Sure! I was born and raised in New York and though I have a bad case of wanderlust, I always find myself returning home eventually. I like to incorporate the places I’ve been in my books, which is why you’ll see a variety of locations in The Girl at Midnight, from New York to Kyoto to Paris.
When I’m not writing, I’m probably stressing about not writing or doing something fun like book-inspired nail art or going to museums or riding horses or pretending I’m good at archery (I’m a bit rubbish but I love it anyway).
The Girl at Midnight is about a runaway turned career thief named Echo who’s taken in by a magical race of creatures with feathers for hair – the Avicen — who live beneath the streets of New York. She finds herself caught in the middle of an ancient war and when she learns of the firebird, a mysterious entity prophesied to end the conflict, she goes on the hunt for it, risking life and limb for the people she loves.
The beating heart of the story is Echo. She’s a human living among inhuman creatures so while they’re like her family, she still feels like an outsider. She has friends like Ivy and Rowan – two Avicen teens — who help her feel at home but there’s a deep seated desire for more.
The Avicen are at war with the Drakharin, who are led by their elected prince, Caius. Caius has been hardened by war and loss and his single-minded focus on finding the firebird has sort of eclipsed everything else in his life.
I don’t know that I have a favorite character but think I had the most fun writing Dorian. He’s the best friend and loyal guard of Caius; he’s been through a lot, from losing one eye in combat to surviving a century of unrequited love and at this point, he’s pretty much Done with a capital D. He has no time for anyone’s crap. That is, until he meets Jasper, a notorious Avicen scoundrel. Then, he finds his world uncomfortably turned upside down.
I put a lot of effort into making my cast of characters feel unique. There will always be comparisons to other books because some plot elements – centuries-old wars, forbidden love! – are pretty universal, but I wanted readers to feel like they could get to know Echo and Caius and Dorian and Jasper and Ivy. I spent a lot of time writing stuff about them and their lives that isn’t in the book just to get to know them as people, fictional though they may be.
I used to have a ton of writing rituals before The Girl at Midnight sold. I had to play a certain kind of music and light a certain number of candles and blah blah blah. I had to ditch all those habits to learn how to write on a deadline. Now, my only constant is a cup of tea (if possible) and a mostly handwritten first draft.
I think one of the most valuable skills you can learn is to be critical of your own work and receptive to criticism. If you’re struggling to write at all, embrace your imperfections and power through your first drafts, knowing you can fix them later. If you’re struggling to be published, then remember that resilience is key. You might not sell the first or the second or the fifteenth book you write. The important thing is to keep writing and keep growing and keep trying.
THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT by Melissa GreySeries: The Girl at Midnight #1
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on April 28, 2015
Genres: YA Fantasy, Young Adult
For readers of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, The Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.
Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.
Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants … and how to take it.
But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.
Praise for THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT:
"Grey’s energetic debut offers a strong protagonist…[and the] well-built world, vivid characters, and perfect blend of action and amour should have readers eagerly seeking the sequel." — Kirkus Reviews, Starred
"Sparks fly...This first novel will please fans of Cassandra Clare and Game of Thrones watchers with its remarkable world building; richly developed characters...[and] a breathtaking climax that...cannot come soon enough!""—Booklist starred review
"Inventive, gorgeous, and epic—Grey dazzles in her debut." — Danielle Paige, New York Times bestselling author of Dorothy Must Die
“A stunning debut. Equal parts atmosphere and adventure … positively divine.” – Victoria Schwab, author of A Darker Shade of Magic
1 winner will receive a signed Hardcover of THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT! US Only.
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