I am so very excited to chat up one of my most anticipated French fantasies of the year (and there are A LOT of them)–Addie Thorley’s debut, An Affair of Poisons!
I’ve read it already and y’all can be jealous because it is AWESOME and is so so exciting to read. I was on the edge of my seat during the last half, waiting to see how all of the manipulations would play out (and omg that ending!!!)
So safe to say, I’m really excited that this book came out yesterday, and am more than pumped that Addie is on the blog today chatting about An Affair of Poisons!
From talking about France to complex characters to writing advice to alchemy, Addie has so many amazing things to say and I hope you enjoy this interview! Amusez-vous!
Addie! It’s so wonderful to have you on my blog today. I’m so excited for An Affair of Poisons to come out and I can’t wait to hear what everyone says! For readers unfamiliar with An Affair of Poisons, can you summarize, but by only using lines from the book?
Thanks so much for hosting me, Vicky! I’m very excited to talk about An Affair of Poisons, and what better way to dive in than with quotes from the book?! (Warning: I’ve never done this before, so hopefully I don’t muck it up!) Here we go:
“I wet my lips and swallow hard. How can I trust you? You deceived me, used me. We poisoned the king.”
“I wake up sweating, shaking, and sometimes even sobbing. Yes, I wished for change, for acknowledgment, but never like this. Everything is twisted and wrong. I finally have access to my sisters only to watch them die. My siblings and I share the same status and accommodations, but they’re squalid and putrescent, even worse than the servants’ quarters.
The Devil must be having a good laugh.”
“I squeeze my eyes shut, wishing I had developed a draught to render myself invisible. How blissful it would be to vanish, to slip away to some other city and live some other life. To shed the skin of Mirabelle Monvoisin and become someone new, someone who doesn’t have to live in fear of her mother and compete with her sister and flounder every second, wondering if she’s crossed a line. Or if she was standing on the correct side of the line to begin with. At what point does gray bleed into black?”
“She may look small and innocent, but Desgrez is undoubtedly right. She cannot be trusted. Her family is responsible for murdering half of the nobility. My father and the queen included.
But she’s my sisters’ best chance at survival.
Their only chance.”
“We’re more alike than either of us would care to admit. In another life, we might have been friends.
But not in this one.”
I have to say–I’m one of those people who go absolutely starry eyed over France and just how magical and romantic it sounds (as you can tell, I’ve never visited). And historical France holds so much interesting richness and culture, I can’t help but ask–what made you write An Affair of Poisons in France during this time period vs. somewhere else or in another time?
I’m one of those people who gets all starry-eyed over France as well! I’ve always been obsessed with the City of Lights, so when I started writing novels, it was the first place my imagination went. An Affair of Poisons is actually the third book I’ve written that’s set in France (the other two will NEVER see the light of day!) and I wrote them all without ever having been there myself. (Thank you internet!) After finishing Poisons, I finally got to visit Paris, and thanks to my research, it felt so familiar–almost like coming home. It was such a cool experience.
As for the time period, An Affair of Poisons is actually a reimagining of a notorious historical event called L’affaire des poisons, which took place at the end of the 17th century. It all started when members of the French nobility began hiring witches and poisoners to get rid of their bothersome husbands and rivals at court. It turned into a huge scandal that reached clear to the king’s inner circle. It sounded like something straight out of a novel–I couldn’t believe it actually happened–and I knew I wanted to dive deeper and put my own spin on it.
Mirabelle seems like a character who learns a lot during the book–especially after that huge discovery that her mother’s Shadow Society is a murderer. I love complex characters like this, and what about Mirabelle do you think will appeal to readers the most?
Morally gray characters are my JAM! Mirabelle was so fun to write; I loved exploring her escalating fear and guilt juxtaposed against her loyalty to her family and the life she’s always known. I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to– how our worldview changes and broadens as we grow up. Sometimes the heroes and beliefs of our childhood turn out to be not-so-heroic after all and we have to forge our own path. Mirabelle is very determined to redeem herself, and I think her tenacity and unflinching courage to step out of her mother’s shadow are my favorite things about her.
