Today is an exciting day! Today is an exciting week!
It marks the debut of my good friend Sarina Langer’s novel: Rise of the Sparrows!
I am fortunate enough to be hosting her today on the first day of her blog tour. I’ve also had the pleasure to beta read her novel and I assure you it is a superb fantasy novel. I hope the following interview can convince you of the same 🙂
And don’t forget, at the bottom of the page is the chance to win 1 of 5 copies of Sarina’s book!
(note: formatting is weird for some reason, still trying to fix that…)
Now, without further ado, may I present Sarina and her novel Rise of the Sparrows!
Growing up homeless and orphaned in a town that hates her, Rachael must assassinate the king of Rifarne to become queen to a people who once wanted her dead.
Rifarne is a country opposed to magic. When its people demand harsh action, King Aeric sees himself with no other choice but to outlaw those with the gift. Rachael, who possesses the rare gift of a Seer, soon finds herself with visions of her own violent death. When her escape goes wrong and she ends up in the clutches of a vicious Mist Woman lusting for her blood, she finds she is the only person who can stop the war against people like her – and assassinating the king to take his throne may well be the only way to do just that.
Hi Sarina. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I studied Photography at university, and to the great disappointment of my tutors I work part time in my university’s library now, while writing my books the rest of the time. I have a huge addiction to stationery, and am a momma to one cat – my Sellybean, who has become the mascot to my blog and my writing.
I read a lot of fantasy across all sub genres, but I’m trying to bring in some scifi, too. Besides writing, I play video games of the same genres, I read psychology books for fun, and I neglect my garden a lot more than I should.
You also have a blog. Tell us a bit about what you do there.
My blog is all about my writing. I do have a schedule, but I expect it’ll change a little soon to leave more time for writing.
I share writing prompts and my interpretations, word counts, progress I’ve made (or failed to make), insights into what I do such as my research, my experience with my beta readers, and more recently I’ve also started offering guest posts and interviews.
Rise of the Sparrows is a fantasy novel. Are there any authors in the fantasy genre who particularly influenced your writing?
There are! I’ve been drawn to writing since I was very young, and I’ve always been drawn to books, too. I read a lot of thrillers or mystery novels in my teens, but then stopped reading for a while – say, a year or two. When I finally missed it enough to go looking for a new book to read I found the Godspeaker series by Karen Miller. I loved the cover and I liked that it was a series (more to read if I enjoy it!), so I read the first chapter and was hooked after the first paragraph. I bought the whole series, and it made me want to write.
I’m sure it would have happened sooner or later anyway, but it was her books that made me want to try writing again.
Since then I’ve discovered many amazing fantasy writers, but to list them all would take a while. As a basic rule, I admire all writers whose characters make me feel something, or who inspire me to write.
This is your debut as a published author. Congratulations! How long have you been pursuing this goal for? How does it feel to have achieved it?
Hard to say. My Mum would tell you that I’ve always wanted to write since before I knew the alphabet, but I don’t remember that. She showed me the scribbles I made on the walls when I was a toddler, but I don’t think I can count those 🙂 Which toddler doesn’t try to improve the wallpaper that way?
The first time I took writing seriously I was nine years old, I think (or as seriously as you can when you’re as young as I was). Give or take one, two years. I wrote the whole thing in a notebook, and it was about a girl who had to travel to a magical country (through the base of this huge tree in her garden, naturally) to save her sister from… something. I don’t think I thought that far ahead, but I did go to a lot of effort otherwise. I invented an alphabet – I knew my Mum was very impressed that Tolkien had done it, but she merely smiled (and probably thought ‘aww, there there!’) when I proudly showed her mine – and made sure to describe the garden in great detail for when Hollywood bought it for a huge amount of money. That’s the first time I remember taking it seriously, but I didn’t put much thought into writing for several years after that. I did write a bit here and there, and tried writing thrillers for a while but they never progressed past the first page.
I tried again years later. I was very proud of my first draft, too, but naive kid that I was I thought the first draft was perfect. Apologies to the two agencies who have probably black-listed me. Rest assured, I burnt it. (Okay, so I didn’t burn it, but I have no idea what I’ve done with the thing.)
I was somewhat disheartened after that, and it took a couple of years before I started writing Rise of the Sparrows. I had to set it aside for a while because I was studying for my degree at the time, but I came back to it and now I’m here! 🙂
So, I guess, this is my third attempt. The amount I’ve learnt since the first try is insane, and I’m not backing down this time.
If you had to define Rise of the Sparrows as a this story meets that one, what would you say?
I’m terribly bad at these things! You were a beta reader, Faith – what do you think? 🙂
Faith: I’m equally terrible at these things, but I know that Rachael always reminded me of Katniss from Hunger Games — fierce, brave and independent!
What first inspired you to write Rise of the Sparrows?
