Back in 2019, I featured Rosiee Thor’s queer science-fantasy novel, TARNISHED ARE THE STARS. Their newest book, FIRE BECOMES HER, features queer platonic relationships as well as aro/ace spectrum characters.
Flare is power.
With only a drop of flare, one can light the night sky with fireworks . . . or burn a building to the ground — and seventeen-year-old Ingrid Ellis wants her fair share.
Ingrid doesn’t have a family fortune, monetary or magical, but at least she has a plan: Rise to the top on the arm of Linden Holt, heir to a hefty political legacy and the largest fortune of flare in all of Candesce. Her only obstacle is Linden’s father who refuses to acknowledge her.
So when Senator Holt announces his run for president, Ingrid uses the situation to her advantage. She strikes a deal to spy on the senator’s opposition in exchange for his approval and the status she so desperately craves. But the longer Ingrid wears two masks, the more she questions where her true allegiances lie.
Will she stand with the Holts, or will she forge her own path?
In our last interview, you mentioned steampunk as a form of “rebellion through technology.” Can you elaborate on what this means to you, and if so, how it finds its way into your stories?
I think speculative fiction in general provides such an immense opportunity for commentary on the world around us–rebellion through storytelling, really. I love to take ideas for technology and magic and find ways to put my own spin on them, do something unexpected, and mash genres together in ways that feel exciting to me. I feel like steampunk really embodies that, and I try to take that energy into all of my stories, regardless of genre.
And that energy definitely comes through. I love that FIRE BECOMES HER has remnants of the jazz age along with its magic. How did you know you had to write a story with both of these elements together?
The magic came first for Fire Becomes Her. I knew I wanted to do something with fire magic because I was investigating the theme of ambition, which is so well represented by fire, but the 1920s inspired setting came later. When I was deciding what kind of world I wanted this story to exist in, I knew I wanted to do something that really showcased an aesthetic that people would associate with glamor and wealth. The 1920s have been so idealized by rehashing and retelling stories like The Great Gatsby, but–as the original novel and many of the remixes we see today–so rightly point out, there’s a very ugly side to the riches. I wanted to investigate that kind of world, but tell the story of the people most impacted by displays like that, and the 1920s felt like the right point of history to draw inspiration from.
It certainly is. What do you find most challenging about the writing process and why?
I definitely struggle most with the initial drafting process. I am partly a discovery writer, especially when it comes to character, so I need to do it wrong before I can do it right most of the time. That gets pretty frustrating and I can lose the thread of the story I’m trying to tell in the process sometimes. Once I have a first draft down, even if it’s totally wrong, it’s much easier for me to take the next step.
That makes sense! If you could tell your younger writer self one thing, what would it be and why?
I would tell my younger self to be myself and be who I wanted to be instead of who I thought other people wanted me to be. I spent a lot of time trying to conform to others’ expectations, and that was a lot of time spent being unhappy in service of imagined people. It might be a little cliché, but being yourself really is the best feeling in the world, and I wish I’d figured that out sooner.