Sarah, what was your inspiration for writing FATE OF FLAMES?
Since I was a kid, I've had an idea of creating my own band of magical girl warriors, and I've had different characters and plotlines in my head for years and years. I think it's when they first announced Sailor Moon Crystal that I just got really excited and decided to go ahead with some of the ideas I'd been playing around with. I'm a huge geek so fantasy novels as well as anime and j-RPGs really kind of form the basis of my inspiration for the story.
What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
I don't know if there are scenes that were particularly difficult to write. In scenes, you're always thinking about getting the emotions right and making sure you reveal the right amount of information or character. Perhaps in that respect, the emotional scenes between Belle and Maia in the later chapters were pretty difficult since I had to communicate the conflict while still helping people to understand where each was coming from.
The scenes that I particularly love are all the fight scenes :) Because I'm very visual so writing big fight scenes and having big set pieces is always a lot of fun.
What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?
I've heard people compare my book to Victoria Aveyard’s THE RED QUEEN or Cassandra Clare’s CITY OF BONES. I think a lot of fun novels have come out recently that bring a modern teen sensibility to SFF, including Marissa Meyer’s THE LUNAR CHRONICLES and Leigh Bardugo’s GRISHA TRILOGY.
How long did you work on FATE OF FLAMES?
It was actually my nano novel for 2012 (first year I won!). I put it aside for a while, though, and picked it back up maybe a year later. If I factor in only the amount of time I spent writing (taking out the breaks), it probably only 3-4 months.
What do you hope readers will take away from FATE OF FLAMES?
I want them to have fun most of all! And to see the main characters for their flaws and strengths. I can't write perfect characters. They may annoy you sometimes, you may disagree with their choices, but that's how real people are. They have their kick ass moments, but the most important thing is that when they fall down they get back up. Those are the kinds of characters I love to write.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
I've been writing stories my whole life without trying to get them published. I think it was back in 2008 that I finally decided to write something with the actual goal of getting an agent. After about six months of querying in 2010 I was able to get an agent, but that book didn't sell. The next book, FEATHER BOUND, did sell but the publishing imprint closed down a couple of months after publication. There was a lot of uncertainty, but when I look back on everything, I can only be thankful because I learned a lot throughout the process.
Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?
I don't think there's a key to writing a novel. I think the important thing is just finishing. I think perhaps there was a moment while I was querying agents (I got rejected quite a few times) that I realized that you can't worry about the rejections. You just have to keep writing, finishing, editing, and putting your work out there.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I work pretty much wherever I can. My home, the library, the coffee shop, book shop, school, everywhere. I barely listen to music because it's pretty distracting when you're just trying to put words down, but I find music is pretty helpful during the editing process. I have a few songs in particular that really helped me think of scenes for Fate of Flames. I know I'll have to post up that playlist one day lol.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Not everyone will like or understand what you write. Write for those who will, and write for yourself. Always seek to improve yourself, but don't beat yourself down for each person that says your work isn't for them. Keep writing, keep working, keep dreaming!
ABOUT THE BOOKFate of Flames
by Sarah Raughley
Four girls with the power to control the elements and save the world from a terrible evil must come together in the first epic novel in a brand-new series.
When Phantoms—massive beasts made from nightmares and darkness—suddenly appeared and began terrorizing the world, four girls, the Effigies, each gained a unique power to control one of the classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Since then, four girls across the world have continually fought against the Phantoms, fulfilling their cosmic duty. And when one Effigy dies, another girl gains her power as a replacement.
But now, with technologies in place to protect the world’s major cities from Phantom attacks, the Effigies have stopped defending humanity and, instead, have become international celebrities, with their heroic feats ranked, televised, and talked about in online fandoms.
Until the day that New York City’s protection against the Phantoms fails, a man seems to be able to control them by sheer force of will, and Maia, a high school student, unexpectedly becomes the Fire Effigy.
Now Maia has been thrown into battle with three girls who want nothing to do with one another. But with the first human villain that the girls have ever faced, and an army of Phantoms preparing for attack, there isn’t much time for the Effigies to learn how to work together.
Can the girls take control of their destinies before the world is destroyed forever?
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ABOUT THE AUTHORSarah Raughley grew up in Southern Ontario writing stories about freakish little girls with powers because she secretly wanted to be one. She is a huge fangirl of anything from manga to SF/F TV to Japanese Role Playing Games, but she will swear up and down that she was inspired by ~Jane Austin~ at book signings. On top of being a YA Writer, she is currently completing a PhD in English, because the sight of blood makes her queasy (which crossed Medical School off the list).
She is represented by The Bradford Literary Agency.
Have you had a chance to read FATE OF FLAMES yet? Do you keep finishing works and put them out there? Do you always seek to improve yourself? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!
Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Anisaa, Sam, Erin, Susan, Michelle, Laura, and Kristin