The Thorn and the Sinking Stone
Thorn & Dagger #1
Author: CJ Dushinski
Reading Level: Young Adult
Released: March 10th 2015
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Warring families. Forbidden love. And danger they can’t escape…
Daggers. Roses. Cowboys. Boat Men. Survivors of Earth's Last War, four “families” vie to rule the dreary streets of Rain City through violence and blood. Valencia Hara, Princess of the wealthy Black Roses, is raised in warrior ways with sharpened steel. But she is no ordinary Rose. She is Cursed—tainted with the ability to see seconds into the future…
To avenge his father's death, Sebastian Leold, of the rival gang Two Daggers, must face off against the Black Princess, he with his dagger, she with her katana sword. Yet a secret from a shared past leaves him unable to kill beautiful Valencia; nor can she kill him. For they once knew each other beyond their blood feud…and they have more secrets in common than they know.
But in a world filled with vengeance and violence, there can be no room for love…
The Thorn and the Sinking Stone – 5 Sources of Inspiration
Along the way the story of the Thorn and the Sinking Stone changed quite a bit from one draft to the next, inspired by one source or another. Here are the top five sources of inspiration that helped me craft the Thorn and the Sinking Stone to what it is today:
Romeo & Juliet: This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has already read the story. The Thorn and the Sinking Stone was heavily inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Two warring families, young, forbidden love… the general plot is true to the play. I’ve always loved Romeo and Juliet, like a lot of people, and I wondered what the story would be like told in a similar place several hundreds of years later, given similar circumstance and a whole new set of rules. And since Baz Lurhman is one of my favourite movie directors, of course I was inspired by his modern twist on the classic tale. Something about his version with guns and fast
cars with a dark setting really inspired the world that Valencia and Sebastian call home.
Gangs of New York: One of my favourite movies. It follows a similar storyline to Romeo and Juliet, in the forbidden romance category, but focuses heavily on the immigrant gangs of 19th century New York and the violence between them as they battled for territory. When I started to think about Sebastian and Valencia and their families, Gangs of New York constantly seemed to come to mind. This was how I imagined the settling of a new city after a major world war would be, with all types of religions and cultures clashing while struggling in chaos to find a place in the new world together. And in the middle of it all, young love still finds a way to thrive.
The Decemberists’ Valencia: I talk about this song by the Decembrists in a playlist post I wrote as well, since the title alone was obvious inspiration for the story and the main character. The song itself, I can only assume, was inspired by Romeo and Juliet, which in turn inspired me. In fact, this is where it really all began. Not with the Shakespearian original or Baz Lurhman’s interpretation, but with this song. The rest drew from the lyrics. I won’t quote them here, but a quick read of them will showcase exactly how the Thorn and the Sinking Stone took shape from the very first seed of inspiration.
Kristin Cashore’s Graceling: I try not to draw from other writer’s works for inspiration very often, but sometimes it just creeps in subtly when I am reading something I love and certain elements seem to just flow harmoniously into my work. It’s usually not until later that I realize it happened at all. In this case, it was Kristin Cashore’s novel Graceling and the unique ability she gave her female lead. I wanted Valencia to be strong, a warrior, and I knew where I was going with the overall concept of the Curses, but not exactly how to bring them to life. I didn’t want them to be big and exaggerated and overtake the story. I wanted them to be a woven addition, keeping the love story central. It was while I was reading Graceling that it clicked for me—that Valencia’s Curse didn’t have to be drastic or overtly powerful, it just had to be advantageous and complimentary to her skill with the Katana, similar to Kristin’s approach in Graceling.
George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones: Again, I try not to draw too much from other writer’s work, but it does happen organically I find, especially if I am reading something while writing my own work. In this case, after the final draft of the Thorn and the Sinking Stone was done, I noticed that the family dynamics of the different houses in George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones managed to inspire the warring families in my own story. I was trying to capture the essence of the many shades of good and evil and right and wrong into both the Two Daggers and the Black Roses, a very difficult thing to do in reality, especially in the 300 or so pages I was trying to stick to. I wanted none of the families to be the good guys or the bad guys. They’re all good and bad, right and wrong, in their own way, each doing what they believe is necessary in order to survive and take care of their own while coping with so many differences between them. George does such an incredible job of this in his series with the Lannisters, Starks, and other families in the world he created. I could never capture the intricacies of his relationships, they are so, so good, and have taken thousands of pages of development to get there, but I did find that they helped shade in some of the grey areas I had when writing the characters within the Black Roses an Two Daggers.
While attempting to navigate life as a responsible human being, CJ graduated from university with a B.Comm and worked her way along as marketer, copywriter, and graphic designer to earn a paycheck while pursing her passion for creating fantastical stories set in dark and wondrous corners of the world. Born amongst the wheat fields and open skies of the Canadian prairies, CJ’s imagination has always run wild, taking her on adventures across the world from modeling in Seoul, South Korea to backpacking through Europe and surfing (poorly) in Hawaii.
After wandering through ancient cities and civilizations, learning from diverse cultures, and surrounding herself in new experiences, CJ was inspired and began work on her debut Young Adult novel THE THORN AND THE SINKING STONE, to be published by Entangled Publishing 2014/15. CJ currently resides in Calgary, Alberta Canada – home of the Canadian Rockies – and keeps one hand on her passport and pen at all times, ready to pick up, see the world, and weave her experiences into stories.