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Happy Monday Everyone! I’m excited to have Kristina Pérez here to share about her YA fantasy SWEET BLACK WAVES. It’s gotten great reviews as a real heartbreaker with a fantastic but hard-in-a-good-way ending. It sounds fantastic.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what's right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she's ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

Hi Kristina! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

I was born and raised in New York City. As an only child, I often told stories to myself and my many stuffed animals. The first “book” I wrote was in second grade about a time traveling stamp.

2. Your book is a retelling of Tristan and Eseult, but you write the story of the princess’ cousin, Branwen. Why did you decide to tell her story?

I’ve been fascinated with Branwen since graduate school. In the medieval legends, it’s Branwen who is responsible for the safeguarding the infamous love potion and it’s her fault that Tristan and Eseult drink it! I wanted to know how she felt about the chaos she causes––and I may have added an extra gut-wrenching twist. In life, I find that we often learn and grow the most from our biggest failures. I wanted the chance to explore that through the character of Branwen.

3. So agree that this is true in life about our failures. Share a bit about your world building process. What advice do you have for other fantasy writers about creating their worlds?

The world is perhaps the most important character in my fantasy novels. I consider the topography first: is it mountainous or by the sea? What kind of agriculture and economy would that lend itself to? The economics lead inevitably to political power structures, i.e. who controls the wealth, and why?

Simultaneously, I think about what the people believe in––if they live by a river, for instance, they might have a river goddess. The next question is whether these beliefs give rise to an organized religion or not, and how the religious power structure interacts with the political one. Once I have all of these basics worked out, I know the framework in which all of my characters will operate!

4. So interesting that you see your world as a character. You’ve written a non-fiction book for adults, THE MYTH OF MORGAN LA FEY. What drew you to write YA?

THE MYTH OF MORGAN LA FEY is a non-fiction title based on my PhD thesis that analyzes
Morgan la Fey’s devolution in Western culture from a Celtic Sovereignty Goddess to a wicked witch. The legend of Tristan and Eseult has also become attached to the Arthurian canon, so I drew on a lot of the same folklore and mythology in the creation of my magic system for SWEET BLACK WAVES.

I read The Mists of Avalon as a teen and it left a huge impression on me. I suppose, in a way, I wanted to give Branwen a voice in the same way that Marion Zimmer Bradley brought a young Morgan la Fey to life.

5. You also have a career as a journalist. How has that helped you when making the leap to writing fiction?

The discipline of writing to tight deadlines has been a very useful skill. Especially this year, when I’m juggling multiple projects. First drafts don’t have to be perfect. You just have to get them done!

6. I have a lot of deadlines too as a contract writer. You're giving me hope that I can apply the skill to a book contract if I ever get one. Your book sounds like it has really compelling characters and a plot that makes you want to turn the page. How did this come together so well for you?

My starting point was to reread and compare all of the most important medieval versions of the Tristan and Eseult legends. I looked at how many overlapping plot points they had and then I tried to think of them from Branwen’s perspective. From there, I began to craft Branwen’s story and it just really flowed.

7. Your agent is Sara Crowe. Tell us how she became your agent and what your road to publication was like.

Sara fished me out of the slush pile a number of years ago and I’m so lucky that she did. She’s a fierce and loyal advocate for her clients. If I can mix my Shakespeare quotations, the course of publication, like true love, never did run smooth––but all’s well that ends well!

8. Ha! Ha! What are some of the things that you are learning about debuting and releasing your book that you think would help other aspiring authors?

The most important lesson I’ve learned is to keep your eyes on your own paper. Your path to publication won’t look the same as anybody else’s. The only thing you can truly control is the writing itself. Just focus on that. If you believe in your story, eventually somebody else will too.

9. That's great advice. What else are you working on?

Writing as K. K. Pérez, my first YA Sci-Fi, THE TESLA LEGACY is coming from Tor Teen in March 2019. LEGACY follows a precocious young scientist named Lucy Phelps whose fateful encounter in the Tesla Suite of the New Yorker Hotel unlocks her dormant electrical powers. As Lucy struggles to understand her new abilities, she is thrust into a centuries old battle between rival alchemical societies. One wants to help her. The other wants her dead.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kristina. You can find Kristina at www.kristinaperez.com as well as Instagram and Twitter: @kkperezbooks.

Kristina has generously offered an ARC of SWEET BLACK WAVES for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through May 19th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, May 9th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Amanda Ayers Barnett

Monday, May 14th I have an interview with debut author Megan Bannon and a giveaway of her YA fantasy

Monday, May 21st I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Natascha Morris

Thursday, May 31st I'm participating in the Beach Reads Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


nashvillecats2 said...

Loved the Interview and the giveaway news Natalie.
Have an enjoyable week.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm sure being a journalist helped with all of that research.

Brenda said...

Thank you for the interview and introduction to Sweet Black Waves. Hope you have a lovely week Natalie.

cleemckenzie said...

Being an only child often pays off. I was one of those for a long time--long enough to tell myself stories and subject my favorite Teddy Bear to them as well. So true about the path each of us takes in this business. And good advice to keep looking at your path, not anyone else's.

Pat Hatt said...

Very true, first drafts just have to get done. Can fix it later.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I'm totally smitten with the blurb. I loved the original tale. I'll have to add this to my must read list.

Kimberly Gabriel said...

This sounds fantastic! And I love what Kristina says about exploring our biggest failures and what we learn from them.

LSpeers said...

Sounds like a book I'll love. Looking forward to reading it! lcspeers(at)gmail(dot)com

Megan said...

I'm so excited for this gorgeous book - thank you for the chance to win it :)
I tweeted here: https://twitter.com/WordsThatStay1/status/993870602594406400 and I follow via GFC as Megan S.

Holly Bryan said...

I need this book like I need air! This is one of my most anticipate books for 2018, I can't wait to read it! And her forthcoming sci-fi sounds pretty awesome too ...

I tweeted about the giveaway! Google email is bryanholly34 at gmail. THANK YOU!

Danielle H. said...

This book sounds like delicious reading for me. I have it on my must read list already for 2018. I shared on tumblr: http://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/173709158647/kristina-perez-interview-and-sweet-black-waves

Julie said...

This sounds like a fascinating read!

Leslie S. Rose said...

I'll bet the research was a blast! Congrats on the book, Kristina.

Angie Quantrell said...

Well, this is a fun perspective for a new book! Great interview! Thanks for sharing and congratulations! Angelecolline at yahoo dot com

Rosi said...

This sounds really fun. The interview was great, as always. Thanks for the post. I will pass on the giveaway. I'm buried in books.

Natasha said...

This one sounds like a great read!!
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

This sounds lovely!

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats, Kristina! Sweet Black Waves sounds like a fantastic book.

Leela said...

I'm a follower.