Once upon a time, Claire Legrand was a musician. Then one day she decided it was time to stop denying the stories in her head, the ones that were begging to be told. Thankfully, Claire put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and has since brought us stories like The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, The Year of Shadows, Winterspell and now her latest – Furyborn.
Claire now answers the Booktopia Guru’s Ten Terrifying Questions.
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Irving, Texas, where I lived until I was ten years old. Then I moved a little farther north to Lewisville, Texas, where I attended middle school and high school (our high school mascot was the Fighting Farmers, which I still think is the coolest/funniest mascot ever). Then I moved north once again to Denton, Texas, and attended the University of North Texas for my undergraduate studies (English literature) and graduate studies (library science).
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
When I was twelve, I wanted to be a writer. I’m not really sure why I wanted to be a writer then, other than that I felt the calling to write in my blood and bones. Becoming a novelist was my childhood goal—until I joined the band in middle school and started playing the trumpet.
Then music became my life, and when I was eighteen, I was determined to be a professional musician. Specifically, I wanted to perform with the New York Philharmonic and be a lifelong orchestral musician. Music brought me such joy and helped me express myself in so many new and wonderful ways. I loved working with my fellow musicians to create something beautiful, and I was seldom happier in college than when I was rehearsing with various ensembles.
But then I had an idea for a book, and that changed everything. I couldn’t get this story idea out of my head. I became so obsessed with it, in fact, that I changed my major and decided I wanted to leave music behind—and return to my childhood goal of becoming a writer. (That story idea, by the way, would eventually become Furyborn, which is my next novel, due to be released on May 22 of this year. More on that later!)
By the time I turned thirty, I was a multi-published author with more books on the way, and I knew I wanted to write for the rest of my life. This Gloria Steinem quote is a succinct way of expressing why: “Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I used to believe that my achievements defined me, and when I was in school, I put a lot of pressure on myself to excel both academically and musically. That self-inflicted pressure added a tremendous amount of unnecessary stress to my life. I no longer believe that my achievements define me; now, I believe that I am defined by the positive, joyful energy I put out into the world, the relationships I form with other people, and the kindness with which I strive to treat everyone I know. If I’m being perfectly honest, I do still place a lot of importance on my achievements—but they no longer have quite the stranglehold on me that they once did.
4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?
My parents divorcing when I was sixteen years old. Reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials for the first time. And, more recently, the political and cultural events leading up to and following the 2016 presidential election. All of these events shaped me, and will continue to shape me going forward—both as a human and as a writer.
5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book?
Books have always been the most special and impactful form of entertainment for me. There’s something incredibly intimate about curling up with a book, shutting off your brain to the outside world, and going on a journey of someone else’s creation. For me, as much as I love movies and television shows, that level of emotional intimacy is unique to the experience of reading books. I prefer print books to e-books, and nothing beats that feeling of holding a treasured book in your hands as you flip the pages faster and faster toward the story’s end. I want to recreate that feeling of wonder, possibility, and joy for as many readers as I can.
6. Please tell us about your latest book…
My next book is a young adult epic fantasy novel called Furyborn, and it’s the first installment in the Empirium Trilogy. It’s about a centuries-long war between humans and angels, and the two (flawed, angry, lustful, brave, complex) young women who must fight at the heart of this war. The choices these women make—and the surprising connections between them, even across the centuries that separate them—will ultimately determine the fate of their world, and of each other. It’s Avatar: The Last Airbender meets His Dark Materials meets Game of Thrones, a sprawling fantasy with a huge cast, forbidden romance, palace intrigue, and dangerous magic.
These are the books of my heart, and I’m so excited that, after nearly fourteen years in the making, they’re finally about to be real, actual books that other people can read and enjoy.
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
Through my books, I want my readers—especially young readers, of all genders—to meet a diverse array of girls and women who get angry and make mistakes, girls who lust and crave, girls who are ambitious. Girls who itch to set the world on fire. Girls who are unabashedly themselves. If my books help one girl find the courage to be herself—as messy and complicated and undefinable as that may be—then I will have changed the world for the better.
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
It sounds cheesy, but the person I most admire in the world is my mom, who also happens to be my best friend. She’s endured so much adversity in her life, and she’s weathered every one of those storms with grace, humor, and dignity. She faces every day with an open mind and a warm heart, and I strive to follow her example.
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
I am definitely one of those very ambitious people! However, I won’t go into specifics here, because I am also a very superstitious person, and I don’t want to jinx anything. I will simply say that my brain is full of story ideas, and I plan to spend the rest of my life writing all of them. I don’t ever want to stop learning; I have very high artistic standards, and I’m constantly pushing myself to improve so I can meet them. I will also say that I want to remembered long after I’m dead and gone, and I therefore work hard to ensure that the stories I write are ones that can stand the test of time.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Read, read, read! Read a lot, and read widely—not just in the genres you know you like. The more you read, the more your writing will improve. I’ve not received any formal writing training; everything I’ve learned has come from reading other people’s books and editing my own.
Thank you for playing!
The Empirium Trilogy Book 1
In this thrilling new high-fantasy trilogy, a magic-wielding queen and a ruthless bounty hunter are separated by centuries but connected by a prophecy
The stunningly original, must-read fantasy of 2018 follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world...or doom it.
When assassins ambush her best friend, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing herself as one of a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light, and a queen of blood...