The entire concept of Mirabelle being a poisoner and alchemist is so cool and I can definitely relate (okay, kind of relate) because I love organic chemistry and learning about chemicals and compounds. What was the most interesting part of this facet of An Affair of Poisons to write?
The research was fascinating! I read a lot of books about poison specifically, but I also read a book about herbalism and the mystical properties associated with different plants, so it was really fun to incorporate those elements into the magic system. I almost felt like an alchemist myself–I took the scientific principles of alchemy, infused them with historical, mystical beliefs, and transmuted them into something entirely new and original.
Lastly, for all the aspiring authors in the crowd, what was the most important piece of advice that helped make An Affair of Poisons happen for you?
I think the biggest lessons I learned along the way are to embrace revision and try to be patient. (Easier said than done, I know!) When Poisons first went on submission to publishers, we had lots of early interest that turned into several Revise and Resubmits. (When an editor gives you notes and agrees to take another look) Each time I dove into these edits (some of which required HUGE changes), I was certain that this would be IT. The editor would love this version of the story and I would get my book deal. Except they didn’t. I was doing these massive revisions, and the editors were still passing for one reason or another. It was extremely frustrating. I felt like I was doing all of this work for nothing. But you know what? Each revision brought the book a little bit closer to the version that did sell. If I hadn’t been willing to make those changes, the story would have never reached its full potential. It needed that time, and all of those revisions, to marinate. Looking back now, I’m SO GLAD the first versions of Poisons didn’t sell. It wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready. So if you’re currently banging your head against the publishing wall, try to take a deep breath, and then don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and make big changes. I promise you the effort won’t be in vain, whether or not that book sells.
Hearing about all that research makes me want to gobble up more historical fiction! I can’t imagine all the work that goes into researching these types of stories, and the Affair of Poisons sounds like such a wild event–I’ll have to read up on it more!
You can find out more of my thoughts on this awesome book in my review here, but in short: I really enjoyed reading!
Now, keep your eyes peeled in the rest of this post for more fun things (cough cough giveaway cough INTL). And make sure to let Addie know on her social channels if you enjoyed reading this!
More About the Book
An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley
Hardcover, 400 pages
February 26th 2019 by Page Street Kids
No one looks kindly on the killer of a king.
After unwittingly helping her mother poison King Louis XIV, seventeen-year-old alchemist Mirabelle Monvoisin is forced to see her mother’s Shadow Society in a horrifying new light: they’re not heroes of the people, as they’ve always claimed to be, but murderers. Herself included. Mira tries to ease her guilt by brewing helpful curatives, but her hunger tonics and headache remedies cannot right past wrongs or save the dissenters her mother vows to purge.
Royal bastard Josse de Bourbon is more kitchen boy than fils de France. But when the Shadow Society assassinates the Sun King and half of the royal court, he must become the prince he was never meant to be in order to save his injured sisters and the petulant dauphin. Forced to hide in the sewers beneath the city, Josse’s hope of reclaiming Paris seems impossible―until his path collides with Mirabelle’s.
She’s a deadly poisoner. He’s a bastard prince. They are sworn enemies, yet they form a tenuous pact to unite the commoners and former nobility against the Shadow Society. But can a rebellion built on mistrust ever hope to succeed?
More About the Author
Addie Thorley (Author of An Affair of Poisons) | Goodreads Addie Thorley spent her childhood playing soccer, riding horses, and scribbling stories. After graduating from the University of Utah with a degree in journalism, she decided “hard news” didn’t contain enough magic and kissing, so she flung herself into the land of fiction and never looked back.
She now lives in Princeton, New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and wolf dog, and when she’s not writing she can be found gallivanting in the woods or galloping around the barn where she works as a horse trainer and exercise rider.
AN AFFAIR OF POISONS is her debut novel.
You can find her online at www.addiethorley.com or on Twitter @addiethorley.
If you haven’t been poisoned and have made it this far through the post . . . want to try your luck once more at winning a copy of An Affair of Poisons?!
One lucky winner will receive a hardback of An Affair of Poisons (open internationally where Book Depository ships!). If you’re located in the US, you can get a signed copy and swag!
Good luck, and may you not be poisoned in the process. Or, avoid potential poisonings and buy the book using one of the buy links in the “More About the Book” section!