Today I'm talking with the super awesome Destiny Soria about her sophomore book, Beneath The Citadel. She's a great writer, not to mention Iron Cast being one of the best books I read in 2016. Beneath The Citadel has a lot of world building and adventure so read on for more insight on this exciting new book!
Your newest book, Beneath the Citadel, has a lot going on. Can you explain the premise and what might have inspired you? Beneath the Citadel is set in a city ruled by ancient prophecies where your future can be divined in a handful of coins and your past can be stolen with your memories. Four teens who are the remnants of a failed rebellion must stand against a corrupt government that holds the past, present, and future in its hands. Fun fact: the first chapter was directly inspired by the opening of The Twilight Zone episode “The Obsolete Man.” I was watching that episode with a friend, and suddenly the first lines of the novel appeared in my mind as clear as day. I grabbed my laptop and churned out a draft of the first chapter before the episode was even finished.
Since it is such an integral part of Beneath the Citadel, can you explain what an infallible prophecy is? How do you think that would go over in today's culture? An infallible prophecy is just what it sounds like: a prophecy that is 100% certain to come true, exactly as it was dreamt by the seer. In the world of Beneath the Citadel, there are plenty of prophecies that aren’t infallible, so you can think of them more like a weather forecast. The infallible prophecies are much rarer and give much more power to whoever knows them. I think there’s a lot of discussion in today’s world about Fate (or the Divine depending on your beliefs) vs Self-Determination—just as there’s been all throughout history. I really tried to dig into that paradox in Beneath the Citadel. What kind of control do you have over your life if your future is already written?
Cassa is the main character in Citadel, can you tell us more about her? Cassa is the headstrong, reckless, clever daughter of two legendary rebels who were killed during an uprising. She shoulders the weight of her parents’ legacy along with her deep-seated desire for revenge against the government she holds responsible for their deaths. But even though it’s Cassa’s determination that sets the events of the story in motion, she’s not really the main character, per se. The novel is definitely balanced among her and her three friends Alys, Evander, and Newt—each of whom brings their own skills and motivations to the table.
Who is your favorite out of Cassa's entourage? That’s a little like asking me to pick a favorite child! I love all of my characters for different reasons, but I will say that I put a lot of myself into Alys—much more than I’ve ever put into a character before—so she does hold a special place in my heart.
Iron Cast was a great book. Were you worried when you started Citadel since the stories are so drastically different in tone and genre? Thank you! “Worried” is an understatement. I was petrified that my agent would read Citadel and say “Um, what is this? What were you thinking? I can’t sell this.” And I was doubly-petrified that my editor would hate it. But fortunately for me, that was not the case! According to my agent, even though it’s a totally different type of book, it still has a lot of the elements that make it a Destiny Book. By that I’m assuming she means a Slytherin heroine, arson, blood magic, and an excess of witty banter. Heh.
What was it like writing a fantasy without worrying about historical elements? Definitely liberating! Although I must say, I still did about the same amount of research for Citadel as I did for Iron Cast. I had to read up a lot on apothecaries, metal-working, and cave formations to name a few…
You do a great job with ensemble characters. What do you feel is different from the characters in Iron Cast compared to Beneath the Citadel? Iron Cast was definitely a love story about the friendship between Corinne and Ada, so even though there were other people in their orbit, the novel never lost focus on the two of them. In Citadel, the heart of the story encompasses the dynamics of the group as a whole, but also the relationships between each character. I loved exploring how the different personalities worked with—and against—each other.
What was the most fun for you writing Citadel? This is going to sound corny, but the ENDING. Seriously, this was my second novel, and the dreaded Sophomore Slump is a very real thing. I love the finished novel, but the process of writing it was like pulling teeth most days.
What do you think fans will be most excited about? Honestly, I hope readers fall in love with the characters and find at least one that reflects their own spirit and experiences.
Is there anything you would want your readers to know going into this adventure? If you want some music to set the mood while you read, the fabulously talented Paper Crane Society wrote an original book score for Beneath the Citadel. It’s basically the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. You can find it on Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon Music.
