Sharon Cameron is on the blog today for a conversation on her newest release, Rook! First, let’s see what this book is all about:
History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?
Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy’s arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.
As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.
Interview with Sharon Cameron
Hi Sharon! Thanks for stopping by today! I was a big fan of The Dark Unwinding and am looking forward to reading Rook!
Hello, and thanks so much for having me. So thrilled that you loved The Dark Unwinding!
Let’s start with giving us a brief description of Rook using a tweet (140 characters or less).
In a future without technology Sophia rescues innocents from death during the second French Revolution. Outwitting her fiancé is not so easy.
What was the most interesting part of your research for this novel? Is there something surprising or fascinating that you stumbled on?
You’re making me choose just one surprising/fascinating thing? Oh no!! I’ll attempt the impossible and try to narrow it down to two. 🙂
One fact that definitely surprised me was how much machinery we have put in space. An estimated 30,000 pieces of it orbiting the earth. That’s a lot of flying metal! So after an apocalyptic event, with ground control and communication systems lost, eventually you’d get “satellite rain,” chunks of metal shooting to the ground in a blaze of glory. And the process could go on sporadically for hundreds of years. In a society that has forgotten its own history (because digitized information was wiped clean by solar radiation) and sworn off all technology (because technology made people weak and dependent) the idea of random pieces of flaming machinery falling from the sky and what that might to do the human psyche really captured my imagination.
But the research that sticks with me the most actually happened a long time ago, while I was researching my last novel, A Spark Unseen. I came across a translation of the original registers of people executed during the French Revolution, written as they happened. Name after name, hundreds and hundreds of pages. Aristocrats, nuns, priests, teachers, all dying brutally for a cause with the motto of liberty and fraternity. It really was madness. I knew then that I wanted to write about the mentality of a mob, and how a system based on good ideals can go incredibly wrong.
Imagine you’re a character in your book, what kind of life do you think you’d have? Would you rebel? I’d probably be the first to die in any dystopia-like world, personally! >.<
Ha! Well, I’ve always assumed that as long as I have a copy of Little House in the Big Woods, I could survive anything an apocalypse could throw at me. Hunting, cabin building, cheese making…the book is practically a survivalist manual! In the world of Rook, society has been rebuilt and moved way beyond the “eat or be eaten” stage. But if I lived there, I think I’d be doing much the same thing as the character Tom: trying to find out what happened before. I’d probably be digging lots of big holes in my yard, looking for lost London. And I’d definitely be hiding an escaped prisoner or two.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Deadlines. Deadlines are such irksome things.
Do you have any favorite quotes or a favorite passage in the book you want to share?
Hmmm! I think I’m going to give you a piece of a scene that I really enjoyed writing, mostly because there is just so much going on beneath the surface. Our heroine, Sophia, has just realized that Monsieur LeBlanc, the man responsible for hundreds of beheadings and who has also sworn to capture the Red Rook, has not only arrived at her engagement party, but that her handsome, ridiculous, and very unwanted fiancé is his cousin. Spear Hammond, in league with the Red Rook and Sophia’s childhood friend, looks on helplessly as Sophia begins to lose her temper.
“Your pretty head is much better suited to your party, Mademoiselle.”
Sophia felt her brows go up, lips parting to say something sharp, and then René cried out, “My love! They play McCartney!”
Three heads turned to the powdered one.
“You must come and dance with me, Miss Bellamy! It is too good an opportunity to miss, yes?” He offered a hand.
“No, thank you.” Sophia looked back to LeBlanc, politeness restored. “And do you believe your business will keep you here until….”
“More wine, my love?” asked René.
“No. Thank you. How long did you say you would be here, Monsieur….”
“Cake?” René inquired.
“No. Please go on, Monsieur LeBlanc.”
LeBlanc was just drawing breath when René said, “Sugared plums?”
Sophia turned. “Yes. I would love nothing more than a sugared plum. Why don’t you go and get one for me?”
Half a grin was in the corner of René’s mouth, over eyes that were an exceptionally deep blue, a blue that was the hottest part of the fire. She wasn’t supposed to be looking at him. His grin widened when Spear said quickly, “I’ll get it, Sophie.”
LeBlanc’s eyes roved between the three of them, his smile slightly predatory. He bowed again over Sophia’s hand, though his gaze was now on René. “Ne skis pas stupide. Je pense que tu does harder un oeil attentive sur cette fille,” he said softly. “My congratulations to you, Miss Bellamy. Long may you rise above the city.”
Sophia exchanged a look with Spear as Monsieur LeBlanc walked away, threading his way through the increasingly intoxicated crowd. Probably LeBlanc did not know that both she and Spear had spent most of their childhood summers in the Sunken City, spoke fluent Parisian, and were therefore perfectly aware of the advice he had just given René: to stop being a fool, and keep a close eye on the girl.
Sophia fanned her hot face. And what exactly had LeBlanc meant by that? Was he advising René to keep an eye on her as a fiancée? Or something more? She fanned harder, heart hammering against the tight bodice.
“My cousin,” René stated, “takes himself too seriously in some matters, and not seriously enough in others. He dwells constantly on his duties, when the duty he should really be considering is a conversation with his stylist…”
Sophia looked away, so she could not make the mistake of meeting René Hasard’s eyes again.
Excerpt from ROOK (c) 2015 by Sharon Cameron. Used with permission from Scholastic Press.
About the Author
Sharon Cameron was awarded the 2009 Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for her debut novel, The Dark Unwinding. When not writing Sharon can be found thumbing dusty tomes, shooting her longbow, or indulging in her lifelong search for secret passages. She lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee.
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