Interview with Rin Chupeco
Storybook Slayers: I absolutely adore your debut, The Girl from the Well, and it is a delight to have The Bone Witch in my hands to read. And that cover! So as far as first questions go, I am curious as to how you felt shifting away from your horror debut novel and turn into this magical, fantastical world?
Rin Chupeco: Isn't that cover amazing? Sourcebooks did such a fantastic job on it. And I think that's the great thing about writing YA – genre usually takes a backseat to story. It was easy to make the transition from YA horror to YA fantasy because a lot of the themes I wrote about in both The Girl from the Well and The Suffering still holds true in The Bone Witch; in my case, that meant writing about family bonds, sacrifice, antiheroines, and empowerment, which the three books have a lot of. I've always read widely in different genres from noir to horror to nonfiction, and I knew fairly early on that my writing was going to reflect that. There's a lot more planning involved in writing fantasy though, especially when it comes to the worldbuilding.
SS: I have already littered my copy with little tabs for favorite passages and quotes. Which passage/quote was your all-time favorite to write?
RC Thank you kindly! Two favorites come to mind. One comes from the very first two lines – “The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.” I try to make the first lines of my novels sum up the core of what I want the book to be about, and I'm rather proud of this one. The Bone Witch has always been about a girl who was fiercer and more determined than any of the opposition or the obstacles thrown in her path, and it places the book in a dark place right off the bat. My second favorite is the one I've seen quoted most often: “Perhaps we should carve a world one day where the strength lies in who you are, and not what they expect you to be.” It's something I take to heart irl, and I think it resonates so much, especially with teens, is because we've all known what it feels like to be under someone else's expectations that aren't necessarily what you want.
SS: What kind of asha would you be and what would you call yourself? Two questions in one, I know, but they go hand in hand haha.
RC: I am hopelessly uncoordinated so I can't dance very well, I sound like a frog when I sing, and I haven't done martial arts in such a long time that I would be horribly out of practice by now. So I probably won't be a very good asha in those aspects. But I'm a tad sarcastic in real life, and I usually tend to make people laugh at parties, so I would probably be good at entertaining if I have to, despite my preference for introversion. Channeling magic does sound appealing and it's likely I might put in more effort for that, just because I've always wanted to be a witch, anyway. If I were unfortunate enough to be a bone witch myself, I would probably be an extremely lazy one – I will likely only summon the undead so they can do my chores for me while I go nap somewhere. Rin of the Sleeping does have a nice ring to it.
SS: For the readers at home, in 6 words, how would you sum up The Bone Witch?
RC: “Siblings battle monsters and human failings,” maybe? Or to be more succinct about it, “Living people are worse than undead.”
SS: As an inspiring author, and to all the aspiring authors both young and old, what is one piece of advice that you found worked to your advantage on your path to publishing?
RC: The one advice I can give is to tell as many people as possible how writing advice in general doesn't work. Writing advice, I've found, is horribly customized to suit the person bestowing the advice and not necessarily to the people they're offering the advice to. Things people said I should be doing didn't work for me, and things they said I shouldn't be doing worked wonders. What's worse is that there's a lot of writing advice out there that contradicts each other, furthering the confusion. So I can only really recommend following only two things as a writer: 1.) follow the requirements literary agents want when you query them, and 2.) as a friend likes to put it: you do you, boo.
SS: Last but not least, the world in which you built is so expansive and descriptively detailed that I would love to live there myself. If there were a portal to your storyworld of the Eight Kingdoms, where would it be and why?
RC: Thank you again! I've always felt that the portal to story worlds should also be found within the pages of other story worlds. I'd like a doorway leading into the Eight Kingdoms to be in the middle of a Romance of the Three Kingdoms book, for example, or maybe in the Tale of Genji, where reading a certain word triggers the teleportation spell.
I also really like the idea of enchanted dresses (a kimono or a hanfa) that would accidentally send its wearer into the story world, and that said enchanted dress has a special ability to help him/her survive that new place.
SS: Thank you so much for your time and answering these questions, Rin!
RC: Thank you for having me! :)
*I was provided a review copy for an honest review for the blog tour*
What a world. If there is one thing The Bone Witch does not lack, it is world-building. There is so much happening inside this gorgeously covered book. From decadent food and gorgeously woven hua to mapped out kingdoms and dangerous monsters, I was enveloped in this fantastical, beautiful, and daunting world. And I want to read more about these Bone Witches, Heart Forgers, and dangerous beasties that Tea is meant to rid the world of.
the Daanoris hua
While I thoroughly enjoyed The Bone Witch, I found the novel to take quite some time to read through. Chapters were long not in page length, but in copious amounts of detail attributed to every hua the asha wore or every piece of food that graced a scene. I found these details were taking away from other elements of the story, and even the plot. There came points in my reading where I didn't want to read about another beautifully crafted hua, I wanted to know more about the lore, the Faceless and False Prince whose names keep getting dropped, the daeva, Tea's homesickness, her family, her relationship with her undead brother, her relationship with the Prince. I just wanted to know more than what I was being given. To which I hope book two provides more of.
The Bone Witch is gorgeously crafted when it comes to passages and quotes. But my favorite parts of this book were the exchanges between Tea and the bard. The anti-heroine I want to see and read more from could only be found in the short snippets of present day, when told through the eyes other than Tea. I enjoyed the juxtaposition to watching Tea grow up through her own eyes while reading how an outsider perceives her in the present-day, after events undisclosed had unfolded. But I wanted more, because I found out so much more about Tea and the world-of-story from these chapter preludes. And I have high hopes that book two brings more of present-day Tea into the narrative.
Series: The Bone Witch #1
Publication Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
A Young Adult novel
The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.