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.