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Interview with Alexandra Bracken + Brightly Woven Giveaway!

I fell in love with the cover of Alexandra Bracken's debut novel--Brightly Woven--last fall and the scant synopses I could find at the time certainly piqued my interest. After managing to get my hands on an ARC, I found myself surprised and pleased with this unique fantasy. You can read my review here. As the release date approached, I invited Alex to participate in an interview and giveaway here on the site and, despite her crazy busy schedule, she kindly accepted. Enjoy!
First things first: When did the idea for Brightly Woven first hit you and what (if anything) did you know right off the bat?
I remember the exact moment it hit me—what I was doing, who I was talking to, what song was playing on iTunes.  :)  I had just come back from Winter Break my sophomore year in college and was sitting on my bed chatting with my mom.  Sophomore year was pretty remarkable in terms of the insane weather that we had in Virginia (where I was in school) but it had also been a bizarre year in Arizona, too.  That’s why I wasn’t all that surprised when my mom gasped in the middle of her sentence and said, “Oh my God, it’s actually snowing outside!”  I grew up in central Arizona, right around Phoenix, so while it had flurried once or twice while I was younger, it hadn’t snowed that heavily in a while.  (And by “heavily,” I of course mean that none of it stuck in Phoenix, but some of it did in Tucson, where my sister was in school!) 
So you can imagine that I was a little annoyed that I had missed the Arizona snow by ONE DAY, but my mom only laughed and said, “Well it’s your fault.  You jinxed us.”  I still don’t really know what she meant by that, but I took the idea of someone unconsciously affecting the weather and ran with it. 
The only thing I knew when I started was that I wanted an angsty and mysterious wizard with a somewhat tragic past.  I’ve always found it interesting that North’s character came to me right from the start and he never really changed, regardless of how many revisions I did.
Your path to publication was a bit of a whirlwind. What were the high and low points along the way?
I think it must have looked like a whirlwind from the outside, but, for me, it was actually a very long haul.  When things happened, they happened fairly fast, though—for instance, I was only querying for two months when I was offered representation.  And later, when Brightly Woven was on submission with publishers, it took maybe two and a half weeks to get the offer from Egmont.
Between those two bursts of activity was a very long stretch of revisions—almost a full year!
I love North’s multitude of colorful (and magical) cloaks! Where did you get that idea?
Excuse me for being a HUGE dork, but I love cloaks!  I think it might be because I had a childhood fascination with Darth Vader’s cloak--just watch the opening scenes of The Empire Strikes Back
Just kidding (not really). 
I had it in mind that all of the wizards in Palmarta would carry a talisman that reflected their personalities.  It’s explained in the story that a wizard’s magister (their mentor and teacher) is often the one to choose the talisman for them.  In terms of North, I didn’t want to give him an actual weapon, because I don’t see him as having an aggressive personality—I see him as being someone who is very protective, and someone who has many layers.   On the other hand, Oliver, the boy he trained with when he was young, has a sword because he is very direct and combative.  
How do you go about naming your characters?
Thank you for asking this question!  I agonize over character names, to the point that I often can’t start writing until I have a definite name in mind.  North really did come to me fully formed, and that included the name North.  When I was looking for a first name for him, I sort of happened upon “Wayland,” and I ended up really liking it.  It’s the Old English cognate of the Germanic name Wieland, which I believe breaks down into “war” and “land.”  In Germanic mythology, Wieland was said to be a craftsman of unequaled skill.  But, mostly, I picked it because it was the closest name I could get to the word “Wayward.” J
Sydelle’s name is slightly less interesting—I honestly just liked the name and thought it was familiar but different enough to set her apart in a reader’s mind.  I also have to confess that I pulled a lot of names from the classes I was in at the time, namely my two British Lit classes.   Oliver’s last name is pulled from Jonathan Swift, Sydelle’s last name is Mirabil, which I stole and modified from John Dryden’s poem "Annus Mirabilis" ("The Year of Miracles/Wonder"), and Lady Aphra was named after Aphra Behn, who is pretty much a bad ass.
I kept getting a strong Diana Wynne Jones/Sherwood Smith vibe while I was reading Brightly Woven. I think it was because of the skillfully woven elements of humor, adventure, and tension in the story. What would you say some of your literary influences are?
What’s kind of embarrassing about my answer is that I hadn’t read any Diana Wynne Jones until after someone mentioned that North reminded her of the wizard Howl.  (I really wish someone had pointed me in the direction of her books when I was younger!)  I always say that Roald Dahl was my first and foremost influence, because he was the reason I grew up wanting to write for children.  I also consider JK Rowling to be a major influence, since Harry Potter was such a huge and lasting part of my childhood and teens.  What can I say?  I like my Brits!
Is there a Brightly Woven soundtrack? Do you regularly listen to music while writing and/or plotting?
Yep, there’s a soundtrack that you can find here.
I have to listen to music while I write.  I got in the habit while I was in school—I was almost always working in computer labs or on the floors of the library where you were allowed to talk, so I needed something to tune it out.  Music definitely affects your mood, and I often need it to get in the right mindset for a particular scene.
You have a day job in addition to writing. How do you fit everything in and do you have a particular time of day that’s best for writing?
Wellllll… I will say that it was much easier to write while I was still in school, because I was constantly being presented with pockets of time to write throughout the day.  Now, because I work from 9 AM straight through to 5 or 6, I can only ever really write at night or on the weekends.  I like to write in long stretches of time, so I get the most done on the weekends.  I’m still trying to figure out how to make it all work!
I felt that the story wound to a satisfying conclusion. Do you have any plans to revisit this world or these characters? And what do we have to look forward to next?
I hope I can come back to Syd and North one day!  There are no definite plans for a sequel or companion book at the moment, but those two won’t stand for being ignored too long.   In terms of what I’m working on next… you’ll have to wait and see. J
What’s the one book and/or series you’ve been gushing about nonstop lately?
I’ve been singing the praises for Before I Fall for months, but I’m also a huge fan of Rachel Hawkin’s Hex Hall.  Both just came out this month, so go find them!
And just for fun, what’s the first word that comes to mind when I say:
North:  Hug
Books:  Work
Sydelle: Fiesty
Music:  Please
Star Wars: Dad
Writing: Always
Chocolate: Yuck
Work: Books
Sexy: Confidence
Stormy: Mysterious
YA: Amazing
Home: Desert
Thanks so much, Alex!

