[Blog Tour] Belladonna by Fiona Paul

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I was do happy that Fiona Paul and Razorbill Canada organized a Canadian portion of the Belladonna Blog Tour, and I am happy to be here to host! First I will present Fiona's guest post about her thoughts on writing a series, then I will present my thoughts on Belladonna as both a sequel and on its own.

Without further ado, here is Fiona discussing her thoughts on writing a trilogy!

Today on the blog tour—the perils and pitfalls of writing a trilogy. VENOM was actually shopped as a standalone book with trilogy potential, and when Philomel wanted a trilogy I agreed to write it without giving it much thought. But having now written one series and three standalone books, I can definitely say that writing a trilogy is harder. If your heart is set on a series of your own, here are seven things to consider before you take the plunge.

1. The devil is in the details: Maybe you pride yourself on having a stellar memory and think it’ll be a piece of cake (Mmm. Cake. Hungry.) to keep track of who has which shaky hand or which scar under what eye and which lock of hair pulls loose from what side of your heroine’s hairdo. IT’S HARD. And the more characters you add with the more little eccentricities and specific backstories—wait, how old was he when his little sister allegedly drowned?—the harder it gets.

2. The other devil is in the deadlines: Spent six years writing your first standalone masterpiece? Sign a one-book contract and spend another six years writing the next one. Sign a contract to write a trilogy and the average time allotted to produce a solid draft of book #2 is somewhere in the neighborhood of three months. And even then that means book #2 comes out a year after book #1 and readers will be wondering why the hell you can’t hurry up already :D

3. Hold that thought: The instant you commit to spending two years writing, revising, and promoting a series that takes place all in the same world, your head will explode with other seemingly better ideas that are set in other worlds. You will become desperate to write that space ninja rock opera, that picture book about the day your dog swallowed your iPod, basically anything other than the 250,000 words you are now under contract to produce at a fast clip

4. Hold that thought, part deux: It’s best to resist the urge to write all seventeen books of the Epic Saga of Sam the Sidewalk Slug before your editor expresses an interest, and, ideally, gives you a contract. I know a lot of writers still seeking agents who are on book #3 of a multi-part series and while I applaud that productivity, what if no one ever wants to buy book #1? It’s like stock people say, diversify your portfolio (or something).

5. I need what now?: Character arcs. We’re familiar. Your main character (and honestly, all of your major side characters too) need to grow and change from the beginning to the end of your book. When you place this phenomenon into a trilogy, now all your characters need to have one large arc and three smaller arcs that fit inside the big arc and suddenly I feel like I’m back in trig class. Does anyone have a scientific calculator I can borrow?

6. Cover changes: “Wow, I really hope the publisher decides to change the style of my awesome cover mid-series,” said no author ever. But there are good reasons why this happens, and it’s becoming more and more common. If and when it happens to your books, you, author-person, will be the one getting the forlorn tweets about how you’ve ruined someone’s matchy-matchy set. Note: I fully support my publisher’s decision to update the Eternal Rose covers and I love both looks :D

7. No taksies-backsies: This was perhaps the hardest for me. Let’s say you write a book and it’s awesome and then at the end you realize that changing something on page 22 would make it a trillion times more awesome or sew up that wide gaping plot hole you’ve been struggling with. You can do that with a standalone novel. You can make big sweeping changes when that explosion of genius hits you during copyedits or ARCs or pretty much anytime up until the book goes to the printer. Once book #1 is out in your trilogy, you can’t go back and tweak the storyline to make book #3 all the more awesome. You have to work with what you’ve already established, even if it almost kills you.

Still hell-bent on a trilogy? Go on with your bad self. But if a standalone seems more your style, that’s okay too. I recently asked twitter to tell me her favorite standalone books and got 249 responses in 15 minutes. (I was like “Whoa, this must be what John Green’s feed is like 24-7. I don’t know how he does it!) Clearly people enjoy both standalones and series :D


Title: Belladonna
Author: Fiona Paul
Series: The Secrets of the Eternal Rose #2
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: Penguin
Source: Copy provided by publisher for honest review

Amazon | Chapters | TBD | Goodreads

In the second in the stunning Secrets of the Eternal Rose series, Cassandra Caravello is trying to forget Falco, the wild artist who ran off with her heart, as she grows closer to her strong, steady fiancé, Luca. But Luca seems to have his own secrets. When he’s arrested by soldiers in the middle of the night, Cass’s life is once again thrown into chaos. She must save Luca, and that means finding the Book of the Eternal Rose—the only evidence that will prove he’s innocent.

So begins her journey to Florence, a city haunted by whispers of vampirism, secret soirees and clandestine meetings of the Order of the Eternal Rose. And home to Falco, who is working for the Order’s eerily stunning leader, the Belladonna herself.

Can Cass trust her heart to lead her to the truth this time?
Nothing is as it seems in this seductive thriller, where the truth may be the deadliest poison of all.

I remember when I first read Venom, I was late to the game, but I remember thinking this was soo my book, and I was right. I connected right away with Fiona's writing style and her descriptions of the beautiful Venice. But I also connected with Cass, her main character and her relationship with the ever beautiful Falco. So when I saw that Belladonna was coming out and it was a continuation of Cass' story I knew I needed to read it right away.

Belladonna was a great continuation of Cass and her ability to get herself into trouble. I love Cass in general. I find her to be a great role model for girls to read because she is strong willed and very opinionated. And she doesn't need a man to tell her what to do, AND she thinks for herself--Which is a great quality for any girl. especially one in Victorian Venice. In this installment we actually get a little more information on The Secrets of the Eternal Rose and what it means to Cass. It was great to get some answers and eventually more questions as the book moved forward and I loved the continued mystery that surrounded Mr. Dubois and his followers.

I also really loved the relationship Cass has with both Luca and Falco, mostly because they are very distant in this novel. Luca is more prominent because of what happens to him at the beginning of the book, and Cass' reason for going to Florence has direct relations of Luca and her marriage to him. So I loved that she grew to be more than a girl in love with two men, she realized the way her life should be and what was the right decision. It was nice to see a girl character think rationally when it comes to a love triangle. It was very refreshing :D

This book was a great sequel to an amazing series and I seriously cannot wait to read Starling when it comes out next year and see where these characters end up and find out all the answers to the questions I have!

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  1. Fiona brings some really good points up. Not things people would always consider, but definitely important to know. And doing it with humor as she does is fun :) So yay Fiona!
    And yay Siobhan for the review! I agree that I loved that Cass grew more beyond just her relationship with the two boys this time around. Loved it :)

  2. I have so much admiration for authors for all of those reasons. I remember writing bits in English class in school and I always went back and changed things. I can't imagine how hard that is to deal with in a trilogy when you can't.

    And I'm so glad you liked this sequel, Jessica! :)

  3. I always knew that writing a series would be hard, but I guess I never thought of all the struggles that come with it! Reading this post made me appreciate good series even more than I already did! Thanks for all the insight!

  4. I actually like the new covers better, but, it still bugs me! I love a matched set, yet I am too cheap to replace a book I already own unless the new covers are absolutely freaking AMAZING. So I just stay sad that they don't match 99% of the time. I definitely don't blame you though since it's a publisher/marketing decision.