As a major Rin Chupeco fan, I am so pleased to be bringing you an interview! Wicked As You Wish just recently released and it’s stunning!
Tala Warnock has little use for magic – as a descendant of Maria Makiling, the legendary Filipina heroine, she negates spells, often by accident. But her family’s old ties to the country of Avalon (frozen, bespelled, and unreachable for almost 12 years) soon finds them guarding its last prince from those who would use his kingdom’s magic for insidious ends.
And with the rise of dangerous spelltech in the Royal States of America; the appearance of the firebird, Avalon’s deadliest weapon, at her doorstep; and the re-emergence of the Snow Queen, powerful but long thought dead, who wants nothing more than to take the firebird’s magic for her own – Tala’s life is about to get even more complicated….
Can you talk about the inspiration for the title?
That wasn’t my idea! The marketing team over at Sourcebooks came up with it, and it sounds fresh and extremely sassy, which I like! The original title for WICKED AS YOU WISH was The Firekeeper, but there was another lovely MG book series that has that as its Book 2 title, so I wanted a new one to avoid confusion. My next suggestion to them was A HUNDRED NAMES FOR MAGIC, but they thought it sounded a bit too MG as well (and was also long for a title!) but wanted to keep it as the series’ name!
The firebird is a pretty important character in your book, did you ever consider a different animal? If you had to pick a different creature, which would you pick?
I’d actually thought about using the wolf from the Ivan Tsarevich Russian folk tales, but then decided that helper animals didn’t have as much impact as a creature that a fairy tale revolves around, so the firebird was an easy decision after that! I incorporated my initial wolf idea into Cole Nottingham’s story instead. Otherwise, I was also seriously considering some kind of dragon (mainly Chinese dragons, who tend to be benevolent unlike their Western, hostile counterparts, and how the Western kingdoms’ insistence on stereotypes resulted in also killing off all their species but one) but in the end, I thought the firebird was a fairy tale that gave me more leeway to work with, and because it had a very well-known, specific plot attached to it that I wanted to adapt to my book. The thing about firebirds in the Russian tales is that they will *always* bring misfortune to their owners, and as soon as the firebird shows up in WAYW it proceeds to do exactly that. I wanted that same kind of chaotic energy and foreshadowing. Basically, my firebird is Danny Devito from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, minus the drugs.
What was your favorite fairy tale growing up?
Maria Makiling was one of the first tales I loved, which was also why I chose to center her tale as the family history Tala is constantly trying to live up to. I also love that there’s a lot of different versions of her tale, which made it easier to reimagine her in my book as a sort of resistance fighter. Another that I adore is a very obscure fairy tale simply called The Companion. If you’ve ever heard of the band “The Grateful Dead”, this is where they very likely took that term from. That fairy tale will play a big role in the sequel, and it’s gonna involve Cole and the legendary weapon he inherited from his family. (I am partial to Cole. He’s a bit like if Kalen from THE BONE WITCH was an asshole, or an even more insufferable Arjun from THE NEVER TILTING WORLD.)
Did you ever imagine yourself as the Chosen One in a prophecy growing up?
Absolutely not. I made a comment on Twitter sometime back, while I was watching the Castlevania series, that if anyone was foolish enough to turn me into a vampire I would absolutely go down the same path Dracula did and try to destroy everyone. I will attempt to make all the hot vampire hunters my eternal thralls. Don’t put me in charge of anything, ever. I am harmless in peacetime, but only in peacetime. At the very least, I will somehow screw it all up within five seconds of making that announcement.
If you weren’t a writer, what other career might you pursue?
Nowadays I kinda shudder to imagine my life as anything else but a writer. I am told that I would somehow make a very good comedian, but I would probably be the one catcalling everyone from the stage. I’ve done work for games and game design in the past though, so that’s probably the most likely career path for me!