And now for the giveaway! Alex has generously offered up a signed copy of Brightly Woven along with several signed bookmarks to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is leave a comment telling us your favorite fictional wizard. If you *gasp* don't have one,  just let us know why you're looking forward to reading this book. The contest will run for one week and will close at midnight on Wednesday, March 24th (the day after the book comes out)! It is open to U.S. and Canada residents only. I'll announce the winner on Thursday. Please be certain to leave me a way to contact you.


  1. WONDERFUL interview - wizards huh that's one reason I am sooo looking forward to this book! I can say honestly my fav. wizard right now is Harry Potter - he's amazing, fun and those books captured my soul, and have had it for a LONG time - I am hoping that North, can live up to him - though from all I have read about Brightly Woven that's not even a question anymore!

    Wonderful interview!

  2. Great interview :) The cover is really pretty! My favorite wizard hum well shame on me for not reading any wizard books but I do love The Harry Potter Movies. Sounds like a great read!

  3. My favorite wizard is a tie between Fred/George Weasley and Draco Malfoy. I spent most of middle school and high school re-reading the Harry Potter series.

    Sara M
    sara_UFblog [at] yahoo [dot] com

  4. Thanks for the great interview!

    I'll go with Ged from the Earthsea books as my favorite wizard de jour, although I'm rather fond of Nevery, from the Magic Thief books...and lots of others...

  5. Anonymous11:16 AM

    Hi! darling its international???


  6. My favorite wizard is Harry Potter.

    bcanyon at hotmail dot com

  7. what a fun interview! This book sounds amazing and I'd love a copy.

    I love wizardly books and have so many favorites. I would have to say, my utmost favorite will always be Merlin. He's just incredible.

