[INTERVIEW] Alicia Jasinska - The Midnight Girls

by - November 08, 2021


Cover designed by Nicole Hower with art by Charlie Bowater

Earlier this year I received an ARC of The Midnight Girls by Alicia Jasinska. It's an upcoming YA fantasy featuring two rival witches who fight, flirt, and fall in love to the backdrop of 18th century Poland.

I was already a fan of the author's debut The Dark Tide (also featuring sapphic witches), and adored this one even more! It's beautifully-written, vivid, squeal-inducing, and features monster girls. I wished it would never end.

She was kind enough to accept my request for an exclusive interview. We talk Polish history, folklore, and sapphic rivals to lovers!

What is The Midnight Girls about?

In a snow-cloaked kingdom, two wicked rivals secretly compete for the pure heart of a prince, only to discover they might be falling for each other…

Karnawał season is a time for mischief and revelry. For the next few weeks, all will be wintry balls, glittery disguises, and nightly torch-lit sleigh-parties.

Unbeknownst to the merrymakers, two monstrous girls join the fun. Zosia and Marynka are drawn to each other the moment they meet, until they discover they’re rivals who both have their sights set on the prince’s heart. If one consumes a pure heart, she’ll gain immeasurable power. Marynka plans to bring the prince’s heart back to her grandmother in order to prove herself, while Zosia is determined to take his heart and its power for her own.

Their ambition turns into a magical contest with both girls vying to keep the prince out of the other’s grasp. But their attempts on his life draw the attention of the city that would die for him, and suddenly their escalating rivalry might cost them not just their love for each other, but both their lives.

If this piqued your interest, then please pre-order The Midnight Girls. It comes out on December 7, 2021. Seriously, I recommend you pre-order because of the publishing industry’s global supply chain issues right now. It'll take longer for books to get to you!


On to the interview!

1. Personally, what is your favorite karnawał event?

A: Oh, that’s so hard to choose! I think my favorite would have to be the torch-lit sleigh parties. There’s just something magical about a procession of sleighs dashing through the winter night with the falling snow catching in the gleam of the fiery torches. But I also love Pączki Day which takes place during the last week of Karnawał when you are meant to eat many Polish donuts. :)

2. Do you have any mood boards or playlists for this book that you can share with readers? 

A: I have a Pinterest board and a Spotify playlist! (which I made when I was procrastinating from actually writing) Please forgive my taste in music haha.

[Frankie's Note: seems like the two of us share taste in music!]

View on Pinterest | Listen on Spotify

3. I loved your atmosphere and attention to detail. I know you said in your author’s note that this isn’t meant to be 100% historically accurate, but it still felt deeply researched. What drew you to setting this at the tail end of the 18th century in the Kingdom of Poland, as opposed to any other time period?

A: I think because it’s such a huge moment in history – the final years of the last king just before the whole country was erased from the map of Europe for over a century. So many of Poland’s most famous and fascinating heroes lived during or are a product of those times. Tadeusz Kościuszko and Prince Józef Poniatowski, later Adam Mickiewicz and Emilia Plater, etc. So much of Poland’s history and culture has been shaped by the fight for freedom. From the beginning I wanted write a story that took place during old Polish Karnawał and it didn’t really feel right to set a story there (even in a fantasy version of the world) without touching on that history in some way.

4. Your magic system is intriguing, with “white magic” and “black magic” coexisting. You have witches stealing hearts and controlling the elements, but you also have priests with magic herbs and boys with blessed flaming swords. How much of this is original and how much of it is inspired by Polish folklore?

A: All of the magic in The Midnight Girls has its roots in Polish folk tradition. I just embellished on top of that – like with the flaming swords.

One thing I found absolutely fascinating while researching was seeing just how deeply magic and religion were intertwined. Soldiers really did have their sabres blessed by priests and bishops. Kościuszko laid his sword on the altar before his uprising. The holy amulet Selim wears is based on accounts of amulets the Muslim Tatars who settled in Poland wore for protection. Polish princes consulted with Jewish holy men for advice. Even today, Catholics in Poland take herbs and candles to church on feast days to have them blessed.

The witches, on the other hand, are a nod to older pagan beliefs. They represent nature and the spirits of the dead and the uncontrollable and unpredictable elements. Their magic isn’t necessarily “black,” just a different kind of power.

5. Marynka and Zosia’s relationship was hands-down my favorite part of this book. Their mutual obsession and rivalry had me giddy. We do love some evil sapphic rivals to lovers! Are there any other books or media you recommend that contain this trope?

A: Rivals to lovers is such a god-tier trope! I love it so much <3 Both writing and reading/watching it. There’s not nearly enough sapphic examples out there, but these are some of my favorite books and shows that include it:

  • This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
  • She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen
  • I Kissed Alice by Anna Birch
  • Killing Eve
[Frankie's Note: I'm a big fan of Killing Eve and This is How You Lose the Time War myself! So I highly recommend these two. As for the rest, they're also on my read lists/watch lists. Thanks so much for the recs, Alicia!]


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