Born in Rochford in 1995, Francesca Burke decided at an early age that the worlds inside
books and television were infinitely preferable to the real one. Initially put off the idea of
being a writer because it requires one to sit alone and ignore people, she now finds sitting
alone and ignoring people to be the most satisfying parts of the job. She lives in Southend-onSea.
1) What got you into writing?
I’ve always been a big reader, and I tried some Maximum Ride fan fiction when I was about 12 (it was not very good). Although it needed work, I really enjoyed it and something just clicked in my brain and I thought ‘I’m okay at this.’ I promise I’ve improved since then.
2) What is your favorite book genre?
Fantasy/fairy tale/magicky/myth-y novels.
3) What was the inspiration for this book?
I wanted to write the sort of fairy tales I wish I’d read as a child or teen.
4) Who is your go to author? (An author that never lets you down with their work).
Maggie Stiefvater. You can watch her prose and storytelling get sharper with every book.
5) What challenges did you face when writing ‘The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes’?
Figuring out an ending! This was very much a case of the first draft was me telling myself the story. All the edits after I finished that first draft were me trying to tie everything together neatly (and to make it look like that was the plan all along…).
6) Are you planning to write more books in this genre?
Probably! I love reading YA, I love reading fantasy and fairy tales, so I will most likely do more of both. I’m writing a short story series at the moment inspired by the major arcana of the tarot deck, which has a lot of magic but is probably a little more adult/new adult.
7) How long did it take to write this book?
Four years with a one year break in the middle.
8) Did you need to do research for your book?
Yes! I went to my local sea life centre to look at lizards to get an idea of how to write the Sapphire Dragon. I also did ‘research’ on holiday in Greece and Barcelona, basically just looking at the lovely architecture and beautiful caves, and stealing everything I could see for the book.
9) What was the most interesting thing you learnt while writing your book?
When I was at Melissani Cave in Kefalonia, in western Greece, I learnt something about fresh water trickling through the cave system into the sea and I think that actually made it into the novel! Don’t quote me if I’ve got it wrong, though, I haven’t had a chemistry lesson in 10 years and there is a very good chance I misheard the guide’s explanation of the cave system.
10) How did you feel when your first book was released?
Nauseous! Excited. Nervous. A bit numb, because it was so long in the making that I’d started to think it wouldn’t happen.
11) If you were sent on a quest, which 3 characters from your book would take with you? (The quest is to retrieve a treasure from a
Ooh good one. I’d take Amelia, because she’s good at monsters and very brave. I’d take Esme, because I think she’s got some interesting magical skills (no spoilers!) that would come in useful. And I think I’d take Violet, because she’s good at being sneaky.
12) Finally, if you could give any advice to future writers, what would it be?
Keep writing. Read a lot. Rinse and repeat forever.
Thank you so much for doing this interview with me, Francesca Burke. It was a wonderful experience, and I wish you all the success with your book.