Book Title: Belladonna
Author: Adalyn Grace
Publisher: Little, Brown for Young Readers
Release Date: August 30, 2022
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Mystery
New York Times bestselling author Adalyn Grace brings to life a highly romantic, Gothic-infused world of wealth, desire, and betrayal.
Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her well-being—and each has met an untimely end. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy. Its patriarch mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she was poisoned, Signa realizes that the family she depends on could be in grave danger and enlists the help of a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.
However, Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he’s made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful—and more irresistible—than she ever dared imagine.
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Adalyn Grace is a New York Times bestselling author of All the Stars and Teeth, which was named “2020’s biggest YA fantasy” by Entertainment Weekly.
Prior to becoming an author, Adalyn spent four years working in live theatre, acted as the managing editor of a nonprofit newspaper, and studied storytelling as an intern on Nickelodeon Animation’s popular series The Legend of Korra.
Local to San Diego, Adalyn spends her non-writing days by watching too much anime, and by playing video games with her dorky dog.
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I am so excited to host one of my all-time favorite authors, Adalyn Grace, on A Court of Coffee and Books today! Thank you so much, Adalyn, for stopping by and don’t forget to preorder a copy of Belladonna!
Hi, Adalyn! What inspired you to write Belladonna?
I had the first spark of an idea for Belladonna about ten years ago, though it took years until I was able to figure out the story well enough to tell it. There were points along the way where Death was never a character, or where I was considering the idea of making the story a middle grade novel! But once I allowed myself to lean into the things I loved (Gothic stories, paranormal elements, heavier romance, masquerade balls), I very quickly figured out the core of this story and wrote it pretty quickly!
What was your favorite part of writing Belladonna?
In terms of the actual story, I really loved writing Signa and Death’s banter and watching their relationship unfold over the pages. I also had so much fun with the mystery, and I can’t wait to see readers’ reactions!
In terms of my experience writing it, I was very lucky to be able to write Belladonna during autumn, which was very convenient since the story takes place throughout the fall and winter. Every night I would open the windows for the cool breeze, light a pumpkin candle, and write by candlelight with spooky music playing in my headphones. . . It was a great time and very on theme, which I think helped me to really lean into the atmosphere of the story! I would love it so much if my scheduled worked out to having me drafting every September-November. Those are the perfect writing months for me!
What can readers expect from your main character, Signa?
Personally, I think Signa is a really relatable character. She’s someone who wants so desperately to fit in, which is something that I’m sure a lot of us are familiar with. Signa’s journey is very much one of learning to feel comfortable in her own skin and learning that the only one she needs to please is herself. I really enjoyed getting to watch her grow throughout the pages.
How different was writing Belladonna compared to your debut book, All the Stars and Teeth?
I always say that All the Stars and Teeth felt like sailing off on an epic seafaring adventure while Belladonna feels like cozying up on the couch with a warm cup of tea. It feels very familiar and very me in a way that I’ve not necessarily felt before. Since this is my third book, I think I also learned a lot about myself as a writer both in terms of what stories I like to tell and what kind of voice I have, as well as learning to trust my gut and ignore outside input that goes against the story I’m trying to tell rather than trying to please everyone.
I love the idea that Signa has to make an alliance with Death in Belladonna. What can you tell the readers about their relationship and how it plays to the story?
Their relationship is one of my favorite parts of this book! They’re both very curious about each other. On Death’s side, he’s never met someone who can see him and who his touch cannot kill. On Signa’s side, she feels as though she’s being haunted by this paranormal being who she believes is ruining her life! And yet she can’t help but to be drawn to him, and to the strange powers that they share. There’s a lot of loathing, a lot of lusting, and a whole lot of banter as they figure each other out.
What do you hope readers take away from Belladonna?
I hope that readers are able to shut down their minds and just have a good time. There are certainly themes in the story and messages I try to get across, but I consider it a bonus if readers take any of that away. We’re living in a really weird and scary world right now, and writing this book was a reprieve to me. All I hope is that it can feel that way to others, too.
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Thank you, TBR and Beyond Tours, for having us on this book tour!