Here is a short interview with the main character in When Stars Die by Amber Skye Forbes. I didn't ask the questions but had a real pleasure reading it. I hope you do too ! Today, the 22nd of October is the one year publication anniversary of When Stars Die. Please go check my review and my Focus on.
Thank you and have a good read !
1. Why did you decide to go to Cathedral Reims?
I desperately wanted to protect my younger brother. When I found out he was a witch, I knew I needed to get the both of us out of there. If our parents found out, they would reveal my younger brother for what he truly was, and they would kill them. This is how everyone is in Warbele. They're taught from a young age to hate witches. I was no different, but I questioned why these people deserved to be hated. I suppose I was ambivalent about them at the time; however, when I discovered by brother to be one because he set fire to a curtain, I knew it was time for me to start caring, to start feeling differently from how everyone else did. As for Cathedral Reims, I brought both of us there in the hopes that if we repented, and both of us became part of the Professed Order, my little brother would be forgiven, and we could go to Paradise when we died.
2. Why do you have feelings for Oliver Cromwell?
He helped me with latrine duty one day when I was admonished during class by one of the nuns. I knew our contact was forbidden. We took vows of chastity. The sexes were not to have contact with one another. Yet, it was this risk that he took that formed our secret friendship. I stifled my feelings. I wouldn't even allow myself to know I had feelings for him. Even if we acted upon them, nothing would come of it. We lived in separate worlds, wanted separated things as far as our positions in the chuch, had to lead separate lives. But he's beautiful, an artistic sculpture without the exaggerated muscles. He's pale, he has a blood disorder that makes him cold all the time, and I loved that I could bring warmth into his being. He made Cathedral Reims less stressful. In order to become a nun, we endure horrific trials to test our mettle. Sometimes you're given lashes. Sometimes you're beaten with boards. Sometimes you must kneel on wood chips for an indiscernible amount of time. Sometimes you're locked in small spaces. There is no symbolic reason behind these trials. They are to prepare us for the hardships of being a nun. He was there throughout my training, even after the first trial I went through that I thought I had failed.
3. You see shadows around Cathedral Reims. Why do you think this is?
I don't know why I see these shadows. They haunt me. I feel like the only one who can see them. Even my best friend Colette can't see them, but I know they are there. They say they are looking for people just like them, but I don't even know what that means. So maybe I am like them, but I don't know how. Before my first trial, they came into the room I shared with Colette, and I had to pretend I didn't see them. They said that only those who could see them were like them. It was horrifying, nauseating. When I did go to my first trial, one of them looked at me, dead in the face, and I knew I was done for.
4. What was your life like before Cathedral Reims?
It wasn't anything extraordinary. Mother was barely around, though she took my younger brother to many places. Father adored us, so he was very affectionate. He was a banker. My brother and I had a personal tutor, so everything we learned was from him. We learned that our country Warbele was isolated from the rest of the world because they disapproved of how witches were being treated. We learned a language called French whose origins are unknown. I spent a great deal of time in that mansion. Sometimes we would go to Norbury, a town for the wealthy, where we would eat and shop. But I primarily spent time with my younger brother. Honestly, with everything going on right now, I feel like my former life was unremarkable, so I don't talk about it too much.
5. How do you feel about Cathedral Reims?
I honestly hate it, but I feel it is my only purpose in life, and that purpose is to become a nun part of the Professed Order. At least I have Oliver and Colette to provide moral support, but sometimes it is so hard to keep going. Studies can be brutal. While I have never been punished, I have seen girls beaten with boards for even yawning during a lesson. Sometimes they were tied to chairs for fidgeting. So I learned what not to do from the girls that got in trouble. I never wanted to face what they did. Those girls would come down with melancholia. Some were forced to leave Cathedral Reims. Some girls had bruises and scars they were forced to hide. There are girls who go to finishing schools who think those schools are difficult, yet they can be considered mere preparation for life at a convent.
6. Tell us about who YOU are.
There is nothing remarkable about me, nothing that I can think of. My entire life revolves around protecting my younger brother. My entire life has always revolved around him. When I wasn't involved in my own life, I was involved in spending all of my free time with him. Before Cathedral Reims, my parents had expectations that I would marry into a wealthy family. My parents expected my younger brother to pursue a higher education. So everything I did was a means to an end for me to be a mere wife. I hated it all, of course. I wanted more, and maybe that's what Cathedral Reims is for me, that more I can seek out that is my choice and mine alone. I didn't have too many hobbies, besides being expected to attend social calls with my mother and gossip with the daughters of those ladies'. The entire life I lived was empty, not really allowing me to develop my own personality, except an aspect of myself that knew I didn't want that life but had no choice to pursue. Oftentimes I feel empty because of it. Yet, all aristocratic daughters are raised to be vapid and empty and pretty and expected to be unintelligent.
7. When you first got to Cathedral Reims, how did you feel?
Overwhelmed. Mother Aurelia, our Mother Superior, didn't sugarcoat what life would be like. She mentioned that things were going to be hard because being a nun is hard. I could expect severe punishments, hard assignments, bland food, and an overall cold atmosphere. Even so, she did mention the nuns cared, but they couldn't get too close to us in case many of us weren't cut out for being part of the Professed Order. I had to sleep in a dormitory with other girls. We had rankings we had to move up. I had to take a vow of silence for a little bit, but then when I gradually moved through each ranking, more was expected from me. This is when I began to feel I couldn't survive. I had Colette to keep me going though. I only had Colette and Oliver. The other girls...they were too competitive. They could be mean. Some of them wanted to see us fail. Why, I do not know. It isn't as if Cathedral Reims only accepts a certain number into its Professed Order. I suppose they wanted to move through ranks faster, so they tried to destroy other girls to keep those girls where they were at so they could move up and brag. As for me, I just wanted to do my best. I didn't want to harm anyone along the way.
8. Anything else you would like to say?
I want everyone to know that in my own little way, I want to change the world I live in. I don't want witches to be hated anymore. Even Oliver shares this dream with me. If I make the Professed Order and only keep going up, he says we can change that. Even though The Vulgate, our bible, tells us to hate witches, we can revise that text to a better one to stop the violence and the hatred. I know that even if we accomplish this, people will be slow to accept this. Yet, we will have laws to punish people who even try to harm a witch. That is my goal, one I share with Oliver. That is our goal.