Sophie Jordan grew up in the Texas hill country where she wove fantasies of dragons, warriors, and princesses. A former high school English teacher, she’s also the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Avon historical romances. She now lives in Houston with her family.
When she’s not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes and Diet Cherry Coke preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with true-crime and reality-TV shows.
Could you tell us about your path to writing for teen readers? What were the ah-ha! moments, victories and challenges along the way?
I had countless rejections before I landed my agent, and then, ultimately, my first book contract. Until then, the only thing that kept me going was sheer determination, the support of family and friends, and the belief that I had a unique writer’s voice.
While getting published was the first great victory, each book is its own challenge. You start over every time (even if you’re already published).
One of my first a-ha moments was allowing myself to just write the book. Get the first draft out. Later you can fix it and polish it. Allowing myself to write something less than perfect and adjusting my expectations was liberating. It let my writing flow. A first draft is just that — a first draft. It’s never perfect. The fun part is polishing that draft and making it shine.
Congratulations on the success of Firelight (Harper, 2010)! Could you tell us about the novel?
Thanks, Cynthia! Firelight is the first book in a trilogy. It’s about a girl that descends from dragons. She’s the last of her kind (there are other “draki”) that can breathe fire. Of course, that makes her doubly unique … and there’s lots of conflict … sexy boys … and kissing … and um… well, read the full summary here:
Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.
Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will’s dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She’ll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.
Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.
What was your inspiration?
Well, I first got turned onto YA by reading some really marvelous YA books. Snap! Just like that I was hooked and inspired to write YA. But it took a while for the idea of Firelight to come together.
I was thinking of paranormal creatures, and when I landed on dragons, it just triggered something. Other than fantasy, I couldn’t think of any “dragon” books grounded within a contemporary setting.
I started wondering what if dragons had been real… Where did they go? What happened to them? All those questions led me to create the lore of Firelight. With this lore, Jacinda’s story was born — a girl who looked human but wasn’t. A girl who was a dragon at the core…who could shape-shift, fly and breathe fire.
What was the timeline between spark and publication, and what were the major events along the way?
Spark and publication? I love that! Hmm, the first spark came when I fell in love with YA and decided I wanted to write a YA (as mentioned above). Then the idea for Firelight itself didn’t come until almost eight months later. I was really waiting for the right idea. Sometimes the muse doesn’t come right away.
Of course I’d been writing as a career for a while now, so I was waiting for a really good concept — something not only I would love, but publishers, too. Once I had the idea, things moved pretty quickly. I already had an agent, so I drafted a proposal (synopsis, plus three chapters) and showed it to her.
We went back and forth on it for a couple weeks, and then I submitted it to HarperTeen. They came back with an offer within a week or two. All very quickly and very exciting!
Hooray for the release of Vanish (Harper, 2011)! How is it related to Firelight?
Well, it’s the sequel to Firelight. I definitely suggest you read Firelight before Vanish. Where Firelight largely took place in the human world, with Jacinda acclimating to the life of a “normal” high school girl, Vanish takes place back in her pride, in the world of the draki. It continues her story – with more action, adventure and, you guessed it! Kissing.
Rumor has it, you have some exciting movie news! Please fill us in!
Yes! Mandalay Pictures has optioned the film rights to Firelight. They’ve also hired screenwriter Nick Pustay to pen the screenplay, which is almost complete. Hopefully, there will be more news to announce this year.
You also publish books for grown-ups! How is it different writing for teen (versus adult) readers?
Honestly, not that different. For me every story is character-focused. In that regard each book is different because every character I write is unique. So every time I sit down to write a new book it’s a fresh adventure for me.
What, if anything, about it came as a surprise to you?
Hm… Probably how quickly it got snatched up for film adaption! Also…the teen/YA readers are amazing. They hold nothing back. Their response has been overwhelming and humbling.
What advice do you have for your fellow fantasy writers?
Think out of the box! If no one else is doing it, then maybe you should!
What can your fans look forward to next?
Hidden releases this September. It’s the final book in the Firelight trilogy…and there are definitely some surprises and twists that readers won’t see coming.
Enter to win a copy of Firelight or Vanish, both by Sophie Jordan (Harper). To enter, comment on this post and include an email address (formatted
like: cynthia at cynthialeitichsmith dot com) or a link to an email
address. Please specify if you already own one of the books and are looking to win the other. Or email Cynthia
directly with “Firelight,” “Vanish” or “Firelight/Vanish,” if you’re open to winning both, in the subject line. Author-sponsored. Eligibility: U.S. Deadline: midnight CST March 5.