I am so excited to have Sarah Delena White in the hot seat today! Her debut novel, Halayda, was one of my favorite books of 2017, and I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of Rothana. I loved the world or rather worlds in this book, a steampunk “real world” and the Fae realm not to mention a fantastic cast of characters. I can’t wait to dive back into the world and get lost!
Nickname: Lady of the Chickens
Genre: YA/Adult fantasy romance/adventure mashups
Favorite scripture: Isaiah 43:19
In high school I was a… ballerina elf living in an alternate reality.
What was the easiest part of Rothana to write?
Taylan and Sylvie’s journey flowed easily. Rothana is about these two discovering they don’t understand themselves or their relationship quite as well as they thought, and they have to level up in big ways in order to save the day. I started out with a clear direction in mind for then, and there weren’t many surprises along the way (at least, not for me. So far, readers have had a very different experience, haha!).
What was the hardest part of Rothana to write?
Diza and Zad’s part of the story proved much more challenging. I tried several different directions for them before settling on one, and in the end their storylines looked nothing like I’d originally expected! I couldn’t be happier with how their part of the book played out, though. They both grow a lot over the course of Rothana, and I love seeing their unconventional relationship continue to unfold.
Whose story were you most excited about telling?
I loved delving more into Casimir’s character in this book! In Halayda, we saw his power and cunning and heard his grandiose speeches, but Rothana is where we learn the true reasons behind his disastrous actions. I enjoyed exploring his complex motivations and shedding some light on his past.
What character caused you the most problems?
Surprisingly, it was Zad! When I first wrote Halayda, Zad the pooka was just a comic sidekick. In later drafts, I realized there was much more to him than I’d originally thought. Rothana shows more of the true nature beneath his snarky comments and seemingly flippant attitude. It took a lot of rewrites to uncover his layers, and I had to completely shift my own perspective on him in order to do him justice.
Will there be sequels to Halayda and Rothana?
Yes! Book Three of the Star-Fae Trilogy is slated to release in 2020. I’m also working on a prequel novella featuring a younger Sylvie and Taylan. I have a couple of ideas for spin-off novels as well, but these projects are a few years down the road.
What inspired you to start writing?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t make up stories, but as a kid I rarely wrote them down because I thought I wasn’t good with words. Once I got to college, I tried very hard to forget the stories and focus on more “practical” endeavors. Clearly, that worked out well. 😉 I started writing seriously about six years ago, and it was partly Janeen Ippolito’s fault. I was doing some beta reading for her, and I caught the writing bug in process (oops).
Who is your greatest influence? Author, mentor, etc.
Janeen Ippolito was the first person to encourage me to write down what was in my head and hone my skills so I could share it with the world. She coached me through a lot of ups and down with Halayda and Rothana.
Do you have certain themes that you gravitate to in your writing?
Definitely! Some of my favorites are destiny vs. free will, people overcoming their flaws and failures to become unconventional heroes, what makes someone a hero or a monster, and positive portrayal of marriage.
Tell us about your protagonist
Sylvie Imanthiya is a half-fae alchemist turned chosen savior of Faerie. She has a soft spot for tea, blankets, and anyone who is downtrodden. Her greatest desires are to heal the battle-scarred fae realm and to work side by side with her husband, Taylan. Of course, everything seems to be against her.
Taylan Ashkalabek was once king of Faerie, but now he’s being called to another destiny… one he doesn’t want. He’s a warrior and a survivor who has had to make a lot hard decisions that have left him scarred, in all senses of the word. He’s one of the last of the ancient Dulahna (shadow-fae) race, and his people have ties to the fae underworld. All Taylan wants is to build a peaceful life with Sylvie, but fate might have other ideas.
Tell us about your story world
Kyure is a multi-dimensional world, consisting of the mortal realm (ruled by humans with steampunk tech), Faerie (a wild land inhabited by fae and strange creatures), and the Deathrealm (the fae underworld). The mortal realm is driven by progress, technology, and alchemy, while Faerie is a place of magic and semi-sentient nature. The Deathrealm is a bleak and chaotic place of, well, dead stuff. There is also a Dreamscape, which is an “in-between” dimension that fae can access while asleep. And all of that is just a part of a broader multiverse, because I can’t do anything the simple way, lol!
What is some bad writing advice you’ve received?
“Don’t edit as you write.” I certainly understand why this works for some people, but it’s not one-size-fits-all. I like to write clean first drafts and have a clear picture of what is going on in the story as it unfolds. I always discover new and surprising things about stories as I write them. If I have a major realization in the middle of a draft, it helps me to go back to previous chapters and work in the changes necessary to keep the story cohesive. This makes the editing process a lot easier, and also satisfies my big-picture-oriented brain.
