Today, I am lucky enough to have the pleasure of hosting Sherry Thomas, the author of The Burning Sky and several historical romances, here on the blog!
Title: The Burning Sky
Series: The Elemental Trilogy #1
Author: Sherry Thomas
Age Group: Young Adult
Publication Date: September 17, 2013
It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…
Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.
Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to avenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.
But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.
Find The Burning Sky online
After reading and completely falling in love with The Burning Sky, her first young adult novel, I just needed to get in touch with her and ask her all the questions I had! So, without further ado...
Q & A
The Burning Sky is a novel full of intense action and – my favorite - tons of magic! How did you come up with the specific forms of magic within this story?
Whenever I am asked to describe The Burning Sky, I tell people it’s Harry Potter with cross-dressing. So obviously I enjoy magic portrayed as an ordinary component of life—i.e., everyone around you can do it, just like everyone around you can drive a car and turn on a computer.
But I wanted to give my world some depth and history. Since elemental magic is so different from the more “tech-heavy” forms of magic like charmed objects, potionmaking, etc., I decided to actually classify it as a class of magic on its own, a more instinctual and primal power, one that has long been in decline.
I loved Titus and Iolanthe! Seeing from both their point of views added a layer to the novel that I enjoyed immensely! Out of the two of them, which one of their POVs did you enjoy writing from the most and why?
I might have to say I enjoyed Titus’s POV scenes a tad more, just because boyfriend is such a different person beneath that veneer of disdain and aloofness. And the stakes for him are so high.
The world within The Burning Sky is very intricate and so beautiful. What was your process when you began to build it? Was it always a clear picture or did you run into challenges?
I started with a very fuzzy picture—all I knew at the beginning was that there was a meteor storm on the night of the heroine’s birth, and everything else had to be filled in. Seriously, in the first draft, I came very close to having a scene of herb-gathering, which is just about the most cliched thing you can do in fantasy!
But as I went through draft after draft, it emerged that I wanted my magical world to be modern. The mage realms are urban, highly organized, with very fast travel and fairly instantaneous communication—more like the developed nations of the 21st century and not at all medieval or agrarian.
There is a very colorful cast of characters within this story! Are any of them based off of people you know? Did you have a favorite?
LOL. Whenever I am on a panel with authors, at least one of them will tell the audience that they should be careful what they say or do, because it might go into the next book. And then I’ll always have to clarify that not all of us do that: I have never based a character on a real person. They are constructed entirely in my head.
I do love Kashkari, who embodies exactly what a gentleman should be. But I also love Cooper, because he is so full of squeals and feels and makes for such a funny contrast to Titus’s icy majesty. (Actually, you see more of that in The Perilous Sea.)
Oh, I forgot: While the Inquisitor is not based on a person, I wrote her looking at images of Tilda Swinton.
I absolutely loved the idea of the Crucible! Being able to jump into any fairytale and live it would be like a dream! If you could be in any fairytale, which would you choose?
Probably not one in which a dark forest predominates the landscape—I don’t think I’d enjoy groping my way through that. But maybe as the cat in Puss in Boots? (Wait, there is a forest in that one too, isn’t there? I just can’t get away from the woods.)
Iolanthe has control over the elements – such a cool ability! If you could pick any element to have control over, which would it be? Why?
Water. You always need water. (Of course you need air too, but air is usually already there.) ☺
When you initially got the idea for this story, which came first: the characters, the world, or the plot? Or something else entirely? What was your inspiration?
A sentence—On the night I was born, stars fell—dropped into my head as I was crossing the parking lot at Costco one afternoon.
The sentence never made it into the book, as I switched to third person POV fairly early on. But that was the starting point. I looked up the last great meteor storm, which was in 1866, which meant my young mages would be living in the early 1880s. I also write books for adults set in the late Victorian period, so that was more or less perfect.
If your protagonists are sixteen, chances are they are in school. And there is no point doing a magical school, since that has already been done to perfection. So I decided that my mages are attending a nonmage school. And the only good nonmage schools in the 1880s are boarding schools for boys. I chose Eton, since it’s one of the most famous boarding schools in the world. And that choice obliged Iolanthe to dress as a boy and pass herself off as one, which was, of course, a ton of fun for the author.
When you write, do you normally listen to music? Did you have a specific playlist for The Burning Sky?
I did. I listened to a lot of production music—i.e., music that is recorded for the purpose of licensing to film, television, etc. Also known as trailer music. The tracks are often composed to evoke an epic feel, which was what I wanted. And most of the tracks on my playlist came from a production company named Two Steps from Hell.
Besides writing YA, you also write Historical Romances such as My Beautiful Enemy and The Luckiest Lady in London! How did your writing process change going into young adult?
It didn’t change at all. When I write, I don’t think about the audience, only the story. I do have to say though, that when I revise my romances, the changes I made flow from changes to characterization, whereas when I revise my YA fantasy, I make more changes to plot. Which makes sense, since romance is character-driven and fantasy is plot-driven.
I am so excited for the second book in The Elemental Trilogy, The Perilous Sea, to release! Only about two more months left to wait! Can you tell us what we can expect in this next installment?
A breakneck pace, lots of revelations, a swoony romance—and if I’m completely honest, some heartbreak along the way. So gird yourself!
This or That
Coffee or tea?
M&Ms or Skittles?
Rain or shine?
Action or romance?
Action with a touch of romance
Sweet or Salty?
Edward or Jacob?
I can has Dr. Cullen?
Okay, fine, you can have Dr. Cullen! Thank you so much for answering these questions, Sherry! I can't wait until The Perilous Sea releases!
If you haven't already, make sure to buy The Burning Sky, the first book in The Elemental Trilogy! It has magic, adventure, romance, fairy tales, and cross dressing! What more could you ask for?
About Sherry Thomas
Sherry Thomas writes both historical romance and young adult fantasy.
On the romance side, she is one of the most acclaimed authors working in the genre today, her books regularly receiving starred reviews and best-of-the-year honors from trade publications. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award.
On the young adult fantasy side, there isn't much to say yet, as her debut book is not scheduled for publication until September 2013.
Sherry writes in her second language. She learned English by reading lots of romance and science fiction--every word Isaac Asimov ever wrote, in fact. She is proud to say that her son is her biggest fanboy--for the YA fantasy, not the romances. At least, not yet...
Find Sherry online
Have you read The Burning Sky yet? What did you think?