Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sarah Beth Durst Guest Post

I would like to welcome Sarah Beth Durst to my blog today. I recently read and really enjoyed The Queen of Blood which begins a new fantasy trilogy. You can see my review here.

Why I'm Writing a Series

My new book, THE QUEEN OF BLOOD, is the first book in a new epic fantasy series from Harper Voyager called THE QUEENS OF RENTHIA.  It is a complete story -- no cliffhanger -- but it's not a standalone.

I do love writing standalones.  You get a complete meal: appetizer, entree, and dessert, all at once.  Mmm, dessert...  I've written several of them (DRINK SLAY LOVE, VESSEL, CONJURED, etc.) and plan to do more (my upcoming MG novel JOURNEY ACROSS THE HIDDEN ISLANDS, for example).  But while I love writing standalones, there's one thing that's particularly hard about them: saying goodbye.  After living in a world and falling in love with its characters, it's so hard to leave when the book is done.

I'm not very good at saying goodbye.  Not even to fictional people.

So I've been wanting to write a series, to sink into a world and not have to leave for a long while. And epic fantasy is the perfect way to do that, because, pretty much by definition, it's large enough to hold multiple storylines with many characters.

I also happen to truly love epic fantasy.  It's the subgenre that made me fall in love with fantasy in the first place.  I must have read David Eddings's Belgariad at least a dozen times between the ages of 10 and 20.  Ditto for Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series and Terry Brooks's Shannara books.  I spent a not-insignificant chunk of my childhood drawing maps of imaginary lands on scrap pieces of paper.

A couple summers ago, I decided that I would brainstorm an idea for my first epic fantasy series while I was at a writing retreat in the Poconos.  I wasn't expecting the idea to grab me within ten minutes of my arrival.

It was a beautiful place: forested hills in every direction.  Each writer had his or her own adorable wood cabin nestled beneath the towering pine trees.  I'd just arrived and was walking up to mine -- marveling at the trees, basking in the bird song, and not watching where I was going.  My foot caught on the step up to the door, and I fell flat on my face.  Cut my lip.  And suddenly the idea for my epic fantasy was born: bloodthirsty nature spirits.

THE QUEEN OF BLOOD is set in a world filled with nature spirits.  But these aren't sweet, frolicking pastoral sprites.  These spirits want to kill all humans.  And only certain women -- queens -- have the power to control them.  Book one is about an idealistic young student and a banished warrior who join forces against a rising number of spirit attacks.

It was so much fun to write!  And the best part is that I don't have to say goodbye!  Book two (THE RELUCTANT QUEEN) will be out next summer, and book three (THE QUEEN OF SORROW) will be out ten months after that.

I hope you'll join me in saying hello to Renthia.  It's a beautiful place!  Just watch out for the trees. They bite.

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