Tessa Gratton is the author of adult SFF, The Queens of Innis Lear and Lady Hotspur from Tor Books, as well as several YA series and short stories which have been translated into twenty-two languages. Her most recent YA titles are the original fairy tales Strange Grace and Night Shine from McElderry Books. Though she has lived all over the world, she currently resides alongside the Kansas prairie with her wife. Visit her at tessagratton.com.
Today she tells us about her Six Books:
1. What book are you currently reading?
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. It's a gorgeous, sharp fantasy genderbent AU about the rise of the first Ming emperor. The book alternates between the stories of a person who steals her brother’s destined greatness and uses gender like a superpower to not only survive and defeat whole armies and plot coups and fall in love, and a very angry eunuch who’s the general of the Mongol army and has been on a slow-burn revenge quest against the Mongols for twenty years. Their stories intertwine violently and oof I’m just loving it.
2. What upcoming book are really excited about?
Wayward Witch by Zoraida Córdova. It’s the third book in her Brooklyn Brujas trilogy and follows the youngest of the Mortiz sisters to a fairy island hidden in the Caribbean Sea. I beta read an early version, but the ending is totally different now, and I am excited and Very Worried about my emotions. Zoraida also just published a new high fantasy book called Incendiary in May and it’s one of my favorite 2020 reads so far.
3. Is there a book you’re currently itching to read again?
The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord. This is my favorite book of the last decade—it’s so smart about people, about emotions and community and diaspora, very weird in some ways, but also deeply comforting, and about finding and creating home. I’ve been rereading it about once a year, usually in the dark of winter, but this year I’d lent it to my sister-in-law and so kept putting it off, even though I have it in other formats, too. I finally got it back in hand so it’s sitting next to me on my desk, waiting for that moment I give in and sink back into it.
4. How about a book you’ve changed your mind about—either positively or negatively?
OK when I was a youth I refused to read Tess of the D’Urbervilles because there can be no Tess other than me. I am the only one allowed, and I couldn’t imagine reading a book with a character with my name. I avoided reading Tess even though it was on my senior AP summer reading list, and got permission to read a different Hardy instead. I picked Return of the Native and I loved it so much I read Tess of the D’Urbervilles on a whim and was so caught up I got into a huge fight with my entire AP class about the Very Nice Guy Angel Clare. Did you know Tess murders her rapist and dramatically hides from the police at STONEHENGE??? Where she spreads herself on what was believed to be a sacrificial altar? The book is depressing and melodramatic and highlights a lot of gender and class, ah, issues, but I couldn’t deny I was obsessed.
5. What’s one book, which you read as a child or young adult, that has had a lasting influence on your writing?
There are so many I can trace parts of my writing to, but for a singular example I have to say Beauty by Robin McKinley. It was the first adult fantasy book I found—wandering away from the tiny shelf of Christopher Pike and Nancy Drew in my neighborhood bookstore into the section with the kind of books my mom read with spaceships and dragons on the covers. I was compelled by the cover, I must admit, an oddly colored, compelling painting of a woman surrounded by roses. The moment I identified it as a Beauty and the Beast retelling it had to be mine. I read it a hundred times I’m sure before I was fifteen, and even made a tape-recording of myself reading it so I could listen to my DIY audiobook while I rode my bike. I had the first ten pages memorized word-for-word. I reach again and again in my own work for the liminal space that book occupied to me: both mundane and magical, full of small moments that illuminated great truths about the characters and the world, filling me with longing for things I couldn’t quite name. I’m still trying to name them through my writing. And the looping, lovely narrative style appears again and again in my own first drafts, a fairy tale voice I aspire to constantly.
6. And speaking of that, what’s your latest book, and why is it awesome?
My new book is Night Shine, a dark, queer Howl’s Moving Castle, about an orphan called Nothing who goes on a quest with a beleaguered body-guard to rescue a prince kidnapped by the Sorceress Who Eats Girls. It’s awesome because three of the four main characters are based on my favorite villain love interest tropes: seductive, maybe-evil sorcerer, wicked prince, and demon in disguise, while the fourth MC is the loyal bodyguard love interest trope. Plus I made everybody totally queer and genderqueer.
POSTED BY: Paul Weimer. Ubiquitous in Shadow, but I’m just this guy, you know?