Miranda is an author I have followed ever since her debut, The Deepest Roots. There are just books that stay with you. So when I had the opportunity to interview Miranda on her upcoming release, A Constellation of Roses I knew I had to jump on it.
A Constellation of Roses
Ever since her mother walked out, Trix McCabe has been determined to make it on her own. And with her near-magical gift for pulling valuables off unsuspecting strangers, Trix is confident she has what it takes to survive. Until she’s caught and given a choice: jail time, or go live with her long-lost family in the tiny town of Rocksaw, Kansas.
Trix doesn’t plan to stick around Rocksaw long, but there’s something special about her McCabe relatives that she is drawn to. Her aunt, Mia, bakes pies that seem to cure all ills. Her cousin, Ember, can tell a person’s deepest secret with the touch of a hand. And Trix’s great-aunt takes one look at Trix’s palm and tells her that if she doesn’t put down roots somewhere, she won’t have a future anywhere.
Before long, Trix feels like she might finally belong with this special group of women in this tiny town in Kansas. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll have to decide whether to take a chance on this new life . . . or keep running from the one she’s always known.
Pie and baking is a huge part of CONSTELLATION, why did you pick a bakery as Trix’s family business and what is your favorite pie/baked good?
When I was coming up with the idea for the book, I knew I wanted Mia’s talent to be food-related, playing off the idea of “comfort food,” so it made sense for their family to run a bakery. It also worked out well because it threw Trix into the thick of things with the community since the McCabe Bakery and Tea Shoppe is the heart of the town. I also liked that it echoed the Jasmine Dragon from Trix’s childhood, and how that shaped her in a very positive way. As for me, I’m a sucker for lemon meringue pie! I would take a slice of Never Lonely Lemon anytime. There’s something magical about the mix of tart and sweet that I really love.
Can you talk about what character was the hardest/easiest for you to write? There are so many lovely side characters and even on that postcard!
Ember was difficult for me to write because she’s so shy due to her fear of driving people away with her ability to read their darkest secrets. I wanted Trix and Ember to become friends, but it had to be a very gradual thing because Trix is so closed off and Ember is so timid. It was sort of like pushing two opposing magnets together. But I knew to be true to Ember’s character, she had to become more social a little at a time, the same as Trix. Auntie’s character was easy to write, and a lot of fun. She always had these little zingers that she would pull out, even when I was trying to have a serious moment, and I would find myself laughing as I wrote her scenes.
The mother/daughter relationship in CONSTELLATION is complicated. Can you talk about what it was like to write this relationship and give it some context for newer readers?
Trix and her mother, Allison, have a very complicated relationship. Allison became pregnant with Trix when she was very young and alone, and most of Trix’s early childhood was spent on the move, living in motels and cars while her mother tried to work enough for them to survive. Later, Allison struggles with addiction, and this ends up hurting their relationship. They also have what Trix refers to as “The Good Year,” when Allison goes to rehab and they try again at being a family, but the following years find Allison struggling again, up to the point when she eventually abandons Trix. Their story was very difficult to write, both because it’s sad, and because I wanted to portray their struggles with addiction and homelessness as genuinely as possible. Ultimately, their story is about finding forgiveness, both for themselves and each other.
How did the title evolve? I love when, as you are reading, you can kind of see the title take shape, but how did the title evolve behind the scenes?
The title came really early. I was only about fifty pages into the very first draft of the book when the title came to me, and I’m glad we got to keep it! I had the idea for Trix’s “constellation of scars” early on when I was building her character, and I remember scrolling through Instagram and seeing how several people were sharing tattoos that they got to cover up scars from surgery or injury. And since Trix was an artist, I thought about her doing that to herself in pen ink–covering up those scars with artwork. And so the working draft of the book became “A Constellation of Roses” to indicate that Trix was going to take this really traumatic part of her past and turn it into something beautiful.
Each of the women in Trix’s family have some sort of ability, did you always know what their abilities would be?
I did! I planned them out at the very beginning of drafting the novel. The ideas of their varied abilities came as a spin-off from my debut novel, The Deepest Roots, where all of the girls in the town are born with strange abilities. Some of the girls see their talents as a gift, while others see them as a curse. So I wanted the McCabe women to have varying abilties that could be either good or bad. Trix is a gifted thief, which while illegal, does help her survive when she’s homeless and alone. Ember can read the darkest secrets of anyone she touches. While Trix thinks Ember’s ability is “powerful,” Ember feels that it really cuts her off from others because no one wants their darkest secrets out there, and she has to restrain from physically touching others so that she doesn’t inadvertently read them. Auntie is a fortune teller, which I thought would be a little more positive role both for her and the community, who seek her out for advice. And lastly, Mia’s gift was really a play on the idea of “comfort food,” in that her pies can make people feel better emotionally.
How was it to write this second book? Did you learn anything from the last book that you applied to this one?
I was really lucky in that I got to write A Constellation of Roses without the dreaded sophomore-book curse. I drafted it while we were still on submission to sell The Deepest Roots, so in many ways, I was still writing without the weight of expectations on me. I was just telling a story that I wanted to tell. What I did learn from writing The Deepest Roots beforehand, though, was that it’s important to have really well-rounded secondary characters in addition to main characters. A lot of early readers really enjoyed the adult characters in The Deepest Roots, so I made sure that those secondary adult characters in A Constellation of Roses had their own motives and interests outside of Trix’s story.
If Trix met your characters from The Deepest Roots, how do you think that interaction would go?
Trix and Rome would probably get along really well! They’re both very stubborn and independent, and a lot of their character arc depends on learning to trust and accept help from others. So I’m guessing they’d be great friends once they let their guards down. Ember and Mercy would get along right from the start. They’re both shy and a little more bookish than Rome and Trix.
Can you talk a little about future projects? What would be a genre you would never write? Or a genre you’ve always wanted to write, but haven’t yet?
I am working on another YA that I hope I can share with you someday soon! I love YA, and it’s always a joy to write. However, I would never, ever write horror, YA or otherwise. I’m too much of a chicken to write it. I have a very active imagination, and I would be seeing monsters and demons and serial killers everywhere I looked. When I was a kid, my sister was “babysitting” me and we ended up watching IT, the tv version of the horror novel by Stephen King, and it basically scarred me for life. I am still afraid of clowns. I would love to keep writing YA, but I’m also interested in writing some adult projects.
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About the Author
Miranda Asebedo was born and raised in rural Kansas with a love of fast cars, open skies, and books. She carried that love of books to college, where she got her B.A. and M.A. in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing and Literature. A Seaton Fellowship recipient, her short fiction has appeared in Kansas Voices, Touchstone, and Midway Journal.
Miranda still lives on the prairie today with her husband, two kids, and two majestic bulldogs named Princess Jellybean and Captain Jack Wobbles. If Miranda’s not writing or reading, she’s most likely convinced everyone to load up in the family muscle car and hit the road.