Wizard's Promise Blog Tour Stop: Q&A with Cassandra Rose Clarke!

The Hannah Duology, Book One
Cover by Sarah J Coleman
ISBN-13: 978-1908844743
Publisher: Strange Chemistry // Pages: 336
Hanna has spent her life hearing about the adventures of her namesake Ananna, the lady pirate, and assassin Naji. She dreams of the same adventures, but little does she know she is about to tumble into one of her own. Hanna is apprenticed to a taciturn fisherman called Kolur, and, during a day of storms and darkness, are swept wildly off course. 

In this strange new land, Kolur hires a stranger to join the crew and, rather than heading home, sets a course for the dangerous island of Jadanvar. As Hanna meets a secretive merboy, and learns that Kolur has a deadly past, she soon realises that wishing for adventures is a dangerous game - because those wishes might come true.

"I was picking ice berries for Mama’s start-of-spring cake when a spark of magic smacked me in the side of the head. My basket hit the ground and berries rolled out over the mud, and I scowled at the little trail of amber light darting back and forth through the air...Read more.

Cassandra Rose Clarke lives in Houston, where she writes and teaches composition at a local college. She holds an M.A. in creative writing from The University of Texas at Austin, and in 2010 she attended the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop in Seattle. Her work has been nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award and YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults. Her latest novel is the YA adventure fantasy The Wizard’s Promise.

Here are some fun facts about her:
Favorite movies: Aliens, Ghost World, The Big Lebowski, The Royal Tenenbaums, and 2046. Favorite books: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L'engle. Among her favorite TV shows includes Freak & Geek, Mad Men, Star Trek Next Gen, and the Twilight Zone.

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IB Teen chats with The Wizard's Promise author Cassandra Rose Clarke:*In which I reveal that I am still much too obsessed with Naji of the Jadorr'a:

More awesome artwork by Sarah J. Coleman

IBT: When we first met Ananna in Assassin’s Curse, she had already led a life of adventure on her parents’ ship and been in many dangerous situations as a Pirate of the Confederation. At the start of Wizard’s Promise Hannah could not be more opposite, her greatest adventure seemed to have been getting bored on Kolur’s fishing boat. How different was it writing Ananna taking on an adventure with Naji, vs. Hannah kidnapped by her mentor and having to figure out everything on her own- for her first ever- and extremely perilous- adventure? 

CRC: I’m glad you noticed those differences because I actually put them in the book on purpose! I didn’t want to completely rehash Ananna’s character with this story, since I didn’t want to make it seem as if she were being replaced in some way. So Hanna is a much different character than Ananna, although she does admire her and look up to her.

In terms of actually writing the two books—it’s funny, because there really wasn’t much difference for me, as the writer. In both cases the characters sort of led me in the directions they needed to go. I mean, both of them are using adventure as a way to find themselves, but they come from such wildly different backgrounds, with wildly different experiences, that those adventures are going to manifest accordingly. So Ananna is going to take all that peril in stride—she’s used to it—whereas Hanna is going to see it as adventuring not being all it’s cracked up to be.

IBT: Wizard’s Promise is very much Hannah’s book, and isn’t really a GUY, and Isolfr isn’t physically in the story very much and is still cloaked in a lot of mystery. Is a romance for Hannah important to the story?

CRC: Romance was definitely on the back burner for this book. I wanted to focus more on friendship and trust—the fact that Hanna can’t trust Frida and Kolur, that Isolfr wants her to trust him but doesn’t make it easy, that she befriends Asbera and Finnur when she finally strikes out on her own. That said, romance is going to be more prevalent in the sequel, but it’s still coming from that basis of friendship.

IBT: Let’s pretend that Hannah is able to go the “In Between Place” & call forth a young Ananna to ask her for advice (although I do realize that that is not a possibility). What bit of wisdom or words of encouragement would Hannah want from her hero? And would a teenaged Ananna be able to give Hannah what she’s looking for?

