Following the last heir to a family curse as she sets out on a journey to find the key to a hidden city and discover the truth about her mothers disappearance, Georgia Summers’ debut fantasy novel, The City of Stardust, is oozing with cruel secrets, mysterious doors and untrustworthy motives. To celebrate its release, we had the chance to chat with Georgia all about her spellbinding debut.
Hi Georgia, it’s lovely to have you on the site today to celebrate the release of your debut fantasy novel, The City of Stardust. For readers just learning about the book, how would you best entice them to pick up a copy using just one sentence?
Hello! The City of Stardust is about Violet Everly, last heir to the fatal Everly curse, who sets out to break it and, in doing so, stumbles into a secretive underground world of power-hungry scholars and vengeful gods – but also magical keys, mysterious doorways to other worlds, and a centuries-old love story.
Can you tell us a little about your inspirations behind the story?
The City of Stardust came about from a real hodge-podge of ideas. I’ve always wanted to write a book that feels bigger on the inside than outside – like you’re never quite touching all four sides of the story. I wanted to write a romance that leaned hard on yearning and tragedy. I also wanted to write a book that felt a little like a fairytale – albeit one you’ve never heard before.
Readers will undoubtably relate to Violet’s love of books, especially as a means of escape and adventure as a child. Are there pivotal books from your own childhood you think helped shape you as the author and reader you are today?
Unquestionably! The worldbuilding, for example, in the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix, had a huge influence on me. He does the most incredible job of painting this backdrop of a once-grand world that’s largely fallen to ruins, its history just tantalisingly out of our reach. I also think it’s hard not to write about children in wardrobes, and not drift to Lucy in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, or Lyra in The Northern Lights.
There are also books that left their imprints on me at university, when I was discovering how wide the world of fantasy could be. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is one of those books, as is Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. The urban fairytale of The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker. The blend of magic and mundane in The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. It was like opening a door by chance and stumbling into a feast.
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The City of Stardust is your debut novel. What has the journey from inspiration to publication been like for you?
In November 2019, I was on the tail end of querying a manuscript that wasn’t really working – and I knew it, too. So I started noodling around with an idea I had about a girl who liked to read in her wardrobe. I signed with my agent in September 2020, and from there revised and rewrote, and revised again! We went out on submission in the last week of May 2022, and by the first week of June, we had a pre-emptive offer from Hodderscape.
I’ve been exceptionally lucky, even by publishing standards. But there was also a hefty amount of doubt in there, too – especially during those long stretches of time where I was struggling with particular scenes or ideas weren’t quite coming together. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that so much of writing happens in that leap of faith, when you’re still mid-air and not sure if you’ll clear the chasm underneath you.
If you had the ability to forge your own reveurite door to anywhere, where would you like it to take you?
Oh, that’s such a tough question! I’m actually a huge fan of slow travel, and I love train journeys – there’s just something so mesmerising about watching the scenery go by. So I think some aspects of instantaneous travel would be lost on me!
However, I’m a big chicken when it comes to aeroplanes, so perhaps I’d pick a door that would lead to a completely different side of the world. All of the joys of travel, minus the stress of airports and turbulence. And of course, if you can’t quite cram that seventh book into your backpack, you can simply step back through to pick it up again later. (You can tell where my packing priorities lie.)
Then again, perhaps I’d want the door to open somewhere even further…
Finally, do you have any projects in the works and, if so, is there anything you can share with us?
I have a couple of projects I’m working on, but the one I’m most excited to speak about is my next book! A book thief inherits a magical bookshop, and has to contend with ink magic, a deadly secret society and a murder mystery – not to mention the rival bookseller determined to claim the bookshop for himself.
Get your copy of The City of Stardust by Georgia Summers here.