Cassandra Rose Clarke is the author of the fantastic Strange Chemistry release The Assassin’s Curse. I loved this book, so I am super geeked to have her in the virtual offices today! Please give her a warm welcome.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Cassandra Rose Clarke] A writer, reader, movie watcher, dinner cooker, and amateur artist.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Assassin’s Curse?
[Cassandra Rose Clarke] The Assassin’s Curse is a YA adventure novel about a lady pirate and an assassin who are thrown together when the pirate accidentally activates a curse that had been placed on the assassin before they met. The story has tons of magic, swashbuckling, and adventurous peril — and a teeny hint of romance.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Cassandra Rose Clarke] I wanted to write a high fantasy story because I’d never written one before. Originally, The Assassin’s Curse was going to be a short story, and the character of Ananna was going to be a witch, someone more like Leila. However, as I was working on her character, I thought it would be interesting to make her a pirate — I’ve always liked pirates, and you really don’t see that many stories about them. Naji was always going to be an assassin, though, because assassins are just cool. Really, the novel grew out of an amalgamation of character types and tropes that I find interesting, or that I wanted to play with or subvert.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Naji?
[Cassandra Rose Clarke] Mysterious, intelligent, moody
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Ananna had a theme song, what would it be?
[Cassandra Rose Clarke] Probably “Warrior,” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Ananna feels like a Yeah Yeah Yeahs kind of girl in general, but I think “Warrior” really captures her personality — as well as her adventures in the book!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Naji’s biggest regret?
[Cassandra Rose Clarke] Probably casting the spell that gave him his facial scar — Naji always struck me as the sort of person who would put a lot of stock in being conventionally attractive, and when that was taken away from him, he had some trouble adjusting. That being said, his biggest regret is liable to change over the course of the book and/or the sequel
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Ananna’s pockets?
[Cassandra Rose Clarke] This is a hard question! I mean, there are the obvious answers, like a cell phone, a ballpoint pen, or a flash drive. Those things don’t currently exist in her world and won’t ever exist in her lifetime. But if we’re pulling from items that do currently exist in her world? It’s hard to say there’s anything that would never show up in Ananna’s pockets. She’s resourceful. She could find usefulness in pretty much anything.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Cassandra Rose Clarke] I pull a lot of influence from popular culture, and I love playing around with tropes. It’s so awesome how you can take these patterns that show up over and over again in books, movies, TV shows, video games, and whatever else, and when you put them together it creates something totally new. It’s a bit like piecing together a scrap quilt.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Cassandra Rose Clarke] Quiet: I can’t write with music playing in the background at all. My computer: I’ve never been fond of writing by hand — whenever I try it I wind up throwing out everything I came up with. Daylight: I hate writing at night — or doing any kind of work at night, really. Fortunately my day job gives me a fairly flexible schedule so this isn’t an issue.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Cassandra Rose Clarke] Probably Among Others, by Jo Walton. I devoured it in about two days and then couldn’t get it out of my head for a week or so after. What I loved most about it was the narrator’s voice — it just carried you along with the story. I’d care one or the other about the old school science fiction references, but I loved the 1970s boarding school setting bunches.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Cassandra Rose Clarke] I can’t honestly remember I time when I didn’t enjoy reading. The first book I remember being OMG obsessed with was Mary Downing Hahn’s Wait Till Helen Comes. I’d read plenty of books before it, of course, but that book was the one that made me realize just how powerful stories can be. Everything about it captured my attention: the isolated, rural setting, the fact that the family has moved into an old church, the strained relationship between the narrator and her sister, and of course Helen, who remains the creepiest ghost I’ve ever encountered. I reread the book a few years ago when I was home sick, and it still creeped me out!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Cassandra Rose Clarke] I love watching TV and going to the movies, and I love talking about TV and movies even more, so I’m often doing one or the other. I also love to cook, draw, and paint, and I do Zumba classes a couple of days a week, because Zumba is awesome.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Cassandra Rose Clarke] There are loads of ways to get in touch with me! My Twitter handle is @mitochondrial. You can also leave a comment on my blog (at www.cassandraroseclarke.com) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I always try to reply when people contact me!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
You can purchase The Assassin’s Curse from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below. Digital edition is only $4.84!
About the book:
Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.
And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.