Kingdom on Fire, a series by Jessica Cluess

It’s only fitting to continue a fire-themed week with one of my favorite new series. The first book, entitled, A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING, is one I’ve used as a comp title–and it even helped me figure out the problems my novel had in its beginning. The second in the series, A POISON DARK AND DROWNING just debuted, and I can’t wait to read it next. The writing excellent, the characters are engaging, and this alternate Victorian London is world I love getting lost in.

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city–and the one she loves?

The magicians want her to lead. The sorcerers want her to lie. The demons want her blood. Henrietta wants to save the one she loves. But will his dark magic be her undoing?

Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the bloodthirsty Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.

Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own.

So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth.

In addition to writing books, you are also an instructor at Writopia Lab. What have you found most rewarding about helping kids and teens tell their own stories? 

So many people, kids and adults alike, feel that writing and storytelling belong to this select, chosen few. In reality, we’re all telling stories to ourselves all the time. Our lives are essentially one long, surprising narrative. Helping kids understand that they don’t need to be the smartest or the most creative in order to write is an incredible gift. When I see a reluctant writer get really carried away by what she or he is working on, that’s the best feeling.

And what a blessing to bring to so many. Your newest book, A POISON DARK AND DROWNING, is a sequel to A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING. What challenges, if any, did you have in writing the sequel, and what did you find most satisfying?

I had to completely rewrite APDAD from the ground up. That was among the most stressful things I’ve ever done. I barely slept for six weeks! That process hurt, but when I’d finished it was also my most satisfying project. That horrible rewrite helped me believe I could be an author. Many people can strike gold and write a publishable book. Taking a heap of garbage and making it something publishable is a lot more arduous.

Indeed it is–and it’s a good reminder that even heaps of garbage are salvageable! I love your website. What advice, if any, do you have for authors wanting to build (or update) their online platforms?

Choose one or two social media platforms, and get really good at them. Don’t try to do every single one; you’ll burn yourself out, and not be effective. Also, while you can certainly build your own website, it helps to have a professional come in and design one for you. It’s worth a little money, but if you can swing it it’s fantastic.

Excellent advice. What are some of your current projects?

I’m currently finishing edits on book 3 in the Kingdom on Fire series. After that, I’ve got a YA fantasy project I hope gets bought. Fingers crossed!


Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound


Buy: BookPassage ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound