We’re counting down to the April 5th release of Red Glove by Holly Black here at Novel Novice, and today we’ve got part 1 of our exclusive interview with Holly. Thanks so much to Holly and our friends at S&S for helping us out!
My favorite pair of gloves would be thin black leather, very fitted. They would also have a few of the stitches picked out of one of the sides so that i could touch someone with my bare finger and get away with it.
What type of curse worker power would you most want to have? Why?
I think I would most want to be a powerful luck worker, because even though it’s a common power, I think it could be really useful, especially as a writer. Maybe I would luck into the perfect paragraph or the perfect plot or into write ten thousand words in a single day.
In both books, Cassel struggles with morals, family vs. doing what’s right, good vs. evil, etc. Do you think he’s more good or more bad?
That’s an interesting question. I think if he had grown up in a different family, he could have been a very good person. He cares about right and wrong, even though he has been raised to be pretty amoral or at least to have a very different moral system. He *wants* to be good. But I also think that goodness isn’t inherent so much as about the choices we make — and Cassel has a lot of difficult moral choices ahead of him. I think the decisions he makes will ultimately determine whether he’s a hero or an antihero.
I actually really love how important family is in both of the Curse Workers books. Even though Cassel doesn’t always agree with his family’s choices, he still clearly loves them, values their feelings, and often puts them first, even over his own best judgment. I find this to be a rather unique quality in YA, actually, where so many main characters are teens without any strong parental/familial figures in their lives. How do you think the Curse Worker books would be different if Cassel didn’t have a family (or didn’t care about his family)?
Well, I kind of think this is one of the few cases where a character might be improved by not having a family, but I think Cassel’s family makes him a lot more interesting. Even when he knows he should cut his ties to them, he can’t. And so he keeps getting pulled back into their schemes and helping them out, which usually means doing things he probably shouldn’t do — as you say, over his better judgement.
There aren’t many YA books about the mob. What inspired you to bring such a seedy element to the YA shelves?
I think of it as part of what I do to write about characters who are a little outside of the center. I had a memorable review say that I liked to write about the “scourge of society” and I guess that’s more or less true. When I was growing up, I spent a significant amount of time around hoodlums. A bunch of the people I used to hang out with are in jail and some of them are dead, so I think that I have a little grittier view of adolescence than some writers might.
Cassel isn’t always a good guy. Can you tell us a bit about how you write such a sympathetic character, even when he’s doing questionable things?
I think part of what makes Cassel a sympathetic character is that we know how he feels. We know he’s trying to do the right thing and that he often doesn’t have a lot of good choices. And because we’re inside his head, hearing the story solely from his point of view, when he makes a bad choice, we know why. The reader has access to his anguished inner life.
I think it also helps that, so far, the worst things Cassel has done are things he can’t remember doing.
As I understand it, the Curse Workers series is planned as a trilogy (and correct me if I’m wrong). But do you have any thoughts on doing any spin-off books in the series, feat. other characters (not Cassel)?
As part of the promotional stuff for RED GLOVE, I wrote thirteen vignettes from Lila’s point of view, which was really interesting. It made me think of what a different series this would be if she was the protagonist and it made me a lot more aware of what’s been going on with her. From the outside, I think she takes on the aloof unreadable role that guys usually have in paranormal romance — Cassel can’t read her emotions and, even when he does, he’s not sure he’s reading her right. From that perspective, it was really interesting to actually reveal what she’s been thinking all this time.
But, novel-wise, I really feel like this is Cassel’s series and I’m still interested in writing from his POV. As for the question of whether this is a trilogy or not, I am still trying to decide. Book three has a natural stopping place, but I also know what happens afterward.
Thanks so much, once again, Holly! Tune in tomorrow for part 2, as we ask Holly our favorite flash questions of 2011!