CRC: Actually, that possibility isn’t as far removed as you might think—but that’s a spoiler for the sequel, The Nobleman’s Revenge :)

I do think that Hanna and teenage Ananna would share a rapport, though. Hanna would definitely fangirl Ananna big time, and Ananna would find it alarming at first and then, once she got used to it, amusing. 

In terms of advice, I think Hanna would want to know if it’s possible for her to get away from the expectations of her parents and do what is she wants. That’s Hanna’s big driving force at the start of the story, and she would have seen Ananna as having done just that. Would Ananna have given her practical advice? Eh… maybe? I’d like to think she’d try, but something tells me teenage Ananna would have a hard time wrapping her mind around the idea that Hanna couldn’t just run away from those expectations like she did.

IBT: Both of your heroines Hannah and Ananna seem to be similarly untrained when it came to their magic. Both characters seem to thrive when placed in peril. For Ananna love brought out her most powerful magic- powerful enough to defeat a Mists Lord! And I’m wondering how much a more personal and emotional investment would affect Hannah’s power? 

CRC: Hmmn, that’s an interesting question! Ananna’s relationship to magic was always a bit tenuous. She wasn’t especially interested in it, largely because she didn’t think she could do it. With her, she needed that extra boost—her love for Naji—to gain the confidence to work her magic. Hanna, on the other hand, already has a natural tendency for enchantment. She practices on her own, and she actively wants to train as a witch. So she doesn’t need that personal boost to find her magical strength as much as she needs the opportunity to prove that she has the capability.

*This question contains spoilers-

IBT: Where does the title for The Wizard’s Promise come from?
  • The broken promise of Kolur to the Queen of Jandanvar?

  • Hannah’s promise to Isolfr to help him defeat Lord Foxfollow (although she’s a witch not a wizard so that can’t be it!).
  • Isolfr’s promise to get Hannah home at the end of their quest (assuming they survive).
  • None of the above & I missed a major plot point?
CRC: It’s definitely A. Originally the novel was called The Fisherman’s Promise, as a reference to the fact that the entire impetus of the adventure was Kolur setting out to right his broken promise to the Queen of Jandanvar, like you said. That promise is what gets Hanna swept up in adventure in the first place! However, my publisher thought that a fisherman’s promise lacked the drama of an assassin’s curse or a pirate’s wish, so we changed it.

IBT: How much magic theory have you worked out for the sake of continuity? Do you have rules to give it structure- or do you just let your imagination go nuts?

CRC: Mostly the latter, although I do have a few basic rules to help with continuity issues— magic is a form of transformation, there are different types of elemental magic, too much magic can be dangerous, and so on. For me, though, the real fun of magic is in its unearthliness. I’ve never been fond of overly-rigorous magic systems that feel like science. I want my magic to mysterious and strange and only partially understandable.IBT: How do you write the action sequences? There are so many things to keep track of, keeping the pace so quick, and still keeping it clear and detailed.

CRC: Action sequences are actually really hard for me to write, and I think there are two things that help make them good. The first is practice. I have a tendency to want to gloss over action sequences, but by forcing myself to write them I started to get the hang of it. The second thing is to try and experience them, too. Action sequences are very cinematic, and their natural medium really is film. If you can play the action scene out in your head like a movie, that can help you get a stronger sense of it. But because books <i>aren’t</i> movies, you still have to translate that to the page. I tend to focus on sensory perceptions (ie, what does the POV character feel right now? Smell? Hear?). If you focus just on sight—which I think is a problem with action scenes, due to their cinematic nature—the scene can fall flat, because it’s trying to emulate a movie without actually being a movie.

*This question contains mild spoilers- but I beg you to indulge me!

IBT: Naji was a Jadorr’a and Kolur was trained at the Undimian Citadels. In WP you wrote that training on the Undimian Sea “put him [Kolur] in a very special class of wizards indeed”. I feel like Naji was the bigger badass, but I wish you would be able to make me feel better by confirming that Naji was the stronger wizard. Or is it comparing apples and oranges? Naji’s power came from death & Kolur’s from the sea and that is what the difference was? Oh well, let me cut to the chase, Naji could wipe the floor with Kolur- right!?

