Coming home to New York in summer holidays is nothing short of torturous. Maggie's mother is officially the worst widow ever and her wayward uncle can't see past the heroin or the twisted pictures he paints. Lonely is normal and normal is becoming unbearable.
Plagued by nightmares and left behind to pick up the pieces of a fallen king, an opportunity of escape leads Cirrus to take a dangerous gamble; a gamble that snatches Maggie out of her uncle’s apartment and into a dangerous world of shifting sand and treacherous beauty.
Now Maggie must fight for a nation she never knew existed. But who can she trust when everything around her is melting like paint? Even more, the man she's fighting against is at once the captor and her savior, the villain and her friend. They could be each other's salvation or destruction, the choice is up to them . . .
Hi Jules! Thank you so much for taking time to answer a few questions.
It’s my pleasure! I love your blog and reviews, so it was a real honor that you asked! J
To start it all off, could you please tell as a few random facts about yourself and your books?
- I’m an avid shipper, my favorite being Johnlock. We’re a passionate bunch and generally get along with other Sherlock fandoms. Can’t say I think much about Sherlolly though (shocker!) Want to start a rumble? HUH?
- I used to be in theatre and met my husband in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He’s still an actor and I get really jealous all the time. He sends me pictures of him in costumes and I’m like, ‘”Oh yeah, work those pantaloons!”
- I once met Ian McKellan and he hugged me. He smelled SO GOOD. I also met Alan Rickman and I think he thought I was a tool. So it all evens out.
- I dreamed up the concept for Reign and Ruin in SAT class (which for everyone who doesn’t take SATs, preps you for the biggest and most useless quiz in the entire American education system). But it was worth it because I was bored enough to start this wonderful journey!
- The Reign and Ruin series used to be one standalone simply called Palet. It was YA and didn’t contain any romance, any blood or any swearing (basically, all the good bits). But it was even weirder! Lucan was a French skeleton called Maurice, Cassandra was a male British explorer who scouted the edges of the Wilds, Leof was a giant bat, and Maggie found her way back to the real world. I KNOW. WHAT RUBBISH.
- Maggie is my all-time favorite name – except my husband hates it so my child will never be so lucky.
Whaaat?! The standalone sounded crazy, and that's saying something because, you know, The Wilds is one crazy journey!
Palet is a complicated world, beautiful and with so many rough edges, was it difficult to make this fantastical setting come alive? In what did you struggle most?
Thank you! I love Palet and its secrets and dark corners. It’s imperfect, constantly forming and always dangerous. But it’s also filled with real people who feel and trust and get up in the morning to make eggs. It’s gorgeous to see readers respond to the fantasy element of Palet, but also connect to the very human elements that they can recognize in the real world, too.
For me, the struggle was giving the world some constraints. I think in my head it was all clear, and I couldn’t quite understand why it was so confusing to others. I had had years to develop and world-build, and when I came upon an obstacle my mind simply made up another rule to go around it. It wasn’t until I had my first beta-read that I realized that there so many layers I might have gotten ahead of myself! It’s one thing to make a world of dreams where anything goes, but readers want you to take them on a journey that they can map!
So, I needed a map.
Or really, I needed a world that had mountains and cities and rules. Sure, things can fly but the sky isn’t endless. Yes, dreams can pop in and out of the air but where do they go when they’re not around? So for me, the biggest struggle was keeping this world in control. And giving readers the ability to visualize it on a larger scale.
What about your characters? Were they difficult to transfer from your mind to the books?
My characters came onto the page without much difficulty, I think because they all had very strong elements that I revered/feared/lusted after/wanted to be, etc. Both Cirrus and Lucan have bits of my ideal man. Maggie has the strength I wish I could see in myself, but also the insecurity I most certainly do know I struggle with. Marty is everything I wanted in an uncle. Once I related my characters to myself, it was easier to give them a voice.
One thing I did not think would happen was change. Cirrus, for example, started off sick. And by sick, I mean demented. He was Cillian Murphy as the Sandman, a Mr. Ripley. A villain. But then his depth reached further than just an obsession and he became relatable. HOW? No idea. I just remember my beta-reader giving me her notes and saying how much she was rooting for Cirrus.
Sometimes, no matter how much you think you know your characters, they morph on their own.
Could you share with us your favorite line or paragraph from The Wilds and tells us why that one?
And the award for hardest question ever goes to . . . Melissa! J Oh goodness, to pick my favorite line or paragraph is nearly impossible. I’m not a ‘”one-liner” kind of girl, although I wish I was clever enough to be. One moment that stands out for me is Leof’s grand entrance. He is really the definition of dramatic! And he’s also clearly insane.
