A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Book Birthday Interview: The Illusionists by Laure Eve
Today I’m delighted to be chatting to Laure Eve – on the book birthday of The Illusionists! Many of us loved Fearsome Dreamer so it’s great news that The Illusionists is a sequel.
Bea: Hi Laure, it’s great to chat to you about this book! We know The Illusionists is the sequel to Fearsome Dreamer, which came out last year. Tell us a little about both books.
Laure: The books are set in a world where history turned out a little differently. The main characters come from very different backgrounds – one a technologically advanced culture with a virtual reality internet called Life, and one from a much more Victorian-esque culture with distinct rich/poor class divides.
Rue and White, the two main characters, can do something very powerful and little understood, to do with their ability to dream. Naturally they’re either treated with fear or desire, depending on which government you’re talking to at the time, and are thrown together under interesting circumstances. There’s an immediate, visceral dislike between them, which may give you a clue as to what that leads to…
Bea: Rue is a young hedgewitch – what an interesting idea! Where did she come from?
Laure: She just sort of appeared. I knew I wanted someone flawed and real – someone who felt a bit more substantial than the usual monikers labelled on modern heroines of ‘feisty’ or ‘kick-ass’. So she makes mistakes, thinks about (and has) sex, like most teenagers (I often find the purity levels of teens in novels a bit unrealistic) – says stupid things because she’s ignorant or silly, does stupid things because she’s been misinformed and makes rash decisions. But she has a lot of good points, too, and I hope she feels real.
Bea: I’ve read more than one article recently saying that witches are the new vampires. Do you agree? Did you help start this trend?
Laure: I think witches have been popular since Harry Potter, really – certainly magic has been roaring around in pop culture and commercial fiction for a while. I think we like to see patterns, it’s in our nature. Trends help marketers and booksellers (I should know, I’ve been both) but beyond that I’m not sure if they really mean anything.
The only major shift I’ve seen recently is that geeky things like fantasy and sci-fi have become the pop culture norm. This is totally fascinating to me – when I was growing up I was definitely labelled as weird for being into that stuff.
Bea: The setting of the ‘new French Empire’ sounds really fascinating. Can you tell us more about this?
Laure: It’s basically an extension of a fun alternative history idea of what if Napoleon won the war and England became this little French colony that got a bit battered and forgotten? Alternative history is huge fun, because you can skew things almost to the point of unrecognisability but then have these little touch points here and there, like names of countries that have remained the same, or cultural milestones like a version of the internet so extreme it’s like living a second life. It allows you to play as much as a complete fantasy world does, but then you’re giving your readers elements of their own world at the same time.
Bea: Do you have a favourite part of the book?
Laure: Of The Illusionists? It’s got to be the very last scene. I can say no more than that. And maybe also the scene near the end in the Castle. That was fun to write. I could set whole books in the Castle. It’s an insane, glorious place.
Bea: Tell us about your journey to publication. Was it an easy ride?
Laure: It was for Fearsome Dreamer, but I’ve been rejected before that. Quite honestly I didn’t try very hard and did everything the wrong way, really – I wrote a longer post about that whole journey here.
Bea: And what’s next in terms of writing?
Laure: I’m working on something I tend to describe to people who ask as ‘The Craft meets The Virgin Suicides’. Which it may be nothing like. But it’s definitely a lot of fun to write. These Pinterest boards may give you a bit of a taste of it, if your curiosity has been piqued!
Thanks, Laure! It’s been so interesting. I can’t wait to read the new book!
Laure Eve is a French-British hybrid who grew up in Cornwall, a place saturated with myth and fantasy. She speaks English and French, and can hold a vague conversation, usually about food, in Greek. She loves Haagen Dazs cookie dough ice cream, Jean Claude van Damme, David Lynch, and pretty much any version of Dracula ever. Also books, cake, films and shoes.
Bea Davenport is a former BBC journalist turned fiction writer. Her debut children’s novel, The Serpent House, is published by Curious Fox. She also writes crime fiction for adults. She lives in Berwick-upon-Tweed with her partner, children and very silly cat.