Welcome everyone! It’s Traci Time where we interview Traci Chee author of THE READER and THE SPEAKER. I’m Traci’s arch nemesis, Meg.
- Your newest book THE SPEAKER came out November 7th, please give us a quick pitch for it!
Hello Meg! (Alas that we should be enemies when we could have made such great friends.) THE SPEAKER is the second book in the SEA OF INK AND GOLD trilogy and picks up where the first installment, THE READER, leaves off. After the twists at the end of the first book, Sefia and Archer are reeling and trying to regroup when they find a new purpose: to strike back at their enemies by freeing and recruiting captive boys from cage fighting operation that so brutalized Archer. Both Sefia and Archer grow more powerful, but there are still truths to be revealed and new twists to (hopefully) delight and surprise you. We also see the return of Captain Reed and his outlaw crew, plus two new characters—a lonely king and the boy who both loves him and is sworn to kill him.
- Is there a book/movie/TV show that inspired Sefia’s journey of revenge in THE SPEAKER?
I feel like Sefia’s desire for revenge is a little Kill Bill in that she has a very specific list of what she wants to accomplish… and later finds out that vengeance is more complicated than she expected. Ultimately, though, she gets her revenge at the end of THE READER—after a fashion, anyway—and in THE SPEAKER, it’s Archer’s turn.
- Solving puzzles is hard, how do you create the intricate plot for your books? Do you outline?
I think you mean “solving puzzles is AMAZING,” haha. For THE SPEAKER, I did a combination of outlining, carefully planning certain plot points in order to make sure the pieces of the story slotted together properly, and “oops I wrote myself into a deep twisty labyrinth and now I have to write myself out of it again.” It’s a messy process, but all works out in the end somehow.
- Eleven secrets—this has to be a joke, right? Will you tell me the easter-eggs you’ve hidden in THE READER and THE SPEAKER?
I never joke about puzzles, Meg! And I will take their secrets to the grave.
- But, like, are you sure? I can keep a secret, I promise.
TO THE GRAVE.
- Not everyone knows about the hidden easter-eggs in THE READER and soon to be THE SPEAKER, what compelled you to include these and how do they add to Sefia’s story?
The short answer is that I set out to write the kind of books I would have loved to read when I was a young adult, which includes writing a fantasy heroine that looks like me and leaving a bunch of hidden messages for industrious, puzzle-loving readers to find. I hope they’re like extra layers of flavor—you don’t need to find them to enjoy the book, but if you do find them, they make your experience a little richer, a little more interesting. (And some of them even hint at twists that are still to come!)
- When you have SPEAKing events at high schools, what is the number one question teen READERS ask you?
I see what you did there! I love chatting with readers, and I often get asked what inspired me to write this series, and I like to mix up my answers. Sometimes I talk about wanting to write a fantasy that felt like a romanticized American wild west or writing a fantasy set in a world more inclusive and egalitarian than our own. Sometimes I talk about the lightning-strikes moment of walking into a library and asking myself the exact question that Lon, the Apprentice Librarian, asks himself early in THE READER, “Could anything be a book, if only you knew how to read it?” Sometimes I talk about grief and loss and survival. All of these experiences are mushed into the books in a way that I hope readers find both surprising and compelling!
Thank you so much for chatting with me Traci, even though you revealed NOTHING about the 11 additional easter-eggs in THE SPEAKER.
Thanks for the chat, Meg, my lovely arch-enemy! I hope you’ll forgive me one day, haha.
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Ends 11/19/17 at 5pm EST