Author Interview: Jamie Rusovick-Smith

On the blog this week, I’m featuring #PitProm Winner and #TeamFantasy Queen, Jamie Rusovick-Smith! Jamie Rusovick-Smith is a brilliant author, and the #PitProm team has their fingers crossed that we’ll see her exciting young adult fantasy, The Burn Kingdom, in print someday soon!

Twitter Pitch:

FROSTBLOOD+LABRYINTHLOST Mother Nature made fire-wielding Azara to end the world. Instead she falls for a Brujo on her hit list #YA #Pitprom

Query Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Azara wields fire like it’s an extension of her body. Fitting, as her insides are fashioned of coal. For years, she’s prepared to become head Matriarch of the elemental Acalica, and finally rid Earth of humankind: a greedy, worthless bunch that abuse their world and each other. Or so she’s been told… She’s never left the lair or met a human, and until she’s fit to end the world, Mother Nature won’t grant her freedom. Azara’s power makes her unpopular with her sisters, and it’s no secret any one of them would kill to take her place. Determined to keep her birthright, Azara sneaks out of the lair to spy on the world she must soon destroy.

When she stumbles into a graveyard and disturbs a mourning boy, Salvatore, the unbidden kindness he shows her causes Azara to wonder if her view of the world is a lie. Upon finding them together, Azara’s deadliest sister attacks and forces Sal to use Brujeria— a type of witchcraft— to defend himself. Turns out humans aren’t as helpless as Mother led Azara to believe. Seeking safety and freedom, Azara and Sal flee their homeland. But Mother won’t let Azara go so easily, and she unleashes every power in her arsenal to bring her daughter home.

If Azara obeys Mother, she’ll have to end all humans, their magic— and Sal. But following her heart means she’ll not only have to betray her family, she’ll also spend the rest of her life fighting to survive Mother Nature’s wrath.

Get to Know the Author!

  1. What inspired you to write this book?

First of all, thanks for having me!

The idea behind this MS was sort of a mishmash of things: It started after a major natural disaster a while back, and everyone was asking, “Why, if there’s a God, does He let these things happen?” And my author brain went into overdrive. I thought, what if that’s exactly what was going on— He was letting things happen, but it was Mother Nature doing this to mankind. What did she have against us? What was the ultimate goal? When I overlaid those questions onto the Biblical accounts of a flooding of the earth, and the prophecy of its eventual destruction by fire, I had the bones of my story. But it really came together after I remembered the Mexican Myth of the weather-controlling Acalica. (My great grandmother was born and raised in Guadalajara Mexico, so, per tradition, monster stories were a big part of my upbringing.) I really wanted to incorporate something from my heritage, this myth especially, into the story, but I didn’t want my main character to be a wizened old man! So my amazing CP and best friend (Hi Vanessa!) suggested I gender flip it. “Make them all young women,” she said. And it was like, Ah heck yes, that’s it! The Burn Kingdom was born.

2. Who is your favorite character?

Grimmer, my MC’s mentor that, in my brain, looks exactly like Danny Trejo. While I was writing this, he surprised me the most and I tend to have a soft spot for the characters that drop twists I never saw coming.

3. Are you a pantser or a planner?

Planner. I love beat sheets and index cards and the whole bit. BUT, if my characters are adamantly against something I’ve planned or they take it in a direction I wasn’t expecting that fits, I let them run with it. I always know where we’re going to end up, but sometimes they show me a different way to get there.

4. How do you edit? (What is your editing weakness? (i.e. commas))

Oh, wow. My weaknesses are many, lol, but I definitely struggle the most with grounding the reader in a scene. My first drafts tend to be very dialogue and action based, so I have to force myself to add anywhere from 10K-25K of imagery and feels, so it doesn’t feel like a robot skeleton story. (Although if done well, I imagine a story ABOUT a robot skeleton would be quite fun.) When I’m editing, the first round is always beefing up the story. Then I do another few passes focusing on flow, voice, eliminating crutch words, checking for inconsistencies, etc, before sending it off to my few but amazing CPs.

5. Which books have most influenced your writing?

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson was the book that first made me want to write. Of course everyone probably says this, but the Harry Potter series made me fall for the fantasy genre. (While I will never come close to J.K. Rowling’s success, I hope there will be people who love Azara half as much as I love Harry.) And if I could write romance and anti-hero’s like Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and The Dawn duology, and Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy I would be happier than any clam ever in existence, and I’d probably have twice as many pearls.

6. What are you reading currently?

Just started What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick. Talk about feels…

Check out Jamie Rusovick-Smith here!

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