Nevermoor: Q&A with Jessica Townsend

This October, a fantastical and much-anticipated debut novel bursts onto the scene: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, (published by Hachette). Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.
It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart–an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests–or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate…
We asked Nevermoor author Jessica Townsend some questions:

Other than writing AMAZINGLY, what’s your ‘talent’?

That’s very kind, thank you. Writing is actually just a hobby; my real talent is knowing all the lyrics to Gangsta’s Paradise. I’m treading water while I figure out how to make a career out of it. Watch this space.

What features do you look for in a hotel?

I mean… I’m not fussy? I guess a comfy bed, a pleasant view, a giant talking cat. A room that changes to suit my personality. Helpful staff. Nice toiletries. Chandeliers that re-grow themselves. A parlour that pours scented, coloured, mood-altering vapour from the walls. A bar. The usual?

Do you have any specific writing rituals or places that you like to write? 

I have specific cafes I like to write in because they have the right level of ambient noise, optimal chair height to table height for comfortable typing, and good coffee (obviously; that should have been first on the list to be honest). I also write at home and in my local library, and really any one of these locations could be the right place or the wrong place to write on any given day. It’s a lottery. I kind of have to make my brain go to work wherever I find myself.

I also have a playlist that’s just hours of rain sounds that I play on a loop. That might sound a bit crazy-making, but it’s very helpful if you need to focus.

What is the last book you read that you couldn’t put down?

So shameful, but I’ve hardly read anything for months – every time I pick up a book I just feel guilty that I’m not working on my own instead. My To Be Read pile currently reaches to the moon.

I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks this year, though, and my favourites by far were Robin Stevens’ Murder Most Unladylike series. I churned through them at a rate of knots. Someone on Twitter (I wish I could remember who) recently described them as “like a warm hug, with murder”, and I can’t think of a better description. I adore Hazel and Daisy.

If you could be any character from a children’s book – who/what would you be and why? 

OF COURSE I’d be a character from Harry Potter, because who in their right mind doesn’t want to go to Hogwarts? But (and this is the key thing) I’d be a peripheral character, not one of that lot who are always getting into trouble and having megalomaniacal villains chase after them and whatnot. I’d be Hannah Abbott, or some other fabulous Hufflepuff. All of the magical fun, none of the magical drama.

What are you writing now/next?

I am finishing up Morrigan Crow’s second adventure! More Morrigan & Jupiter bants, more Fenestra Snark, more Hawthorne mischief, and much more exploration of the city of Nevermoor. It’s been fun and challenging trying to pin down how the Wundrous Society operates.

Photo credit: Lani Carter


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