Saturday, March 14, 2015

1 Rachel Hartman, author of SHADOW SCALE, on being gentle with yourself

We're delighted to have Rachel Hartman join us to talk to us about writing SHADOW SCALE, the sequel to SERAPHINA.

Rachel, what was your inspiration for writing SHADOW SCALE?

SHADOW SCALE is the sequel to SERAPHINA, and the duology was always intended to have a roughly symmetrical structure. The first book would carry us from peace to war, and the second book from war back to peace. The road to peace is much more difficult than the road to war, however, so the second book is kind of a brick. The other thing I realized as I was writing was that I was interested in a different set of questions than I’d been exploring in SERAPHINA, and it took me some time to figure out what those questions were. I think there was much more perspiration than inspiration involved in this second book, frankly.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The scene I loved the most was the epilogue, and it was simultaneously hardest and easiest to write. I can’t really talk about it without spoiling, but it’s a bittersweet, emotional scene. There were days when that scene was the only thing I was really sure of about this book. It was my Pole Star.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

It reaffirmed something that I already knew, but had half-forgotten: that when I’m stuck, it’s a good idea to go do something else for a while. The solution will bubble up from my unconscious more readily if I’m not trying to force it. “Writers write” has become a ubiquitous truism, but sometimes writers don’t write. Sometimes writers ride bikes or sing or walk the dog, and it’s ok. You’re not a failure if you have to walk away from it occasionally.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I get up early, before the rest of my household, and I write very first thing. I often listen to music, but not always. There’s a pause during the breakfast and off-to-school rush, but then I get back to it. These days, I get to about 1500-2000 words before I stop, which is a lot for me. I only ever work at home, because I find other humans quite distracting.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Be patient, be persistent, but above all, be gentle with yourself. It is a tricky mental transition from writing for yourself to writing for a publisher and a readership. If writing was your therapy, it can easily become the source of stress -- and then what have you got for therapy? I found singing, another art form that I can enjoy without any pressure, and it reminds me what writing is supposed to feel like, which helps keep my head on straight.

What are you working on now?

A second duology, set in the same world as SERAPHINA and SHADOW SCALE, but featuring an almost completely different cast of characters. I’m having a great time with it so far.


Shadow Scale
by Rachel Hartman
Random House Books for Young Readers
Released 3/10/2015

Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

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Rachel HartmanRachel was born in Kentucky, but has lived a variety of places including Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She has a BA in Comparative Literature, although she insists it should have been a BS because her undergraduate thesis was called “Paradox and Parody in Don Quixote and the satires of Lucian.” She eschewed graduate school in favour of drawing comic books. She now lives in Vancouver, BC, with her family, their whippet, and a talking frog and salamander (who fight zombies)(really. There are a lot of zombies in the Pacific Northwest).

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