Destiny Soria grew up in a tiny town in Alabama that you’ve never heard of, where she spent her summers playing with sticks in the woods and exploring such distinguished careers as Forest Bandit, Wayward Orphan, and Woodland Fairy Princess. After college, she ran away to New Zealand for seven months and only pretended to be a character from Lord of the Rings on special occasions. Nowadays she lives and works in the shadow of the mighty Vulcan in Birmingham, AL. She is the author of IRON CAST, a YA historical fantasy set in 1920s Boston, and BENEATH THE CITADEL, a YA high fantasy about rebellion, seers, and stolen memories.
The Hoover Public Library's 4th annual SciFi/Fantasy Fest was last weekend and it was amazing! Anime heroes walked the halls and physicists and Harvard professors taught reading with cardboard cutouts of dragons hanging in the background. It was very enjoyable. Here's a quick layout of the highlights!
Vendors and Cosplayers
Spiderman Cosplayer at the Vendor Showroom
There were cosplayers everywhere, unfortunately they were sectioned off to a different part of the library for their tracks so I didn't get to see as many as I wanted to.
Becca Nation's Etsy
Circle skirts, Pokemon, and key chains, oh my! The vendors were on point. I bought more than $50 worth of merchandise that went to my kids.
Clubs and Associations
Magic City Lego User Group was amazing! Their projects were grand and very extensive. My favorite pieces had to be the Minions and the fireside Skywalker scene though.
Magic City Lego User Group
This pic actually holds a lot of information. There were no cards or info on the designer who was using the printer but I do know he was placing random printed Pokemon in the library for people to grab. I missed one by a couple of seconds.
So we have a genuine STARFLEET Chapter in our city that I was completely unaware of. To be fair, I'm more of
a casual Trekkie and would tend to get more questions wrong than right if asked enough trivia, but I loved TNG, and I grew up with it, so sue me. You can find their website HERE
I was mostly on the Writing track with a few exceptions. I was late to a panel because I ran to get my copy of Winter Tide signed by Ruthanna Emrys just in case we ran late (I got a really cool signature too!) All panels were pretty awesome, and going into it with the thought I had already heard everything there was to be heard on the subject, I was pleasantly surprised. There were many great minds on the panels I went to, and the variety of writers that were present probably had a lot to do with it (Hugo and Nebula winners/nominees). If I could be a teen girl and put little hearts over all of the pictures I would. Hoover did a great job in bringing all of these artists and writers in. I was especially surprised by their moderators, which did a great job keeping the conversations rolling and asking less common questions. *You can actually see the back of The Reluctant Empress's author Teresa Howard in this pic ;)
Let me know if you have had any great con or festival experiences this summer!
I had writer Coleman Alexander reach out and introduce his book to me a couple of weeks ago.
It comes out in a little bit and I just wanted to give you guys a small blurb on it!
In the deep heart of the forest, there are places where no light ever shines, where darkness is folded by pale hands and jewel-bright eyes, where the world is ruled by the wicked and kept by the wraiths.
This is where the Sprites of the Sihl live.
But Sprites are not born, they are made. On the path to Spritehood, spritelings must first become shades. They do so by binding a shadow: a woodland creature, who guides them through their training. Together, they keep from the light and learn to enchant living things, to bind them, and, eventually, to kill them.
Vikings season 5 just came out on Netflix so I gotta jump on that soon. In the meantime, I was browsing Youtube and found something that made my daaaaay:
So, for the uninteresting stuff:
I took some time for myself to figure out what I needed to do. Essentially, it was quit or actually force myself to work. It finally came down to missing writing and blogging too much to quit. It's like an eruption bubbling in anticipation, and the longer you hold it in, the sicker you're going to be. So here I am. Trying to purge this awful tension and anxiety out and get back to my passion.
Now onto everything I missed while being a massive procrastinator:
Annihilation came out!
While I was super excited about this movie, as if I haven't made it clear that I love Alex Garland yet, it was a huge let down. The things that made The Southern Reach Trilogy so enticing and interesting for me just weren't there, and Garland's usually existential internal examinations were filled in with pointless Bio-Horror.
