Hey guys, I’m Sabaa Tahir, here interviewing the delightfully fun YA fantasy author Sara Raasch for the Fifteeners blog today. Here’s the summary of her awesome book, SNOW LIKE ASHES, out from Balzer & Bray on October 14:
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
ST: In your dedication, you mention that you’ve been planning this story since you were 12. How did you come up with idea and how long did it take you to write the book?
SR: My memory being what it is, I don’t actually remember where I got the initial idea. I do have the first handwritten draft of SLA, though, and my oh my, is it ever awful. But the foundation of the story is the same — a badass girl named Meira fighting for Winter’s freedom.
I wrote the first draft of the trilogy (yep, the entire trilogy) in my teenage years. Which should have helped when I decided to rewrite it a few years back, but really, only the first books shared any similarities. The final two books in the trilogy are entirely different.
ST: Have you always been a big fantasy reader? Who are your favorite fantasy authors?
SR: Oh yes! I constantly babble about how much I love her, but my favorite fantasy author is Sharon Shinn. I’ve reread the Twelve Houses series more times than any other books. The world, the characters — it all just feels like coming home.
ST: The world-building in your story is incredible. I loved the tidbits about the Winterian people–their customs and ceremonies and traditions. Without giving anything away, can you tell me a little bit about what inspired that worldbuilding?
Pinterest inspired the world building. No, seriously — I don’t know how I ever world built before it. Being able to visualize entire cultures and piece together what they do/who they are/how they look is invaluable. Pinterest = an author’s best friend.
ST: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Well, obvs, Meira, but since that is obvious, I’ll tell ya my second favorite: Sir. Poor, tortured, mysterious Sir. He has a lot of issues, but he’s also, at heart, a very simple dude, and it’s that complexity that makes me love him. Also, in my head, he’s Mads Mikkelsen, so that doesn’t hurt either.
ST: Does Snow Like Ashes have a sequel? If so, can you tell me a little bit about it? When will it be out? Where will the story take us? (Ok, this question is me wanting spoilers, but it was worth a try….)
Yes! It’s a trilogy. Book 2 comes out in Fall 2015 and Book 3 in Fall 2016. I’m currently editing Book 2, and this book is much darker and more political than SLA. We get to explore the other kingdoms we didn’t touch on in Book 1: Summer, Yakim, and Ventralli. AND we get to meet one of my most favorite characters from the entire series, the Summerian princess, Ceridwen. If you thought Meira was badass, hold onto your chakrams 😉
In terms of spoilers, I will say that I’ve taken to calling Book 2 “the book where everyone dies” because of how many people, well, die in it. Muahahaha. *dramatic music*
ST: What advice do you have for fledgling authors–those just starting out on their writing journey?
Keep moving forward. (And watch Meet the Robinsons when you’re feeling down.)
ST: Last question! Since this is a Fearless Fifteeners interview, I have to ask: What is something you’re afraid of? And what’s something you’re not at all afraid of?
Failure. Which I think is a fear of every writer. I try to adopt a mindset of positivity with life — dwelling on the possible bad outcomes only feeds more energy to the bad things.
Something I’m not afraid of: saying no. It’s taken me a LONG time to come into this, but being able to stand up for yourself is a hugely important trait. Especially in this industry, where it’s all too easy to get bombarded by requests and tasks and lose yourself in the chaos. Saying no is glorious.
Thank you so much for having me! 2015 will be EPIC 😀
Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, is coming out Fall 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures. She is represented by Charlotte Sheedy Literary.
|Sabaa Tahir was born in London but grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. After graduating from UCLA, Sabaa became an editor on the foreign desk at The Washington Post. Three summers later, she came up with the concept for her debut novel, AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. For more information, please visit SabaaTahir.com or find her on Twitter.