The time I learned the surprise ending

Posted February 25, 2017 by Stacee in Signings / 15 Comments

Seeing that Victoria Schwab was touring for A Conjuring of Light was exciting. It was even better to see that she was coming to Huntington Beach. Michelle, Keiko, and I made definite plans to go to the event.

After a stop at Starbucks, we headed up the hateful 5N.

We got up to the store after 11, said hi to Jeanne, and bought books before heading to Cheesecake Factory.

After lunch, we went over to the bookstore and found our seats. Jeanne is amazing and saved us front row. I stopped her and thanked her again for doing it and we chatted for a second.

Victoria came out right at 2. She took a photo of the crowd {which was huge} before saying that she was going to briefly talk before opening it up to questions.

Did your love for Hamilton influence your books?

I went to see Hamilton with the original cast. It might influence me in the future. I think it’s an indicator of how I connected to it. There’s no better way to describe Delilah Bard than “young scrappy and hungry.” I just did something for Tor about assigning Hamilton lyrics to the characters and it was so easy.

Do you ship Holland and Kell?

No, it’s a well known fact that I ship Holland and suffering. I get a lot of questions about romance. People sometimes think that I’m anti-romance. I’m anti putting romance above other relationships. Grudge and ally or parent and child, all of those fascinating relationships get muted. I’m all about putting Kell and Alucard in a room because it’ll be uncomfortable. Happy people make short books.

If you could live in any of the worlds you created, which would you chose?

Most of them are awful to be in. It’s probably going to be Red London. This series is sort of my love letter to Harry Potter. I grew up with the series. A lot of the books are dark, but there’s hope and whimsy. For me, Red London is my Hogwarts. It’s the one that has the healthiest relationship with magic.

Can you give us the origin of Antari?

Not yet. It’s simply the story of cross breeding after the doors were open. They’re dying out because there isn’t any sort of cross magic now that the doors are closed.

I develop the world first. I build the world and all of its fabric. I posted a shot of one of my notebooks and it’s very embarrassing. I built the Shades of Magic universe for about 6 months before I started writing. I world build on broad strokes and then add details as I’m writing. I knew the feel and the palate, but not the details.

What changes the most between the first and last draft?

You have an idea in your head and it’s all potential. And the moment you put it on paper, it’s broken. Revision is stitching the two ideas together. It’s trying to get the thing in on the page match the thing in my head. I don’t have a zero draft. I polish while I’m writing. And then my editor and I do four rounds of editing. One for world, one for characters, one for story arcs and one for line by line edits.

{This question was something about being an artist and having set ideas. I didn’t quite catch it.}

There are ays where I think the book is ours and days where it’s mine. There are days that I’ll answer the question and some times I won’t. My editor and I disagree on who is on the covers of the books and there is a complete argument for both. There’s a question I get about gender fluidity and Delilah Bard and it’s hard for me to articulate how Delilah Bard would have seen herself in that time.

I love doing this and speaking about this, but you shouldn’t have to see me to understand the books. I give complete control of reader’s emotions to them. At the end of the day, it’s what you read. I will never try to dictate what a reader gets.

You have a post graduate degree. How did that help on publishing?

I have a degree that is basically studying monsters in medieval art. You would think it’s worthless. At the time, I was working on TSS.

I don’t believe that a writer can work just at a desk. I’m working when I’m out and about. I need fodder. You don’t need to write so many hours a day. You don’t need to be at a desk. There is no right way to write. You do whatever stokes the fire of creativity.

As for publishing, it pissed my editor off. I wrote my dissertation in 11 days because I was on deadline. Eventually I’ll go back to get a PhD so I can be a doctor of monsters.

What are you writing after Our Dark Duet?

In some ways, I’m taking a break. I have 3 books scheduled for 2019, so 2018 will be quiet for me. I have a middle grade series coming out and I’m really excited. I have several things I can’t talk about. People thing I’m a fast writer and that’s not true. I am a constant creator.

Do you split your book into scenes?

I write them in episodes. AGOS opens with Delilah Bard with her hands tied in a green dress and then everything goes wrong. Or according to Delilah it goes right. It’s an episode. I like to write mini stories so you can catch your breath and have mini satisfactions.

I do hate putting them together. I usually write in order, unless I’m really excited about something. I have to have a blank page for every thought I have. I write all of my sentences out of order and stitch them together. I’ll write parts of dialogue or bits of a scene and spend a couple of days getting them into episodes.

Favorite part of writing process?

Right before I start and right when I finish. {laugh} But really, it the idea build up. It’s the playing. I just spent 45 minutes on a flight with a fresh page and played. I also love the last round of the revisions. I like it because it’s the first time I get to read the book as a reader and not a writer. Then I know I’m close to the end.

How long to you give yourself for plotting?

I balance a lot of different projects. I can only write one book at a time and I can edit one book and plot one book. Once I start, I’m good, but I take a lot of time to start. Sometimes it’s 6 months and some times it’s 6 years. There are different reasons the stories take the time. I’ll put a book on the back burner and let my subconscious play with it.