The Terror started
The other major player in my cinematic universe, Ridley Scott, has put out a Victorian-Horror miniseries about the ships that went to explore the arctic and never came back. So far I've guessed every single line of plot, but the characters are interesting, and the acting is good, so I hold on.
A Quiet Place was super loud
I was able to go and see this wonderful movie on a Friday night. The front of the theater was filled with twelve year olds so things were not so quiet-and we got a lot of commentary that didn't necessarily add to the story. It was great.
A note on the movie: It was intense yet obvious. Large signs and massive foreshadowing took major surprises out of the loop for adults.
The next ACOTAR book is coming out in a week!
I'm super excited and ready for this baby to be out! I even ordered the monthly box by #Wick and Fable ! I've had a major reading slump (I still owe reviews on about 3 ARCs, YIKES) but I think this might change that.
I attempted to read this book several times. Although an interesting concept, it's been done before and before and before. The voice is decidedly male, which on its own isn't a bad thing, but internal monologues come off as egocentric. The characters seem one dimensional and the storytelling is stiff. I really tried with this one, it just didn't grab me.
I received a complimentary copy from blogging for books
I'm going to be taking the month of January and February off to re-evaluate what I need to be doing in my creative life. I will still be reading and reviewing, I just won't be posting until the end of February, so feel free to continue to send requests.
I've been lost for a while, and I think it's time to get everything in order so that I can actually make some progress in my creative life. I've met a ton of great people through social media and real life doing this and I have no regrets. I just need to see what works best for me right now. Thanks for all of the follows and reads, everyone has been awesome! I'll see you guys at the end of February!
The Girl in the Tower picks up where The Bear and the Nightingale left off. The magic and mystical setting of medieval Russia sparkles through the pages, in large part due to Arden's gift of lyrical story-telling.
This time around the characters are more emotional and solid, the story arc more demanding and on edge, and the aesthetic is so real you can almost reach out and touch the powdery snow and warm steaming bread. I love this author, and even if the story has some holes, her voice is so spellbinding you just want to read more. No one really writes about medieval Russia (and I'm personally not a fan of Russian lit which usually deals with loss and existential crisis), but this book continues a dark fairy tale, and one I may not be able to leave.
After being pushed away from her home, Vasya is forced to live as a boy on the run in the middle of winter, but she wouldn't have it any other way. Complications begin as she becomes entangled with a local lord and a frost demon she can't seem to escape. Politics and emotional threads weave their way back to her brother and sister staying in the Russian capitol of Moscow. As the stakes grow higher and higher as the Grand Prince takes an interest in befriending her, lies and status hang in the balance as Vasya struggles to figure out where she belongs, and what really matters.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest book review from Netgalley.
I have to admit I flew through this book. I also have to admit the characters are far from likable. While the pace and the storyline keep you hooked, apparently every boy in this book has to fall for our heroine Henrietta Howell. MMmmmmmmmmkaaay.
While the first book established characters and what role everyone would be playing in the supernatural war, this book focuses on the actual battles and finding any way to win. While that may be well and good, the romance undercurrents were a huge turn off. I have always hated Rook, who is the main love interest, but she wanted to parade Magnus (who I like), through a playboy phase, and Blackwood (who I wanted her to actually end up with), turns into a power hungry, misogynist, crazy person. There are no main male characters in the series that can be viewed as having any solid redeeming traits at this point (Magnus, slightly).
Third wave feminism has started to drip into everyday reading, and although I don't think it was an intentional artistic choice, the female characters in this iteration only really come out strong because the males are corrupt or weak. Henrietta does make some brave decisions, although they are usually rash and never well thought out.
Obvious "tells" throughout the book have to be explained even as they become revelations. This IS YA, but it doesn't have to be dumbed down.
The writing is good, the newer characters and fae are not well developed, but if you want a quick romp through an alternate Victorian London, give it a shot. You may not love the characters, but it's worth hanging in there for the overall plot.
I received a complimentary copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
November is National Novel Writing Month, or in the writer world, Nanowrimo (Nano). Those that choose to participate write 50,000 words in a month. It's really fun.
No, it's really not.
But it gets the work done.
If you are interested in Nano you can click the banner below! I'll see everyone at the beginning of December!