Research: Like most writers I suspect, I always do more research than I actually need. Looking through my notes, I researched fire in myth and folklore from dragons (firedrakes) to Jinn (offspring of fire), as well as the science of fire and how it works in order to come up with fire-speaking. I also have notes on Zoroastrianism as well as life in earlier centuries and things like food. Here are some food notes I took from somewhere:
ballock broth, brawn, roast squirrel, capon-neck pudding, tripe, buttered worts, apple mousse, sheep’s milk cheese, bread & butter pudding flavored with marigold, pears stewed in honey & vinegar, plates of hard bread, hot griddle bread
Revision notes from some earlier draft for part 2: "We don’t have enough sense of internal change, from the first tent --> gallows, we should see how her self control diminishes, both growing and letting go (surrender)
"See her scared and weak moments. The burning is manic—have foil scenes where she’s frightened, not everything on such a grand (war) scale, but also personal, losing her friend, Keep her human, inhuman with fire, see human, vulnerable
"Look at sections where she’s gone back on a promise, make sure she’s progressively worse each time, max. 3-4 breaks before capture, punctuate them, get the sense after telling Razo that she’s broken 2, accumulating broken promises, be aware, reflect, wonder am I slipping? Need to justify them, reader should detect that the justification is getting weaker as she goes along (gallows, justify before going)
"Mourn losing Isi, decide that it’s too late to go back, she has to give up everything to see this through, something the augury did not warn her, she has to be the sacrifice
"May even realize at the end that she’s lost it, must be close to where Leifer was when he burned her, or when he burned himself, but also the weight of the augury and her mission compels her to continue"
What strikes me most about reading those notes and reading this chapter is how different a book is from an idea. The notes are full of ideas, but they're not a story. I think sometimes people think the idea is what matters most, but most important is how you tell it. One reason why it's torurous for writers to write a plot synposis. The story isn't the sum of events, it's the words used to tell them.
Eliza asks, "What are some other weird reader theories you've heard for any of your books?" I've heard lots. I never mind when people bring their own interpretations to the book, but I do mind when people insist I had some particular agenda that I didn't. Ah, how many worry that I am out to corrupt the youths!
Viola asks, "do you have to approve all of the cover art or does your publisher handle that?" In the US, I am consulted on cover art, though it's up to the publisher. Outside the US I am not consulted and just see it after it's published (if even then).
Leilani says, "Also, I think had (have) a teensy crush on Finn... (So much butterflies!)" Me too :) I have to fall in love with all my characters in order to feel enough to write. In this book, I fell in love with Enna, Isi, Geric, Finn, Razo, and Sileph.