*All questions taken from Christine Smith's Know the Novel blog post.*
What first sparked the idea for this novel?
I came up with the concept of a flower seller who fought these poisonous thorns as a flash fiction concept (while listening to an epic version of Clair de Lune) and wrote it for Inktober on the Young Writer’s Workshop community. Several people commented that they enjoyed it and would be interested in seeing more.
And I didn’t do any more for years.
Believe me, I tried. But the plot WOULD NOT fall into place. But once it finally did, it really did. The plot to this one came very naturally, I didn’t have any parts I had to majorly change in my content edit (unlike The Romanov Scheme).
In the original concept, Fleur was going to accidentally steal Aster’s memory somehow when she healed him. The version I have now doesn’t have this anywhere, their relationship has drastically changed, and the setting is a lot more rich.
Share a blurb.
Where does the story take place? What are your favorite aspects of the setting?
It happens in 1889 Paris, France, as the World’s Fair is going on. The only thing that’s changed is the culture is steeped in petalemagie—this ability to control plants. Training is required to legally use it (since untrained users caused the French Revolution), but training is usually only available to the wealthy elite. Developing the magic system as it wove into French history was so much fun.
Tell us about your protagonist.
There are, once again, two.
Fleur LeBlanc is a sixteen-year-old flower seller who never seems to let much get to her. Her family fell on hard times, so she was never able to get training, despite having unusually strong petalemagie powers. She has a little bit of a rougher edge to her that I’m hoping to lean into in my final draft. She also compares herself a lot to the people around her and even to her past, worrying that people think she is weak.
Aster DeRose has changed so much from the first concept. He was originally supposed to be Fleur’s seventeen-year-old best friend, a nerdy gardener who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time. He now is part of the wealthy elite that have access to training, but his petalemagie is one of the few cases that is actually fading as he gets older. This is a huge deal, because his verbally abusive father was a petalemagie legend. He struggles a lot with anger.
Who or what is the antagonist?
How do I explain this without spoilers? I mean, obviously, there are these poisonous thorns that are a pretty big deal. There’s Aster’s dad. There’s someone else that I shall not name that ends up stabbing them in the back. But the characters also wrestle very deeply with the evil inside of them. And that’s all I can say.
What excites you most about this novel?
The chance to represent a very underrepresented struggle. Aster’s side of the story deals heavily with verbal abuse, a reality that is often ignored because it doesn’t leave physical wounds. It also deals with the resulting anger of feeling unable to speak or defend oneself, and where that anger might rage if left unchecked.
Is this going to be a series? A standalone? Something else?
A standalone. I do have a spin-off book planned, but as of now, most of the original cast will not be returning for that one. Although by the time all is said and done, they will probably cameo.
Are you plotting? Pantsing? Plantsing?
Plotting. This is the first novel I plotted using Three Act Structure from the get-go. As I said, it took a while, but it did finally fall into place very naturally.
Name a few unique elements of this story.
I honestly haven’t found many books about the Paris World’s Fair. I’ve been trying to find comparative titles and it took a fair bit of googling. Maybe I’m just not looking in the right place. Historical fantasy isn’t really a thing in Christian YA right now (aside from Nadine Brandes), so I’m excited to possibly develop that aspect more. It also deals heavily with verbal and emotional abuse, which is a topic not often discussed.
Hello there! Rachel again, with some of the short stories and flash fiction I've written. Enjoy!