Hello and welcome to my stop for this week’s blog tour featuring the #StrangeLit bundle, #FatefulTurns! For this round, I’ve chosen to interview Chi Yu Rodriguez, author of Sparks of Circumstance.
At eighteen, Jana Cross begins to dream.
Sometimes, her dreams are of a cafe that sells a different kind of coffee. Here, espresso shots are focus and discipline, sugars and syrups are encouragement, tea and milk are calm, and whipped cream is joy.
Sometimes, she dreams of another realm, an enchanted forest with different creatures doing her bidding and her subjects calling her by a different name. She dreams of power, of striking fear. She dreams of things that aren’t real.
Or are they?
When danger finds Jana, she begins to follow her dreams. Will they lead her to her death? Or will they finally lead her to the truth?
This is the beginning of her story.
I wanted to try something different for this interview, so I prepared small note cards on which I wrote a few keywords I got from reading Sparks of Circumstance. I asked the author to pick cards (which were presented face down) and she answered questions based on the keywords on the cards she picked.
This is the very first Keyword Q&A I’ve done, and I intend to do more of it in the future, but for now, here’s Chi Yu Rodriguez talking about her favorite thing about the book, a bit about her writing process for SoC, and a brief introduction on what’s to come.
Click on the Read More button to read the interview.
The first word she picked out is FAVORITE.
Q: Name your favorite anything from the story you wrote.
Rodriguez said her favorite aspect in the story is Brewdoo, the coffee shop, “because that’s where the story originally started.”
“Obviously, it evolved. Because from being the main part of the story, it became just a small part. I used it to explain how drinking at Starbucks made me feel?” (Side Note: We had to laugh at this point, because this girl practically lives in Starbucks, so . . . yeah. Naturally she would write about a fantastical version of her favorite cafe.)
“It sounds mababaw (but) may sentimental value sa akin yung pagpunta ko ng Starbucks almost every day. That’s my favorite because that’s what I wanted (to show), giving a bit of fantasy to something real. I was just drinking coffee one morning and then it suddenly came to me: ‘Ah! Whipped cream . . . gives me joy. Let’s make it magical! Let’s say that whipped cream at this coffee place gives people joy. Espresso wakes me up so let’s make it that espresso gives people focus and determination.’”
Next word: ELDUNFOLK.
Q: I know you created a world specifically for this story, can you tell us about the Eldunfolk? How did you come up with them, and how are they like?
“Siyempre all of us started researching creatures, that was the first instinct. We search for types of magic, the kinds of creatures you could use . . . So while I was researching I encountered this Scandinavian legend of the huldrefolk. Technically, yung description nila is they are fairies, and they originated from Scandinavia.”
These huldrefolk, she continued, looked like humans but with monkey tails. They are also able to marry humans and have gifted children. As she went about conceptualizing her story, she ended up merging the idea of “elves as helpers” and huldrefolk, thus Eldunfolk.
“In the world that I created, they are the world’s helpers, essentially. Hidden in plain sight. They’re everywhere, (but) people don’t know they are. They can be doctors, they can be as simple as a classmate, your server at a restaurant, dentists . . . I created it in a way that Eldunfolk had been around for centuries. As in forever, since time began. They make the earthly realm move, they help people achieve what they need to achieve to move forward.”
“They are not of this world but they live in another realm just under the surface. Just imagine, for example, you’re having a bad day. Nakaupo ka sa sidewalk tapos namomroblema ka, tapos may dumating na tao na tinulungan ka in some way. (Even if it’s) the smallest thing like, inabutan ka ng tissue pamunas ng pawis mo. Or kunwari 30 minutes ka nang nawawala tapos biglang may magtuturo na lang sa iyo (ng daan).
Like good samaritans, I pointed out, and she agreed.
Third, she picked out NAMES.
Q: I noticed that you have very creative names for your characters, for most of them at least. What was the process you went through coming up with those names? Are there meanings behind the names?
