A Violet Fire by Kelsey Quick
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: December 9th, 2019
Kelsey Quick is a novelist, artist, and businesswoman who loves her husband, huskies, and video games. Since the age of two, Kelsey has been bound and determined to create. From traditional impressionist paintings, to digital comic creation; from fanfiction to full-length novels… her desire for crisp and prime escapism is never-ending. A Violet Fire is her debut novel, harboring the idea she’s had and held dear to her heart for over a decade.
Anyone who’s enjoyed Holly Black’s The Cruel Prince needs to read Kelsey Quick’s A Violet Fire. It takes the same basic concept of being a rare human in world of magical, powerful creatures, and turns it into a kind of psychological drama with a fantasy backdrop. It’s beautifully crafted, and the character development is top-notch. This book exemplifies what an active protagonist should look like–not jumping from one big, exciting event to another but pushing the plot forward with her decisions.
When the book begins, Wavorly (or Wave, as her few friends call her), has every reason not to have agency. She’s enslaved as a young child, raised in a world where her only purpose is feeding a vampire master, and pretty much spends all her time locked in one cage or another. Yet her fierce goal to escape and find freedom permeates her every action. She gives herself agency. Her choices matter, and she reflects back on them and adjusts future actions accordingly. Wave never just walks anywhere. She surveys her surroundings, looking for openings she can use later.
The core of the book is the war going on in Wave’s head. She has always hated vampires, but when her master Zein starts showing her small moments of kindness, it throws her off, and she finds her resolve weakening. The reader is left constantly trying to figure Zein out as much as Wave is. I could still see readers having mixed feelings about him even after the book is over.
Throughout the book, Wave gets visions of a sort by stepping into a room of violet flames that only she seems to be able to see. These build up to an excellent twist at the end that I don’t believe any reader is going to see coming, simply because the hints Wave gets from her moments past the wall are too disjointed. But I don’t believe this is one of those books where the aim is to figure the twist out. The big question becomes, once all is revealed, what does Wave ultimately do with this final piece of information? Does she give Zein her full trust or not? There are surprisingly stiff consequences if her assessment about him is wrong.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Read on for our interview with the author…
Urban Fantasy Magazine: What drew you to young adult fiction?
KELSEY QUICK: Young Adult fiction has been on my radar since I was *ahem* a young adult. Because the YA genre is driven more by fast-paced, commercial, and romanticized books, I found them to be the easiest to read and to share with my friends. As far as writing YA fiction, I love the thought of high school and early college years. They are equally frustrating and amazing; stifling yet freeing, which opens up a wide stage of possibilities in a novel.
Urban Fantasy Magazine: How do you go about designing a character? How do you know when
KELSEY QUICK: My characters come to me as I write them. I have an idea of their inherent nature at the start, and as I write they develop into more rounded beings. After draft one, I have a sense of who I want my character to be/grow into at all points in the story, but draft one means that my character is probably pretty one-dimensional. It’s during the subsequent drafts do I really stop to analyze if my character is behaving in the way I imagined. From there, I tweak until they feel real. Honestly, I don’t really ever feel like I’m done, more like that I’ve achieved enough for the reader (and myself) to fill in the gaps.
Urban Fantasy Magazine: What was your strategy for planning the setting (both Zein’s castle
and the larger world of Cain)?
KELSEY QUICK: The strategy behind the stratocracy of Cain and Zein’s castle was to achieve an almost medieval-type of fantasy world that was still very much grounded by the laws of our own world. As you know, France is mentioned, as are certain items that feel they don’t belong in a place of fantasy (like the solar panels). The idea is to make the reader question when and where exactly this takes place and why there are connections between Wavorly’s world and ours. But that’s a question that will be answered in subsequent books!
Urban Fantasy Magazine: Which elements of the vampire myth did you decide to use in your
setting? Which elements did you leave out and why?
KELSEY QUICK: I suppose my vampires are pretty different! For one, the vampires of A Violet Fire are their own species, reproducing normally like humans. They dislike sunlight and their abilities are dampened, but they are not injured by it. They need human blood or crafted synthetics to survive, but they also eat normal food because… you know… drinking blood all the time would get old, right? Probably the biggest difference regarding my vampires is their bite, which is akin to zombie-like pathology (this makes me kind of giddy just talking about because pathology is super interesting). I would compare my bitten humans to that of a 24 Hours Later zombie: a human whose brain deteriorates to the point of bloodlust and cannibalization—with some extra strength benefits on the side. Bitten by a vampire without a vaccine causes humans to “transform” into these fallen zombie creatures, who hold a special place in Cain’s army.
The reason why I changed my vampires so much is that I was tired of the same old rules. I almost wanted my own creatures, but if it’s going to suck human blood, you better call it a vampire, or people will just assume you avoided the term on purpose.
Urban Fantasy Magazine: Fair enough. Let’s talk a bit about the non-vampires. Waverly speaks French as her native language. Did you study French prior to writing this?
KELSEY QUICK: If you call looking up words on Google Translate, then yes, I studied French prior! Actually… no, I have never studied French before in my life! Here’s a fact, the original AVF story was set to take place in feudal Japan (and I actually know that language a little!). However, I loved the idea of medieval-style vampires so much that I moved them across the world to Europe. Because I’ve always been fascinated by the French catacombs, I set up shop there. Once I found Avignon on Google maps, I knew that’s where I wanted Wavorly’s story to originate.
Urban Fantasy Magazine: If you could give one piece of advice to Waverly (without spoilers)
when she first travels to Zein’s castle, what would it be?
KELSEY QUICK: Oh, that’s a tough one. I would probably tell her to cool her jets and to feed Anaya’s ego a little more, for her own sake. Those little hills aren’t always worth dying on, and determining which obstacles are hills and which ones are mountains is definitely a flaw of Wavorly’s.
Urban Fantasy Magazine: I could see that. The flawed characters always have the best stories, in my opinion. Thanks again for the interview!
Finally, Kelsey Quick will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. See below for details!