What is the best writing advice you’ve received?
“Don’t hold back in the first draft.” This helped me delve into the deeper emotions and themes of Rothana and not feel so self-conscious as I wrote. I tried to let the characters express their emotions without worrying what readers would think. I let them say what they wanted, do what they wanted, make out with their significant other when they wanted (yes, Sylvie, I’m looking at you), and feel whatever emotions came naturally to them. I could always clean it up during edits.
Have you been to a writer’s conference? If so which one(s)?
Realm Makers! I’ve been every year since 2015.
What was the best part about attending?
It’s an awesome place to connect with other writers and fans of fantasy and sci-fi. I love the encouraging and enthusiastic community there.
What are your favorite writing books/resources?
Janeen Ippolito’s World-Building from the Inside Out textbook set was very helpful when I was creating the world of Kyure. The Emotion Thesaurus is a lifesaver for those times when you need to find something other than raised eyebrows or a pounding heart to convey a character’s emotional state, haha.
Do you pants, plot, or something in between?
Definitely in between. I use a “points on the map” approach, making bullet points of the major plot points and making note of pivotal scenes I want to include. I’m deliberate about creating a solid story structure in the first draft, but if I try to make a detailed outline, my creativity tends to dry up. When it comes to individual scenes, I usually get my best ideas while writing.
What tools do you use to write? Pen, paper, Word, Scrivener, etc.
Usually Word, although Google Docs is useful when I want to share new writing with my alpha readers. Pen and paper if I’m desperate, but I usually avoid it because my hand moves a lot slower than my brain.
What is your favorite fantasy book?
Hard to pick just one! My perennial favorites are LOTR and George MacDonald’s Lilith. Both of these books rocked my world and helped me realize what a deep, powerful genre fantasy could be. Two of my more recent favorites are The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli and An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson. I’m drawn to books with memorable characters, well-written romance, and epic adventures.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, November 26th
- Author Interview – New Authors Fellowship
- Realm Explorers Author Interview – Letters from Annie (Douglass) Lima
Tuesday, November 27th
Wednesday, November 28th
- Book Excerpt – Reading on the Edge
Thursday, November 29th
- Character Interview with Sidikas – Becky Gaines
Friday, November 30th
- Character Interview with Casimir – LivForHim
- Behind-the-Scenes Feature – M. Hackman
- Author Interview – Dreams and Dragons
Saturday, December 1st
- Book Review – Pages to Explore
Monday, December 3rd
Tuesday, December 4th
- Behind-the-Scenes Feature – Lands Uncharted
Wednesday, December 5th
Thursday, December 6th
Friday, December 7th
- Book Review – Jessica Rachow
- Guest Post on Faerie vs. Sabeylln – Katherine Massengill
- Book Review – Writing with Wolves
Saturday, December 8th
A new queen falls. A death lord rises. An ancient foe looms in the shadows.
Sylvie Imanthiya is desperate to lead Faerie well and deepen the bond with her husband, former king Taylan Ashkalabek. But all hope of that vanishes when the winter solstice ceremony ends in disaster, stranding her and Taylan in the Deathrealm, and stripping the kingdom from her.
With Faerie in chaos, Zad and Diza are separated once again: Zad to reconcile with an old mentor to stabilize the kingdom, and Diza to confront the nefarious Casimir in the mortal realm. But Casimir claims that a greater evil seeks to destroy both realms, an evil that Diza’s unique death magic can hold at bay—if she could only remember how.
In the Deathrealm, Taylan is succumbing to the lure of specters from his past, and pushing away Sylvie’s love. Overwhelmed by decay and darkness, Sylvie must summon unexpected magic from the soul of Kyure to fight for her convictions and her husband’s heart.
Shadows divide them. Their friends are in peril. If Sylvie fails, her marriage and her world will fall.
About the Author
Sarah Delena White was raised by wolves in an alternate dimension. She writes eclectic speculative fiction that reworks mythology with a fine balance of poetry and snark. She’s an experienced world traveler who loves to weave world folklore and ancient concepts into vibrant, original story worlds. She is the administrative manager for Uncommon Universes Press. When she’s not writing, she can be found making elegant designer bead jewelry, traveling to festivals as a professional ballad singer, drinking tea, and seeking to create the perfect latte. She can be bribed with dark chocolate.
Social Media Links
Join Uncommon Universes Press and Laura A. Grace of Unicorn Quester to celebrate the launch of Rothana by Sarah Delena White! Includes games, giveaways, exclusive behind-the-scenes, and more. Also features guest authors Bethany A. Jennings and Morgan L. Busse. Save the date to hang out with these fabulous authors!