The Second of the Series! Caroline Stevermer was kind enough to answer some questions about College of Magics. I’m excited to learn that the sequel, A Scholar of Magics is about the likeable Jane, and that there is a third book in the works RIGHT NOW.
Tamago: When we first meet Faris, she is rough and untrained. It isn’t until we see Faris in the Glass Slipper rescuing Gunhild that we come to realize Faris is a strong character. In many YA books, girls like Faris transform to become more conventional. In College of Magics, Faris transforms to become more the strong character we are introduced to here.
Caroline: Long answers are good, right? Then I’ll mention that I got the idea for the book in the first semester of my sophomore year of college. I thought of the final plot element nine years later. Unfortunately, I was so excited, I told the story to a close friend before I’d written it down. I am, it turns out, one of those people who shouldn’t talk about what they write until they’ve actually written it down. The whole story turned to ashes. It took me another five years to pull myself together and actually finish the rough draft so revising could begin. It went through many, many drafts.
All this was a very long time ago indeed, so forgive me if my answers aren’t as specific or accurate as they would have been right after the book was originally published. I wrote A College of Magics because I wanted to read a ripping yarn in which the protagonist was a woman. The books that inspired me (for example, The Prisoner of Zenda and its sequel, Rupert of Hentzau) invariably relegated girls to subsidiary roles where they had nothing to do but look pretty and act nobly. I wanted Faris to be imperfect and independent. Perfectly reasonable people dislike her intensely, and I don’t blame them.
Tamago: What do you hope readers will take away from your portrayal of Faris?
Caroline: The key word for Faris was always truculent. I hope that the disadvantages of having a short temper are made clear in the course of the book.