And another introduction I’ve grown fond of is Lucan’s. Maggie has just freed him from the Wilds and has a completely human moment in the midst of all the utter craziness. I think it’s refreshing, and reminds us that yes, this girl is 22 years old and completely out of her depth.
“It was weird. I am a pretty sensible woman. I've been to college and seen the beefed-up frat boys toting their Jell-O shots on the unwary. And the hipster philosophers who buy you flat-whites and discuss the latest electro-funk and bamboo-crafted glass frames. I have kissed and fucked a few of them. But I have never been one of those girls who drinks a Diet Coke while watching the handsome electrician flex their muscles. I do not get lost in any man's eyes.
But there was a lost moment when I watched Lucan shake the water from his face. All I could hear for around ten seconds was the white ringing of static as I followed the sparkling drops of moisture slide slowly down his neck and curve around his broad collar bones. His skin was golden tan and the dark hair on his chest spread down his torso and trailed off. It disappeared at the waistband of his toned naval and wide hips. Hips that looked like they could grind a woman to powder. Somewhere in my mind – pushed back very far, mind you – I was hating myself. Because I was in the middle of the desert running from a man who wanted to steal a throne I didn't know I had yesterday. And I had just saved his brother from crucifixion. And despite the utter absurdity of the situation I was ogling a shirtless man like Spring Break.”
And speaking of The Wilds, was there anything that didn’t make it into the final book?
Yeah, I had to change the entire ending for various reasons. I loved it in a self-indulgent way, but there was no world in which it would have worked for the book.
In the original YA version Maggie’s symbol was more than just an object. I wanted it to be her uncle’s soul and Cirrus to be in possession of it. Therefore, the Walk became more of a game of Hide and Seek. Maggie found her way back to the manor and faced off against Cirrus, who basically just gave up (yawn). He allowed her to free her uncle’s soul by burning a candle, and as the sun rose and the candle sputtered out, the entirety of Palet fell apart and her uncle was free.
The problem? Maggie just stands there and lets a candle do all the work for her! Where is her strength? What did Maggie fight for only to have this world she conquered get destroyed because of a piece of wax?
I haven’t read Out of the Bright yet (promise I will do so soon), but I want to know- What can we expect from this sequel? Will there be more romance, more action?
I can’t wait for you to read it! I think it’s incredibly different to The Wilds. Out of the Bright really gives readers a chance to explore the Middle Canvas. It’s more grounded and steady. This also means it’s quieter, but I think all the characters really grow and this sets things up for the third book (which is basically all out war).
In a nutshell, Out of the Bright has more blood, more romance, more running, and more angst. As Maggie becomes darker, so does the story, and the people around her follow suit.
Besides from writing, what other things do you love to do?
I’m an editor, so I love my day job. And I also play the accordion and watch endless box-sets. I’m one episode away from the finale of Dexter (limping along, I know). But then I have Sons of Anarchy to start, and Mad Men. And OMG the fourth season of AHS! AND GAME OF THRONES.
So, I obviously need to get outside more. I should do a sport. Or learn how to knit (oh god, am I the only person on this earth who hates to knit?).
Are you a cat or a dog person?
Cat. Cat cat cat cat cat. Cat.
And whose cat? My cat. Obvs.
What was the last book that you read?
YA is a weakness of mine, so at the moment I’m reading The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill. Simple, splendid storytelling the way it should be. And before that I CONSUMED Scarlet and Ivy: The Lost Twin. It’s a dark mystery and incredibly engaging. I love books with a sharp edge. It’s what I thrive on.
Do you have a playlist for your books? (I’d love to hear it!)
I only mention songs and artists a few times in this book and the next. It’s hard to find a way for Maggie to listen to music in another world!
So while I don’t have a playlist readers can listen along to, I do have my own store of songs and artists that inspire my writing and remind me of Palet (and of the music that Maggie listened to before she crossed over from the real world) . . .
- Hannah Peel (two songs in particular, Fabricstate and Silk Road)
- Alt-J (both albums, over and over and over on repeat)
- Mazzy Star – So Tonight That I Might See
- Broken Bells (After the Disco album)
- School of Seven Bells (Disconnect from Desire)
- The Decemberists (The King is Dead)
- Black Prairie (A Tear in the Eye is a Wound in the Heart)
- Fredrik - Flora
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?
Be excellent to each other . . .
Thank you so much again, Jules! You are so cool, and I'm very excited to read Out of the Bright. I love it when books turn darker!
About Jules Hedger
Originally from California, Jules Hedger now lives on a houseboat in London with one husband and one cat. She's been a carny, a macaroni and cheese waitress and currently works in genre fiction publishing. The Reign and Ruin series is her debut.
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