As huge fans of Holly Black we couldn’t wait to snap up her vampire tale THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN. We fell in love with this dark and dangerous world, so we caught up with Holly to get you the inside scoop…
(PSSSSSST…Click on the book cover for more info…..)
We loved The Coldest Girl in Coldtown! It’s so creative and it totally puts the vamp back in vampires. So tell us, what was your inspiration?
I wrote a short story with the same title a few years ago and loved the world so much that I wanted to come back to it. I actually wrote about three chapters of the book a totally different way, but I couldn’t get the idea of a girl waking up at a party where everyone else was dead out of my mind, so I tossed out what I’d done and started there.
But the inspiration is largely all the vampire books I read when I was younger. I devoured them all, from Tanith Lee to Anne Rice, from Bram Stoker to Suzy McKee Charnas, from Nancy Collins to Les Daniels, from Poppy Z. Brite to Stephen King. I read them in huge gulps and re-read them over and over again. I wanted to write a book that my younger self would have truly loved and I wanted to write one that I would love now.
The image you paint of a futuristic world populated with decadent coldtowns is haunting. Where did you come up with the mythology?
Thank you! One of the things I really wanted to get back to was the idea of vampirism as infection. I wanted to tell a kind of a plague narrative. All of that language has seemed to go to zombie stories, but I wanted to play with the fear of (and desire for) infection in a vampire story. I was also interested in the idea of isolated communities that operated in accordance with their own, more savage, rules.
And I was very interested in the way that we are able to watch harrowing things at an emotional distance—or even with envy. We can see footage of death, of weeping, pleading and shouting—and then go out to dinner or change the channel to a comedy. We can watch confessional videos online and instead of feeling pity, we may long for an experience as intense, as immediate, as important, as terrible. I wanted to play through some of that with vampirism.
Other than Tana, who is your favorite girl-power heroine?
Favorites are hard, but my current frontrunner is Sarah Rees Brennan’s Kami Glass from Unspoken; an adventuresome, snarky and thoroughly modern girl reporter who’s drawn into a dangerous mystery when the magical and sinister Lynburn family returns to Sorry-in-the-Vale to take up residence in their gothic manor on the hill.
Another is the blue-haired, haunted and valiant Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Still another is the brave and fierce Alina Starkov from Shadow and Bone. There are so many excellent ladies that it’s hard to choose! (We agree!)
We know it’s not fair to ask someone to pick their favorite child, but out of all the characters you’ve written, which one is your favorite?
That is super hard. Right now, Tana and Gavriel are still in my head. And Cassel is still hanging around my subconscious; I often have ideas about what he might be doing. And I’ll never not love Kaye. Then there are my middle grade characters—Zach, Poppy and Alice, Jared, Simon and Mallory. And Callum, who no one knows yet, but who is fascinating to me.
But right now, I really love Tana. She’s brave and determined and kind of broken. She had no idea what she was capable of until she found herself in the middle of doing it. It makes me wonder what else she might be able to do if she tried.
What qualities do you love in a leading man in YA fiction?
The qualities I love in a leading man are pretty much the qualities I love in characters generally. I love the self-aware, the damaged, those who are able to acknowledge and exploit their own inner darkness, who make big mistakes and take big chances, the clever and the competent, with a core of kindness and (possibly twisted) sense of honor that they may try to hide, but which comes out at inconvenient moments.
In a publishing world populated with series, why did you write Coldtown as a stand-alone novel?
One of the things that Coldtown got me to do was to look at the books I’d loved as a kid. Most of them were stand-alones. Even the books that were part of series functioned as stand-alones. My first series was like that too, when I wrote Tithe I didn’t know that Valiant and Ironside would ever be written. There’s something freeing about writing a stand-alone—everything you’ve got goes into that one book, with nothing saved for later.
And to follow up…we need more Gavriel! Do you have any plans to reveal more of his vampire backstory?
Ah, Gavriel. I love writing him so much. He’s mad as a hatter! He might do anything at all at any moment! He’s been hurt over and over again and he has no idea how to be human anymore! I’d love to get to spend more time with him, but I don’t currently have any plans for a sequel. After I finish the book I am currently working on (called The Darkest Part of the Forest), I’ll have to decide what comes next.
OK…now it’s time for a totally random question! What’s your favorite reality TV show…and why?
I should hide my head in shame. I really love reality television. I am especially fascinated with the ways that occasionally—despite being mostly scripted—real reality pokes its head to the surface. Like when Meghan Wants a Millionaire got pulled from the air after one of the contestants was alleged to have murdered his girlfriend and then killed himself before he could be arrested. Or how The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recut their season after one of the husbands killed himself. It’s interesting when the script gets flipped.
But also, I just like watching people. Right now, my favorite is the show Catfish, where people who suspect the person they’ve been chatting with online isn’t who they claim. The show discovers who the person is and I’ve been surprised by how many variations are even possible. Also, I am kind of obsessed with Dance Moms because I like watching the moms yell and also I like watching the kids dance.
To close, it’s time to play…….
FIVE QUICK QUESTIONS!
One word that describes The Coldest Girl in Coldtown:
Cassel or Gavriel?
Oh, that’s the devil’s own question.
Cassel comes with all the baggage of his crazy family. Gavriel comes with the baggage of ravenous hunger and a big dollop of madness, but they are both my darlings.
I’m going to go with Gavriel, though, because I think he’d like me better. He likes a steady lady.
Your favorite vampire novel is…..
I am going to pick two: Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice and Sabella or The Bloodstone by Tanith Lee.
Your dream writing collaboration would be with…
Cassie Clare! And we’re doing it—we’re just finishing up The Iron Trial, the first book of our co-written middle grade series. We have so many shared influences, from Tanith Lee to Ellen Kushner; it’s fun to write with someone who loves so many of the same things and who is such a good friend.
In one word each, what is your favorite attribute for the following Coldtown characters: Tana, Gavriel, Aidan, Lucien.
Thanks, Holly! We loved catching up with you!
And Spark Girls, don’t miss THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN!