Please welcome author Sarah Beth Durst! She’s here today with an interview about her new novel The Queen of Blood! It’s an adult epic fantasy / YA crossover, the first in a new series, called The Queens of Renthia, and it’s about bloodthirsty nature spirits and the women who can control them. If you like novels about the heroine who is the underdog then you’ll want to check out Deleina’s story for the setting is richly wonderful yet terrifying. If you like YA fantasy then you will definitely want to check this one out. The Queen of Blood will be released on September 20, 2016 from Harper Voyager. Read my review here for more information! I can tell you that after reading this interview, I’m already excited for the sequel!
Sarah Beth Durst is the author of ten fantasy novels for adults, teens, and kids, including Conjured, Vessel, and Ice. Her latest book for kids, The Girl Who Could Not Dream, came out in November 2015 from HMH/Clarion Books, and her next novel for adults, The Queen of Blood, comes out in September 2016 from Harper Voyager. Sarah won the 2013 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times. She is a graduate of Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk. Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband, her children, and her ill-mannered cat.
Want to read more from Sarah Beth Durst?
Dark Faerie Tales: Can you start things off by telling us a little bit about Queen of Blood?
Sarah: THE QUEEN OF BLOOD is the first book in a new epic fantasy series from Harper Voyager called THE QUEENS OF RENTHIA. It’s about a world filled with nature spirits… but these aren’t your cheerful, frolicking, pastoral sprites. These spirits want to kill all humans. Only certain women — queens — have the power to control them.
It was a lot of fun to write.
DFT: Daleina was constantly underestimated because of her inability to control the spirits. What was it about Daleina that had you wanting to tell her story? Why is Daleina a perfect candidate to be heir?
Sarah: Daleina is not a perfect candidate, and that’s exactly why I wanted to tell her story. She’s not the Chosen One. There aren’t any prophecies about her. She has no secret talents. No one gifts her with a magic sword or amulet. She’s a mediocre student with only a modicum of power. But she wants to protect her family and save her people, and she’s willing to work hard to do it.
I wanted to write about a character whose true “magic” is her determination.
DFT: Did Ven only choose Daleina as the heir candidate because she told on him? Or was there something else that he saw in her that made him decide to choose her?
Sarah: He chooses her because she wants to be queen for the right reasons. To him, that’s more important than possessing raw power. At its core, this series is all about power — who has it, who wants it, what you do with it, and what it does to you.
DFT: Who is your favorite character in Queen of Blood? Why?
Sarah: Probably Daleina. Or Ven, my brave banished warrior. Or Merecot, because she made me laugh. Or Bayn, because he’s a wolf. Or… I don’t know. I fell in love with all my characters (even the ones I didn’t mean to care about because I knew their fate!).
One of the hardest parts of writing is finishing a book and having to say goodbye to all the characters that you’ve been living with and have fallen in love with. But one of the best things about writing a series is that I don’t have to say goodbye yet!
DFT: Merecot was one character that stuck with me. Will we see more of Merecot in a later novel?
Sarah: Yes! I don’t think I can say any more without spoilers, except an emphatic YES!
DFT: Queen of Blood is the first in the series. Can you give us a sneak peek at what we can look forward to in the next novel or novels? I know I can’t wait!
Sarah: You won’t have to wait a full year after THE QUEEN OF BLOOD. THE RELUCTANT QUEEN (book two) will be out early next summer, and THE QUEEN OF SORROW (book three) will be ten months after that.
THE RELUCTANT QUEEN continues Daleina’s story, plus adds a new main character: Naelin, a woman who (unlike Daleina) possesses immense power, but she refuses to use it because she knows that people who use their power tend to die young, and she doesn’t want to leave her two children motherless.
DFT: What novels/authors did you draw inspiration from in writing Queen of Blood?
Sarah: I think it’s important to try to write the kind of book you love to read. In fact, I think instead of “write what you know,” the saying should be “write what you love.”
I love the kind of book that sweeps you away on a journey and then brings you back again, maybe slightly changed. And my favorite authors are the ones who made me fall in love with fantasy in the first place, when I was a shy ten-year-old kid hiding in the library: Robin McKinley, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Tamora Pierce, Guy Gavriel Kay, Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, etc.
DFT: The world that you have created in Queen of Blood is equally as beautiful as it is scary. Would you want to live in this world? If so, where would you see yourself in the hierarchy of this world, i.e. heir, hedgewitch, queen, commoner?
Sarah: Renthia is a world of extreme beauty — massive forests, sky-piercing mountains, endless glaciers — and I’d love to live there… except for the fact that I’d probably last about ten minutes before I was eaten, torn apart, or buried alive.
DFT: What is your favorite fairytale/folk tale? Why?
Sarah: Beauty and the Beast. It’s the first fairy tale I remember reading where the princess wasn’t asleep or dead. Plus in both Robin McKinley’s retelling BEAUTY and the Disney movie, there’s a magnificent library!!!
Thanks so much for interviewing me!
Available September 20, 2016 from Harper Voyager
About this Book:
An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure
Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .
But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.
With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.
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