Sunday, June 12, 2016

0 Sara Wilson Etienne, author of LOTUS AND THORN, on writing being a map to find your way

We're delighted to have Sara Wilson Etienne here to share more about her latest novel LOTUS AND THORN.

Sara, what scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud?

At the beginning of Lotus and Thorn, Leica is exiled and separated from her sisters. Sisters who are more like pieces of Leica rather than different individuals. I struggled to find a way to show the intensity of the bond between these characters the reader has just met. But these three girls had created a language, a whole world that only they knew. By showing the details of what they shared—secret jokes, bites of tamales, favorite dresses, worried glances—I was able to translate this language they had created together. By the end, I loved Leica and her sisters, and it hurt my heart to tear them away from each other.

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 at home, starting the day with cold-brewed coffee. Or espresso. Sometimes tea. But always, always caffeine. And I start with writing, before email or any other endeavors into the outside world—or at least I try to. Not because I’m virtuous, but because the morning is definitely my most creative time.

I’m a roamer. I begin writing at my treadmill desk—which wakes me up and gets me in gear—but later I move on, writing at my fancypants ikea Ivar desk, the couch, my porch, your porch, pretty much anywhere. I like a change of scenery. I tote my laptop around my house, and sometimes my headphones…if I need a little soundtrack magic to give me a bit of epic story momentum. Battlestar Galactica, composed by Bear McCreary, is my favorite. *cue the taiko drums*

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

Lotus and Thorn taught me about pain and what it means to be strong. A lot of difficult things happened in my life while I was working on this book. Losses of communities and homes. Losses of friends. Losses of confidence. I struggled with depression and with physical pain and I struggled to find my way back out again. But what I learned was that writing can be a map.

Writing does not make the pain or the depression or the grief go away, but it does give it a place to go. It gives you something to build with that pain. As you watch your characters grieve, you learn to. As you give your characters weapons, you decide to fight. As you let even the fiercest heroine cry for the friend she has just lost, you let yourself cry for what you lost. Writing is a map. It’s not the only one, but it’s mine. And if I trust myself, I can find my way.


Lotus and Thorn
by Sara Wilson Etienne
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Y
Released 6/7/2016

Ravaged by a plague known as Red Death, the planet Gabriel, a former colony of Earth, is a barren wasteland. Since being abandoned by Earth 500 years ago, resources are scarce and life is cheap. To stay alive, the survivors, the Citizens, scavenge the remains of a now dead city, trading for food with the resource-rich Curadores, the only other survivors on Gabriel. Every old computer, every piece of wire, every scrap of metal counts. To steal is the ultimate sin. So when tough-as-nails seventeen-year-old Leica is caught doing just that, she’s exiled and left to the mercy of Gabriel’s unforgiving desert for the rest of her life.

While in exile, Leica discovers a mysterious shuttle, which may not only lead her home, but even more impossible—reestablish contact with Earth. Then Red Death rears its head again, killing her entire work crew, leaving Leica all alone until a handsome Curador offers her refuge in the Dome—the only place on Gabriel untouched by Red Death, where a decadent and sultry life awaits. But there’s a catch: Leica can only enter the Dome as his concubine—his Kisaeng. When a rogue group of Citizens see their chance for revolution in Leica’s good fortune, she finds herself unraveling a deadly mystery with chilling answers to the true origin of Red Death and the reason Earth really abandoned them so long ago.

A richly imagined fantasy in the vein of Tamora Pierce, Lotus and Thorn, is a magnificent, epic adventure.

Purchase Lotus and Thorn at Amazon
Purchase Lotus and Thorn at IndieBound
View Lotus and Thorn on Goodreads


Sara Wilson Etienne went to school to become a marine biologist... but when her research transformed itself into a novel, she realized she loved fantasy more than fact. Now she enjoys combining both to create stories that ask "What if?"

Sara writes in Seattle alongside her artist husband and her two dogs. Her favorite days are spent disappearing into different universes, whether it's traveling with Dr. Who, popping into a parallel world with Diana Wynne Jones or Terry Pratchett, or writing her own stories. Or sometimes just taking a nap.

Sara is the author of HARBINGER and LOTUS AND THORN.


Have you had a chance to read LOTUS AND THORN yet? How do you show the bond between characters the reader has just met? Does writing give your pain, grief, or depression a place to go?

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Anisaa, Sam, Erin, Susan, Michelle, Laura, and Kristin

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