Claire Legrand used to be a musician until she realized she couldn’t stop thinking about the stories in her head. Now she is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven published novels, with more on the way.
Her first novel is The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, one of the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing in 2012. She is also the author of The Year of Shadows, a ghost story for middle grade readers; and Winterspell, a young adult re-telling of The Nutcracker. Some Kind of Happiness, her middle grade novel about mental illness, family secrets, and the power of storytelling, is a 2017 Edgar Award Nominee. Claire’s latest middle grade novel, Thornlight, is a classic fantasy-adventure and a companion novel to the acclaimed Foxheart, a 2016 Junior Library Guild selection. She is one of the four authors behind The Cabinet of Curiosities, an anthology of dark middle grade short fiction that was a Junior Library Guild selection, a Bank Street Best Book, and among the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing in 2014.
Her first young adult horror novel, Sawkill Girls, received five starred reviews. It was also a 2018 Bram Stoker Award finalist and a 2019 Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her second young adult horror novel, Extasia, was a Spring 2022 Kids’ Indie Next List pick.
Furyborn, an epic fantasy novel for young adults, debuted at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list, and is the first book in the Empirium Trilogy. The next book in the series, Kingsbane, was also an instant New York Times bestseller. The final book in the series, Lightbringer, released October 13, 2020.
The first book in her debut adult series, the Middlemist Trilogy, will release in spring 2023.
When not writing, Claire enjoys tending to her many plants, learning about fashion and interior design, and quoting Star Trek to anyone who will listen.
Voyage: What was the inspiration behind your novel, Extasia? What made you want to tell this story?
Claire Legrand: Three things inspired me to write Extasia: a fascination with the psychology of cults; a love of stories that explore the links connecting women, nature, and magic; and a conversation I had with a dear friend of mine a few years ago. She and I were brainstorming, trying to figure out what my next horror novel should be, and our conversation led us to the idea of a girl who is the patron saint of rage. That striking image, plus my other two nuggets of inspiration, combined to become Extasia.
V: When you write your stories, what is the one thing you hope readers will take away?
CL: What I hope for my readers is what I always hope for myself when picking up a new book—that I’ll be so absorbed in the story that I’ll forget about real life for a while, and that the book will make me feel something deeply, whether that’s sadness or anger or delight, or maybe something too intangible to put into words. My favorite books are often the ones that resonate with me in profound ways that I can’t always describe. I would be thrilled and honored to know that a reader had that kind of experience with one of my books.
V: What was the hardest scene of Extasia to write?
CL: The visitation scenes were the most difficult for me to write. They were technically challenging, featuring a lot of characters and action. They were also infuriating. I hated what Amity was going through. It was horrible to experience her fear and pain. I wanted to swoop right into the manuscript and rescue her. But then, of course, there wouldn’t have been a story.
V: If you could tell your younger writer self-anything, what would it be?
CL: Poor younger Claire. She was so worried about getting published at a certain time, in a certain way, and with a certain level of success, and it devastated her every time something interfered with the goals she’d set for herself. I would give her a big hug and tell her to chill out. I would also tell her to trust her voice, her artistic vision, and not agonize over the things she can’t control. That’s been the most important guiding light for me over the years, and the hardest lesson to learn.
V: What are your writing must-haves?
CL: Glass after glass of water, my “magic blanket” (an old fluffy gray blanket with a big hole in it, which also just happens to be the best blanket in the world), my Spotify library, and, ideally, a clean, quiet workspace.