Sally Green created and broke out hearts with the Half Bad trilogy a few years ago and she is BACK this spring in a MAJOR way this spring (correction: NEXT WEEK!!) with her full-fledged fantasy (that includes a map), The Smoke Thieves! The Smoke Thieves can be compared to YA Game of Thrones (with demons!) and features the converging story of multiple characters. Both her world-building and characterization of Nathan and Gabriel were what made the Half Bad story so compelling, so we are THRILLED to have Sally on the blog today giving us a little bit of insight into her new series and characters.
ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sally Green lives in northwest England. She has had various jobs and even a profession, but in 2010 she discovered a love of writing and now just can’t stop. She used to keep chickens, makes decent jam, doesn’t mind ironing, loves to walk in Wales even when it’s raining, and will probably never jog again. She really ought to drink less coffee. She is the author of the Half Bad trilogy. Follow her @Sa11eGreen.
1. Can you give me your 30-second elevator speech for The Smoke Thieves?
I don’t have an elevator speech – that’s my agent’s job and she’s a genius at it.
2. The Smoke Thieves is such a departure from Half Bad series, what sparked this idea?
The Smoke Thieves took a few years to get going and started with the idea of a father and son demon hunting team (still a great idea in my opinion), but I never managed to get it to work. It took me a while to realize that the problem was that I wasn’t really interested in demons and I’d just written about a father son relationship in my Half Bad trilogy and wasn’t fired up by that. However, I was excited about writing my version of a strong female character and so I changed the son in the demon hunting partnership to a girl, Tash (and made her demon hunting partner her ‘owner’ not her father) and changed the story to include the character of Princess Catherine, who is the key to the story for me. Catherine is intelligent and privileged as she’s a princess, but she’s also a second-class citizen with few rights as she’s female. In The Smoke Thieves she begins to realize that she’s as capable of leading as the men who surround her, and it’s the start of her journey to becoming a ruler. When I thought of Catherine I instantly went from ‘I can’t think of anything to write’ to ‘let me at that keyboard’.
3. In the past, you stated that you did not want to write another trilogy, what changed your mind?
I did say that. And I’d love to write a story of about 60,000 words, and get it all written and edited in eight months and then spend the rest of the year lying on a beach, but my writing life isn’t like that. For a start I seem to be incapable of writing a story in less than 250,000 words (I see a trilogy as one story split into three). Part of the problem is writing about a fantasy world, as I’ve gone to the trouble of creating it, I do want to play in it for a long time. And I keep thinking up lots of characters and more things happen – stories really are never ending. I definitely have trouble ending stories.
4. Why do you love Princess Catherine, March, Edyon, Tash and Gravell and why should we root for them?
I love all my characters, because they are real people to me. Catherine is intelligent and ambitious, brought up in a protected yet vicious environment she begins to realize her own potential to rule when she’s sent off to marry the mysterious Prince Tzsayn. Tash is a demon hunter with her partner, Gravell. She’s young, small and treated like a child by some but she’s mature and sensible though she does have a soft spot for nice boots, which is the start of series of problems that she faces. March is a servant saved during the war but whose people have all been killed. He’s angry and embittered and wants revenge for his people, but isn’t sure how to get it. Edyon is the hapless student, intelligent but looking for easy pleasure – he’s a lover not a fighter. And Edyon has a serious problem – he can’t help himself from stealing things.
The characters start off not knowing each other, but their lives are brought together because of a stolen bottle of demon smoke and Catherine has the challenge of working out what the importance of the demon smoke is in the war that is looming.
5. Who was your favorite character to write and who was your least favorite?
I definitely preferred to write Tash and Edyon, because they are such fun. Edyon is the student with a bad habit of stealing things on impulse. He’s wonderful as a character because he’s basically a nice, harmless guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly, but who makes a series of wrong choices that get him into progressively more serious and dangerous situations. The challenge for me is to think of increasingly awful things to happen to him! Tash is the lively, confident teenage partner of the demon hunter, Gravell, and they have great and silly conversations where Tash can seem more adult than Gravell.
I couldn’t say any character was my least favourite – I adore all my characters and love getting into their heads and working out what they’d think and feel and do. The bit I hated was much more technical and boring – trying to balance the number of chapters of each character, and deciding who tells which part of the story and how the chapters would interweave and the individual stories would come together. It was like the most complicated 3D jigsaw in my head.
6. How did your writing process differ for The Smoke Thieves from the Half Bad trilogy?
More coffee, more frustration, less sleep.
I still don’t plan. I still start with characters and a basic theme, which for The Smoke Thieves is female empowerment. I still try to work from the basic questions of what is my character thinking and feeling and what would they do next.
7. What would you say to those Half Bad fans that are afraid to read YA fantasy?
If you’ve read Half Bad you shouldn’t be afraid of anything.
8. What books have you read recently that you have loved?
I don’t read much fiction when I’m writing – and I’m currently writing the second book of The Smoke Thieves trilogy. I’ve mainly read books for research about Catherine the Great (she’s amazing), but also enjoyed What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Women And Power by Mary Beard and The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit.
Don’t miss all the fun stops along the way of this blog tour!
April 30 – YA Bibliophile – Top Five Favorite Medieval Fantasy Books/Series