Holly Black: Black Heart Q&A Part 2

Yesterday, we brought out part 1 of our exclusive interview with Black Heart author Holly Black. Today, here is part 2 of 3, in which Holly talks about what is next for her!

Faeries. Magical mobsters. And now vampires. What fantastical subject matter is next? What’s captured your imagination lately?

In 2013, I actually have TWO books coming out.

I have a middle grade called DOLL BONES, about three kids — Zachary, Poppy and Alice — who go on a journey, despite their own uncertain friendship, to bury a doll that may or may not be made from human bones.  It’s creepy and fun and it may be the most difficult thing I’ve ever written, but I am really, really proud of it.

The second book is the vampire book you mentioned, called THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN.  It’s based on a short story I wrote a few years ago and it’s set in a world where the sudden spread of vampirism caused the United States to wall off parts of cities, creating “Coldtowns” where humans and vampires live side by side in a lawless and decadent détente.  Outside the quarantined cities, people watch videos uploaded from inside with fascination, making instant celebrities of monsters.  When only Tana Bach and her ex-boyfriend, Aidan, survive a lockdown party massacre that leaves both of them infected, they have to travel with a half-mad vampire named Gavriel into the heart of everything that Tana has always feared.

Gah, the COLDTOWN summary is really hard because I’m not finished writing it yet!

After all of that, I’m not really sure what’s next, but I think I might actually have two different ideas for faerie books, one adult and one YA.  And there’s a high fantasy that I’ve wanted to write for years.  And there’s even another middle grade idea that’s been floating around my head for a while.  The hardest thing is trying to decide what comes next.

We’ve heard through blog posts and Tweets about your writing retreats with other YA authors. What was the best thing that’s happened for your writing from these retreats?

I used to see writers on deadline post about checking into hotels to get their books done and I was totally baffled — wouldn’t it be easier, I thought, to write at home, at your own desk, with your own stuff and a refrigerator full of your own food?  Then about three years ago, Cassandra Clare proposed going to Mexico for a month of writing.  I was coming off of the tour for the very last Beyond Spiderwick book and was ready to start writing RED GLOVE.  I didn’t know what to expect, but it seemed like it would be fun, at least, and I figured that I wouldn’t write any slower next to a pool in a beautiful location.

It turned out that I was able to more than double what I could write.  I wrote half of RED GLOVE on that trip and what’s weirder, it was really pleasant.  Having the book in my head when I went to sleep at night, dreaming about it, and then having it fresh in my mind meant that I was able to juggle plot lines and characters more easily and I was able to immerse myself in the mood of the story.  Plus, surprising me once again, the speed of the writing actually contributed positively to the pacing of the book.  I was blown away by how much I got done and how tight it was.  Not only that, but since I was there with other writers (that first year, I think it was Robin Wasserman, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Delia Sherman, in addition to Cassie), if I ran into a snag, they could talk through the problem with me.  The whole process was incredible.  I wrote the second half of BLACK HEART in Mexico last year, spent a month in France writing the first third of COLDTOWN (which doesn’t mean I wrote less in France; just that Coldtown is really long), and just got back from our now-annual trip to Mexico where I wrote the middle of COLDTOWN (I told you it was long).

In addition to getting a lot done and the camaraderie, I feel like the retreats have let me explore what it’s like to live somewhere else for a month. I always come back energized to make changes in my life.  After living in France for a month, I made a commitment to cook a lot more and to be willing to go to the store for fresh things whenever, the way I went to markets there.  After coming back from Mexico this year, my husband and I decided that we wanted to simplify our lives and get ride of a lot of our clutter.  Since I grew up in a house that looked a lot like Cassel’s at the beginning of the Curse Worker series, that’s a difficult thing for me to do, but I knew from the experience of that month that we didn’t need the clutter as much as we needed the calm that came with open, clean spaces.


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