CRC: Haha, this is the best question. I tend to think in a fight between Naji and Kolur, Naji would win. Kolur is a highly talented wizard (when he wants to be), but that’s all he can do. He’s a special class of wizard—but that’s just in terms of his prowess with magic. Naji, on the other hand, is a trained assassin. In addition to being a magician as skillful and as educated as Kolur, he also knows how to fight and track targets. Also, blood magic is one of the stronger types of magic in this world, due to the fact that it requires a sacrifice. Kolur just doesn’t have as much going for him.

IBT: And lastly, I am obsessed with fantasy series cartography, will there be a map included in the book or on your website? I know we have the map from Assassin’s Curse duology, but Wizard’s Promise cover so many new landscapes!

CRC: As of right now, I haven’t heard any plans from Strange Chemistry for an official map. However, I had a lot of fun drawing The Assassin’s Curse duology map, so I’m sure I’ll squeeze in time drawing one for The Wizard’s Promise!

IBT: Thank you so much Cassandra! Cannot wait for The Nobleman's Revenge.

My Review of Wizard's Promise:

So what should a reader expect from Wizard’s Promise? Readers can expect Cassandra Rose Clarke to deliver another atmospheric movie for their minds. What absolutely sings off the pages are the breathtakingingly realized world that fans have come to love and expect. Readers will get to know new locations, new cultures, new spells, and powers in the magic system created in The Assassin’s Curse duology.  If Assassin’s Curse was a quest driven action duology, then so far Wizard’s Promise has been a fantastical mystery. There are definitely more questions than answers by the end of the book. Ms. Clarke has readers so wound up with needing-to-know that Nobleman’s Revenge had better be rampage of reveals!

One of the mysteries that readers will be anxious for Clarke to shed more light on is the uber elusive Islofr. It seems like some kind of magic may be preventing Isolfr from being unable to do more than try to put all his feeling- frustration, desperation, hope, and fear- into begging Hannah for HELP. On the other hand the Mists (or Otherworld as you may remember Naji referring to it) have revealed themselves in Wizard’s Promise. They are finally the main antagonists in the story, and that mysterious Mists Lord in Pirate’s Wish is back with a vengeance! Lord Foxhollow won’t let anything or anyone get in the way of his plans- he is absolutely ruthless.

Real Modern-day European pagan ritual festival participants that helped inspire C.R.Clarke! 
Wizard’s Promise is very much Hannah’s story, she carries the whole book. The book can be separated into parts:

·         Hannah bored and wants adventure and to be formally trained as a witch. She craves a life like her namesake.

·         Hannah is angry! She NEEDS answers- but good luck because NO ONE will be helpful with this one.
·         Hannah’s fishing.
·         Hannah’s doing some major magic that’s really really cool.

Hannah and everyone around her are constantly in the middle of a chaotic and lethal situation, or there is this ominous feeling that at any moment the Mists are going to catch up to them.  It was fun to compare how Hannah and Annana both went on journeys of self discovery in very different ways. Annana had made a conscious choice to put her life in danger by running away from her arranged marriage, and also in choosing to help the assassin sent to kill her. Hannah had absolutely no say in being taken into the North & getting involved in trouble with The Mists. But she eventually comes to the decision to help Isolfr after seeing that Lord Foxhollow was never going to stop until everyone in his way was dead.

Hannah is learning to believe in her abilities as a witch, to trust her instincts while on a true trial by fire adventure. She is finding that she can persevere despite the obfuscation of her companions. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding Isolfr, Frida, and I know in my bones that Kolur is still keeping some terrible secret that going to just deepen the stakes involved. There are some really EXCITING things to look forward to in Nobleman’s Revenge; ramping up on the romance between Hannah and Islofr, you know that they will be kicking butt with magic, AND according to Cassandra Rose Clarke HERSELF Annana and Naji make some sort of cameo in Nobleman’s Revenge. In what form this will be:  dream, an Obi-Wan-esque. spiritual visit, or physical presence (likely not) - I’m sure it’ll be tiny and torturous. Bring on the pain Cassandra! 

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