  8. Growing up it was always Gandalf. Always. Until I read Harry Potter and then hands down Dumbledore. I realize that's a bit cliche, but...sorry.:)

  9. Loved this interview! I am so excited for Brightly Woven to be published. My favorite wizard is, truthfully, Ronald Weasley, but I also have a major fascination with Rasputin (who's a wizard in the animated movie, at least).

  10. Harry Potter who else?


  11. I have to say Dumbledore. I know not very original, but his magic is just so enchanting. He is like the smartest wizard EVER.


  12. Umm my favorite wizard, I like the mage in Jaye Wells Red-Headed Stepchild ^^

    Thank you very much for the giveaway! I am really excited about this book, it's been on my wishlist for months now lol

    I won't have internet access at the end of the giveaway until March 30th, you would be a sweety to hold on to me until then if I win =D
    Thank you!

  13. Ellyll12:35 PM

    My favorite wizard is Antryg Windrose, although Howl is a close second.

    Um. I read your blog every day, so if I win, I'll email you my address?

  14. Anonymous12:36 PM

    Luthe from Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown, with Remus Lupin coming in a close seocnd.

  15. I already have a copy so I don't want to take someone else's chances at the giveaway. I just couldn't help but comment because...

    Howl! For sure! (From Diana Wynne Jones' HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE.) I loved him - temper tantrums and all - in the book, and I also loved him in the movie.

    A very close second, though, would be Harry Dresden from Jim Butchers totally awesome series.

    (Hope I didn't mess up anything by commenting!)

  16. Great interview - that's cool that you can remember the exact moment that you got the idea for the book - I wonder if most authors are like that. Hmm for fav wizard I'd have to go with Harry Potter though there are many good ones out there ;)

  17. Awesome interview! I'm really excited to read this book. And, I love that she has a full-time day job. That must be an insane schedule to juggle.

    My favorite wizard is Gandalf. Probably because he is the first wizard I ever knew.

  18. Dumbledore :)
    throuthehaze at gmail dot com

  19. I will have to go with Harry Dresden cause I love his talking skull. :)

  20. Great interview, I love the word association.

    Now wizards, were the Old Ones wizards? If they were, then Will Stanton, if not, it has to be, "the boy who lived"!

  21. Priyanka Atit2:22 PM

    I absolutely adore Howl from Howl's Moving Castle. He knows that he's awesome and isn't afraid of showing it. The romance between Sofi and Howl is sweet too

  22. Hmm...I'm quite fond of Sirius Black. And Gandolf. And that guy from 'The Sorcerers Apprentice". Oh, so many...

  23. Whoopsey!

  24. favourite wizard: Snape
    especially movie!Snape, so badass 8D
    I also liked Merlin from The Sword in the Stone =)


  25. My favorite wizards are the Weasley twins. How can you not love them using magic to cause mayhem? It's ok to be a Star Wars geek, because I'm one of those too.

  26. Oops forgot my email, Haikuamy at gmail dot com

  27. My favorite wizard is Harry Potter; those books were so influential for me! Please enter me in the giveaway.

    stephaniefleischer889 AT gmail DOT com

  28. My favourite wizards are the Weasley twins! I love how they use magic for their hilarious tricks! :-D

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail DOT com

  29. Numair from the Wild Magic series. (He's technically a wizard right?)

    x_goodie_x AT hotmail dot com

  30. Hmm...I'm going to have to go with Howl from Howl's Moving Castle (both the book and the movie). He's just so unconventional. Thanks for the giveaway!

  31. I have to go with Howl also. Love that character!
    roxane.elder (at) gmail (dot) com

  32. It's a toss up between Dumbledore and Gandalf, but since I've only watched Gandalf in the movies and haven't read the books, that maybe I'll say Dumbledore.

  33. My fav fictional wizard is someone from HP, but it ain't Harry. I'd say my favorite character in the series was Sirius...just my luck. Next is Lupin.

    patronus89013 at yahoo dot com

  34. Gandalf. The Grey, the White -- Doesn't matter which.

    Always has been. Always will be.

