Aug 9, 2013
Hello fellow book lovers,
Sherry Thomas has kindly agreed to guest post here about her work,
and share her inspiration for becoming a writer in honor of her upcoming YA Debut,
The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1).
Sherry Thomas is one of the most acclaimed historical romance authors writing today, winning the RITA Award two years running, and appearing on innumerable “Best of the Year” lists, including those of Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, Dear Author, and All About Romance. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and sons.
SHERRY THOMAS IS A TOTAL ROCKSTAR! Want to know why!?! Sherry Thomas is an acclaimed Historical Romance author having received the prestigious Romance Writers of America RITA® Award not once, but TWICE!!!
Sherry will be releasing her Young Adult Fantasy DEBUT next month, entitled The Burning Sky (1st installment in the Elemental Trilogy).
I’m definitely a fan of Sherry’s previous Historical Romance titles, and being the YA lover that I am, I’m truly excited to get my hands on her upcoming debut!Everyone, mark your calendars on September 17 for the release of THE BURNING SKY!
It might have been a coincidence, the beginning of my YA career; it might have been meant to be. I am not quite sure. Let me present the facts below.
In January 2009, my agent sent me an email. She’d had lunch with a children’s book editor. The editor had read some of my novels for adults and would like to see me write books for the young adult audience.
I was flattered, but I had no real ideas for YA. So I said I would think about it and went back to my contracted work-in-progress.
May 2009, my agent forwarded me another email from the same editor, again expressing interest in seeing young adult books from me, if I were to venture out in that direction.
That afternoon, as I was walking through the Costco parking lot, out of nowhere, a sentence dropped into my head. On the night I was born, stars fell. Immediately I knew this was a story with teenage protagonists, and that it was a fantasy, and that there would be some sort of prophecy involving those falling stars.
Would I have had that same idea, if I hadn’t received that second email earlier in the day? And even if the same idea had come to me, would I have unhesitatingly categorized it as YA? I will never know.
But there it was, shiny and intriguing. I was accustomed to approaching a story knowing something about the conflict and the characters. This vague hint of a world that needed to be built from scratch was completely new and slightly unnerving.
So many decisions needed to be made. Who was this person born on the night the stars fell? A sixteen-year-old girl who would be my protagonist. Why did the stars fall? Because there was a meteor storm. And why did it matter that there was a meteor storm? Because it was taken as a sign of the birth of a great elemental mage, such as hadn’t been seen in centuries.
Since there can be no great protagonist without a great antagonist, my elemental mage must be pursued by a powerful and seemingly invulnerable enemy. And since a story action and adventure can only be improved by the integration of an intense love story—see Avatar, The Matrix, and The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner—there would be a boy, a prince, who would both mentor the girl and test her destiny with his own agenda.
A quick Googling session revealed that the last truly spectacular meteor storm to have taken place in 1866, which would put my story in the 1880s, squarely in my wheelhouse as my adult books have all been set in the late Victorian era. And of course, the girl, on the run, would disguise herself as a boy and hide in a boarding school for boys. I thought it would be funny to take the most famous boarding school for boys in the world—the nonmage world, that is—and have my prince repeatedly refer to it as a hovel. So Eton it is.
With all the basics at my fingertips, I started to work on the YA fantasy in earnest, early in 2010. Thank goodness I had no idea what I’d got myself into, or I might not have started at all. I’d been writing for ten years at that point, with four published book, a string of starred reviews, and several major awards and lists to my name. Yet the YA kicked my butt left and right; it was like figuring out how to write all over again.
My agent played an instrumental role, reading iteration after iteration of the story, always pushing me to do better. My son played a complementary but equally crucial role. He started reading THE BURNNG SKY in its most embryonic stage, fell in love at once, and never wavered in his devotion during the many, many revisions since.
The manuscript that finally went on submission, almost two years later, was version 6.5. The original opening sentence, On the night I was born, stars fell, never made it past the second draft. And the narrative changed from first person to third person, once I realized that it was as much the boy’s story as it was the girl’s, that he was no mere love-interest, but the one whose action and choices propel much of the plot.
In the end THE BURNING SKY did not go to the editor who had first expressed interest in seeing me write YA, but I couldn’t be more thrilled with Donna Bray of HarperCollins, who did acquire it, because she rolled up her sleeves and took the book to a whole new level.
And this is the story of how my at least somewhat accidental foray into the world of young adult publishing.
Title: The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1)
It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…
Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.
Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he’s also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to revenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.
But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.
Find The Burning Sky Online:
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