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Interview With an Author: Charlie Holmberg

Daryl M., Librarian, West Valley Regional Branch Library,
Author Yangsze Choo and her latest novel, Smoke and Summons

Charlie N. Holmberg was raised a Trekkie alongside three sisters, who also have boy names, in Salt Lake City, UT. She plays the ukulele, owns too many pairs of glasses, and finally adopted a dog. Her fantasy Paper Magician Series, which includes The Paper Magician, The Glass Magician, and The Master Magician, has been optioned by the Walt Disney Company and her stand-alone novel, Followed by Frost, was nominated for a 2016 RITA Award for Best Young Adult Romance. Her latest novel, Smoke and Summons, is the beginning of a new fantasy series and she recently agreed to talk about it with Daryl Maxwell for the LAPL Blog.

What was your inspiration for Smoke and Summons?

The inspiration came when my agent and editor both insisted I write another series! I’m a natural standalone writer, so my ideas tend to only take up a single book. I sat down and began harvesting ideas from my folders and other books I’d dabbled with, pulling out everything that was interesting to me. I found a way to weave it all together, and the Numina trilogy was born.

Are Sandis, Rone or any of the characters inspired by or based on specific individuals?

They are not; they are complete works of fiction. I’ve only written one book ever that had characters inspired by people I knew in real life, and it was a contemporary.

How did the novel evolve and change as you wrote and revised it? Are there any characters or scenes that were lost in the process that you wish had made it to the published version?

A lot of my characterization I discovered as I was writing the book. Rone got a good revision in the second draft to up his stakes and involve him more in the story. A lot of my major changes and deleted scenes came from books two and three (Sandis had a character facelift in book three). Ultimately, I don’t miss my cut scenes, which is a good thing!

Smoke and Summons is listed as being the first in the Numina Series, and book two, Myths and Mortals, will be available very soon. Do you have an idea of how many books will comprise the Numina Series?

Right now, the series will be three books, with the final installment, Siege & Sacrifice, releasing in September. There’s a chance I may write a novella to go with the trilogy, but only time will tell.

What’s currently on your nightstand?

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, a water bottle, homeless bookmarks, and some French vocabulary cards.

What was your favorite book when you were a child?

As a little kid, probably The Pokey Little Puppy. As I got a little older, I really liked the Clue books and the American Girl series.

Was there a book you felt you needed to hide from your parents?

Well, I did go through a curious phase as a tween and got a few interesting things from the library…

Can you name your top five favorite or most influential authors?

Brandon Sanderson, Dianna Wynne Jones, Robert Jordan, Gail Carson Levine, Juliet Marillier.

What is a book you've faked reading?

Um. Probably The Lord of the Rings. XD Every time I reference it, my knowledge is based on the movies and the 70 pages I read of The Hobbit when I was thirteen.

Can you name a book you've bought for the cover?

Honestly, I have to read the back cover before purchasing. But there are definitely books I’ve picked up and turned over based solely on the cover. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson is the most recent. (And I did buy it, and I loved it.)

Is there a book that changed your life?

Alas, I don’t have any remarkable book stories like that. I can say that Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy greatly affected the way I look at magic!

Can you name a book for which you are an evangelist (and you think everyone should read)?

I recommend Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones a lot. It’s inspired multiple books of mine (along with its Studio Ghibli adaptation).

Is there a book you would most want to read again for the first time?

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemesin. It’s one of my favorites and one of the few books I’ve read twice. I think another re-read is in my future.

What is your idea of THE perfect day (where you could go anywhere/meet with anyone)?

Oh man, that’s hard. Right now… doing something really fun with my kids in the morning, like a walk and a picnic. Then I’d teleport to France so I can walk through a castle and afterward meet Thomas Astruc, the creator of Miraculous Ladybug (He obviously would give me all the story concepts and half-finished episodes remaining in the series). I would, of course, eat many pastries while there. If teleporting isn’t allowed, I’ll picnic with my kids in France (and then my parents will be there to babysit them the rest of the day!). If teleporting is allowed, then I’d quickly stroll through Jane Austen’s house and the Cotswolds in England before having dinner in Japan, while stopping by the Studio Ghibli museum before heading to bed.

What is the question that you’re always hoping you’ll be asked, but never have been? What is your answer?

I’ve been asked this before and I’m not sure I can answer. XD Um. Let’s go with “If you had to go to trade school, what would you study?” Answer: Hair.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on a historical fantasy duology in a similar vein as The Paper Magician. Fingers crossed that it sells! The first book is done and the second is outlined. I also have a high fantasy duology I’m writing with Caitlyn McFarland that I’m excited about, and a romantic fantasy of which I have a whole two chapters BSed.

Holmberg, Charlie N.