Here's what J.C. had to tell us about it:
I don’t write about siblings. That probably sounds deeply ironic, coming from the author of a story called “The Promises of Sisters,” but it’s true. Like many fantasy authors, I end up with a lot of orphans and only children. It’s hard to go on magical adventures when your sibling wants to come, too.
I do, however, have two sisters. I’m the oldest of three, and my sisters have profoundly shaped me as a person. They regularly challenge and infuriate me, and they support me even when I can’t support myself. Such is the power of siblings. They also read my writing regularly, although hilariously, they won’t read this story until it comes out (hi Emily and Aly!).
When I began writing "The Promises of Sisters," the working title was "What It Means to Burn," and it was merely about a young woman who went to the land of the dead and then returned. But you can’t send someone to the land of the dead without a good reason, and I was struggling to find that reason for my protagonist.
It can be a hard thing, as a writer, to have an idea for a story and have that story take you in a completely different direction. So it was with this tale. While I was trying to walk the land of the dead, my protagonist was trying to get to her sister, and she wouldn’t rest until I’d added that sister into the story. As usual, the writing knew better what it needed than I did myself. The sister stayed, and the story unfurled from there.
When it came time to write the ending, though, I was challenged yet again. I don’t want to give anything away here, but I will simply say that sisterhood works both ways. I’m sure I infuriated my siblings just as much as they did me, and I know they love me as much as I love them. Love is not a straightforward road, and sisters will be pulling each other’s hair one minute and walking the paths of the dead for each other the next. Metaphorically, at very least.
Thanks J.C.! Very interesting!