Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fairy Revel with Holly Black

I was able to attend a Fairy Revel with Holly Black on Wednesday, January 14, 2015 with Melissa from Novelty Podcast. The event was held at the Public Library of Brookline in the Teen Room. I love how Robin Brenner, the teen/young adult librarian, decorated the room with vines to make it look more like an enchanted forest. She even made fairy bread with this amazing strawberry butter which everyone loved. Check out the Public Library of Brookline's teen tumblr for more pictures.

Holly Black did a reading from her latest book, The Darkest Part of the Forest, and she also did a Q&A with her fans. I thought it was nice of her to give free posters to those who asked her a question. And how fabulous is Black's jacket? Her hair and jacket are nicely coordinated.

Tithe was published in 2002 and Black wanted to return back to her roots and to write about fairies. After all, the fairies helped her become a better writer. The Q&A was very informative. The audience had good questions about her past works such as The Coldest Girl in ColdtownThe Spiderwick Chronicles and Curse Workers series. Black also answered questions about what her favorite POV is to write, about her writing process and she also talked about a couple fairy tales like The White Cat.

I was interested when Black described her writing process when she wrote The Iron Trial with Cassandra Clare. Both women would sit in the same room and one will write 200-500 words. The first will then hand over the laptop to the other and that person will edit the prior's writing. After editing, the latter will write some more and then will hand over the laptop to the initial writer. This process will repeat over and over until the book is finished. It also provides Callum's voice to be consistent. Black despises first drafting and this process works so well. Writing with Clare makes the process less agonizing. Black and Clare will continue this process for the remaining books in The Magisterium series.

One question I loved was how do you know if your book is finished. Black answered the question and said that there is a feeling you get when you reach the end of a book. She likes to write the first chapter, rewrite the chapter, write two chapters, rewrite the chapters, etc. She repeats this process until she reaches the last line of the novel. Although she doesn't know the right ending or exactly how the book ends, she has an idea of an ending and the book is done. From there is will polish up and edit the novel until she is happy with all the changes she makes.

Black gets to know her characters when she starts writing the first couple of chapters. There is no definite outlining of characters beforehand. She likes to step back and pull the camera back. She wants to see the story from the reader's view and not in the heads of the characters. Sometimes seeing the big picture instead of the nitty gritty is important.

When Black writes, she reads a lot of cadence of what she is writing about. She wants to keep the voice and the language in her books. She read a lot of Noir when she wrote the Curse Workers series and read a lot of fairytales when she wrote the Modern Faerie Tales series and The Darkest Part of the Forest. Occasionally she will go on a tangent and read something like high fantasy. Recently she read The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison.

Black also touched upon fan fiction/fan work. When she found out about fan fiction, she was surprised people are writing for fun.
How? And why? were her first two thoughts.
"What is this?  Okay, this is interesting."
She realized the fan fiction cuts out everything except the joy of the fandom. The writing is about appealing to the reader self and not the writer self.

Before writing Tithe, Black was still learning about plot. She started writing short stories and poetry. After writing Tithe, her friend who is a children's librarian explained to Black that YA as changed over the years. This helped Black figure out what books are "categorized" as YA. In terms of genres and labels of YA and MG, it's hard to determine what horror is for children. Is Doll Bones too scary? Is it not scary enough? Black mentions what scares us the most is what we bring to it. She is scared of zombies but Libba Bray is scared of dolls. Doll Bones isn't scary to Black but for Bray it might be a book she might avoid. Black also mentions labels are often imposed by the publisher and can be helpful but they can also obscure.

The posters Black gave out are the same ones that you can receive when you pre-ordered The Darkest Part of the Forest from one of the six indie bookstores listed on her website. I love how the blue horns match Black's hair. So perfect!

Image from

Black recently had an interview with Lisa Parkin. You can check out the interview at Huffington Post. I am super excited that Brian Froud and Alan Lee influenced Black with their Faeries book. I have always been a fan of Brian Froud. Make sure you check out his other books! While you're at it, check out Amy Brown's Art of Amy Brown Volume I and Art of Amy Brown Volume 2. I am a big fan of fairy art and I am glad it influenced Black.

Also, check out this enchanting yet creepy book trailer for The Darkest Part of the Forest. It definitely captures the mood of the novel and everything fairy!


  1. I love that you attended this event and wrote a post! I wanted to go but wasn't able to get into the city for it. Thanks so much for the recap. I'm always fascinated how authors cowrite - Holly and Cassie's method is fascinating. Also Holly's overall writing process and how she knows a book is done is also really interesting. I'm not sure a lot of authors do that. Hopefully I get to meet her sometime! I really enjoyed The Darkest Part of the Forest.

    1. Same here. I love hearing about author's writing process, especially if they co-write.