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15 March 2013

Interview with Shana Abe

For fans of Lauren Kate and Libba Bray, The Sweetest Dark is filled with thrilling romance, exciting adventure, and ancient magic. Shana Abé brilliantly captures the drama of post-Victorian England, while unfolding a passionate love story that defies time.
“With every fiber of my being, I yearned to be normal. To glide through my days at Iverson without incident. But I’d have to face the fact that my life was about to unfold in a very, very different way than I’d ever envisioned. Normal would become forever out of reach.”
Lora Jones has always known that she’s different. On the outside, she appears to be an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl. Yet Lora’s been keeping a heartful of secrets: She hears songs that no one else can hear, dreams vividly of smoke and flight, and lives with a mysterious voice inside her that insists she’s far more than what she seems.

England, 1915. Raised in an orphanage in a rough corner of London, Lora quickly learns to hide her unique abilities and avoid attention. Then, much to her surprise, she is selected as the new charity student at Iverson, an elite boarding school on England’s southern coast. Iverson’s eerie, gothic castle is like nothing Lora has ever seen. And the two boys she meets there will open her eyes and forever change her destiny.

Jesse is the school’s groundskeeper—a beautiful boy who recognizes Lora for who and what she truly is. Armand is a darkly handsome and arrogant aristocrat who harbors a few closely guarded secrets of his own. Both hold the answers to her past. One is the key to her future. And both will aim to win her heart. As danger descends upon Iverson, Lora must harness the powers she’s only just begun to understand, or else lose everything she dearly loves.

Filled with lush atmosphere, thrilling romance, and ancient magic, The Sweetest Dark brilliantly captures a rich historical era while unfolding an enchanting love story that defies time.

“A wonderfully refreshing story of self-discovery, love, courage—and dragons . . . I was enchanted.”—Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Lovely


Thank you Ms. Abe for the opportunity of having you on our blog!

1) How and why have you started to write? Were there something or someone that gave you an impulse?

I've always loved writing, although it took me many years to figure out it was what I wanted to do professionally. But even as a child, I loved writing down stories and plays. I never stopped. I wrote my first long book at seventeen (by hand, in a notebook!) and it was awful! But when it was done I felt such a sense of accomplishment. I was really happy I'd done it, even though it was clear it would never be published.

As with any skill, good writing takes practice and dedication. I worked on it for years after that, and finally had a story worthy to be published. I'm so glad I kept at it, because creating these stories, these fresh fairytales, is the very best job ever. :-)

2) Tell me something about your book
The Sweetest Dark.

The Sweetest Dark is the first book in The Sweetest Dark Series. It's the story of Lora Jones, a sixteen-year-old orphan from a very rough part of London who doesn't remember anything about her past: not her parents or her real name or where she's from. It's set in 1915, right at the beginning of World War I. All the London orphans are being evacuated from the city, and she gets sent to a very elite boarding school on the coast of southern England.

Lora is smart and interesting, and doesn't fit in at her school at all; all the other girls are really mean to her. But for some reason, these two very different boys are suddenly extremely interested in her: one is Jesse, who is golden and beautiful and silent. The other is Armand, who is elegant and dark and the son of a nobleman who lives nearby.

It turns out that all three of them are magical, but in different ways. And that they are all bound to each other, again by magic. They have to figure out not only how to harness their powers, but also what they mean to each other.

3) While you're writing, have you discovered a character that you where developing feelings of love for? And was there a character that gave you headaches?

Oh, so many, LOL! Although I tend to be more like the girls, I fall in love with the boys. I loved Zane from
The Dream Thief (from the Drákon Series). He was an unrepentant thief who still fell in love with the wrong girl, Lia. But he never stopped being sarcastic and witty and utterly devoted to her.

It's easier to love the characters who have a little bit of bad in them. People (or characters) who are entirely good are just boring, I think.

Armand reminds me of Zane. Jesse is kinder than Armand, but Armand is a bit more tortured. I think it makes him interesting.

4) How have you done your research for this novel?

I had to do a lot of research into the Edwardian era, and also about how people lived their lives in World War I. I had to figure out the fashion, and the technology, and the way people talked and the weapons of war.

For instance, Armand is rich, so he has his father's automobiles to drive around, but most people couldn't even dream of owning a car because they were so expensive. He lives in a mansion wired for electricity, which was still a very new and radical concept.

Jesse and Lora live with candlelight and horses and carriages still. Their world is slower to catch up.

5) Is there a book that inspired your writings?

Not any one particular book, but ever since I learned to read, I read a lot. A LOT. I've always loved reading, and would read pretty much anything on any subject. I think you have to be a passionate reader to be a passionate writer. That way the passion comes through in your work.

6) In the end, would you like say some words to your fans from Romania?

I would like to say THANK YOU so much for reading this interview, and for reading my books! I love to write but I couldn't be a successful storyteller without you, and that's the truth. I'm so glad we are connected through these words, and these stories. I'm honored if you like my books. :-)


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