Today it is my very great pleasure to post an interview with our very own Elizabeth Richards as the third book in the Black City trilogy is released: Wings! The first book, Black City, made my heart beat along with Ash's, and I can't wait to grab my copy of Wings. You can find out more about Elizabeth from her Facebook and Twitter (and here!) and more about her book on GoodReads.
We can read all about your life from your bio in the jacket flap of your book. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?
I have a heart-shaped birth mark on my left foot! It’s the only way my parents could tell me and my twin-sister apart when we were newborns.
What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?
That you spend very little of your working day actually writing! I was stunned when I first entered the business and realized that the majority of my time would be taken up with marketing and publicity, especially in my debut year. I’ve managed to find a better balance now, and put writing ahead of everything else, even though it’s SO tempting to constantly pop onto Twitter…
Challenge time! Can you describe your book series in just one sentence?
Dystopian ‘Romeo and Juliet’ with vampires, explosions and kissing!
A number of things inspired the series. Initially it was Ash—his character came to me fully-formed one evening, when I was watching a movie, and I became enthralled by the idea of this drug-dealing, supernatural boy who gets a heartbeat when he meets his true love. It was also around the time of the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down, and so that was on the news a lot, and I kept wondering what it would be like to live in a city divided by a wall, and how terrible it would be if you were stuck on the wrong side of the wall, away from your family…especially if the side you were on happened to be filled with people that wanted to kill you. So that became the inspiration for the Boundary Wall. And the setting of Black City is inspired by Victorian London, with the ash-choked skies and gothic architecture.
One of the things I loved about your first book, Black City, is that while it’s a fictional world, there seems to be some influence from our own history—especially themes of prejudice that reminded me of World War II and the Holocaust, as well as apartheid and civil rights movements. Can you tell us more about how you brought the real past into your fictional world, and why you explored those themes?
During the initial planning stages of Black City, I wondered what the world would be like if supernatural creatures actually lived among us. How would the humans react? Would they embrace the Darklings or be frightened of our differences? Unfortunately I didn’t have to look far back in our history to get a sense of how things could be. It didn’t seem far-fetched that the Darklings would be herded into ghettos and denied their civil rights, nor did it feel unbelievable that the Sentry government would commit genocide or kill anyone who fraternized with a Darkling, in order to create their perfect vision of ‘One Faith, One Race, One Nation under His Mighty’. And so that formed the basis of the series.
An image that will stay with me forever is when Ash’s heart starts to beat after he meets Natalie. The books are obviously so much more than a love story, but the love story part of the novels just sings. Could you discuss this part of the story more? How did you develop their love?
I’m a sucker for ‘love-at-first-sight’, however I didn’t want their romance to be a stereotypical ‘insta-love’ story. In the world of Black City, when a Darkling meets their Blood Mate, their heart activates and this is what happens when Ash first meets Natalie. However, all is not what it seems, when they learn [SPOILER] that Natalie has a stolen heart and Ash’s Blood Mate is actually another girl [SPOILER OVER]. For me, that was a much more interesting story to tell, because love isn’t easy—it’s hard fought for and, more to the point, it’s a choice. They choose to stay together because they want to, not because they have to, due to some mystical connection. And even when the fates keep trying to pull them apart, even when things get tough, they find each other. That, for me, is true love and why so many of my readers connect with their romance.
Let’s talk Purian Rose. How did you develop such a villain? In Wings, you talk more about his past—did you always know that past, or was it something you developed as you started the third book?
I knew some of his past—at least, the two big things—but I’m not one to obsessively plot things out before I start writing (shhh, don’t tell my editor!); I like to be surprised because if I’m surprised then I hope the reader will be too. I actually found myself caring for him quite deeply, which I wasn’t expecting.
If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from the last book of the trilogy, Wings, what would you want it to be?
Forgiveness. That’s the key message in the book. “It’s easy to hate; the true tests of our hearts is to forgive.”
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