Clarke made it onto my radar when her young adult novel The Assassin’s Curse garnered so much positive reviews. Now, in only one month her new adult novel drops and I cannot wait to read it. It’s about a woman named Cat, a daughter of two scientists, and her relationship with Finn, a robot her father programmed.
About the author: Cassandra Rose Clarke is a speculative fiction writer living amongst the beige stucco and overgrown pecan trees of Houston, Texas. She graduated in 2006 from The University of St. Thomas with a bachelor’s degree in English, and in 2008 she completed her master’s degree in creative writing at The University of Texas at Austin. Both of these degrees have served her surprisingly well.
During the summer of 2010, she attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in Seattle. She was also a recipient of the 2010 Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund.
When I was a little girl and still willing to hedge my bets with Santa, I would always ask for snow on Christmas Day. I doubt I’m the first or the last kid to do this, but I imagine most kids wishing for Christmas snow lived in a place where it was actually possible. I did not.
I grew up in south Texas, on roughly the same line of latitude as Delhi, India, and Cairo, Egypt. Now, Texas’ position is such that during the winter months it will find itself grappling with Canada’s cold weather leftovers (we call them “blue northers”), and so I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with sleet, icicles, frost, and yes, even the occasional flurry of snow. By the time I was in college it had snowed in south Texas twice in my lifetime: once when I was an infant and once when I was in second grade, although only during the snowfall of my infancy had the snow actually stayed on the ground. And both of these snowstorms occurred in January, our coldest month.
What I’m getting at is that the statistical likelihood of a south Texas snowfall on Christmas Day is low enough that even a magical Arctic elf couldn’t pull it off.
And then Christmas 2004 happened.
There’s a Wikipedia entry about it, which shows how remarkable the whole thing is. The short, personal version is this: In my hometown (where I was staying for the holidays), thirteen inches of snow fell overnight on Christmas Eve, meaning that we woke up the next morning to a white Christmas of the sort I had only ever seen before in movies. Although snow fell all across Texas and Louisiana, my hometown received the most out of anywhere (from what I can tell), and so the snowfall occurring on Christmas Eve is doubly lucky, because if it had happened at any other time, I would have been in Houston, which only received one inch of snow.
The only word to describe that Christmas is magical. I know perfectly well there’s a scientific explanation, but that tends to go out the window when you wake up and your annual childhood Santa request has just come true. I’ve always found cold weather to have a numinous quality anyway, even if it’s just gray and sleeting. Your breath materializes on the air. City lights seem brighter. A human touch seems warmer.
I tend to write weather into my books. I’m fascinated by weather in general, and in another reality, I’m a meteorologist instead of a writer. Cold weather often crops up during significant moments in my writing — it’s one of those patterns that I don’t intend but that I’ll notice when I reread my own work. In my upcoming book The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, three of the major turning points take place in the cold. The first and perhaps most important of these occurs during a freak snowfall like the one I experienced in 2004. During that scene, the main character learns that something she thought was supernatural is actually a scientific marvel — but like a snowstorm in south Texas, the scientific marvel feels like magic.