“With the human names, I went by feeling lang talaga. Actually, may friend ako na pangalan niya Imarie. It felt like a good name for the character. And then Jana is based on the peg (Im Jinah of After School). The other names, like for the creatures, like Kick—I based Kick off of sprites. They’re small fairies, very excitable. So in the world that I created, I renamed sprites into sprees. And then Kick felt like a good name to call someone who is very hyper, very fast, and is very small.”
Rodriguez also gave a new name for what we know as white ladies—Pallids—essentially because the word “pallid” meant “pale.” As for the certain Pallid in the book named Vier, she laughed and admitted she didn’t know where that came from. “When I decided I’m gonna talk about this Pallid, the first word that came to mind was Vier, so I used Vier.”
Cupid is called Cusp (from the word “cuspid”), because the character represents the meeting of two people. Empaths are called Vibbs, a wordplay on the word vibes. Alurs got their creature name from the word “allure,” because they have a seductive quality to them, like sirens, which was where their character profile was based on.
The fourth keyword, which seemed to make her panic, was SNEAK PEEK.
Q: Because the story is not finished yet, can you give us something to look forward to in your next book? Is there action? Is there a kissing scene (#priorities)?
“We had very little time to write our #StrangeLit.” (Me: Yes, I know. *laughter*) Unfortunately, I spent most of that time building this world. Actually, hindi ko pa alam kung unfortunate ba yun or fortunate na I spent all that time building this world. So even though I was nervous to answer your question (about the Eldunfolk), I was glad you asked because I wanted people to know more (that she wasn’t able to just yet in the released book).”
“What comes after? A huge part of it will be exploring the world that I created. The next part will not start where I left off. The one in this bundle is Book 1, (but) the next part will not start where that left off. You will only find out what happens after they went to the Elds at the end of Book 2. Everything in between will explain Lealle, where she came from, Imarie and Jehath’s relationship, Jana’s childhood, it’s all going to be there.”
(Side Note: There’s a beat, after which Rodriguez said “Hopefully!” and we laughed once again. Yes, we understand how difficult writing something ambitious could be, but we all dare tread that territory anyway, don’t we?)
“Or actually, Jana’s childhood will be mentioned just a little bit. Everything that involves Jehath and Imarie’s relationship that mentions Jana, that’s it. (Book 2) will mostly be exploring the Elds and the other creatures, so that I can give the readers a nicer, clearer picture of how the Elds and the earthly realm has been interacting the past few centuries.”
Q: How much have you written of this second book? Can you give me, say, a percentage?
“Oh my God.” *more laughter* “10%?” *even more laughter* “I’m so sorry to whoever is reading this interview! I promise to try my best!”
The fifth and last word she picked was BREW.
Q: If you were an Eldunfolk working in Brewdoo, what would be your specialty? You don’t have to name it, you can just tell me what it makes people do or what it causes people to feel . . .
“All the feelings.” *laughter, followed by a long pause for contemplation* “Green tea latte with mint syrup and a lot of whipped cream. Because I want to make people HAPPY! Actually baka maging high sila non, because tea is calm and peace, so zen. Tapos may milk pa which is the same thing. And then may mint pa which is encouragement, and then may whipped cream ka, which is joy.”
Q: So basically, they’re gonna be flower people. The “make love, not war” kind.
“It’s a very hippie drink. It’s marijuana, but legal.” *laughter*
And with that question, we ended this interview on a HIGH note. (Pfft, I know, lame pun.)
Thank you so much to The Bookish Diaries Book Tours for organizing this blog tour for us. If you want to visit their website, click on their nifty banner below.
Next week, the #StrangeLit #DarkestDreams blog tour will be happening and I will be interviewing another author, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, I hope you guys take advantage of this week’s bundle SALE and enjoy the stories!
Chi Rodriguez has many feelings. Sometimes these feelings find their way to paper in the form of short stories and fiction online. Sometimes they don’t come out at all and end up as unresolved sexual tension or terrible internal angst. She prefers making imaginary people go through these feelings for her pleasure. Her muses hate her for it, and they repay her by being forever fickle. She wrestles with them in her head everyday.