I featured Breeana Shields back in 2019 and her book THE BONE CHARMER was one of my favorite reads that year. The sequel, THE BONE THIEF, came out last year. Her newest book, THE SPLENDOR, is a new series set in a deceptively glamourous hotel, and comes out on September 7, 2021:
The Splendor isn’t just a glamorous hotel, it’s a magical experience that gives its guests the fantasy fulfillment of their dreams. But The Splendor didn’t make Juliette’s dreams come true. It ruined her life.
After a weeklong stay, Juliette’s sister, Clare, returns from the hotel changed. Her connection to Juliette―the special bond they once shared―has vanished. In a moment of hurt and frustration, Juliette steals their meager savings and visits The Splendor herself.
When she arrives, she’s taken in by the lush and sumptuous hotel. But as she delves more deeply into the mystery of the place, and how they make their illusions work, she grows more and more uneasy. The Splendor has a seedy underbelly, but every time she gets close to discovering something real, she seems to hit a wall.
Meanwhile, Juliette meets Henri, an illusionist who lives and works at the hotel. Henri’s job is to provide Juliette with the same Signature Experience he gives all the guests―one tailored fantasy that will make her stay unforgettable. As he gets to know her, he realizes that not only is he ill-equipped to make her dreams come true, he’s the cause of her heartache.
In our last interview, you said, “Our freedom comes at a price—it means we’re going to make some wrong turns along the way.” Can you give an example of a wrong turn for you that turned into something positive?
Sure! I definitely made a wrong turn when I wrote my first novel. It was an idea I loved, but it landed in a nebulous zone that didn’t feel quite old enough to be YA and didn’t feel quite young enough to be middle grade, which made it unpublishable. When I first started getting feedback, I was so disappointed; I felt like I’d squandered an entire year of writing. However, I’ve since discovered that no work is ever wasted. I learned so much writing that story and I’m confident my next book—which did find both an agent and an editor—wouldn’t have been as good without the practice of that first shelved novel.
Excellent point! THE SPLENDOR centers upon a glamorous but seedy magical hotel. Without giving away spoilers, in what ways did this setting develop in ways you didn’t expect?
The setting for THE SPLENDOR was such a joy to write! I loved coming up with all the luxurious fantasies, elegant décor, and amazing food. The over-the-top decadence was so much fun. But the biggest surprise happened as I was developing the magic system for the hotel. When I first started writing, I wasn’t quite sure where the magic came from, so it was gratifying to finally make those puzzle pieces fit in a way that made sense and felt right.
Sounds like a lot of fun! Your other novel, THE BONE CHARMER, has a sequel, THE BONE THIEF, that came out last year. Was it easier or more difficult to write Saskia’s story on a single timeline?
When I started THE BONE THIEF, I was sure it would be easier to write than THE BONE CHARMER. Keeping Saskia’s perspectives straight in the first book—what she knew and how she’d changed in each reality— had been tricky. However, it turned out to be even more difficult to continue her story in a single timeline. She encounters the same characters a second time, but she only remembers faint echoes of them. Plus, she’s had different experiences that have changed her in important ways, so making these encounters feel both fresh and familiar was really challenging.
I’ll bet. If you could tell you younger writer self one thing, what would it be and why?
I’d tell my younger self that there are only a handful of people in the world whose opinions of you really matter, and once you figure out who those people are, they are the only voices that you should allow in your head. All the others have the potential to either make you feel worthless or conceited, and both are a distortion of reality. I’d also tell her to reconsider her hairstyle.
For Breanna Shields’s other books, go to http://www.breeanashields.com/books/