I don’t know 🙂 When I started writing it I was reading a lot of books where magic was a central, integrated part of people’s lives. I think I wanted to write a book where the opposite was the case – a world where magic is feared, and people who have the gift are outlawed. Originally magic was to be hated and hunted everywhere, but once I came back to it and started writing again I realised that this wouldn’t make any sense. It’s a big world, and it seemed only natural that there would be some corners of the world where magic was accepted, even embraced. My main character had the misfortune of being born in a country where the gifted are hated, but not all countries think that way. To the South, for example, magic has been accepted for a long time, and to the West there are some places where magic is a different thing entirely. But of course it’s not as clear-cut as that. Not everyone in Rifarne hates magic. Many do, but there are always exceptions. Equally, not everyone in the South loves it. It’s complicated 🙂
So, as you can see, my original idea has changed a lot since I first had it, but I’d like to think that it’s still in there somewhere.
Tell us a bit about the process of writing it.
It was definitely a learning curve. It was the first book I wanted to take seriously and do right, but getting into a habit took a while. Writing the first draft was one of my favourite parts, and then the edit was enjoyable and frustrating in equal measures. I wasn’t sure how to feel about the edit – a lot of writers will tell you that they loathe it, so I went in with mixed feelings. Editing was harder than writing the first draft but it’s where the magic happens. It’s where you turn an okay draft into a good one.
I brought in my betas once the words no longer made sense. I know I have a habit of over-editing, and didn’t want to make that mistake here. My betas – you included! – really went to town on it, and changed it in so many wonderful ways. Your own edit turns your draft into something good, but with the right betas you can turn it into something wonderful. I still added chapters to it this late in the process, and I’m really glad I did. My betas had fantastic ideas!
There are so many amazing characters in Rise of the Sparrows. Who is your favourite? Tell us more about them.
Oh, a mother shouldn’t… Kiana and Kaida! Neither have had many appearances in the first book – especially Kaida, who we only get a glimpse of at the very end – but I adore them both a lot. Neither were originally in the book but they’ve forced their way in part-way through. Who doesn’t love a kickass redhead female character? Well, I give you two! 😉
Without running the risk of spoilers, tell us about a scene that you really enjoyed writing and what makes it special to you.
I knew for a while that one of my characters would be afflicted by a certain curse (I really want to tell you more… But I don’t want to spoil it!), and I knew exactly how it would happen. It’s a scene which is late in the book, so I was dying to write it for a while and once I got to it I couldn’t stop. It was so much fun, and the feedback from my betas tells me that I did well. I’m quite proud of that scene, and the way it ended the chapter.
There’s another scene I added in a later edit. Rachael goes to the market in the capital city for the first time, and – having been a homeless orphan her entire life – she’s overwhelmed by the colours, scents and sights. It’s a very vibrant scene, and I love how it turned out.
Rise of the Sparrows is the first in a planned series. Can you tease anything of what to expect in the following books?
More demons, more cliffhangers, and new sights 🙂 Things really turn dark in the sequel, and I’m almost certain that it won’t end on a happy note.
With Rise of the Sparrows done, what are you working on at the moment?
I’ve been focusing on the sequel, but I’ve also taken notes for Book 3 and a prequel. I love prequels, and I think Relics of Ar’Zac has the perfect set-up for one. Plotting it happened naturally while I wrote Rise of the Sparrows, and it gives me the chance to give you some answers I can’t give you in the trilogy.
I’ve also been working on a scifi novel. I’ve always been drawn to that genre, but for some reason I’ve never written it. When I play video games I love the genre – often more than fantasy – and I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to try it. I’ve never read many sci-fi books, though, so for all I know I’ve been doing this all wrong! There are several sci-fi novels on my bookshelf now, and I’m looking forward to them.
What tips/advice do you have for those of us still working towards our writing dreams?
Keep writing. Whether you get great feedback or disheartening feedback, keep writing – you won’t improve if you don’t. And please, pleasedon’t think that you can edit this on your own. You can’t. You’ve written it, which means that the cliffhangers no longer work for you, the secrets aren’t secrets any more, and the characters say and do all the right things in your head – but do they do the same thing on paper? You simply won’t know unless you bring in other people. I can’t stress that enough. Beta readers are a blessing! The writing community is awesome (I can’t stress that enough, either) and we love to help a fellow writer out!
Oh, and keep a list of all the feedback that made your day. It can make your day again when you get a negative review.
What is your next great goal for the future?
Well, I wasn’t going to say anything yet, but since you’ve asked so nicely I’ll tell you first 😉 Over the next three years, I’ll push to make writing my full-time job. I can’t leave my day job just yet (I’m fortunate to work in a place I love, with people I love) but I’ll work my butt off to be able to afford a living as a full time writer. There’s one other thing I’d like to try, too – I admit, it’s not something I’ve ever tried before – not to this extend, that is – but I think I’d enjoy it and I think I could be good at it. Between that and writing I hope that I’d be able to pay the bills.
I don’t know if three years is realistic or not – it’s not like I’ve ever done this before – but it’s a good goal to start with. I’ll adjust as I go 🙂
Thanks Sarina for taking the time to answer these questions and congratulations again on your debut novel! You’ve been an inspiration for me!
Why not connect with Sarina on her blog, or on Twitter, or even on Facebook!
And you can find Rise of the Sparrows on Amazon or here on Goodreads!
NOW TO THE GIVEAWAY!
It’s being hosted on Rafflecopter, but I can’t post the actual widget here, so you’ll find all the instructions over HERE!
The giveaway ends Saturday so be quick about you and may the force be with you… er, the odds be ever in your favour… er, best of luck 😉
May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,