I’m delighted to welcome Sarina Langer to Art and Soul as part of the celebrations for the publication of her first book, Rise of the Sparrows.
The blurb: 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, a homeless orphan with 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 to stop the war against people like her – and assassinating the King to become Queen to a people who once wanted her dead may well be the only way to do just that.
Hello Sarina! Welcome to Art and Soul and congratulations on publishing your first book! Could you tell us, in your own words, what Rise of the Sparrows is about (no spoilers!)?
Rise of the Sparrows is about a girl who is struggling to survive. Her name is Rachael, and she has the rare gift of a prophet – which makes her a shunned criminal in the eyes of many people. She has been homeless and on her own since she was a child, and while she has learned how to defend herself and where to find food there’s only so much she can do if no one leaves their leftovers out for her. Her visions scare her. She can’t control them, so when she sees herself dying and helpless in a place she doesn’t recognise (she’s also surrounded by demons) she knows she needs to do something. She didn’t expect to run away with a girl who can set fire to everything and everyone, and who doesn’t know that burning people alive is a bad thing, no matter the situation!
And could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Oh, I’m not all that interesting. I live in the South of England, and I work part-time in my university’s library. I studied photography, and most students on my course moved away or travelled once we were done, whereas I never left. I loved my library when I was a student and I love it now as a member of staff. It allows me to take out books which is great, and a fantastic help with my research. Working in the afternoons gives me time to scheme, write and edit in the mornings.
I’m obsessed with stationery, and have a nice selection of notebooks, highlighters, sticky notes, pens,… I especially love my fountain pen. I learned to use one in primary school and have adored them ever since.
Do you remember how the idea for Rise of the Sparrow came to you? Did you always know it would be the first book in a series?
I can’t remember! I think I wanted to create a world where magic wasn’t accepted, and where people with magic were seen as dangerous and criminals. In most of the fantasy novels I’ve read, magic is a given and an accepted part of society. I wanted something different, but it has changed a lot since then. While Rachael has to deal with prejudice against people like her, there are other countries where magic is perfectly fine. It’s a big world, and it didn’t make sense to me that magic was hated equally everywhere. The northern countries, especially Rifarne and Tramura, fear people with magic and have very strict laws against it. In the south it has been a vital part of people’s routines for a long time, and they can’t imagine life without it.
I’d like to think that the original idea – whatever caused it at the time – is still in there, but it has progressed and evolved beyond that, too. I did always know that it would likely be a trilogy, but the prequel wasn’t planned from the beginning.
Do you have a favourite character?
Well… I love all my characters equally, of course *ahem* but if I had to pick one I’d choose Kiana. She is sarcastic, she’s a badass with two daggers, and she doesn’t take shit from anyone! I love writing her. Kiana has become a bit of a role model for Rachael, too, who admires her attitude and her confidence, and who compares her to a cat that’s ready to pounce.
When can readers get their hands on the next books in The Relics of Ar’Zac series? (no pressure!)
I’m planning to release Book 2 and Book 3 next year, and then there’ll be a prequel the following year, too 🙂 I love prequels, and this series has the perfect set-up!
Have you always wanted to write high fantasy?
I’ve always been drawn to fantasy. I remember being ten years old (give or take) and writing a story about a girl who travelled to another world through this huge tree in her garden (there was a secret, magic door down the middle of said tree, of course). Her sister was missing and she thought she might find her if she goes to this magical place, which was completely different to the world she knew. I even invented a language to go with it! I was pretty proud of it, but naturally it never went anywhere. I spent a lot of time describing every detail of the garden, just in case someone wanted to turn it into a movie. (I was an ambitious child)
That’s not to say I never tried my hand at other genres, though! I read quite a few of Karin Slaughter’s books when I was a teenager, and tried writing something similar but I couldn’t think of a good, exciting idea. It just wasn’t the same.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read? Do you have any favourite authors?
How long have you got? 🙂 I love everything by Karen Miller and Terry Goodkind! I also read The Name of the Wind recently and now I’m in love with everything Patrick Rothfuss writes. He has such a magical way with words that makes me want to write, and that makes me want to listen to whatever he has to say.
Besides those I do read a lot of fantasy, but I’m trying to add some different genres to my reading list as well. Since creating my blog and joining Goodreads I’ve found a lot of books I’d never have considered otherwise. If a writing friend recommends a book, I’m likely to add it. I’ve discovered some amazing books that way!
Thank you again to Sarina for answering my questions and dropping by to tell us more about Rise of the Sparrows.
In case you missed it, yesterday Sarina was over at Faith’s blog where you can enter a giveaway to get your own copy of Rise of the Sparrows!
Claire Huston / Art and Soul