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Interview with Young Adult Author Franny Billingsly

Parajunkee's View is pleased as punch to welcome author Franny Billingsly to the blog in celebration of Paranormal Spring Break. Ms. Billingsly is the author of The Folk Keeper, Well Wished and the soon-to-be released YA novel Chime (releases March 17, 2011).

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Romance
Fantasy Element: Witchcraft
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PJV: In your own words can you tell us about CHIME, your latest novel.

FB: CHIME is about 17-year-old Briony, who believes she is responsible for hurting her twin sister Rose—for causing the fall that damaged Rose’s mind.  She feels guilty, and also terrified; she’s afraid she’ll hurt someone else.  She believes she has to hate herself—to remember to hate herself, again and again—to keep herself from harming others.  But when Eldric comes to town, golden, lion-like Eldric, the secrets begin to unravel, and Briony begins let go of her self hate.

PJV: Your novels have been described as vibrant, rich and enchanting, where do you come up with these fantastical tales?

FB: I think it’s because my father sang me traditional Scottish ballads when I was very young, ballads rich in love and blood and bravery.  When I grew older, I grew to love the stories of Hans Christian Andersen, and his brave bloody heroines—The Little Mermaid, who whenever she walks, feels as though she’s stepping on knives.  Loving Gerda, who saves Kaye from the Snow Queen.  I was lucky to have this unusual early exposure to old songs and stories, and I see how it’s crept and bled into my own work, making my work a little melancholy and highly-colored and filled with magic.

PJV: Why did you choose to write Young Adult novels?

FB: Because I’m stuck at the age of 17!

PJV: Who are some of your favorite characters in Young Adult literature, besides your own of course?

FB: I love romantic heroines: Beauty in Robin McKinley’s Beauty, and Kate in The Perilous Gard, and Nancy Werlin’s heroines as in Impossible, Kristin’s Cashore’s Fire (in Fire).  I love strong, romantic heroines.

PJV: How would you describe your writing process? Do you outline and then write, or does it just come to you?

FB: Well, I don’t outline, but neither does it just come to me.  I basically just plunge in to the great sea of possibilities, start to choke, start to drown, get myself to the surface, maybe find a bit of stick that will hold me up until I start to choke and drown again . . . It’s a very intuitive, messy process, at once terrible and exciting, terrifying and exhilarating.  I tend to find my way where I need to go.  But I find it in the darkness, walking a long road with a very small candle (not to mix metaphors or anything!).

PJV: Which of your characters was the most fun to write?

FB: The romantic hero, Eldric, was the most fun.  He’s playful, not deeply agonized about anything, but he can recognize it--recognize agony—which means he can help Briony, help her regain her old childish joy, just by playing.

PJV:  Have you ever thought of who you would cast as some of your main characters?

FB: I don’t watch enough movies or TV to really be able to say.

PJV:  Are you working on any other projects that you can tell us about?

FB: I’m working on two related books, companion books to CHIME, not sequels.  The first is tentatively called SHADOW and is set in the ‘20s (an alternate British ‘20s, just as CHIME was set in an alternate British early 20th century), and the second is tentatively called Cloud and will be set in the future.

PJV:  If you could have a magical power, what would that be?

FB: I don’t wish for a magical power: I wish it would be quicker and easier to write~

PJV:  What is your best Spring Break memory?

FB: This is not a college spring break memory, but a spring break that swung my life around in my late ‘20s, around from the corporate world to writing children’s books.  I was an unhappy lawyer; I went to visit my sister in Barcelona over spring break.  During those two weeks, I saw the kind of life I wanted to have—a life with people who had time, who went on walks, who met in coffee shops to talk.  After seeing that, I so strongly felt I was acting against my deep values, against the things I most wanted out of life.  What was the point of having this big, important job if I’d no time to enjoy it?  And so, I quit being a lawyer, went to Barcelona with all my favorite books from my childhood, and from there, I began to write.  And here I am now!


Jamie @ Jamie's Bookshelf said...

I want to read Chime really bad too!

Dana Wright said...

I can't wait to read this book! I saw it last night and fell in love with the story. Just reading this interview really inspires me with mynown writing. It is messy. Every time I try to make it net, I just bog myself down. Thank you Franny for such illuminating answers. Parajunkee, love this interview. :)

ParaJunkee said...

@Jamie - I do too. The cover is beautiful too, I keep staring at it.

@Dana - Glad this could help. I'm so messy with my writing also. I try to do maybe an outline but then I feel I'm forcing my characters -- maybe I should just let it ride right???

RhiannonPaille said...

This one's on my TBR pile and I'm even more excited to read it now! Thanks for doing the interview!

Madame D said...

Great Interview! Thanx for sharing Franny.

mpyff said...

Thanks for this great interview!
The cover is beautiful and the book sounds interesting!
I love Barcelona! I felt the same way about the people there - I wanted that life... :) Still working on that.. :)

Judy said...

This book also sounds very good. I have it on my TBR list!! I also love the cover!!


Barbara E. said...

Chime sounds like a wonderful book, and I can't wait to read it.

rachel said...

As I read each of the interviews, I keep adding books to my To Read list!

Anonymous said...

I want this book, I will love to win it. Thanks for the giveaway.

Anonymous said...

I spread the word...
tweeted --!/Ronyka7/status/50803825006743552

FurryReaders said...

What an amazing spring break epiphany story and those precious memories you have of your dad singing those Scottish ballads, priceless. I admit this is new to me but you got my attention. Oh, my husband wanted me to add he wished more people would discover and learn the real tales of Hans Christian Andersen, not the Hollywood versions.


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