I'm incredibly proud to be taking part in the Authors are Rockstars Tour and today on the blog, I'm very pleased to welcome Jessica Spotswood, the 2012 debut author of Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles).
Jessica Spotswood grew up in a tiny one-stoplight town in Pennsylvania, where she could be found swimming, playing the clarinet, memorizing lines for the school play, or - most often - with her nose in a book. She's been writing since fourth grade but studied theatre in college and grad school. Now she lives in Washington, DC with her brilliant playwright husband and a cuddly cat named Monkey. BORN WICKED, Book 1 in The Cahill Witch Chronicles, is her first novel. Book 2, STAR CURSED, will be out in June 2013.
Let's talk about why I chose to feature Jessica on the blog today and why she's a total author rockstar. Jessica burst onto the scene in March 2012 with Born Wicked, a YA historical novel featuring young witches. At the time, I wasn't really into reading YA historical novels but I'd heard SO much about the book from bloggers across the pond who were raving about it that I knew I had to give it a chance. I'm so glad I did because I fell in love with the book and ended up giving it my very own glowing review! If you're interested, you can read it here. Because of Jessica's book, I'm now very much into reading historical novels so I have her to thank for that :)
Just in case you haven't heard of Born Wicked (seriously, where have you been?!), here's the synopsis:
"Everybody knows Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they’re witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship—or an early grave.
Before her mother died, Cate promised to protect her sisters. But with only six months left to choose between marriage and the Sisterhood, she might not be able to keep her word... especially after she finds her mother’s diary, uncovering a secret that could spell her family’s destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra.
If what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren’t safe. Not from the Brotherhood, the Sisterhood—not even from each other."
One of the good things about Born Wicked, is that Cate's love interest (Finn Belastra) is essentially a non-alpha hero and this makes a refreshing change! Here's Jessica to tell us all about why she chose to write Finn that way...
Alpha heroes tend to be all the rage in romance. Who doesn't want to be ravished by a strong, protective bad boy who can kick ass and only reveals his tender side to you? But for me as a reader, protective can walk a fine line with obsessive; anger and jealousy can start to look perilously close to controlling or even abusive behaviors. In the urge to make the hero strong, sometimes the heroine's ability to take care of or save herself gets erased. The relationship starts to look dependent instead of mutually respectful. And while kissing scenes are seriously my favorite, I don't want to read about a relationship that's built entirely on lust; there's got to be something more to the hero than his chiseled abs and piercing green eyes and skill in the bedroom. I know it's fiction - but what do they talk about?
As a reader, I was starting to get a little tired of this alpha hero prototype. As a writer, my last hero (for my unsold fantasy novel) had been Quinn - a sexy, muscled party guy with a pre-existing girlfriend, a motorcycle, a douchey best friend, and daddy issues. I wanted to try something different. Enter Finn Belastra.
One common factor in BORN WICKED reviews is that readers love Finn, the bookseller moonlighting as the Cahill family gardener, who eventually captures Cate's heart. Finn isn't a traditional alpha hero. He's got freckles and messy hair and glasses. Cate remembers him as a skinny, gawky beanpole of a boy with his nose perpetually in a book, who always raised his hand in school and came off as a pompous know-it-all. Her friend Paul remembers him as the nerd that he and other popular boys beat up in the schoolyard. Finn's the type of guy who reads on his lunch breaks, always has a book on him, and falls off ladders when a cute girl talks to him. He's learning how to garden from a book; he got the job because Cate's dad admires him as a scholar and feels sorry for his family, not because he's really qualified.
I enjoyed playing with stereotypical gender roles in BORN WICKED, particularly given that it takes place in Victorian New England. Cate is the one who climbs trees and prefers the outdoors. She kisses him first, and she's the one who chases after him to explain a misunderstanding. She's the bossy one, prone to snapping when she's in a temper; Finn raises his voice to her exactly once, when she's in danger and not listening to him. In this relationship, Cate is the alpha.
But there's mutual respect, too. When Cate first notices Finn in BORN WICKED, she admits that he's gotten rather good-looking - but what really intrigues her is how he questions the Brotherhood's practices, and how progressive he is. He's grown up with a clever, independent mom who's run her own business despite interference from the Brothers since her husband's death. The other men around Cate are either absent and oblivious (her father, her friend Paul) or domineering (most of the Brothers). Finn's mix of loyalty and subversiveness is new to her and helps her look at her magic differently, with less guilt and shame.
In my own marriage, my husband makes me want to be a better person - more patient, kinder, and less snappish. He encourages my interests and he certainly doesn't tell me what to do. When it came right down to it, I wanted those things for Cate, too.
Bonus - my modern-day hipster Finn dreamcast is Andrew Garfield. I think it's the crazy hair and soulful brown eyes. Just give him glasses and freckles!
Firstly, can I just say - a boy that reads? THAT'S SEXY and also Andrew Garfield as Finn? I can TOTALLY see that. I like the idea of having a love interest that seems more normal than the usual motorcycle riding, bad boy we're used to seeing. Thank you Jessica for being an author rockstar and visiting the blog today, I can't wait to read the sequel!!! :) To find out more about Jessica, please click here to visit her website. She is also active on Twitter.
Born Wicked was published in the US back in March 2012 and will be published in the UK in February 2013. It is a beautifully written book with superb dialogue and I urge you to pick up a copy as I think it has the potential to become a classic. Book two in The Cahill Witch Chronicles, entitled Star Cursed will be published in June 2013 in the US.
Now, how would you like to to win your very own SIGNED copy of Born Wicked? (I'm now officially jealous!!). All you have to do is leave me a comment on this post and please include your email address and what country you are from. Are you a fan of the book? Have you read it? Have I whet your appetite? This contest is INTERNATIONAL and the deadline is 31st August which gives you plenty of time to get your entries in. One entry per person please and the winner will be chosen by a random generator. The winner will be contacted via email and has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.