    Loved the interview - I can't wait to read this one Angie!

    mmillet at gmail dot com

  35. Loved your interview with Alexandra! It actually made me head over to Goodreads to add her book to my wishlist. Somehow her answers convinced me that I want to read her book :) Earlier I commented on your review that I was a bit unsure about whether or not I wanted to read this book.

    *Not entering the contest*

  36. I would say Dumbledore from Harry Potter.

    cindyc725 at gmail dot com

  37. Oh, Howl all the way. Best wizard ever. I keep hearing North's comparison to him, which only makes me more excited for this book.

    (Other hot-awesome wizards include:
    Ged from Wizard of Earthsea
    Snape and Remus from Harry Potter
    I know there's more. Tip of my tongue...)

  38. I can't join the contest because I'm not from US or Canada but I just wanted to comment. My favorite wizard is Howl from Diana Wynne Jones! This is probably why I'm looking forward to reading Brightly Woven. Also, you mentioned that the writing reminded you of Sherwood Smith, another favorite author of mine. Oooh and another thing, she mentioned Before I Fall and I just got a copy yesterday!

    Yay, so excited! I already have Brightly Woven on reserve but as usual, I don't know when it'll get here.

  39. Anonymous8:10 PM

    That would be tough to choose between Severus Snape and Howl from Howl's Moving Castle.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  40. This interview was great, loved the Q&A! I especially liked the one word answers at the end, that was my favorite part. Hmmm, my favorite fictional wizard would have to be Zed from Legend of the Seeker...he is awesome! Thanks for the awesome book giveaway!

    emily DOT wittenberg @

  41. I'm going to have to go with the Librarian from Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. For those who haven't read the series, the Librarian was at one point a wizard at the national wizard university, but he got turned into an orangutan when a spell went awry.

    There's many more handsome and dashing wizards out there, but none so ferocious about protecting his books. :-)

  42. What a great interview! I've been eyeing this book for a while, especially since you featured it on your site a while back. I have so many favorite wizards! Right now, I'm thinking Numair from Tamora Pierce's Immortals series. He's so loveable and disgruntled at times and badass and now I feel like I have to read Wild Magic!

  43. Hermionie!! Which I think I'm mispelling.

  44. Hi Angie, just wanted to let you know you have an award waiting for you here.

  45. Either Ingold Inglorion from The Darwath Trilogy by Barbara Hambly, or Gandalf. I also like Ged. Geez, I don't think I can name just one.

  46. Thanks for the interview! Geez, I don't think I have a favorite wizard character. However I do know that I'm really looking forward to reading this book because it sounds really dang interesting! :D
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

  47. Ohh, I don't have a favorite wizard b/c I don't think I've read much with wizards in them at all. So, one of the main reasons that I would like to read this book would be to find (hopefully) a favorite wizard of my own!

    Thanks for the contest!

    ahoffman1979 at gmail dot com

  48. Favorite wizard of all time, well, Harry Potter, of course.

    Runners up: Gandalf and Merlin.

    Thanks for the giveaway.


  49. I don't think I have a favorite wizard. 0.o I want to read Brightly Woven because it sounds AMAZING.

    shutupjessicasreading @ gmaildotocm

  50. Angie, why such a difficult question? I have Gandalf, my first wizard ever. Dumbledore, Harry, Hermione and the Weaseley twins. Mairelon and Kim from Patricia C. Wrede's duet, and Conn (wizard-in-training). But ultimately, I am choosing ... Gandalf.

    Miss Clark on Goodreads

  51. Wow, this is such a tough question. I'm going to have to go with Harry Dresden. He makes me laugh.

  52. gandalf - because i was obsessed when i was a kid with "the hobbit" and thought he was so cool. :)

  53. Pick a favorite wizard? That's like picking a favorite book! Impossible.

    But since you ask so nicely, I'll say Belgarion from the Belgariad by
    David Eddings, and his grandfather, Belgarath. Love them!

  54. Anonymous7:07 PM

    Tough one. I'm not sure Merriman (from the Dark is Rising sequence) counts, so I'll go with Fence from the Secret Country trilogy. Which reminds me, I'm due for a reread...

