This past month, we were able to launch Germ’s official book club: #GERMreads. Teaming up with our friends over at Uppercase, it was decided that our first read would be Melissa Grey’s The Girl at Midnight, her debut novel.
We spent the month reading and discussing, and now we have the opportunity to talk to the author herself and get a little more insight on this story we loved.
Short synopsis of The Girl at Midnight from Melissa Grey’s website:
For readers of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone,The Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.
Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.
Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants … and how to take it.
But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.
Congratulations on your debut novel! It seems to be really well-received, and rightfully so. You created an entirely new world for your characters to live in. How were you inspired to write this story?
It had been cooking in my brain for a while. The whole idea started with the firebird, Echo, Caius, and Rose and sort of blossomed from there. Their characters were always very clear to me, and during the writing process they didn’t change that much. I’ve always loved fantasy stories that were rooted in the real world, so that’s what I wanted to write. Once I had the characters and the main thread of the plot, it all kind of fell into place.
Can you tell us about your writing process in general? How do you usually get started?
I don’t think I really have much of a process honestly. Sometimes, I sort of just sit down to write for a set period of time and write. Other times, I set down with a specific goal — like revise this one chapter — and don’t stop until I do it. It all depends on my mood and what I need to get done at that point.
When I first came across the phrase “Dragon Prince,” I nearly fainted with excitement. But that got me thinking: Dragons? No brainer. Suddenly, however, birds felt like a really interesting choice. What made you create the Avicen around the notion of bird-like qualities?
The Avicen came first. The whole story started with the idea of the firebird, so it was a pretty organic evolution in terms of creating a bird-like race of people.
If the series were to be made into a movie (or three), who would you dreamcast? (Personally, I’m holding out for Jesse Williams as Jasper.)
This is not a very exciting answer, but I purposefully avoid thinking about dream casts. The characters are so vivid and so specific in my mind that thinking about real actors in those roles is kind of detrimental for me.
I can definitely understand that. Echo is a lover of words and can always find the perfect one for any situation or feeling. What was the inspiration for that particular characteristic?
I recycled that character trait from a novel I scrapped a few years ago. In that book, an immortal demon collects words like that because he’s fascinated with the way language evolves over time. For Echo, it’s definitely tied to her love of books and literature and words. It’s really interesting to see why certain ideas pop up as single words in certain languages — it’s a reflection of the culture.
I would be interested in the original novel simply for that character! Reader Beatrice asks: Did you know what the firebird was from the beginning, or did you figure it out while you were writing the book?
Yup, I always knew what the firebird was. That was the starting point for the whole shebang.
I’m certain we’re all going to be anxiously awaiting the sequel for the next year. Is there anything you can tell us about The Shadow Hour?
I can tell you that we’ll meet a new character who’s a warlock (a human who isn’t quite human anymore because of their use of magic) and also happens to be Jasper’s ex-boyfriend. There will be magic, mayhem, and murder.
Sounds amazing! I can’t wait. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us and for providing us our first read together!
If you’re interested in getting involved in the #GERMreads book club, we are currently reading Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn. Just pick up a copy and start reading! We’ll be meeting again on July 31th to discuss pages 255 through the end.
For August, we’ll be reading Sophie Kinsella’s Finding Audrey. Our first meeting will be on August 15th!