Posted by kirstyes
I’m thrilled to be sharing my interview with Jennifer Mason-Black whose first book ‘Devil and the Bluebird’ is out now.
Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass.
Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself to finding family in unexpected places.
In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a heart-wrenching depiction of loss and hope.
Interview with Jennifer Mason-Black
The cover of Devil and the Bluebird is delicious. How much input did you as the author have in that?
I had no input on the initial design, which makes the fact that I love it so much more wonderful. The sole change I participated in involved the boots (they were originally something else). But that adjustment was really my editor’s suggestion; I just enthusiastically agreed. The elements inside the guitar all refer to specific pieces of the story. It was so fun to see them for the first time. Who am I kidding? It’s still fun to see them!
I’m a huge Supernatural fan and was very excited to read about a ‘Devil-at-the-crossroads’ YA tale. What were your inspirations for this story?
My inspirations are all over the place. I’ve known the story of Robert Johnson for most of my life and it definitely plays a role. Beyond that, all the musicians I’ve known have been wonderful, talented people who center their lives around music, but will never be household names. Their stories definitely influenced Blue’s. As do my own experiences as a writer…I’m interested in the roads we have to travel in order to test ourselves, learn who we are and what we’re meant to do. It’s really a story made up of bits of song I’ve heard and faces I’ve seen and unexpected kindnesses I’ve encountered—all sorts of things.
Music seems to be important to your character – why?
Blue grew up with music. Prior to her mother’s death, Blue’s family—herself, her mother, her sister, and her mother’s partner, Tish—had a life that revolved around her mother’s band. After her mother’s death, Blue turns to her mother’s guitar for solace. So much of her journey across the country is about her coming to terms with her relationship to music, with understanding that she’s more than the little sister singing along, the daughter waiting in the wings.
We grow up fluent in the languages of our parents. Not merely the spoken ones, but the creative ones that emerge in songs, or quilts, or novels. These things we learn sitting in our parents’ laps become part of us. Eventually, though, we become our own people, and in the process, we must develop our own relationships to these creative fires.
Are you musical?
No! Well, I can sing in the car with the best of them, but I play no instruments, have an appalling lack of rhythm, and would quickly starve if left to support myself with music.
Blue’s price is her voice? How hard would you find it to spend a few days without talking?
I’m a fairly silent person by nature, so I’d probably be okay. On the other hand, I’m a mom, and managing my family without being able to shout down the hall might be a challenge.
On a more serious note, while writing Blue’s story I spent quite a bit of time cataloguing all the noise I make. Not just conversation, but the sound that comes when stubbing a toe, or calling out to stop someone from moving into trouble. Not being able to discuss Shakespeare is one thing. Not being able to say “I’m scared” or “WATCH OUT” is something else entirely.
Which writers/books would you name as inspirations?
I have absorbed so many books so deeply that it’s hard to point to specific ones. As an adult, I tend to read with a bit more of a sense of wonder about the writing, with more questioning about things like whether I could handle overlapping POVs or create a captivating omniscient narrator. Which means I often feel less influenced and more challenged by other writers.
Books I read as a kid, on the other hand…those are a huge part of how I write. When I think of influences, those are the ones I pick. Madeline L’Engle, Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, Lois Lowry, Julia Cunningham, Stephen King—that’s a very short list of the many writers whose stories have helped shape my brain and my connection to words.
What are you working on now?
I’m a little superstitious when it comes to talking about projects. Or…maybe less superstitious and more aware that it’s easier for me to talk about the details of an unfinished story than it is for me to write it. So, in the interest of keeping me from being lazy, let’s just say that I have several different stories I’ve been playing with lately. To be honest, it’s been a hard spring when it comes to carving out space to write. I’m looking forward to the summer and more time to spend in my head in productive ways.
My new feature is asking authors if they were to rewrite a book which character would they Repeat, Rewrite and Remove and why. I’d love to know your thoughts.
I’m actually pretty happy with this group of characters. Most of them have fairly lengthy backstories that only I know about, which means that what you see in the book is the tip of the iceberg. There are things about Dill—another traveler that Blue meets—that I’m curious about. Were I to rewrite DEVIL, I might hone him a bit. I don’t think I’d remove anyone. I get very attached to all my characters. Once they’ve made it into a final version, I don’t want to lose them.
1 finished copy of Devil and the Bluebird – Now open Internationally. Yay.
Good Luck everyone.
While you are anxiously awaiting to find out if you’ve won do checkout the rest of the Bash schedule here and follow all the fun using
#16DABash. I’d love to see you back here on 11th June for an interview with Kiran Millwood Hargrave.