We have an extra special treat for you today. Not only are we chatting with authors Beth Bracken and Kay Fraser about their beautiful new fantasy WISH, from the Faerieground series, but we also have a giveaway! You will have the chance to win a signed Advance Reader Copy of the book, set for release next month. Just comment on this post by Tues. March 12 for the chance to win a copy before anyone else has one!
If you haven’t heard about WISH yet, it’s a story about two friends, torn apart. Soli and Lucy argue, and then Lucy disappears, taken by the faeries who live in the forest near their homes. Can Soli save her friend, even if it means facing the biggest dangers she's ever experienced?
First of all, congratulations to you both on your book! You’ve written a beautifully poetic story about friendship and discovering who you really are. Oh, and also about wishes, and lost princesses, and some pretty dark and scary faeries. How did the idea to write it come about?
KAY: Beth and I brainstormed the concept over tea on one of our work breaks. We kept completing each other’s sentences, until the concept came alive, and we visualized who these best friends were, where they lived, and why the woods were not what they seemed. Then we felt chills, got teary-eyed, and got goosebumps. That was the sign we were onto something good, so we followed our gut, and Faerieground was born.
BETH: Kay and I have always wanted to collaborate in a creative way like this. We knew we wanted to write a fantasy novel for girls, and we wanted it to encompass romance, family, mystery, and most of all, friendship. Strong friendships are so important to girls, and I think we both identified with the idea of feeling betrayed by (or being the betrayer of) a best friend. Once we had these ideas, we started world-building.
WISH opens with a quote from Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods: “Wishes come true, not free.” It’s a perfect opening to the book.
BETH: Yes! As we were writing, the Capstone Young Readers editorial director, Michael Dahl, reminded me of that quote, and we thought it was a perfect way to set the scene. It’s so true, too—even when a wish comes true, there might be a string attached, as there is when Soli wishes Lucy away in the early chapters of WISH.
KAY: It stirs many things inside you to read that simple line, and sets the perfect mood to read the first pages of the book.
What would you say is the main theme or message of WISH?
KAY: The main theme is the meaning of true friendship. It showcases the risks a simple girl is willing to take for a relationship that completes her and makes her better. It doesn’t matter if it’s a best friend, love interest, or family; it is about believing in someone so deeply, you are willing to risk it all for them.
BETH: I think there are a few messages and themes. Like I said before, it’s a book in which the main and most important relationship is friendship. And that’s really true in life, too. Even with romantic partners, there has to be a foundation of friendship. There’s also a strong theme of the importance of forgiveness.
Why did you choose to alternate the narrator of the story between the main characters Soli and Lucy? Did one of you mainly write the Soli chapters, and the other the Lucy chapters?
BETH: No, we both wrote from both points of view. We wanted to show both points of view, though, and we couldn’t tell this story just through Lucy’s eyes or through Soli’s. Both girls bring such important viewpoints to the story (and that will continue to be true in the other books in the series).
KAY: Writing from both POVs makes the writing that much richer. We wanted to reflect these girls’ personalities with their tone and sentence structure. Both narrators are a must to build this world, and develop the story; alternating their viewpoints seemed the most natural way for us, with having them both in different worlds.
Tell us a little bit about the process of working on the book together.
BETH: This has been a very collaborative process from the beginning. We spent hours and hours sitting at various coffee shops and talking through plot ideas. It was super energizing and inspiring to go through that process with Kay. What worked really well for us was for one person to write a section of the book and the other person to then go over it, adding details and smoothing out continuity issues. We both bring different strengths to the table—Kay is an amazing world builder and plot diviner, where my strength is more in character development and narrative flow, so I don’t think either of us could have written this book alone.
KAY: Trust is a huge ingredient in this mix. It’s amazingly inspiring to have a writing partner as talented as Beth. She is a groundbreaking poet and writer. She pushes me to try different things I wouldn’t on my own, and makes me grow on all writing levels. Beth grounds me, so I don’t get lost in my own head! We balance each other out and build momentum from each other’s strengths.
Can we talk for a second about the gorgeous artwork in WISH? How do you feel about the way the illustrator, Odessa Sawyer, captured the characters and mood of the story?
KAY: Odessa was one of the muses to our story. I’ve seen her artwork, and dreamed of her actually taking on the book. When she did, it was a dream come true. She completes the mood so seamlessly; the voices and the illustrations go hand in hand, building the amazing world of Faerieground. The images reflect the grittiness of the words, the darkness of the moods. It’s a perfect balance.
BETH: We SO lucked out when Odessa agreed to illustrate this book. She basically took our story and brought it to life. She’s incredible. The art has so much depth and texture, and every single person who sees it has been amazed by how beautiful it is.
WISH is written for more of a tween reader, not quite yet at the young adult level. What aspects of a story do you think are especially important to readers at this age?
BETH: Tween girls are definitely into boys, there’s no denying that—and we couldn’t have written this book without including some romance. But the most important relationship for young women is their friends, and that’s why we focused on Soli and Lucy’s friendship. But girl friendships are HARD. And that’s something we really tried to capture in WISH. Sometimes you really do want to wish your friends away. And sometimes, even if you don’t want to admit it, you desperately need your friends to help you.
KAY: This is the age when kids start exploring and analyzing who they are based on their surroundings, friends, and life-changing relationships. Showcasing true friendship is key for girls that age. At that age you learn true friends are what carry you and make all the bad things not so bad, throughout the years. We wanted to showcase a true, pure friendship, and show what it means for these two girls. I’m sure girls this age will see themselves represented in Lucy and Soli. I certainly know I do.
Will we see more book collaborations from you two in the future?
BETH: Yes! Right now, we’re planning on three books in the Faerieground series. But I could see us starting up another series after that . . .
KAY: Beth is the best writing partner I could ask for, and collaborating with her has been a blast. What comes after Faerieground, time will tell.
For any young readers out there who aspire to be writers, do you have any words of advice you can share?
BETH: My best advice, as someone who has spent ten years writing and editing books (and who studied writing in college), is to read. A lot. Like, everything you can find. You can’t possibly become a good writer without being a good reader. And don’t be too hard on yourself as a writer. Anything you write is practice, just like any skill that takes work. If you’re reading and writing as much as you can, you’re on the right track.
KAY: I agree with Beth. Read, read, and read some more. Learn from those who have been doing it for a while. Know who your favorite writers are and why. Reading gives you an understanding of all the different parts that make a good book. I would also advise to write as much as you read, to find your own voice as a writer. The more you write the more comfortable you will be doing it. Practice will build your confidence, and confidence will only push you further in what you hope to achieve with your writing.
Thanks to Beth and Kay for their time with us! WISH publishes next month and will be available at major book retailers and directly from Capstone Young Readers. Check out our Faerieground website to learn even more about the book.