Susan Dennard chats Twitter poll behind the Luminaries

We had the honour of having a quick chat with Susan Dennard on The Luminaries


Ever since her father was exposed as a witch and a traitor, Winnie and her family have been shunned. But on her sixteenth birthday, she can take the deadly Luminary hunter trials and prove herself true and loyal-and restore her family’s good name. Or die trying. Winnie enlists the help of the one person who can help her train: Jay Friday, resident bad boy and Winnie’s ex-best friend. Together, he and Winnie will discover a danger lurking in the forest no one in Hemlock Falls is prepared for. We had the honour of having a quick chat with Susan Dennard on The Luminaries.

The Luminaries spawned from a Twitter poll. Do you remember any poll results that really surprised you?

Almost all of them, ha! Hive Mind Winnie made so many poor choices–especially in the name of “thirst” for #UghJay. It was hilarious. #TeamPetty and #TeamThirst were forever sending the poll results in wild directions I couldn’t plan for. Including toward death! Twice! They totally lost two of their three lives.

Ah, the good old days.

When you first wanted to transform the Twitter poll into The Luminaries, what was the biggest struggle?

I tried to loosely follow the story I’d written based on everyone’s votes…but it wasn’t fun without the community. Plus, as mentioned above, Hive Mind Winnie made choices that a book protagonist could never get away with. So after writing only one chapter, I quickly tossed it all out and started over. I kept the same world, the same characters, but I tweaked backstories and wrote a totally new plot.

Now the original #LumiNerds can read and catch all the easter eggs I planted for them, but new readers can also discover the series without having to be familiar with the Sooz Your Own Adventure.

Why did you decide to have a Wednesday as the protagonist?

The name Winnie Wednesday was the first idea I had, and I built everything from there–Winnie’s character as well as the seven clans that protect the world from nightmares.

And which clan do you think you would fit in the most?

I took my official quiz and, unsurprisingly, I came out as a Wednesday. Winnie is a lot like me, though she’s also got more grit–and is more comfortable speaking her mind and confronting people than I am.

Winnie learned most of her knowledge from The Nightmare Compendium. If you can have a mockup of the Nightmare Compendium, how would it look? The size, the material, any special finishing touches?

I am so lucky to already have one! Daphne Press made a beautiful version for Illumicrate. Underneath the dust jacket, the hardcover version of The Luminaries is designed to look like the Nightmare Compendium.

The three trials are very fun to read. What’s next in this series?

Winnie has gotten what she wanted–or so she thinks. She’s suddenly super famous and welcomed back as a Luminary, but nothing feels like she thought it would. On top of that, she has two big mysteries to unravel…and an ex best friend she still can’t figure out. Readers can expect more of the forest and its monsters in The Hunting Moon, as well as more #UghJay and more about the secret enemies of the Luminaries: the Dianas.

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