While it may almost be the end of Pride Month, I do still have a few books I hope to spotlight and a couple more authors who did interviews with me. Today I’m spotlighting a fall 2021 release and also sharing an interview with the author. Briar Girls by Rebecca Kim Wells sounds absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to read it!
Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Can you start off by introducing yourself?
Hi! I’m Rebecca Kim Wells, author of the Shatter the Sky duology (known around the internet as the angry bisexual dragon series), and Briar Girls, a dark YA fantasy standalone forthcoming on November 2nd.
How would you describe Briar Girls in one sentence?
Briar Girls is a dark fantasy rooted in fairy tale that follows a girl on a quest to wake a sleeping princess in a sinister enchanted forest all while searching for the truth behind her own deadly curse.
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of Briar Girls?
Our main character is Lena, who was cursed by a witch before she was born so that anyone who touches her dies. Because of this, her life is lonely and extremely isolated–and in some ways she sees herself as not deserving any better. But everything changes when she meets Miranda, an enigmatic stranger who tempts her with the possibility of breaking the curse.
What representation will readers find in Briar Girls?
In my current process as a person and an author, I’m very invested in letting my characters exist and grow and change without pressure to label themselves one way or another. I don’t name representation explicitly on the page, but queerness abounds and is normalized–no one in this book is explicitly straight. On the page, Lena is attracted to people of different genders. One of her love interests is a girl attracted to girls. Minor characters include people we would describe as nonbinary, trans, and lesbian.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
The ending of Briar Girls has always been just about the same. I made some changes in tone and sequence of the climactic events (and there was one character who once died but in the final version survives!) but overall, I think Lena and her companions were always clear about where they wanted to end up. (I don’t think I’m always in complete control of what happens in a book–in this case, I’m pretty sure the characters and I were all in happy agreement.)
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
Oh, there are so many that it’s difficult to choose just one to share. I will say that there’s one delicious scene with minor characters that sprang onto the page almost fully formed. They’re dragons, but very different from those that appeared in Shatter the Sky, and they are the best. As for a quote, I’ll give you one of my favorites: “…I couldn’t help thinking that there was nothing sweeter in the world than holding hands with a girl and running with abandon through a sinister forest–and that I might be cursed, but that I was so, so lucky.”
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed Briar Girls?
Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea is a gorgeous queer pirate fantasy that subverts in astonishing ways so many things I’m used to seeing in fantasy books. Everything Anna-Marie McLemore writes is astoundingly beautiful, but my personal favorite is Wild Beauty, the story of the Nomeolvides cousins and the lush gardens they tend. And I have to close with a recommendation for A.R. Capetta’s The Brilliant Death, an Italian-inspired fantasy about Teodora di Sangro, who must use her hidden magical powers to protect her family–and reckon with a powerful transformation in herself as well.
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
I’m mostly getting ready to launch Briar Girls in November (putting a book into the world takes a lot more work than they tell you!), but I do have a few secret projects I hope to be able to share more about soon! What I can tell you is that most of them are fantasy, but not all of them are YA!
Lena has a secret: the touch of her skin can kill. Cursed by a witch before she was born, Lena has always lived in fear and isolation. But after a devastating mistake, she and her father are forced to flee to a village near the Silence, a mysterious forest with a reputation for luring people into the trees, never to be seen again…
Until the night an enigmatic girl stumbles out of the Silence and into Lena’s sheltered world. Miranda comes from the Gather, a city in the forest brimming with magic. She is on a quest to wake a sleeping princess believed to hold the key to liberating the Gather from its tyrannical ruler—and she offers Lena a bargain. If Lena assists her on her journey, Miranda will help her break the curse.
Mesmerized by Miranda and her promise of a new life, Lena jumps at the chance. But the deeper into the Silence she goes, the more she suspects she’s been lied to—about her family’s history, her curse, and her future. As the shadows close in, Lena must choose who to trust and decide whether it’s more important to have freedom…or power.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Kim Wells grew up in California before moving east in search of crisp autumns and snowy winters. Her debut novel Shatter the Sky was a New England Book Award Finalist, an Indies Introduce selection, and a Kids’ Indie Next Pick. She is also the author of Storm the Earth and Briar Girls (2021), published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. She holds a BA in Political Science from UC Berkeley and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Simmons College. When not writing, reading, or talking about writing or reading, she sells books at a fiercely independent bookstore in Massachusetts. She can also be found drinking tea, singing along to musicals, or playing soccer. (Usually not all at once.) If she were a hobbit, she would undoubtedly be a Took.