Interview with Holly Black
Yesterday was the big announcement! The winners of the 2019 Inky Awards were announced in a ceremony as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival at State Library of Victoria. The Silver Inky for best International YA book went to Holly Black for The Cruel Prince. Two of our illustrious Inky Judges had the opportunity to interview Holly Black and ask some burning questions about her award winning fantasy novel.
First up is Inky Judge Juliette.
If you could write a spin-off novel featuring one of the supporting characters in The Cruel Prince, who would you choose to write about and why?
I think I would write about Oak.
When you started writing the story, did you have a clear idea of how it would be resolved or did some aspects of the plot change as you were writing it?
I knew a lot of what would happen, but not everything, especially in the third book. There are some surprises to come and some of them were surprising, even to me.
How did you create your faerie world? Were there any specific faerie stories or legends that inspired your world?
I drew on a lot of folklore, particularly from WY Evans-Wentz’s Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, Dermot MacManus’s The Middle Kingdom and many books by Katharine Briggs.
And now for Inky Judge Marlees.
Hello Holly! Thank you for this opportunity to directly ask questions about The Cruel Prince! You are one of my favourite authors and I had read her books before the Inky Awards so this is a great honour!
What specifically drew you to faeries and why are you fascinated with casting them in a dark, manipulative way?
There are several things that fascinate me about faeries. For one, they are not a single creature, but an ecosystem. They are not just the Court gentry, but pixies and nixies and redcaps and trolls and sprites and hobs and all the rest. Secondly, unlike lots of supernatural creatures, they are not human and have never been human – they may, on occasion, look like us, but they are not us. They are elemental beings, and stories of them often treat them more like a storm that blows across human lives, causing disruption and realignment, not out of any malice, but because it’s just faerie nature. But mostly I come back to the concept of faerie fruit – the idea of something so delicious that all other food will be dust and ashes, the idea of ruinous beauty. I think that’s the thing that I come back to again and again.
Which character is the closest to your heart/the one you most relate to?
I think I relate the most strongly to Jude, not because she is necessarily like me, but because I feel so strongly for her.
I have a love/hate relationship with Cardan, especially his treatment of Jude. Is there anything that frustrates you about Cardan and do you like torturing your readers with Jude and Cardan’s relationship?
The thing I am interested in about Cardan is that while he is fairly awful, there are some things that he absolutely is against – like murder – that are in contrast to many of the other faeries in the series. Cardan is a series of contradictions, but like Jude, by the end of the series he is going to have to decide what power means to him and what sort of person he wants to be.
Did it physically pain you or make your blood boil to write any scenes?
Those are the scenes that are the most fun to write.
Overall, it’s a fairly dark book, if there’s one takeaway message for readers, what would it be?
It’s a book about power, about what it’s like not to have it and what Jude is willing to do to get it. And I think that readers are left to ask themselves whether they’d make different choices, given her circumstances.
Private spoiler for me –
In The Cruel Prince, all three sisters go to the mortal world, and Jude feels very out of place. During The Queen of Nothing, Jude is forced to be exiled to the mortal world. Will she learn to adapt to the mortal world or does she just pine for Faerie and Cardan?The answer is both. She’s adapting, but to the community of faeries in the human world, but still pining for what she lost. After all, she is the High Queen of Elfhame, even if no one knows it.
P.S. Congratulations on winning the Silver Inky Award!