Author Interview: Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley

Hey everyone! I’m BEYOND excited to have Adrienne Tooley, author of Sweet & Bitter Magic (March 9, 2021 – Margaret K. McElderry Books), here for a special Pride interview! June might be over, but Pride is All Year Long! So, without further adieu, here’s more about the book:

In this charming debut fantasy perfect for fans of Sorcery of Thorns and Girls of Paper and Fire, a witch cursed to never love meets a girl hiding her own dangerous magic, and the two strike a dangerous bargain to save their queendom.

Tamsin is the most powerful witch of her generation. But after committing the worst magical sin, she’s exiled by the ruling Coven and cursed with the inability to love. The only way she can get those feelings back—even for just a little while—is to steal love from others.

Wren is a source—a rare kind of person who is made of magic, despite being unable to use it herself. Sources are required to train with the Coven as soon as they discover their abilities, but Wren—the only caretaker to her ailing father—has spent her life hiding her secret.

When a magical plague ravages the queendom, Wren’s father falls victim. To save him, Wren proposes a bargain: if Tamsin will help her catch the dark witch responsible for creating the plague, then Wren will give Tamsin her love for her father.

Of course, love bargains are a tricky thing, and these two have a long, perilous journey ahead of them—that is, if they don’t kill each other first..




And now for the interview! Enjoy!

Describe your book in ten words or less. Go!
A sapphic love story filled with magic, grief, witches, & hope.

What inspired you to write Sweet & Bitter Magic?
At the heart of it, SWEET & BITTER MAGIC is a book about grief and a book about power. Both of these concepts are explored through the eyes of two very different girls. With a dual POV I got to see the world through the eyes of Wren, a girl who feels everything, and Tamsin, who feels nothing (though not by her own volition).

I wanted to look at the past through different lenses. After all, grief and ghosts look different to everyone. How people choose to face their past, how they continue onward even in the face of unbearable loss, is power in its own right.

But beyond that, I wanted to explore the idea of strength and power and how that affects the world and the individual. When being told that strength is good, and weakness is bad, how does that affect the ways a person can grow? How does that affect their relationships? How does that affect their own perceived value? And then, on the flip side, how does a person deal with the consequences of that power? SWEET & BITTER MAGIC offered me a way to attack those concepts head-on.

If Pride month existed in your book’s world, how would Tamsin and Wren celebrate?
Wren would absolutely drag a reluctant Tamsin to a parade or party, dressed in bright colors and glitter. Tamsin would celebrate by doing research into queer history so she could better understand those who paved the way for her.

What about you? Do you have any fun plans for Pride?
I absolutely loved getting to be a part of the inaugural Pride Book Fest (@pridebookfest) and talking with other authors writing queer YA!!

Craziest thing you’ve had to Google for a work in progress?
The first book I ever wrote was about a cult, and I fell down an absolute rabbit hole of research, and for a while cult documentaries were the only thing I watched. I still find myself wildly fascinated by the psychology of cults, and although that first book has since been shelved, I’d love to explore the topic further one day.

What are three must-have items when you sit down to write?
A hot beverage that I will inevitably forget about once I get into the flow and then refuse to drink once its gone cold (usually coffee), headphones so I can listen to my book playlists without having to explain why I’m listening to the same songs over and over again, and a notebook for tracking word count & writing sprints!

What book are you currently reading?
I’ve just started Joan He’s The Ones We’re Meant to Find and Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne!!

Are you working on anything new?
Yes! My second book SOFI & THE BONE SONG is a standalone fantasy about a young musician whose plan for her future falls apart when another girl wins the title she’s been training her whole life for. It’s got magic, music, taverns, an endless winter, sapphic romance, and an exploration and dismantling of the idea that people should suffer for their art. Currently, it’s slated for a Spring 2022 release.


About the Author

Adrienne Tooley (she/her) grew up in Southern California, majored in musical theater in Pittsburgh, and now lives in Brooklyn with her wife, six guitars, and a banjo. In addition to writing novels, she is a singer/songwriter who has currently released three indie-folk EPs. Her debut novel, SWEET & BITTER MAGIC, is out now. Her second novel, SOFI AND THE BONE SONG, will release in 2022.

Adrienne is represented by Jim McCarthy of Dystel, Goderich, & Bourret.

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