Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Ontario Teen Book Fest: Spotlight on Jessica Cluess

I'm so excited to be able to be a part of the blog tour for this amazing festival once again this year! And I was actually luck enough to get 2 amazing authors to feature. My first is Jessica Cluess, author of A Shadow Bright and Burning.

But first! Here's a little about the event:
  • When: Saturday March 3rd , 9am to 5pm
  • Where: Colony High School 3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761
  • The Ontario Teen Book Fest Website:
  • THIS IS A FREE AND UNTICKETED EVENT! There is also a FREE lunch provided by Panera Bread!
  • If you want to post about it on social media, use the hashtag #ontariotbf!
The event is sponsored by Once Upon A Time. They will have books available for purchase at the event. There will also be t-shirts and posters available for purchase as well. You can find out more about them on their website:

I'm not the only stop on the blog tour! You can find the rest of the authors featured here:
FEB 19th
Spotlight on Jennifer Brody - What A Nerd Girl Says
Spotlight on Abdi Nazemian - Read Now Sleep Later 
FEB 20th
Spotlight on Anthony Breznican - Starkiller Reads
Spotlight on Lilliam Rivera - Movies Shows and Books 
FEB 21st
Spotlight on Jessica Cluess - The Readers Antidote
Spotlight on Cindy Pon - My Fangirl Chronicles 
FEB 22nd
Spotlight on Keynote Speaker Ellen Hopkins - Germ Magazine 
FEB 23rd
Spotlight on Aditi Khorana - Nite Lite Book Reviews
Spotlight on Mary Pearson - Adventures of a Book Junkie 
FEB 24th
Spotlight on Emily Ziff Griffin - Nite Lite Book Reviews
Spotlight on Brandy Colbert - Read Now Sleep Later 
FEB 25th
Spotlight on Keynote Speaker Josephine Angelini - The Readers Antidote 
FEB 26th
Spotlight on Isabel Quintero -  What A Nerd Girl Says
Spotlight on Amy Spalding - My Fangirl Chronicles 
FEB 27th
Spotlight on Jonathan Maberry - Seeking Bazinga
Spotlight on Keynote Speaker Jeff Garvin - Movies Shows n Books 
FEB 28th:
Spotlight on Ava Dellaira - Book Lovers Book Reviews
Spotlight on Kim Turrisi - Starkiller Reads 
MAR 1st:
Spotlight on Jessica Brody - Adventures of a Book Junkie 
MAR 2nd:
Spotlight on Robin Benway - What A Nerd Girl Says
Spotlight on Lindsey Summers - Seeking Bazinga

And now, about my author, Jessica Cluess!

Who is Jessica?

Jessica Cluess is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she’s not writing books, she’s an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.  
About the first book in her Kingdom on Fire series: 
I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves? 
Visit her website to learn more!


How did you come up with the idea for A Shadow Bright and Burning, and was it your first book idea?
A Shadow Bright and Burning came to me because of Nicholas Nickleby, the Charles Dickens novel. In that story, Nicholas is a young man who is very honorable and takes action instantly. In my favorite scene, he physically stops an attack on a defenseless boy. I wondered how a young woman in the Victorian era would have handled that—would she have gotten a knife, or a gun? Then I had this image of her opening her hands and shooting flame out of them, and I realized that might be a very fun character to write. And no, ASBAB was definitely not my first book idea. I had about five “trunked” novels when I finally started writing ASBAB. It was a lot of work to get there, but very
necessary work.

Who’s your favorite character of your series so far?
I suppose on one level it’s got to be Henrietta, since she’s my protagonist and I see everything through her eyes. However, I’m a big fan of supporting characters who offer comic relief, and in that sense Henrietta’s magician mentor, Hargrove, is probably my favorite. He’s sort of over everything when we meet him, and can be snide and sarcastic.

What’s your writing process?
I like to start with what I call a beat sheet. I have an idea for the overarching story, then I write down a loose outline. I only have about six or seven “beats”, including the catalyst, i.e what sets the story in motion, the midpoint where everything shifts, and the climax. Then I write down some large character shifts, and just start writing. If I don’t plan anything, I wind up lost, but if I overplan I start clashing with giving the story its natural way. After I rough draft, I read over the book, take notes, and do another draft to make the story more coherent. Then a polish, then I hand it over to my beta readers for advice.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Flying. I’m a kid in that way. I’d probably have to drive out somewhere more secluded to fly, though. I live in the middle of a city, and people would be bound to notice.

Besides finishing up the trilogy, what else are you working on?
I have a secret project that I cannot talk about right now. It may involve dragons. That’s
all I can say.

What was your favorite book of 2017?
That’s tough. It might be Stephanie Garber’s Caraval. I’m a sucker for dark, fantastical circus books, and Caraval is all of that and more. I highly recommend it.

If you could sort your main characters into Hogwarts houses, what would they be?
Henrietta: Ravenclaw, because of how much she loves to learn. If she had her way, she’d be in a quiet library the rest of her life.
Blackwood: Slytherin. This was the easiest one to sort. He may be honorable, but he’s highly ambitious.
Magnus and Rook flip flop for me. On the surface, Magnus should be Gryffindor because of his bravado, and Rook should be Hufflepuff because of his modest ambitions and sweetness. But Magnus is also fiercely loyal to his friends, and as the series goes on focuses less on his own fame and more on other people. Rook, meanwhile, has to battle a terrible disease with stoicism. So I’d say they go back and forth between the two houses.

What fantasy world would you most want to live in?
I think the default answer to this is Harry Potter, only because most fantasy worlds are horrible. They make for great drama, but you wouldn’t want to live there.


The Giveaway: It's a rafflecopter giveaway! The prize for the giveaway is an Ontario TBF poster signed by all attending authors (please make note that authors can cancel, or be missed in the signing of the poster…though that is all VERY rare!). You can find it on Rafflecoptor here: Or enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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