A time and space thriller packed with action, danger and romance, A Thousand Pieces of You is one of our most anticipated books of the year. We fangirl with author Claudia Gray:
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: how to die for is the cover for this book? What did you think when you first saw it?
I ADORE the cover. When I first saw it, I liked it tremendously, but we still had some tweaking to do — don’t get me wrong, the image was gorgeous from the start, but we had to fine-tune it a bit to make sure that London looked futuristic enough, and Russia old-school enough, without the images being too busy. But when we got there and added the type treatment for the title, something just *clicked.* I think somehow the placement of the title makes it feel as though you’re looking through a kind of portal, perhaps. At any rate, the cover image totally captures the concept of traveling through different dimensions. So it’s perfect!
We were very excited when we read on tumblr that Australia had a part to play in the inspiration for this story – can you tell us a bit about that?
The idea for the FIREBIRD trilogy came to me in 2012, during my back-to-back tours of the US and Australia. Essentially, I felt as though I were waking up in a different world every day, and yet the same people (fellow authors, my publicist) were always there. Somehow this hatched into the concept of traveling to entirely new dimensions, but always being drawn to many of the same individuals — whether that meant family members, love interests, friends or even enemies. The idea had begun to knock around my brain before I got to Australia, but a lot of it really took shape on the flight to Sydney, and I definitely remember working out some very early details while in my hotel room near Cairns. By the end of that tour, I really had the ideas together, and I wrote the first draft of the first scene in Auckland, NZ. I managed to give Perth a little shout-out in the book — you’ll have to look for it!
Which was your favourite of the dimensions that Marguerite travels to?
The Russiaverse, definitely. It’s the most romantic (in every sense of that word), the most dramatic, and the one that I felt I could have written an entire book about on its own. (Though all the dimensions have their stories to tell.)
Now, in the sequel, I’m very fond of the Warverse — but we’ll discuss that next year. 😀
What kind of lives do you think the Claudia Grays in other dimensions live? (Are they all writers?)
The other Claudia Grays? What a fascinating question! I would hope some of them are writers, but I feel sure not all of them are. Probably a few are still working as journalists. A handful may even still be lawyers. (If so, they’re tax lawyers. Mad though it may sound, while I had little enthusiasm for any other aspect of my legal studies, I found the tax code surprisingly fascinating. I might really have enjoyed that!) A few still live in New York City, and I’m jealous of those sometimes.
As for the more fantastical dimensions — I’ll just have to daydream about those.
Was there any particular music you listened to while you wrote the book?
Not only did I listen to specific music while I wrote the book, I had separate playlists for each universe! I’ll be sharing those playlists during the next month as we head toward the release of A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU, but I can go ahead and share the trilogy’s theme song: “Breath of Life” by Florence + the Machine. For some reason, I completely connected to that song in the earliest days of working on this series, and it remains my touchstone for reconnecting to these characters. According to iTunes, while I was writing the first book, I listened to that song exactly 403 times. I wonder how many times I’ll have listened to it by the time the trilogy is done?
While we were reading the book, all we could think of was how we would watch the hell out of a movie adaptation of this book. Who would be your dream cast for Marguerite, Paul and Theo?
Wouldn’t it be fun to watch this story as well as read it? That said, I almost never mentally cast age-appropriate actors for my characters; if I pick models for them, they tend to be my idea of how adult actors looked when they were teenagers. Paul Markov would look a lot like the younger Michael Fassbender. Marguerite isn’t exactly Emma Watson or a young Keira Knightley — not so glam — but she has that same sort of gamine quality. (And I think her riotous curls were unconsciously inspired by Hermione’s hair.) As for Theo? The absolute best casting for him would involve taking a time machine back to the late 1980s, where we would go to the set of “Less Than Zero” and pick up Robert Downey Jr. He’s TOTALLY Theo.
What surprised you about writing this book?
The main surprise of writing this book, for me, has been how deeply immersed I feel in these characters’ lives. I have to watch myself when I’m writing, because I could go on for ages about Marguerite’s relationship with Josie, or her parents’ courtship, or what happens in the Oceanverse the day after our characters leave it. But I have to stick to the main plot! That said, I’ve just gotten a Wattpad account and hope to post several stories about the characters (in various universes) during the next couple of years. I have so much to tell!
Can you please (pretty please) give us a tiny hint as to what we can expect in the next book?
A hint about the sequel? Well, I can tell you that while Marguerite travels to some dimensions we’ve seen before, she also returns to one she visited in the first book. The changes there prove to be astonishing —
We also love the Spellcaster series – are we pushing our luck if we also ask for a hint about Sorceress?
Oh, yay for some SORCERESS love! Let’s see, one tidbit to share: Asa’s storyline gets even darker. And more complicated. And yet — with Verlaine — even more romantic.
If you could have your three heroines – Bianca from Evernight, Nadia from Spellcaster and Marguerite from A Thousand Pieces of You – together in one room, how do you think they’d get along?
Gosh, Bianca, Nadia and Marguerite all in a room? I never thought of that before — and now I’m laughing, because honestly, I’m not sure how well that would go! Bianca is terribly shy, and Nadia can be very guarded. So at first there would be several minutes of awkwardness, with Marguerite trying to get the conversation going, and probably failing. But if they hang in there long enough, Bianca loves art enough to have a lot to talk about with painter Marguerite. Maybe they could look at some artwork by Klimt? Nadia would no doubt want to discuss Bianca’s vampiric and ghostly powers, and see whether she can recreate those with her magic; Bianca, in turn, would hope for magical help to allow her to transition between the living and dead worlds as easily as possible. Nadia and Marguerite would probably wind up considering the famous quote about how any scientific technology, sufficiently developed, is “indistinguishable from magic.” How else could you describe a Firebird?