Black Heart Blog Tour! Author Interview with... Holly Black

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I'm very excited to be taking part today in the Canadian Blog Tour for Holly Black's latest novel, Black Heart, the final novel in the Curse Workers trilogy! I read Black Heart the other night and absolutely loved it. Just like the previous novels, it was unpredictable and left me guessing what would happen next until the very end. If you're a fan of the series, I'm sure you'll be running to the bookstore as soon as it's released!

Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada, I was able to ask Holly a few questions...

Cassel Sharpe knows he’s been used as an assassin, but he’s trying to put all that behind him. He’s trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He’s trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he’s trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he’s been raised to believe the government is the enemy.

But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes increasingly blurred. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what’s a con and what’s truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet—this time on love. 

1) Who was your favourite character to write about in Black Heart

Other than Cassel and Lila, I always loved writing Barron, because although he might be a sociopath, he's also a lot of fun. When he's in a scene, crazy things are going to happen! And I love writing Cassel and Barron's grandfather -- an assassin, sure, but full of warm-hearted yet vaguely sinister advice and support for his grandkids nonetheless. 

2) I've always been amazed how Cassel can find himself in a heap of trouble, but then find a solution in a way where all the details in the book suddenly fall into place. How did you research the cons and techniques involved which Cassel routinely uses in the books? 

I did wind up doing a lot of research for the book, but the research was really interesting. Lots of times I am drawn to a story because I am interested in the research. I re-read a bunch of noir classics and hardboiled mysteries, read a lot of books on true crime, read more about organized crime, and watched many heist movies. But I think, in the end, the two most useful books were The Big Con, which analyzes different cons in great detail and Influence: A Psychology of Persuasion, which talks about how people can be made to do things. I would recommend them to anyone. 

3) If you were a member of Zacharov's crime syndicate, what kind of curse worker would you be and how would you use your talents to make your boss proud? 

That's a great question! I think I would like to be a luck worker because I think in that line of work, low expectations are the best way to make your boss proud. My aim would be to keep a low profile and also to get a cool mobster name, like Holly "The Squid" Black or Holly "Triple Shot Espresso, No Sugar" Black. 

4) The entire look for the Curse Workers trilogy was recently given a completely new facelift. Was the new concept for the cover designs a welcome change? 

The artwork is really beautiful and very different from anything I've seen before. What I think I like best about it is how the covers feel simultaneously very modern and also reminiscent of a cover that might be at home on The Great Gatsby. But what I really hope is that other people will like the covers, pick up the books and give the series a try. 

5) With the series coming to a close, can you share with us what you're working on next for readers to enjoy? 

In 2013, I actually have TWO books coming out. 

I have a middle grade called DOLL BONES, about three kids -- Zachary, Poppy and Alice -- who go on a journey, despite their own uncertain friendship, to bury a doll that may or may not be made from human bones. It's creepy and fun and it may be the most difficult thing I've ever written, but I am really, really proud of it. 

The second book is a teen novel, called THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN. It's based on a short story I wrote a few years ago and it's set in a world where the sudden spread of vampirism caused the United States to wall off parts of cities, creating "Coldtowns" where humans and vampires live side by side in a lawless and decadent détente. Outside the quarantined zones, people watch videos uploaded from inside with fascination, making instant celebrities of monsters. When only Tana Bach and her ex-boyfriend, Aidan, survive a lockdown party massacre that leaves both of them infected, they have to travel with a half-mad vampire named Gavriel, into the heart of everything that Tana has always feared. 

That's the first time I tried to summarize COLDTOWN -- it's hard because I'm not quite finished with it yet!


Thanks so much to Holly Black for answering my questions! Don't forget, Black Heart will be hitting shelves on April 3! And if you haven't checked out the Curse Workers series yet, I'd highly recommend you give the books a try!

You can learn more about Holly Black and the Curse Workers series on Simon & Schuster Canada's website.

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  1. Great Interview!
    I still can't get over the change in covers! :(

  2. Great interview, Liz!! So excited for The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I LOVED that short story! And we all know my love of Cassel Sharpe :D So sad to see the series come to an end, but it was fantastic.

  3. GREAT INTERVIEW! You had some amazing questions! ;)

    I have not read this series, but plan to pick it up soon. I love the new covers so much. And seriously, those new books Holly is working on sound wicked!