Blog Tour: Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke + Interview

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours, as well as the author and publisher for giving me a copy of ‘Of Silver and Shadow’ in exchange for an unbiased, and honest review!! This is my stop for the tour, and you can click the banner below to view the full schedule, and explore other posts!!

Title: Of Silver and Shadow
Author: Jennifer Gruenke
Publisher: Flux
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: None
Publication Date: February 16, 2021
Trigger Warnings: Torture (on page), Gore, Violence, Poverty, Blood, Broken bones, Gun shot wounds, Stabbing, Executions, Verbal abuse, Gambling, Mentions of parental death
Final Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Ren Kolins is a silver wielder—a dangerous thing to be in the kingdom of Erdis, where magic has been outlawed for a century. Ren is just trying to survive, sticking to a life of petty thievery, card games, and pit fighting to get by. But when a wealthy rebel leader discovers her secret, he offers her a fortune to join his revolution. The caveat: she won’t see a single coin until they overthrow the King.

Behind the castle walls, a brutal group of warriors known as the King’s Children is engaged in a competition: the first to find the rebel leader will be made King’s Fang, the right hand of the King of Erdis. And Adley Farre is hunting down the rebels one by one, torturing her way to Ren and the rebel leader, and the coveted King’s Fang title.

But time is running out for all of them, including the youngest Prince of Erdis, who finds himself pulled into the rebellion. Political tensions have reached a boiling point, and Ren and the rebels must take the throne before war breaks out.

My Interview with Jennifer Gruenke, author of Of Silver and Shadow

Ahaana: Hey Jennifer!! I’m so glad to have you on my blog today!! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, and your new book, Of Silver and Shadow?

I’m so excited to be here! Let’s see. I’m originally from Northern California and now I live in Charlotte, North Carolina with my cat, Mochi. The pandemic has turned her into a stage-5 clinger and I worry about her attachment issues. I studied Communication and Professional Writing at the University of California, Santa Barbara and took a job as a journalist at a small community newspaper after graduation. These days I work as a technical writer while writing and doing book promotion during the early mornings, late nights, and weekends.

Of Silver and Shadow is the story of a silver wielder named Ren. She’s caustic and she’s bitter and she has zero interest in politics or the wellbeing of the kingdom, but when Darek, the leader of the rebellion, offers her a small fortune to help overthrow the tyrannical king, she can’t turn it down. Of course, Darek is gruff and judgmental and the two immediately clash. Meanwhile, Adley is a personal warrior for the king, trained since a young age to do his violent bidding. She’s torturing her way to the leader of the rebellion while also fighting her feelings for the girl she loves. And finally, we have Kellen, a young prince just trying to find his place in a family he doesn’t fit with, who’s slowly pulled into the rebellion. 

Ahaana: Do you have any favourite quotes or scenes from the book?

My favourite scene to write is a bit of a spoiler so I’ll keep that to myself, but Ren has some sassy lines that I’m quite fond of. I love this interaction between her and Darek in the second chapter:

“Do you know why a rebellion has never succeeded?” he asked.
“Poor organizational skills?”

It was one of the very first lines I wrote for her and it just popped out without me thinking too hard about it. That was when I realized, Okay, this girl is going to be a lot of fun.

I do also enjoy writing emotionally-charged scenes that push characters to their limits. I find these moments give a lot of insight into their complexity. There’s a particular scene where Kellen confronts a friend and he does something he’s not proud of. His thought pattern during this scene was interesting to me because it was a side of Kellen I hadn’t really seen until that point. I’ve always liked the vulnerability and emotional intensity that transpired in this block of narration:

Kellen stared down into her eyes… and heard his brother’s words. They sounded in his ear, and he felt the heat of them as close as a whisper. Stop being so soft. Then his father’s voice was there, too, seething with contempt. Nineteen years of criticism. Two decades of failure. Their voices bled together, pouring into his head like a vein that had been ripped open, and there was no staunching the blow. It kept coming and it seemed like it was never going to stop, and Kellen just wanted peace. That was all. Just a little peace.

Poor Kellen. The kid deserves a hug.

Ahaana: What inspired you to write Of Silver and Shadow?

