Author Interview: The Vermilion Emporium by Jamie Pacton
We absolutely love Jamie Pacton and her books, and we are thrilled to share an interview about her upcoming fantasy, The Vermilion Emporium. The Vermilion Emporium is releasing on November 22nd (pushed back a couple of weeks due to supply chain issues) and that just means there is extra time to get your preorders in – if you want a signed copy & an enamel pin – you can order from Jamie’s local indie, A Room of One’s Own, and no matter where you ordered from (Bookshop link) you can submit for preorder goodies here!
And there are some virtual and in-person events happening all next week (on the original schedule) – check out the instagram post embedded below for more details!
The Vermilion Emporiumby Jamie Pacton
Published by: Peachtree Teen
on November 1, 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
The heart-wrenching story of The Radium Girls meets the enchanting world of Howl’s Moving Castle. Jamie Pacton’s fantasy debut is a story of timeless love and deadly consequences.
It was a day for finding things . . . On the morning Twain, a lonely boy with a knack for danger, discovers a strand of starlight on the cliffs outside Severon, a mysterious curiosity shop appears in town. Meanwhile, Quinta, the ordinary daughter of an extraordinary circus performer, chases rumors of the shop, The Vermilion Emporium, desperate for a way to live up to her mother’s magical legacy.
When Quinta meets Twain outside the Emporium, two things happen: One, Quinta starts to fall for this starlight boy, who uses his charm to hide his scars. Two, they enter the store and discover a book that teaches them how to weave starlight into lace.
Soon, their lace catches the eye of the Casorina, the ruler of Severon. She commissions Quinta and Twain to make her a starlight dress and will reward them handsomely enough to make their dreams come true. However, they can’t sew a dress without more material, and the secret to starlight’s origins has been lost for centuries. As Quinta and Twain search the Emporium for answers, though, they discover the secret might not have been lost—but destroyed. And likely, for good reason.
1. Tell us about Twain and Quinta. How are they individually motivated?
Both Quinta and Twain are seventeen-year-old orphans, who are surviving as best they can in Severon, a sprawling city which is a bit like a coastal version of Paris in the mid-Victorian era. Twain is an adventurous, charming violinist, who usually crackles with charm and confidence. Quinta is a generally furious bi disaster girl with sharp edges who works as a photographer’s assistant. Both Twain and Quinta have been broken by what life has thrown at them, and both of them are a little bit more cinnamon roll underneath it all then they care to admit.
At the beginning of the book, Quinta and Twain both want very distinct and different things. Twain is still reeling from the accidental death of his beloved younger brother a few months before, and he longs to escape the city of Severon. He wants to see the world, but in order to do that, he needs money, which is why he starts the book out climbing a dangerous cliff for razorbill feathers—rare purple things that are all the rage with Severon’s elite upper class ladies. Quinta, on the other hand, wants to conquer the city of Severon. Orphaned at age ten, she spent many years surviving on the streets. Now, she wants to figure out the magical legacy left to her by her mother and use it to gain power, wealth, and status.
Everything changes for them both, however, the moment they meet outside the Vermilion Emporium, a magical curiosity shop that Quinta has been searching for half her life.
2. Vermilion follows two contemporary releases from you. How did your process writing this story differ from the previous two?
Great question! I like to tell people I’m a fantasy writer who fell into writing contemporary books, not the other way around, since all of my books up until 2018 were either YA or MG fantasies. In fact, both my agents, including my current one, signed me for fantasy books (in 2015 and 2018 respectively). Somehow, the contemporary books just kind of happened and they were the ones that got published first, which I’m so grateful for. I think I tend to approach writing contemporary books like a fantasy writer— in that I’m trying to figure out the world building, how that world impacts characters and plot, and other such details from the very beginning. Obviously, in a fantasy novel with magic, I need to nail down the magical system and its quirks early on, which is very different from how I write contemporary books. Overall, however, the processes aren’t that different— once I have characters and a story, no matter the genre, I always start with crafting a one sentence elevator pitch; then, I write up a three paragraph query type pitch; then, I create a detailed outline with plot beats and emotional arcs mapped out; and, then I write a full synopsis, which is usually about six single spaced pages. After that, I translate the synopsis into chapters, and then, finally, I begin drafting. After drafting, I’ll do a few revision passes, and then I send the book off either to critique partners, my agent, or my editor.
With all that said, I’m co-writing a YA contemporary right now that’s publishing in 2024, and our process is entirely different from this all together. 🙂
3. If your MCs from Lucky Girl and Kit had to live in the world of Vermilion, how would they react?
I love this question— and my first, glib answer is that Kit and Fortuna Jane would long desperately for modern conveniences like cell phones, showers, coffee shops, and cars. After the shock of being dumped into a busy city a few centuries back, however, I think both Kit and Jane might come to love the world of The Vermilion Emporium. Kit is someone who adores history and she’d be fascinated by the Great Library and the history of magic in Severon. Jane would love being by the sea, and I think she and Quinta might get along very well when it comes to sorting through difficult relationships with their mothers.