“Breaking Bad meets Marie Antoinette” in Aprilynne Pike’s newest novel, Glitter. The novel takes place in the near future in a world where the residents of the palace of Versailles – including our main character, Danica – live like it’s the eighteenth century, but with the benefit of advanced technology. Danica has been blackmailed into an engagement with the King by her own mother and is willing to do anything to escape. She turns to selling Glitter, a drug that is instantly addictive and goes for a high price. Obviously, everything doesn’t go as Dani plans: disaster, drama, and betrayal are around every corner.
I’m thrilled to be sharing a Q&A with Aprilynne Pike about her inspiration for Glitter, her writing process, and more.
The world of Glitter is really innovative and fun to read about. Where did the idea for Glitter come from?
It’s a weird story. My husband and I really liked the TV series, Breaking Bad, but the beginning of Season 5 was … a little slumpy for me. (To be fair, they came back in the second half and totally redeemed themselves, and had one of the most awesome series finales ever!!) So I’m watching, like, the third episode of S5, and in that egotistical way that I think most, if not all, authors have, I turned to my husband and said, “I just feel like I could do it better.” And he was like, “So do.” And I shrugged and said, “But what I’d really rather do is write a book about girls in pretty dresses.” And that’s how Glitter was born.
Do you consider yourself a pantser, plotter, or something in between? What was your process while writing Glitter?
I am a massive plotter. Mega plotter. A seriously obsessive plotter. For me, the highlight of any book is the ending and that’s generally where I start. Not writing it, but plotting it. I love to write endings and so I hold them out for myself like a carrot on a stick and that’s my motivation to write the rest of the book. (As a perk, by the time I get to the ending, I’ve been thinking about it for months, and I have a really vivid image in my head.)
Glitter, was, of course, a bit more complicated. I was switching both agents and publishers while writing Glitter, so I basically used it as bait on the end of my fishing pole and sent it out at different times. So instead of fast drafting and then spending about that much time over again editing, I would write about fifty pages, polish, send it out. This sounds nice, but considering how much my first 100 pages tend to change, it was … wobbly at best. Eventually, my new agent sent the first half of the book out and it sold to the publisher, so then I got to finish it in my normal style.
Glitter has a lot of great detail that transports the reader to the palace of Sonoman-Versailles while also incorporating the futuristic aspects of the story. Did you do any research about Versailles to portray it accurately? What did you find most challenging in creating the world of Glitter?
SO much research into the French baroque, the Kings Louis, and the Palace of Versailles! I wanted the culture of Sonoman-Versailles to be like a funhouse mirror reflection of the 1600’s Versailles: Accurate but warped. In order to do that, I had to do a lot of research. I’ve taken loads of liberties with the historical accuracy (for example, all of the titles are from the English court, not the French, but Americans are far more familiar with the English titles, so I thought it would feel less jarring) but I feel like having blended 1600-1700’s culture with slightly futuristic technology, I’ve created a fairly natural offspring, with strong qualities from both eras.
Probably the most challenging aspect is several times (especially in the sequel, which I’ve recently finished) I make reference to events in Versailles’ history, and it’s a delicate balance between explaining the historical story to the reader, and not making it seem really odd for residents to be expounding on a story that would be a grade-school level cultural reference to them.
Going off of that, what did you enjoy the most in writing about this crazy world?
The dress porn! I love imagining and describing the outfits that both the male and female characters wear! The French baroque was such a decadent and intricate period for fashion and I spent quite a bit of time just rolling around in that aspect of the world.
If you could spend a day with a character from Glitter, who would it be and why?
Lord Aaron. As much as he sometimes has issues with his place in Sonoma-Versailles from a humanitarian’s point of view, Lord Aaron revels in the culture of the court, but in addition, he is a very knowledgeable programmer and a major shareholder for the company. He’s got fingers in all of the pies and he could show me all of the aspects of living in the palace, not just the surface ones.
Plus he loves fancy food and, well, I love fancy food too.:)
I’m sure I’m not alone in anticipating the sequel to Glitter – especially with that ending! Can you give us a hint about what we can expect from the next book?
Oh boy. I kind of adore the sequel. Glitter is like the first part of a roller coaster. You know, when you go creeping up to the highest point and you know the wild ride is coming, but you’re not quite there yet? Then you just start to tip over and your stomach catches in your throat and … well, that’s basically where Glitter ends. (Sorry.) The sequel is the roller coaster ride. The stage is set, and everyone is ready to put their actual plans into action. The King gets nastier, Danica gets darker, Reginald gets more devious. And consequences. Oh, we have consequences.
What were your favorite books when you were a young adult? Did that influence your own writing at all?
I have always loved historical books. I adored this series when I was like, twelve, called Sunfire Romances, and every book was exactly the same. One girl, two guys, hard choices. But they were each set in a different historical period and I seriously devoured these things. I continue to love historicals; I think I’ve read every book Philippa Gregory has ever written, as well as Regency romances—Sarah MacLean and Elizabeth Hoyt are particular favorites. But I told myself I’d never actually write one because I find the research daunting. The details you are—rightfully—expected to get right. But that’s what makes a faux-historical so perfect. I totally got to cherry pick the best parts of the French baroque and just ignore everything else.
Aprilynne Pike is the critically acclaimed, internationally and #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Wings series. She has been spinning stories since she was a child with a hyperactive imagination. She received a BA in Creative Writing from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. She lives in Arizona with her family. Visit her online at aprilynnepike.com and follow her on Twitter at @AprilynnePike.
About the book:
Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison.
When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.
Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.
But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take.