    Should I be so fortunate as to win, you can send me a message via my LJ, which is linked above.

  55. Harry potter of course! Gotta love Harry.

  56. Magnus is my favorite Wizard from The Mortal Instruments good interview :)

  57. Anonymous8:39 PM

    Howl from Howl's Moving Castle!!



  58. My favorite would have to be Gandalf.

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  59. Howl. I know about half a dozen people have said him already, but he's, well, Howl. I think I read you saying you never really liked him? That's so weird, since Eugenides' character is heavily influenced by Howl, and you love Eugenides. Why aren't you fond of Howl? It's a little bit sad.

  60. Wow, this book sounds great! And this was a fantastic interview!

    Well, since you mentioned Howl, I can't seriously think of anyone else. He's young, so that's in his favor! Is there another young wizard? Well, I guess you could count the Hogwarts crew, but they're a little too young for me.

    theintrovertedreader [at] gmail [dot] com

  61. What a wonderful interview - totally love the backstory about how - and exactly when! - Brightly Woven was conceived. I'll have to go with... Draco Malfoy ;)


  62. Awesome review!

    That's a hard question- especially when I can't remember all of the wizards I've read/heard about from the top of my head. But I'll have to say Merlin (, Howl and Dumbledore)

    Merlin is such a classic wizard and has taken so many forms throughout history. I don't know when he was created, but I love reading all kinds of stories with him. I'm especially reminded of the Lost Years of Merlin series by Barron. Merlin couldnt have always been old with his white long beard right? This is one of the reasons i love books- authors can be really creative.

    Howl is a more specific figure- i love him in both the book and movie (i find him different in the two). he's so whimsical... and interesting.

    I LOVE fantasy books such as "brightly woven." reading the description makes me really excited- i think its awesome that weaving and weather was joined together.

  63. Yeeeee! Can't wait for B.W.! Okay, to go w/ the obvi choice, F & G Weasley, but I also luvluvluv Rhys from The Two Princesses of Bamarre. He just seems like a 'nice guy', you know? BFF material.

  64. Ack, I 4got 2 leave my email: its;)

  65. Lovely interview :) I'd say my favorite wizard is either Harry Potter or North, from the bit I've read about him. I'm ecstatic to read the final version of Brightly Woven; I managed to get an early copy that hadn't been revised much, so it'll be a blast to read it now :) I really should just be grabbing a copy from the store...but I can't pass up a chance to get a signed copy :)

    ane(at)lurish(dot)org <3

  66. Wonderful interview! I'm very excited to read BRIGHTLY WOVEN; I've had it on my watch list for a while now. :)

    My favorite wizard (and one of my all time favorite characters) is undoubtedly Howl -- how do you not love an entirely vain, temper-tantrum-throwing wizard?

    freedachickens (at) gmail (dot) com

  67. my favorite wizard: um, i am slightly ashamed to say that they only books with wizards i've ever read are harry potter and the two princesses of bamarre, so i think i'll answer the second question!

    i want to read brightly woven because:
    1. alex seems like such a nice person, and i am always up for supporting nice people!
    2. she initially wrote it for a friend. best birthday gift ever!
    3. i lovelovelove high fantasy, and don't read enough!

    bydlo006 [at] umn [dot] edu

    a fantastic interview! :-)

  68. I adore Howl and Merlin. Wizards are fun. I can't wait to read Brightly Woven.

  69. Wow! great interview and great reviews (I just came from 'Booksmugglers').

    Fave wizards would have to be Harry Dresden and Remus Lupin (sadly, not terribly original).

  70. I just have to typical on this one and say Harry Potter because he is definitely my favorite, of course!

  71. Anonymous11:38 PM

    my favorite is actually a witch: agnes nutter from neil gaiman's and terry pratchet's good omens. i find her voice/character genuinely hilarious and a little bit crazy.

  72. Great interview! I am so excited about this book. I grew up reading fantasy books like this. Please enter me in the giveaway! My favorite wizard right now would be Harry Potter I guess. He is the only on that comes to mind. The whole HP series was so epic and memorable that I can't think of any other wizards. Well, except Numair from one of Tamora Pierce's series...
    Kelly H.

