Welcome Claire to Introvert Problems! Claire Legrand used to be a musician until she realized she couldn’t stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now she is a librarian living in central New Jersey and the author of several books for children and teens, including the Edgar Award-nominated Some Kind of Happiness, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, and Foxheart, as well as the upcoming young adult fantasy Furyborn.

1.Congratulations on the release of Foxheart! Describe your road to publication.

Thank you! I wrote a lot as a kid, but it wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I started writing seriously. I was a music major back then, and I got an idea for a story that I just couldn’t get out of my head. I ended up changing my major to write the book, which I then started to query, and though no agent signed me for it, my first agent liked my writing enough to tell me, “Let’s stay in touch, and when you’ve written something else, send it my way!” I did, and seven years after I got that initial book idea, I signed with my first agent.

My first book, The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, released the next year. And, even better: That book that I started working on my freshman year of college? I put it in a drawer for a while because it just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t a good enough writer yet to make it happen. But after writing a few other books, and after lots of work and rewrites and more rewrites, that book–the book of my heart, the book that made me want to be a published author–is now going to be a Real Live Book. It’s called Furyborn, and it’s the first in a young adult epic fantasy series. It publishes May 22, 2018, and I couldn’t be more excited to finally share this story with readers!

2. How did the idea and themes of Foxheart come to you?FOXHEART Final HC c.indd

Foxheart was originally a short story called “Quicksilver and the Stranger.” Along with three author friends (Stefan Bachmann, Katherine Catmull, Emma Trevayne), I started a website in 2013 called The Cabinet of Curiosities. Our goal was to work on our short story craft and publish a new scary short story for young readers every week. That website caught the attention of Stefan’s editor, Virginia Duncan. “Quicksilver and the Stranger” was a story I wrote on a whim for the website, without much planning.

It was my turn to post a story that month, and I didn’t know what to write! So I just sat down and started typing a story about a lonely girl who didn’t have anyone to love or anyone who loved her. She guarded her heart closely because of that loneliness, and because of how others mistreated her. I knew she would end up having to learn the strength that comes with loving and being loved–even if you have to risk your guarded heart to do it. Obviously I didn’t get to explore those themes as fully as I would have liked to in the short story format, but luckily Editor Virginia liked Quicksilver so much that we decided to expand her adventure into a full-length novel!

3. What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or pantser?

I’m (mostly) a plotter! Projects spend a lot of time percolating in my head before I ever put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, more accurately). I curate images on Pinterest and Tumblr to help me brainstorm, and I also develop playlists, primarily using film scores. Listening to music helps me engineer plots more than anything else! After the percolating phase, I outline the book start to finish. Sometimes it’s in great detail; sometimes I just know the major plot points and then a few scattered minor plot points throughout. Things always end up changing during drafting, and then again during revisions, but writing that first draft is so scary for me that if I didn’t have some kind of plan in place at the beginning, I’d never start writing, much less finish!

4. How does being a musician connect to being a writer for you?

The two art forms are closely intertwined for me. When I was a musician, I would make up stories to accompany whatever piece I was working on. As I practiced the piece, I would follow the plot narrative in my head, and it would help me push past those difficult musical hurdles. Similarly, now that I’m a writer, music inspires and motivates me, and it’s through listening to music that I’m able to develop a book’s aesthetic and delve more deeply into a character’s head. I’m a pretty visual person, so often, while I’m working, I imagine my book as a movie and score it accordingly. I also think that the discipline I learned as a musician transferred over to my life as a writer. Both professions require you to work alone and live inside your own head on a regular basis. By the time I started trying to figure out how to be a professional writer, I felt like I had a good foundation of understanding for what that life would be like from my time as a musician.

5. What’s next for you?

I’m so excited to have several projects coming up in the next few years! My next book, as I already mentioned, is Furyborn, the first in an epic fantasy trilogy for young adults. That’s releasing May 22, 2018 from Sourcebooks Fire. After that, in fall 2018, is Sawkill Girls, a YA feminist horror novel coming from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books. And Foxheart fans should be excited about this one: In early 2019, a companion to Foxheart is coming from HarperCollins/Greenwillow Books! It’s called Thornlight, and while it’s set in the same story world as Foxheart, it centers around a different set of characters. Some characters from Foxheart will make appearances, though!

Keep up with Claire!