Friday, May 9, 2014

Day 9: Danielle L. Jensen

Day 9. Are you a fan of instant fantasy with trolls and a couple who hates each other at the beginning? Then this is the first in a series for you. ;) And remember to read the whole post because Danielle is giving away a signed copy of her book! :)

Danielle L. Jensen was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor's degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination. Her debut YA novel, Stolen Songbird, came out on April 1, 2014 from Strange Chemistry. The sequel Hidden Huntress is due to follow in 2015. You can find her at her blog or on Twitter (@dljensen_). :)

Q: Cécile is educated and trained as a singer, but she comes off as a bit average and not necessarily special. What I mean is, after she's inside the mountain with the trolls, the thing (in an attempt to avoid spoilers) they thought would happen didn't and she's left to struggle and work her way out of her situation. Was that your plan for Cécile from the start?

A: Gosh, doesn't it seem like everyone is special these days, both in life and in literature? As an adult reader that annoys me to no end, but I read some survey results the other day (don't ask me to find the link!) that indicated teens preferred to read about characters who are special. IMHO, I think that is a function of how western society values innate or natural gifts (beauty, genius, extreme talent) over that which is achieved by hard work and dedication. I think there is the idea out there that in order to achieve something extraordinary you yourself must be unique or special. Which is *&^%. Normal people accomplish incredible things everyday because they have good hearts and lots of determination. 

When I created Cécile, I wouldn't say I set out to make her average (she is certainly quite pretty & talented), but it was my intention to make her relatable. She has skills, attributes, and her own magic, but her successes are the result of pluck, bravery, and tenacity.

Q: Her relationship with Tristan, if it could be called that considering how their first few interactions went, was interesting in that at the start they didn't like each other. There was some hostility between the two of them. What made you go that route with the two of them? (Thank you for the no insta-love, by the way.)

A: I went that route primarily because it would have been super creepy if Cécile had immediately fallen for the troll who she has been forcibly married to after having been violently kidnapped and nearly killed. Never mind the fact that Tristan is a total jerk to her at first. Same for Tristan immediately falling for the girl who has just thrown a massive wrench into years worth of plans – it isn’t realistic. Which isn't to say they aren't unmoved by each other’s exterior appearance – they are. But it is the interior characteristics they discover about each other over time that makes them fall in love. 

Q: Why fantasy for Cécile's story? Why trolls? Is there something about fantasy that appeals to you? The epic world-building? The impossibility of magic?

A: I read primarily for escapism, and nothing transports me away from the real world like fantasy. So writing it was a pretty natural choice for me. The thing I like best about fantasy is that the only limitation is your imagination, and that's where the trolls came from. They wandered out of my mind palace and onto the page ;-)

Q: The trolls, while being trolls, have some human characteristics. Was it a struggle to make them both relatable and impossible and otherworldly, or was that always your intention? To maintain the differences between them and their culture and ways of thinking as opposed to Cecile's.

A: It was certainly my intention to make them otherworldly, but I wouldn't say that was something I struggled with. When Cécile first arrives in Trollus, all she sees is what makes the trolls different: the way they look and act, their magic, their culture, etc. Even when she first meets Tristan, who is *SPOILER* very attractive, she is quite struck by his otherness – it is very clear to her that what she is looking at isn't human. It isn't until she spends time with him that she is able to see beyond what makes him different to discover the aspects of him that are very human.

Q: Do you have any potentially spoilery plans for book 2 that you can talk about? Will there be more of Tristan's point of view along with Cecile's?

A: I finished writing the first draft of book 2 at the beginning of April. At this point, the book is about 40% from Tristan’s POV. Those who have read Stolen Songbird will understand why this was somewhat of a necessity ;-)

Q: Have you enjoyed being a debut author this year? Are there any books (besides your own) that you would recommend?

A: Having my book on shelves is a pretty amazing feeling – I worked really hard for many years, so it’s great to see my efforts pay off. As far as other debuts go, I’ve read and enjoyed The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G. Buehrlen, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine, and The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston, and I have many more in my reading stack.

Thanks so much to Danielle for stopping by. Go check out Stolen Songbird now!

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  1. I bought the book for my son who loves stories about trolls. I of course had to read it first ;) what a beautifully written novel. Can't wait to see what happens to Cecile next! Thank's for offering such a wonderful giveaway!

  2. I dont even remember how I found this book...I just know I fell in love with it and can't wait for the sequel.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. Great interview! Loved Stolen Songbird and can't wait for the sequel.

    In all the excitement of the giveaway I didn't get that it was can/us only, until I was going to tweet about it. I'm so sorry if this causes promblems for you. Is it possible to delete entries? Or maybe you could just select a new winner if I'm picked?

  4. Thank you for the giveaway! - Jenn E

  5. I loved this book! I started reading it one night before bed and next thing I new it was 3 am and I was finished. Can't wait for book 2!

  6. I really appreciate Danielle's focus on making a character relatable rather than a super special snowflake - hard-work and dedication is so important, and I far prefer reading that as opposed to a character who doesn't struggle.

    Also, The Story of Owen is amazing! Great recommendation :)

  7. Thank you for giving away a copy of your book. I always struggle to find a story that I like a lot nowadays, and I hope yours can be one of them.

  8. Thanks for the generous giveaway! I've wanted to read this book for months. It really sounds absolutely fantastic! I really cannot wait to dive into this fantasy world.