Monday, November 29, 2010

Fall Into Fantasy: Author Interview with Brenna Yovanoff (The Replacement)

My YA fantasy The Replacement is now available from Razorbill/Penguin Group. Here are some things about me (not book-related):

I'm good at soccer, violent video games, and making very flaky pie pastry.

I'm bad at dancing, making decisions, and inspiring confidence as an authority figure. I suspect this is because I am short, and also terrible at sounding as though I have any idea what I'm talking about.

I was homeschooled until I was fifteen, which has probably affected my world view in ways I can't fathom.

Also, I really, really like parentheses. (Really.)

From author's website.

How did you get yourself into the spooky mindset to write this atmospheric novel?

I'm actually really bad at deciding how I'm going to approach something (I'm also really bad at going into anything prepared—I tend to just sit down at the keyboard and see what happens).  For The Replacement, I basically had to sit down with it every day and just see what happened.

Is the book’s tagline (“Something’s rotten beneath the town of Gentry”) an allusion to Hamlet? If so, is there a significance to the allusion?

I . . . don't think so?  I actually had nothing to do with the tagline on the cover—that was entirely the work of marketing.  I do think it's a great teaser for the book and gives you an accurate taste of what the story's going to be like.  As far as the allusion goes though, I can't say for sure, but I think it's unrelated.

I loved the bond between Mackie and Emma; it was so sweet and sincere in their dark, bizarre world. What inspired their relationship?

While I don't know that I drew from a particular inspiration, over the years I've read a lot of books where siblings really don't get along, which doesn't reflect my real-life experience at all.  I knew that I wanted to write about a brother and sister in a way that showed how the relationship between them doesn't always have to be a bad one, even when it's hard.

During the novel, Mackie makes several allusions about having to tell the truth. Is he unable to lie? Or just unwilling?

This was something that had a lot more significance in the earlier drafts. There's a piece of folklore that says the fey are unable to tell lies, but they can use misdirection and circumlocution in order to deceive.  Mackie's ideas about honesty come out of that tradition, but mostly, he's just very bad at lying straight-out.  He always thinks that people who know him can see it on his face, and he's usually right.

If you were fey, what would be the hardest iron object for you to give up?

My car, definitely!  I love it and I love driving, so I'd be really sad if I had to give it up.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this novel?

Probably the world-building (if you ask me this question five times, you'll probably get five different answers, so don't hold me to this).  I spent a lot of time thinking about the world, trying to decide what I wanted it to be like and how I was going to convey it.  I also spent a lot of time throwing stuff out and starting over.

What author can always scare you? What is so chilling about their novels?

I'm not usually frightened by books, even though I love reading horror.  However, the one book that absolutely petrified me was Pet Sematary by Stephen King.  The idea of the dead coming back to life is pretty scary by itself, but the most upsetting part was the way that the characters were unable to let go of their loved ones and were willing to raise them from the dead in order to be with them, no matter how terrible the consequences.

Which character in The Replacement do you find the scariest? What is especially frightening about them?

I think the Cutter is probably the scariest, because he's very single-mined and also because of a lot of stuff I can't say here, because it's very spoilery.

What was the first thing you did when you found out The Replacement was a bestseller?

The first-first thing?  After I got off the phone with the publicist at Razorbill, I immediately took a picture of myself and posted it on my blog:  I'm not entirely sure why, except that I wanted to save my facial expression for posterity!

What do you think is the most influential novel of the last 100 years? Why?

Oh wow, this is a hard one!  How do I measure them? Let's see—I'm going to go with To Kill A Mockingbird, because it's a book that talked about race and sexual assault, among other social issues, at a time when a lot of people really weren't talking publicly about those things.

What’s a random fact readers probably don’t know about you?

When I was little, my family lived in a tent in Arkansas.

Will there be a sequel to The Replacement? What other projects do you have in the works?

Right now, there are no plans for a sequel, which doesn't mean it could never happen, but it's not something that's in the works.  I'm currently putting the finishing touches on a book about demons, monsters, true love, and moral ambiguity.  It's scheduled to come out from Razorbill next fall.

Thanks for having me, Casey!

For more about this bestselling author, please visit:

Thank you so much to Brenna Yovanoff for this great interview! I definitely agree about Pet Sematary - I didn't sleep for 2 weeks after watching the film, so I don't dare read the story!


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