[Note From Frolic: Our resident YA expert Aurora Dominguez got the opportunity to interview author Shelley Sackier and ask her five questions]
Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?
Shelley: This is an uncomfortable question I’m often asked, and depending upon the audience, I usually answer, I come from a family full of women who have an uncanny sixth sense. Then, in my head, I add, and have ample conversations with relatives who are long dead and buried.
But it was this hushed up, joked about, slightly shocking, and totally confusing history of the women in my family that niggled away at me for years and finally tethered itself into a yarn worthy of spinning itself into a tale.
As I believe it is the things we don’t understand that fill us with most angst, I’m also firmly convinced that the only way to understand and overcome one’s lifelong fear is to march right up to its front door and bang on its gothic knocker.
Although it has always been a cryptic enigma as to why my aunties and grannies used to tell me I was an angel, or an old soul reincarnated, or a practicing hedge witch and just didn’t know it, it was intriguing to hear nonetheless. But it was also frightening, as they still burned witches in my little neighborhood. Each time they pulled me aside to reveal either their most recent prophetical dreams, the latest charting of my astrological life maps, or what some dead relative whispered to them as they chatted on the edge of their bed last night, they were all conversations I wished they’d keep locked up tight inside of them. I wasn’t ready to hear about their spine-tingling insight.
But eventually, I was ready to write about them.
What character do you most relate to and why?
Likely one of the tired, elderly constituents of the kingdom who have way too much to do and not nearly enough help to do it with. But a close second would be Kizzy. She’s one of the witches, but a minor character. That girl stole my heart, as she is the kind of eclectic people I am magnetized toward and encourage all kids to be like. There is not one spot of “regular” on her, and that makes her so so interesting. Doesn’t care about conforming, but is filled with wonder and curiosity that simply spills right out of her unchecked.
Apparently, according to friends and family, this is the tiny spot I have written in as autobiographical—apart from the fact that she manufactures most of her clothing from old chemistry experiments and a line of Tupperware.
Why do you feel young adult books are so popular and have such a voice right now? What’s your favorite young adult author?
This is a question I wish everyone would ask me and nearly no one does because it falls into a category I find gobsmackingly interesting: psychology. It’s a rabbit hole I fall down every single day and usually have no urgency to climb out of. Trying to understand why YA books are crazy appealing is like asking, why do we have an insane worship for ice cream? I’m pretty sure the answers are similar. They are fundamental to the foundation of who we are. They are tied to our best and worst experiences and life lessons. They are soothing, healing, inviting, and intoxicating. They are more-ish, as in we want more and more and more of it.
I think as young adults we crave them because they shine a light on possibility—show us all the countless paths we can choose to tread upon. As adults, who have already chosen our paths through adolescence, it’s a heady trip down memory lane where we stir up feelings we promised we would never lose a grip on.
YA books are as solidly with us as the concrete blocks we build our whole lives upon.
And as far as a favorite YA author? I don’t have one—and by that I mean, I have a gazillion of them. I’m super choosey about the books I read, and the ones I fall in love with are ones I won’t stop talking about for years and years. My all-time favorite books and their authors are listed (with reviews) on Bookbub—or right here on my profile page. I love, love, love sharing books.
Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.
In the world of healers, there is no room for magic. There is only knowledge—precious wisdom, painstaking accounts of herbal remedies and long-practiced techniques handed down from healer to apprentice since the beginning of time. Fee knows this, just as certainly as she knows that her magic must be kept secret.
But the crown prince Xavi, Fee’s best friend and only source of comfort, is sick. So sick, and so frustratingly incurable, that Fee can barely contain the magic lying dormant inside her. She could use it, just a little, to heal him. But magic comes at a deadly cost—and attracts those who would seek to snuff it out forever.
Soon Fee is caught in a whirl of secret motivations and dark pasts, where no one is who—or what—they appear to be. And saving her best friend means delving deeper into the lush and treacherous world whose call she’s long resisted—and uncovering a secret that will change everything.
What’s next for you in the book world?
Pen to paper, pen to paper, pen to paper. More YA fantasy, or contemporary humor, or imaginative fiction. Oftentimes, I leave the decision up to my hound. He’s a fabulous beta reader.
Thanks so much for the chance to speak with you all. Happy reading!
Pre-Order The Antidote, out Feb 5th!
Bonus Content: The Antidote Playlist – Google Play or The Antidote Playlist – Spotify (both just music) and The Antidote Playlist Details (with spoilers!—song descriptions for where they fall within the book).
Facebook page: @ShelleySackierBooks
Goodreads: Shelley Sackier