I had the idea of ADSOM a year before I did anything with it. I saw a man in a coat walking into a girl dressed as a boy and he’s injured and I had no idea what it meant. Then I realized that I wanted to work with magic and parallel worlds.

I have to make sure I give those ideas the time they need.

What inspired the names and languages?

Names are the only thing that is woo woo! I am the tiny god of this world, the characters don’t talk through me. Except the name. That is the only thing the character brings to the table and I won’t write a character until I know the name.

I was born and didn’t have a name for 2 weeks because my parents wanted to live with me. I’ve taken that theory and done the same with my characters. I want to get to know them.

Languages are important to me. The languages are built from the world up. We build the structure and then the dialogue.

Rhy and Alucard. Were they always planned or did they happen as you were writing?

I’m the tiny god of my world. There’s only one thing in this series that surprised me. I know how all of my books end. I predicted how everything would end, except one thing. And I can’t say because it’s a spoiler. Rhy and Alucard are my otp.

Did you pick Alucard because it’s Dracula backwards?

No. I thought I would be a fun name. At my event last night, someone had me sign a copy of Dracula just to troll me. Once it became his name, it fit him. People thought it would be a spoiler. It was not intentional and I’m never going to live it down.

Are we ever going to get a third in the Archives?

Hopefully. It’s a complicated thing for me to write and the publishing journey was difficult. I have to find the energy and basically get back into an abusive relationship. I do owe it to my readers and I know the ending. It might be a little while, but god willing I will be alive when it comes out.

Do you ever reread your books?

There’s only one book that I’ll reread and it’s Vicious. I was falling out of love with writing and I thought about if I didn’t care how it looked or where it was shelved, what would I write. I wrote because it was what I wanted to write and I loved it. For three years no one knew about it. And now that’s my theory going forward. It’s the only one I’ve written just for myself.

Any authors that influence you?

I’m a huge Neil Gaiman fan. The day he followed me on twitter, I was on the floor. I came from poetry, I thought writing books were too long. Neil was the first author I read that told me I would work in different formats. He said the only thing I want my books to have in common is my name on them.


I had and English accent until I was 7. It comes back when I’m there. If I’m in England for more than a day, it comes back.

Would you work with Neil?

I would do anything creatively if he asked. If it was something I said I would never do it. I would be honored. For the last 8 years, I worn a bracelet that says WWNGD?

Your work is sort of spread through word of mouth?

Yeah, this is all from you guys. This is a series that was built by readers. To see a series be championed the way this one was has been is so humbling. I do my best to make sure my readers know that I’m so grateful. Getting to see people care. There’s no stranger process than making people up and seeing them grow.

ACOL is 1 1/2 books of plot. I had the option to make it 2 books. It felt disingenuous to my readers to thin out the story and make them wait another year for the ending.

There were a few more questions before it ended. I was busy taking photos.

When I got up to Victoria, as asked if she would tell me the person who had the surprising ending. She did and we talked about that for a second. Then she showed me a bracelet that someone had made for her. I proceeded to tell her that I loved the book and the ending and other spoilery things. She was so lovely and said that she was so happy that I loved it.

After Michelle and Keiko got their books signed, I went back over to Jeanne to say goodbye and thank her again. And then we headed out.

In case you haven’t read this series, let me try to sell it. I am not a fan of fantasy. I am quite picky about it. This series was pushed on me by Michelle and I’m so thankful it was. I am painfully in love with it and it has catapulted into my top 5 series of all time.

I can’t say enough good things and I highly highly highly recommend them.

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15 Responses to “The time I learned the surprise ending”

  1. Ah. So sad she’s not coming to New Orleans. Thanks for posting the Q&A. I have the books but haven’t read then yet. Now I need to bump them up to the front of my TBR pile. :)

    • Stacee

      I’m sort of jealous that you get to binge them for the first time. I hope you love them!!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!!

    • Stacee

      My love for this series is overwhelming. I am so happy I was pushed to read them. I hope you get to meet her too, she’s so so so lovely!!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  2. Zairah

    This series is one of those books that ruined my life. I hate book endings because it’s hard to find an ending that really suits the whole book/series, but the way Schwab closed ACOL is just perfect. PERFECT. Like Crooked Kingdom. <3 Anoshe. I will never not feel nostalgic if I hear/see that word again,

    • Stacee

      IT WAS PERFECT!!! I still haven’t read CK because I’m in denial that it’s over, but I feel like if I can get through ACOL intact, I can finally get to CK. Hopefully soon.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  3. I really need to get to these soon, KP. I’m proud y’all had such a fun time and that you were able to see her considering how much you and M love these books. Thanks for sharing your fun time with us!


    • Stacee

      I can’t wait for you to read them. If we lived closer, I would be sitting on your lap to hold you down and reading them to you.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Stacee

      This is the third time I’ve met her and I adore her more every time. I hope you love the series, I’m a little jealous that you get to read them for the first time.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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