Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today is my stop on the blog tour for A Dragonbird in the Fern, being run by TBR and Beyond Tours. You can find the link to the tour stops here. I’m sharing an interview with the author today, Laura Rueckert, and it’s one I really enjoyed doing.
When an assassin kills Princess Jiara’s older sister Scilla, her vengeful ghost is doomed to walk their city of glittering canals, tormenting loved ones until the murderer is brought to justice. While the entire kingdom mourns, Scilla’s betrothed arrives and requests that seventeen-year-old Jiara take her sister’s place as his bride to confirm the alliance between their countries.
Marrying the young king intended for her sister and traveling to his distant home is distressing enough, but with dyslexia and years of scholarly struggles, Jiara abandoned any hope of learning other languages long ago. She’s terrified of life in a foreign land where she’ll be unable to communicate.
Then Jiara discovers evidence that her sister’s assassin comes from the king’s own country. If she marries the king, Jiara can hunt the murderer and release her family from Scilla’s ghost, whose thirst for blood mounts every day. To save her family, Jiara must find her sister’s killer . . . before he murders her too.
Hi Laura, thanks for joining me for a chat today! How are you feeling about your book entering the world?
Thank you for having me! It’s such a big mixture of feelings. A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN was orginally planned for release in 2020, but it was pushed out due to the pandemic. Part of me is impatient and relieved that it’s finally happening. But there’s a part of me that bites fingernails when I imagine people entering this world that’s been mine alone for so long!
Even just the synopsis of A Dragonbird in the Fern is enough to get the blood pumping. Where did your inspiration come from?
Ah, thank you! There were two main inspirations. First, while touring a German castle, I heard about a woman who lived there as the lady of the house hundreds of years ago. She was foreign-born in a political marriage and didn’t speak German when she arrived. The castle was in the countryside (aka the middle of nowhere), and I wondered what her life was like.
The second inspiration was when my children were diagnosed with dyslexia, and I worked with them and their therapist to support them. We live in Germany, and some non-experts suggested I stop speaking English to them to let them concentrate on only one language. I really didn’t want to stop speaking my native language with them, but I researched to see if I should. I found that plenty of dyslexic people are multilingual, and that’s how Jiara came to be dyslexic.
When it comes to writing, are you more of a “type and see what happens” or a “plan every last detail” person?
I’m in between. I need a rough outline with the major plot points before I start. But that’s only about 1-2 pages long. My stories always start out really short and bulk up as I revise. A DRAGONBIRD IN THE FERN more than doubled in length from the first draft to the final, so there’s definitely a lot of just seeing what happens that went into revisions.
With ghosts playing a major role in your book, it seems only fair to ask: do you believe in ghosts?
I can’t believe you’re the first person to ask me that! Interesting! Let me think… I’m a very rational person, and I’ve never experienced anything like a ghost. So I’d say 95% no. But (!!!) I know a couple of very trustworthy people who absolutely 100% do believe and have described their ghostly experiences to me. So 5% yes?
Had you always planned on writing a fantasy novel?
I’ve always loved fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and romance, and I’ve loved writing since I was a child. I barely even think of the first three genres as separate things. They’re all stories with something weird. So I think it was inevitable that I would eventually write fantasy.
What do you use to keep you going through the writing months? Is there a set routine you swear by? Maybe a lucky pen?
I have to be honest. Drafting used to be fun, but it‘s turned really hard for me. Maybe I think too much now? I’m not sure. So I don’t really have a good tool to get me through drafting, and I could honestly use one. Send me all the lucky pens!
When it comes to revising, I have a process where I write all my feedback and revision plans into one document and work on them from biggest to smallest issue, changing the font color as I get them done so I can see my progress. I usually set myself a time limit for revising, like a certain number of weeks, and it works like a charm. I think revising is easier for me because I’m getting closer and closer to where I want to be with the story, and that really motivates me.
Do you have anything in the works at the moment, or is that a closely guarded secret?
I’m currently working on a speculative alternate history set in 1980s West Germany (so much retro fun!), drafting a new YA fantasy, and trying not to get sidetracked by a very nebulous idea for another YA fantasy with absolutely no plot yet.
Finally, how would sum up A Dragonbird in the Fern in three words?
This is sooo hard! I’d say… language – haunting – betrayal.
About the Author
Laura Rueckert is a card-carrying bookworm who manages projects by day. At night, fueled by European chocolate, she transforms into a writer of young adult science fiction and fantasy novels. Laura grew up in Michigan, USA, but a whirlwind romance after college brought her to Europe. Today, she lives in Germany with her husband, two kids, and one fluffy dog.
Thank you for joining me for this post today; I hope you found it as exciting as I did, and I promise you won’t regret reading this beautiful book. Be sure to come back again for daily posts.