This story was born from the first novel I wrote, a YA sci-fi(ish) mess that was never going to go anywhere. I learned a great deal from that book and my craft improved drastically in the process of writing it, but it really wasn’t any good, though it did take me a few months of distance to realize this. Once I did, I asked myself, What would this story look like with magic? What would it look like in a fantasy world? That was where Of Silver and Shadow began. The story has changed so much over the course of drafting and revising that you’d never recognize my first novel in its pages, those bones have been whittled away to nothing, but I do have that failed novel to thank.

Ahaana: Was there any specific software you used to help you write your novel?

I draft everything in Scrivener, which is a pretty popular program among writers. It helps with organization since you can split a file that’s many hundreds of pages long into acts, chapters, and scenes. Honestly, I don’t think I could function without Scrivener. Imagine trying to find, say, a specific interaction between two characters that you wrote five months ago buried in the middle of a giant document. I shudder at the thought. Also, since Of Silver and Shadow has four POVs, the ability to rearrange chapters with a click and drag was incredibly helpful. Some of the characters have chapters that overlap in time, so getting that flow right required a bit of trial and error.

Ahaana: What made you first get into writing, and when did you know that you wanted to publish your novel?

Like a lot of writers, I’ve been writing fiction since before I even knew how to write well; my first try at a novel was in the seventh grade. Of course, I never finished it, just as I didn’t finish a number of attempted novels throughout my teens. I abandoned fiction entirely during my four years of college, though I did write quite a bit of non-fiction for both classwork and internships. Then I graduated and moved back home. I was hanging out with a good friend one evening when she surprised me by sharing that she was writing her own novel. The joy she had for her work reminded me of the passion I’d once possessed, which has dissipated over the years when louder things snagged my attention. This is what inspired me to get back into writing. I started casually at first, putting words down that were only for myself. For months I didn’t tell anyone that I was working on a book, but at some point, and I can’t pinpoint when exactly, I realized that creating a fictional world felt right in a way nothing else I’d done up to that point in my life did. I decided that if I loved something this much, I was going to give it everything I had. I didn’t only want to write in the quiet when no one was watching; I wanted to share this thing I was immensely passionate about with the world.

Ahaana: There were so many interesting and complex characters in Of Silver and Shadow!! How did you decide on all of their personalities?

Thank you! I love character work. It’s easily my favorite part of writing. Though I do write by discovery so I look at it more like learning about my characters, their motivations and flaws and complexities, as I navigate the story. I often don’t “decide” on a personality so much as follow an instinct. As I put my characters in challenging situations, that’s when they start to reveal themselves and when I can really hone in on who they are as people.

That’s not to say that I have no idea who my characters are before I start writing. I do usually have general archetypes in mind. I think the key there is in choosing conflicting personalities. Characters can share traits, but none of them should feel too similar. They need to play off each other in a way that’s both exciting and natural. Ren and Darek are opposite in their motivations; she doesn’t give a crap about anything that doesn’t directly benefit her and he’s a deeply moral person who believes in doing right by the world. Kellen and Ren both have quick wits, but Kellen is cheeky where Ren is caustic. Adley is soft in a way she shouldn’t be after everything she’s faced. I love creating and exploring these interesting dynamics.

About the Author

Jennifer Gruenke is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara, where she studied communication and writing. She grew up among the redwoods of Northern California, and now lives in Charlotte with her books and the houseplants she hasn’t killed yet. If she’s not writing or reading, you’re most likely to find her in a cafe, music venue, or the aisles of Trader Joe’s. 

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

What are some other dark, gritty fantasies you enjoyed? Have you read Of Silver and Shadow yet, or do you plan to sometime soon?


19 thoughts on “Blog Tour: Of Silver and Shadow by Jennifer Gruenke + Interview”

  1. What a fun interview! I loved your questions Ahaana and Ms. Gruenke’s answers were really fun to read! Whenever I hear the term “dark, gritty fantasies” I simply associate it with Six of Crows hehe. Of Silver and Shadow sounds very interesting, I’m all for multi-POVS, rebellions, political intrigue, and complex characters!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much, eleanor!! i think although the stories were completely different, you could definitely see some similarities to ketterdam, and it reminded me so much of six of crows, so you’re on point there haha. of silver and shadows is SUCH a great book, so i hope you enjoy it!! 💖

      Liked by 1 person

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