It is my great pleasure to welcome US-author Brigid Kemmerer to the blog, to chat all things writing, 'Cursebreakers', COVID and what's next ... with many thanks to her Bloomsbury publisher for orchestrating this!
Q: Where do story ideas generally start for you? Do you first think of the character, theme, ending? Or is it just a free-fall?
For me, it always starts with the characters. I would write about my characters going to the grocery store if I could. Before I start writing, I do need a general sense of the plot, so I’ll usually write a really loose outline so I know where I’m going. But a lot of subplots come up organically while I’m writing.
Q: Vow is the third and final instalment in a trilogy - so I'm curious ... how long have you known that it was all going to end this way? Did you start writing book 1 knowing how book 3 would end, were there any surprises along the way...?
Oh, I had no idea how the trilogy was going to end up. I just knew I wanted to do a “Beauty and the Beast” trope in my own way, and I was delighted when readers connected to my story so strongly. I didn’t even plan for Grey to take on as big a role as he did. It wasn’t until he showed up on the page that I realized he needed a bigger role.
Q: Which character did fan-response make you feel the most pressure to deliver a 'Happily Ever After' for? Harper is totally beloved, Grey became a fan-favourite ... was there any one character you really got nervous wrapping it all up for?
Grey’s story arc was definitely the most challenging, because readers have so many thoughts about him (which is amazing!!), and I never want to let anyone down.
Q: This story may be completed, but - do you think you'll write more stories set in this realm? More fairytale adaptations, even?
I would love to tell more stories in this universe! I fell in love with so many secondary characters that I feel like there’s a lot of room to continue the stories.
Q: I have to ask; do you have any particular interest in trying to tackle a story of COVID-19 in the future ...? Which I also realise is strange to ask, because long before the pandemic; you were writing this story of a curse that locks somebody in their home (okay - castle, but still!) and Prince Rhen is determined to keep himself hidden away to save *other people*. Grey meanwhile, has magic that people are wary of trusting even though it can literally heal them ... do you think fairytales and fantasy can better communicate the trials of these strange times, more so than contemporary?
What’s especially ironic about this question is that my book Defy the Night, which comes out in September of 2021, deals with a kingdom on the brink of revolution, partly due to a mysterious illness that’s afflicting a large portion of society, and there’s not enough medicine to go around. I finished the first draft in mid-2019, well before anyone had heard of COVID-19, so it’s amazing how much art can imitate life. I do think there’s something very powerful about fiction that makes overwhelming events more accessible … especially when you see characters overcoming insurmountable challenges.
Q: You're a YA author who has switched genres rather seamlessly - writing paranormal romances, gothic fairytales, and compelling and heartbreaking contemporary YA stories too ... how was it when you first made that genre-transition? And is it a case now of - you're hoping to switch it up every book/series, or can you only follow where an idea leads you?
This is a great question! I think because I always start with character that it’s been easy to switch genres, because I just love the people, and complex friendships and complicated families are going to fill the pages of any book I write. For authors who want to be able to write in multiple genres, I always recommend building a base in one genre (4-5 books), so that readers learn to trust what you write, and then they’ll be more willing to take a chance on something they’re not sure they’ll like. I’ve had so many people say they only tried my fantasy because they loved my contemporary, and vice versa. For the near future, I only have fantasy on tap, but I do love contemporary and paranormal romance, too!
Q: What was your favourite bit of fairytale trivia you discovered while researching/getting inspired for your own writing?
I’m not sure if favorite is the right word, but when I was reading up on “Beauty and the Beast,” I remember reading that it wasn’t really about falling in love with someone’s true spirit, and instead was supposed to be a story to comfort young brides who first met their husband on their wedding night, and they were afraid. Yikes.
Q: What are you working on right now, and when can we expect it to hit bookshelves?
Right now, I’m working on a secret project, so stay tuned for details! But readers can look forward to Defy the Night in September 2021.
Q: Favourite author(s) and book(s) of all time?
Oh my goodness, I could never answer this one. I will say that Christopher Pike is the first YA author I discovered as a child, and once I started reading his books, I thought, “I want to do this.”
Q: What are you reading, loving and recommending right now? (I'll also take watching/listening if you've been on more of a TV and podcast binge!)
I just finished watching Bridgerton, and I loved it!
Q: No. 1 piece of advice for emerging writers?
Read widely! Read books by people who don’t look like you, think like you, or write like you. Stay curious about experiences that you don’t expect.