) in the first draft. I wanted a more gender-balanced cast (something that still seems to be rare in many fantasy novels—and films), so that was a change that was important to me. Mara’s character changed a fair bit—in the earliest drafts, he was a rival explorer; he later became a member of River’s expedition because I wanted the two of them to have more of a history. My drafts tend to grow during revisions rather than shrink (I write sparse first drafts, for some reason), so there weren’t a lot of scenes that were cut, merely altered.


3) Do you have a special story, a discovery you made while doing research, or an innocuous thought that grew into something bigger that is behind your inspiration for the book?

Well, the bioluminescent dragons were partly inspired by a trip I took to Germany. I’ve never seen fireflies where I live in Vancouver—I don’t even know if we have them here—but I saw them there, in a forest as it was getting dark. It was magical. I remember wishing I could take them with me and have them travel along at my side as little floating lights. Fireflies actually give off a surprising amount of light. That was the beginning of my idea for the dragons of Even the Darkest Stars.


4) Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble? If you could ask a character of your choice from EVEN THE DARKEST STARS one question what would it be?

Happily, none of my characters really give me any trouble. Personally, I find that if I’m struggling with a character it’s a sign that I need to develop them further—basically get to know them a bit better. Kamzin is a fun character to write, but of course, that’s the easy answer, because she’s the protagonist…I couldn’t very well write a story about someone I didn’t like. I enjoy writing any scene involving River. In terms of a question, I would probably ask Mara to describe his most harrowing expedition. He’s a very entertaining storyteller.


5) What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)? Is there a scene that you had difficulty with and just had to “power through” to finish the book? Or a scene that made you very emotional?

There’s a scene near the very end of the book (which, I’m sorry, I can’t elaborate on!) that was a bit of an emotional one to write. Having an emotional response as a writer is a good thing—it often means whatever you’re doing is working. I’m not sure which scene I’m most proud of, but I had a lot of fun writing the scene where Kamzin meets River, as well as the scene in Jangsa.


6) What are the top five things we should know as a reader before starting EVEN THE DARKEST STARS? (about the main character, their love interest, the antagonist, their world/home town, their situation, etc)

The story is set in a world inspired by the Himalayas—lots of snowy mountains and glaciers. The main character lives in a small village at the edge of an Empire and dreams of being hired by the Emperor as one of his explorers. In this world, “Royal Explorer” is a job description, and explorers are a specific class of people venerated for their bravery and skills (sort of like how wizards/magicians/socerers are venerated in many fantasy worlds). In this world, anyone can do magic, but some people are better at it than others—no different from how some people are innately skilled at music or certain sports.

I think that’s about five!

I was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, where I enjoy wandering around in the wilderness and only occasionally getting lost. I’ve also spent extended periods of time in Italy, where I learned very little Italian but ate quite a lot of pizza, and Ireland, where I searched half-successfully for puffins and selkies.

Before becoming a writer I worked, among other things, as an archaeologist, a technical writer, and a backstage assistant for a Shakespearean theatre company (which I could write several novels about). I have a Master’s degree in English Literature and briefly considered becoming a professor, before I realized it involved more than reading books, drinking excessive amounts of tea, and wearing colourful elbow patches.

I’m represented by the amazing Brianne Johnson at Writers House. EVEN THE DARKEST STARS, my first novel, was purchased by HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray at auction in a six-figure, two-book deal.

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, info, giveaway, and more were provided by The Fantastic Flying Book Club.

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