Hey! Essence here! I’m joined today by Rebecca Schaeffer, an author who has a thing for anti-heroes. Her debut novel, Not Even Bones, is a dark fantasy about a girl named Nita who loves dissecting monstrous creatures. Until the day she gets kidnapped. You don’t want to miss when this gritty tale hits bookstores this Tuesday. Now, who’s ready to “dissect” this novel? Let’s get to today’s interview! And be sure to stick around until the end of the interview for a giveaway!
Essence: Tell us a little about Kovit. I have a feeling he's going to be a character that readers take with them even after they've finished the book.
Rebecca: Ooooh. I don’t really want to say too much for people who haven’t read the book yet, because I want them to discover him on their own. But I will say when I was creating him, he was very much a reaction to my personal issues with some of the ‘hot bad boy’ characters of YA.
When I started writing, I had a lot feelings about how bad boys had their choices invalidated in many books. Authors took away their agency by blaming their actions on someone else, or on a tragic past — anything to make bad people not responsible for the terrible things they did, so that the audience would like them more. Or, perhaps, so the audience wouldn’t feel bad about liking them.
But I don’t think people need to have their crimes hand waved away to be human and relatable. They don’t need excuses or justifications. So I gave Kovit all those things, the bad past, the terrible boss, and I made him take responsibility for the horrific things he did, and will continue to do. And even though he does horrific things and doesn’t regret it, he is, at his core, an incredibly human character. Much as it scares people to admit, people who do terrible things are still people.
Essence: Nita talks a lot about traveling. Are you a traveler as well? Do you have any favorite destinations?
Rebecca: Yes! I love travelling! I’m a Digital nomad, so I work from my computer and travel to random places and live there for a while.
Oooh, favorite destinations… this is a cruel question, I love so many places! I adore Tokyo, it’s one of my favourite cities in the world. I also love wandering through old European cities, they have such an atmosphere to them. For nature, I loved exploring the salt flats of Boliva, sand boarding in Peru, and hiking in the Rocky Mountains.
Essence: Where did you get the inspiration for this book?
Rebecca: I really wanted to write a novel with main characters who, in any other character’s story, would have been the villain. It was something I’d wanted to do for years, but I wasn’t really sure if an all villain cast was sellable, and I didn’t have quite the right idea for it. Then one day, I was talking to a friend about a different story I was writing, set in the same world as Not Even Bones, and she said to me, “this whole online black market for monster body parts is really cool, but where do the body parts come from?” And I realized that the people hunting down, murdering, and selling monsters would be the perfect opportunity to do the all villain cast I’d always wanted.
Essence: Did you research any real-life animals while writing the creatures in the book?
Rebecca: Yes! Most of my research was actually on human biology, but I also did a lot of research into animals relevant to the legends in the book, like pink dolphins.
Essence: I know this is your first published novel. Congratulations! Are there any half-written or unpublished manuscripts that came before this one?
Rebecca: Oh my goodness yes. So many. So very many. I’ve been writing and trying to get a novel published since I was a teen. I have a folder in my old email with hundreds of rejections from agents and publishers.
Essence: Are you working on a sequel? Or do you have another project in the works?
Rebecca: Yes! I am writing the sequel and it comes out next year!
That’s it for today’s interview with Rebecca. But don’t leave just yet! We’re teaming up with our friends at HMH to give away a copy of Rebecca’s book. You can enter by clicking on the image below. And be sure to come back again next week when we’ll have another awesome interview!