Stephanie Burgis loves to visit chocolate shops, and when she’s at home, she makes herself a cup of rich, dark hot chocolate with cinnamon and nutmeg nearly everyday. So it should come as no surprise that chocolate plays a large role in her latest novel for young readers, The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart.
The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart stars Aventurine, a young dragon who is tricked into drinking enchanted hot chocolate. Before she knows it, Aventurine is transformed into a small, wingless girl. Though now in human form, Aventurine is still a dragon at heart. It’s only by using her dragon instincts, and her newly developed love of chocolate, that she finds a place for herself far beyond one she ever expected.
“Dragons and chocolate are two of my favorite things in the world,” Stephanie told Cracking the Cover. “So I wrote [The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart] as a pure treat for myself, and I loved the whole process!”
You can learn more about chocolate and find recipes you can make at home by visiting Stephanie’s website.
There’s more to Stephanie’s book than chocolate, though. Chocolate is the blood of The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart and Aventurine is its heart. Stephanie’s main character starts out cocky and self-assured, but she quickly finds herself in over her head.
“Aventurine is still a dragon inside even after being transformed into a human girl, so she’s fierce and territorial and ready to fight for what she wants – but she knows so little about human culture that she is totally over her head!” the author said. “As the story progresses, she starts to learn about different ways of working with the baffling humans around her – and realize, too, that there are lots of different kinds of strength.”
Even though Aventurine becomes human, she still stands out, particularly because of her choice of clothing.
“Aventurine has been turned into a human against her will, but inside she still identifies as a dragon, so there’s a real internal conflict throughout the book between her strategic need to fit in with the humans around her versus her deep longing to maintain her own identity,” Stephanie said. “Clothing is one of the most visible ways we establish our identity to the world, so the question of what to wear is the perfect expression of Aventurine’s inner struggle!”
While Stephanie has written fantasy in the past, it’s always been historical fantasy — including the Kat, Incorrigible trilogy of MG Regency fantasy — The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is the first time the author had the confidence to branch out into high fantasy, creating a whole new world.
“I wanted to make Aventurine’s world feel a bit like a fairytale version of a late 18th-century Germanic kingdom, but the fact that I made it outright fantasy, rather than historical fantasy, gave me the freedom to make sweeping changes to the way things worked,” she said. “For instance, there was one scene near the end where the king’s privy council met to advise him, and I started automatically writing the council members as all-male because of the historical feel of the story — then thought: ‘Wait. This isn’t history. I can do whatever I want!’ So I rewrote half of the council members as women, and it worked so much better for me that way.”
Stephanie is currently finishing up edits on a new romantic fantasy novella for adults, Snowspelled, which will come out in September. After that, she begins edits for Book 2 in Aventurine’s world. The book, set in Aventurine’s new city, is set to publish in 2018 from Bloomsbury. “It’s told from the point of view of Aventurine’s best friend, and although it doesn’t have an official title yet, I’ve been referring to it as my spies-and-fairies book,” Stephanie said.
Learn more about Stephanie Burgis, including why she writes for young readers and how that differs from writing for adults by reading the complete transcript of her interview with Cracking the Cover.
Enter to win a copy The Frog Princess Returns and The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart. Giveaway open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.
Visit the other stops on The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart blog tour and read Cracking the Cover’s interview with The Frog Princess Returns author E.D. Baker.
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