  73. I would want to claim Senneth from Mystic and Rider but maybe she's not technically a wizard.
    And in that case I would say Morgan, Prince of Hed.
    I just started reading your blog not too long ago, am very happy to have found one who has similar reading tastes.
    yhaduong (at) yahoo (dot) come

  74. Oh, I really want to read this book! : ) I love new authors & the premise sounds fantastic. It's at the top of my TBR list.

    Favorite wizard? Is it too easy if I say Gandalf? He was awesome. Rincewind from Terry Pratchett's Discworld makes me laugh. Alex Russo from Wizards of Waverly place is also pretty fun.

    Really, though, I don't have a key "awesome wizard" figure in my mind... maybe I need to find one. : )

    Thanks for the contest.

  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

  76. This looks like a fantastic book! Best of luck to you with it, Ms. Bracken!

    My favorite fictional wizard would have to be--well, does the term sorcerer count? Then Michael Moorcock's Elric of Melniboné, followed closely by Tolkien's Gandalf.


  77. What a great interview! And she's from AZ!

    My favorite wizards are a tie, harry potter and howl (from howl's moving castle).

    Thanks for the contest!
    ktcasa87 at gmail dot com

  78. Hmm, it's hard to narrow down my favorite wizard. I love Miach (from Star of the Morning), and the old favorites Gandolf and Dumbledore!

  79. Really, Gandalf will always be what wizard is for me. I did like Howl from Howl's Moving Castle and lots of the wizards in HP, but still Gandalf is my fave.


  80. OK, favorite wizard: Harry Potter. Favorite witch (because girls aren't wizards, right?): Hermione Granger. What can I say, J.K. Rowling rocked my world. LOL

    :) srfbluemama[at]gmail[dot]com

  81. My favorite wizard would have to Harry Potter (but there are many other great wizards out there! Nathaniel from the Bartimaeus trilogy comes to mind)
    Thanks for the contest!


  82. The book sounds offbeat, which I love! I'll have to check the library for it in a couple weeks. :)

    Favorite wizard? .... HUH. That is TOUGH. Or maybe it's tough because I read so many more heroines than heroes, so maybe I can give you my favorite witch? no? wait, I don't have one of those either.

  83. Though technically an enchanter and not a wizard, I'd have to go with Chrestomanci, from the Diana Wynne Jones series.

    If gender doesn't matter, then I have to admit an eternal soft spot for Polgara the Sorceress.

    I've heard awesome things about this book from a mutual friend, and can't wait to read it!

  84. Anonymous7:44 PM

    Please enter me! Thanks for doing this! My favorite wizard is Gandalf in Lord of the Rings... I'm a bit old-fashioned! : )


  85. Anonymous7:45 PM

    Thanks for the giveaway! My favorite wizard is gonna be the one from Brightly Woven!


  86. Anonymous7:46 PM

    My favorite wizard is Harry Potter (the same as everyone else!)

    ~Katie P.

  87. GANDALF!!! Please enter me!

  88. This comment has been removed by the author.

  89. I'm going to say my favorite wizard is Ron (from HP series).

    Email: lyricalraven(at)yahoo(dot)com

  90. Like everyone else I would have to say Harry Potter. And I would love to read this book! I have heard nothing but great things! Please enter me! email bangersis(at)msn(dot)com
    Thanks for the giveaway!!

  91. My favourite wizard is Merlin!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  92. Not only did Canseco (pictured with ex-wife Jessica) insult boxers with this stunt, he actually had the gall before the fight to mention a mixed martial arts career. Canseco, 44, claims that he is a black belt in Kung Fu, Taekwando and Muay Thai:

  93. An attempt to remedy my boring life I decided to read blogs like this to get some amusement time and get to know what is going on in the virtual world.

  94. Oh hell!!! You are just too cool man. I never knew that there could be something better to know about than from this piece of article. I shall have this forwarded to all my friends and even my dad, I am sure they too shall enjoy reading this piece.

  95. this post has excellent information.


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