The downside to a trilogy you love is that after book 3, it’s all over. I tore through Emblaze (out March 5), the third book in Jessica Shirvington’s Embrace series, thinking that the end was right around the corner. But you have to love life’s little surprises: There are two more books in the series. If you’ve managed to miss out on this must-read, now’s the time to catch up. Especially before the TV version hits the air. (The CW is developing an hourlong drama based on the books.) Check out this interview with author Shirvington, and then click through for an exclusive excerpt from Emblaze.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where did you come up with the idea for the Embrace series?
Jessica Shirvington: I just sort of stumbled into it. I’m a research person. So I literally started with the names Violet and Lincoln and the idea that I wanted a story to be all about choice and consequence—Violet’s choices, the mistakes she makes, the good choices she makes, what they lead to, and how she deals with him. I started by researching the word “violet.” And then I liked the idea of bringing the supernatural into it, but I didn’t want it to be highly supernatural. I then went down the angel road, and once I discovered the angelic hierarchy and how that works—the idea that there’s this government of angels and they have this specific function which is rotating around human function to keep the universe going—I was gone. Working with story of angels and different biblical tales from all different religions, I’ve found holes in stories and came up with Embrace.
Embrace was first published in Australia. Do you get different reactions from your Australian and U.S. readers?
It is a little bit different. Across the board, readers are readers. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world. I think there can be an overall similar feeling or similar variance of feelings. But I really notice how in the U.S., readers seem to just go from one book to the next and love them each more. Whereas in Australia, it seems more like they are following along with the series. In the reviews in the U.S. they are like, “This is my favorite book.” Then they read the next one and are like, “No this is my favorite book.” It’s a great thing because when you have a series you want the books to get better. You want to be keeping your readers surprised and engaged.
Each chapter in the series starts with a famous quote. Do you have quotes in mind for the story, or do you plug those in after?
The quotes come after. A lot of them come from my research. I’ll often come across a line and I’ll be like, wow that’s really powerful and I’ll just jot it down. And then, at the end, when I’ve got the story I go back and start thinking about what will go onto each chapter. And this all started because of the quote that actually leads chapter one in Embrace. It’s actually a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: “Outside, among your fellows, among strangers, you must preserve appearances, a hundred things you cannot do; but inside, the terrible freedom!” I just stumbled across that quote when I was writing Embrace. Knowing I was writing a YA story I just felt like it was so relevant to my characters, but also to the YA audience…. I just knew I wanted to use that, and then it just led me to finding lots of other quotes.
I didn’t realize at the time what I was getting myself into. Because when you’re looking about it, you’ve got between 30 and 40 quotes per book. [Laughs] It’s a really big task.
UP NEXT: More with Shirvington and an exclusive excerpt from Emblaze, the third book in the Embrace series…
What can you tell us about Endless, the fourth book in the series?
It’s very intense. I suppose I don’t want to talk about the story too much because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. All I can really tell you is that when I wrote it, I cried a lot. A lot.
And does the fifth and final book have a name yet?
Not yet. I’m thinking it will be decided soon, but we haven’t made any final decisions. I can tell you it will start with an E. [Laughs]