I read and loved Firelight back in October of last year (my review is here ) so am over the moon that it's getting a UK release with Oxford University Press. Sophie has been kind enough to answer a few questions on the exploration of identity in Firelight.
Hi Sophie. I'd like to start by telling you how much I enjoyed Firelight. I whizzed through it so quickly and can't wait to read the next one.
1. I love the strong themes of identity and belonging which run through Firelight and the twin's relationship really highlights this. Do you see the twins Jacinda and Tamra as two parts of a whole or as completely separate people?
Thank you, Sarah! So glad to answer your questions.
Oh, Jacinda and Tamra are definitely separate people, but also connected as twin sisters. One is essentially human and the other a draki. Meaning that for one to be happy and flourish, then other one must live in abject misery. This leaves both of them guilty much of the time. It’s easy to “find yourself” when no one else is affected. In their cases, both are adversely affected by the others actions, and that makes things very difficult. While both want to seize their dreams, they don’t wish to hurt the other one – obviously this creates a lot of friction between them. I could have written them alike, made both of them a draki, but that would have been too easy. What’s a story without conflict? Plus, family relationships are never easy, and I wanted to reflect how complicated parent/child/sibling relationships can be.
2. The way that Jacinda and Tamra swap status as they change location made me feel bad for both of them! It also perfectly reflects the fickle nature of school popularity. Was it important to you to make Jacinda as relatable as possible despite her Draki nature?
Naturally, I wanted to make Jacinda relatable ... and the best way to do that was to strip away everything from her and watch her struggle – a fish out of water, so to speak.
Flipping the sisters’ statuses was another way to increase the conflict. I wasn’t trying so much to highlight the fickle nature of “school popularity” as I was trying to show the irony of circumstance ... how Jacinda can be this valued and prized member of one community (her pride) and then inconsequential in a different community (the human world).
3. The Draki lore is fascinating. Did you base any of it on myth or did you create it all from scratch?
Some of it stems from myth, such as a dragon’s tendency to hoard jewels. I wanted to keep that part of the lore, but come up with a good reason for it. Greed just wasn’t going to cut it as an explanation. Jacinda and her fellow draki couldn’t be greedy and remain sympathetic.
Also, a dragon’s ability to breathe fire is well known and perhaps the first thing to leap into people’s heads when they thing dragon – incorporating that into Firelight was an obvious thing for me to do. The rest of the lore I pretty much made up myself.
4. Will's also struggling with who he is and family loyalty but both his and Jacinda's Draki tribe are full of flaws. Is the imperfect family an important theme to you?
I always like to depict some type of family dynamic in my writing. As in real life, there is no such thing as perfection. I believe that people are overall good – but family relationships can be complicated. Readers can relate to that, too. We all have some type of family. It always struck me as fascinating and a bit tragic that we love our family most in the world – and also hurt them the most.
5. Do you have any advice for budding writers (as many follow our blog)?
Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Lol. Seriously though, I’ve never known a writer that isn’t also a reader. And it’s important to know the market, ie, what publishers are buying and what your potential audience is drawn to.
Thank you so much for answering our questions!
Sophie's over at Writing From The Tub tomorrow, Tuesday 8th January so please follow the blog tour and head over there too!