Danielle L. Jensen’s Stolen Songbird was one of Angry Robot’s late and lamented Strange Chemistry imprint biggest successes. I very much enjoyed the story and as such was saddened by the fact that we might not get its sequel for the foreseeable future. When Angry Robot announced that they had picked up the entire trilogy and planned to publish Hidden Huntress on schedule, I was stoked. To celebrate Hidden Huntress‘ publication next week today Danielle drops by the blog for an Author Query.
Let’s start with the basics. Who is Danielle L Jensen?
I’m a human living in Calgary with my other half and our newly minted progeny. I used to work in finance, but it wasn’t a career that rewarded daydreaming about dragons, so I jumped ship and turned to writing. I haven’t regretted that choice once!
How would you introduce people to Trollus?
Trollus is the capital city of the trolls (shocking!), and it is located on the Isle of Light. Five hundred years prior to the events of Stolen Songbird, the mountain next to Trollus cracked in half, burying it in rubble. The only thing that saved it from being completely destroyed was the trolls’ magic, but unfortunately for them, they were simultaneously cursed by a witch to remain in the confines of the city. So they’ve been living in what amounts to a cave ever since. For fairly obvious reasons, they would like out, which is how Cécile comes into play.
How glad are you that Hidden Huntress is now almost safely out in the world after last year’s publisher upsets?
Big time. Finding out I’d lost my book deal was one of the most traumatic moments of my life. I was shattered, and it was especially upsetting because I’d just found out we were going to have a baby, so my emotions were already a bit unsteady. Needless to say, I was incredibly happy when Angry Robot offered to keep my contract. So thanks to everyone who bought Stolen Songbird, because without you, Hidden Huntress wouldn’t be hitting shelves in June!
Last year, you visited the blog to talk about how Stolen Songbird subverted the trope of The Prophesied One. On reading the book also had a bit of a Beauty and the Beast vibe going on, with a romance I absolutely adored. It made me wonder whether you’re subverting any tropes in Hidden Huntress?
Interesting that you bring that blog post up! I was still drafting Hidden Huntress when I wrote that post, so it was rattling around in my head when I composed the scenes where Cécile learns what her role really is in the prophesy. For the uninitiated, the trope of the prophesied one is the idea that one particular person is the only individual who can do a certain important thing, like save the world, because there is something uniquely special about them. I can’t get into too many details without spoilers, but Cécile specifically addresses her feelings about how I mess with that trope. So I think it’s safe to say that the blog post that YOU proposed influenced partys of my story. Which is pretty cool.
In Hidden Huntress, Cécile has made it to Trianon and achieved her dream career as an opera singer. So she’s gone from a village girl, to a princess in a hidden city, to now an entertainer. While Cécile was never a retiring, shy character, how much of a culture shock is this move to the big city to her?
Hidden Huntress begins after Cécile has been in Trianon for a bit, so you don’t see too much of her adjustment to life in the city. Trollus has certainly prepared her for dealing with the upper classes, and it also taught her how to shoulder her way through moments where she might be out of her element. As well, she has her two friends, Sabine and Chris, with her in Trianon, so she is by no means alone. As far as her adjustment to becoming an entertainer…that’s a big source of conflict for her. On one hand, she has achieved her dream career – she loves singing and performing, and she really takes to it. But on the other hand, she feels extremely guilty about enjoying her moments on stage while Tristan and her friends suffer in Trollus. She recognizes that her career is not her number one priority, and there is a part of her that is quite saddened by that fact.
With Cécile away in Trianon hunting the witch, do we get to see what is happening with Tristan at all or is this fully Cécile’s tale?
You will get to see lots of Tristan and Trollus! One of the reasons Tristan had point of view chapters in Stolen Songbird was because I knew close to half of Hidden Huntress would be through his eyes.
What’s next for you? Any appearances or conventions planned?
My baby and two big writing deadlines are keeping me close to home this year, so all my appearances will be in or near Calgary. But I hope to get out and about more in 2016. If you see me, say hi. I’m shy in person ☺
Is there something else you’re passionate about other than writing and books?
If I had world enough and time, I might have more passions. But as it is, I hardly have a moment to spare!
As a book reviewer, I’m all about the book enabling; I can’t help but want to make people read all the good books out there. But I can always use help. What are your top recommendations of books we should look out for in the coming months?
I’m really looking forward to Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout, because although I don’t read much contemporary YA, I’m really curious about the K-pop angle. I have an advance copy of The Wanderers by Kate Ormand about a shapeshifter circus that I’m keen to dive into, and I’m extremely excited to read Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, for obvious reasons.
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
My other half laughed when I read him this question, because he despairs of the chaos that is my bookshelves (his are perfectly organized). They started out alphabetical by author, but now I just cram books in wherever they fit. The sad irony is that my mom is a retired librarian…
But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.