If you’ve seen my last 4 or so blog posts, then you know how in love and obsessed I am with Sarah Glenn Marsh’s Reign of the Fallen. It takes place in a world where royalty is brought back from the dead again again so that they can continue to rule the kingdom in semi zombie form.
The main character Odessa is a bisexual woman of color and her story is one of self discovery, grief, recovery, friendship, adventure, betrayal and so much more! I’m so grateful to be participating in this blog tour and to have had to opportunity to write out 20 questions for Sarah Glenn Marsh to answer! Reign of the Fallen is out on the 23rd of this month, so mark your calendars and pre-order asap! I promise you won’t regret it.
Q: Who is your favorite Reign of the Fallen character? Who was your favorite character to write? Least favorite?
SGM: My favorite character has to be Odessa. She’s flawed, like we all are- I mean, I know some people who think they’re perfect, so maybe not everyone would agree, but- I love that she makes mistakes and learns and stumbles and changes her mind as she faces down terrible circumstances.
My favorite character to write? Oh gosh, that’s tough to say; I feel like my answer to that could easily change from day to day, but right now? Lysander! Love that grizzly bear.
My least favorite to write were the villains, but I won’t name names to avoid spoilers. To get just a tad more specific: a certain henchman was my least fave. I didn’t want to even think about being in that guy’s head. Too slimy.
Q: Which Hogwarts house would you assign each of your characters too? Zodiac signs?
I also did polls on twitter to get other people’s opinions (I gave them an option of four zodiac signs per character) so here are the results from those!
Q: Which character would you say is most like you? Who do you wish you were more like?
SGM: I’m most like Evander- looking for adventure, a big dreamer, a romantic, always trying to please others even when that means putting aside what I want.
I wish I were more like Odessa- more unapologetic, and a total badass (I’m so not! I have no pain tolerance and would definitely run the other way if I saw a monster with no eyes!)
Q: Which would you rather be in the land of Reign of the Fallen: a necromancer, a weather mage or a beast master?
SGM: Well, following the rules of the magic system, I’d be a beast master because of my green eyes! And lucky me, that’s exactly what I’d want to be, with an awesome bird of prey for my animal companion.
However, if I had to pick something else, I’d like to be a weather worker. Being able to summon lightning seems pretty sweet, even knowing the risks involved!
Q: If you lived in Odessa’s world, would you jump at the chance to bring someone you love back from the dead? Would it be worth the risk of them possibly becoming a shade and always having to cover their face with a shroud? Would you want to be brought back from the dead yourself?
SGM: Ooh, good question. I would neither bring anyone back nor want to be brought back myself—I’m a rule-follower and super risk-averse, so the trade-off doesn’t sound very good to me! Of course, in the midst of grief, I might change my mind and try to bring someone back…but then Odessa would probably appear to knock some sense into me!
Q: Who do you ship Odessa with? (Am I allowed to ask that? Hah)
SGM: I don’t even know how to answer this without spoilers, but I’ll try: *Insert bear emoji here*
How’s that? 😉 I will say though, for other shippers: I’m all about that! Write me the fanfic and I’ll read the heck out of it!
Q: Did you always know that Odessa was going to be a bisexual character?
SGM: Yes! When I started building the world for Reign, I believe I’d recently finished watching The Legend of Korra, a wonderful show—and I had been so moved by learning that Korra was bi, and seeing the sweet, supportive relationship she developed with her eventual girlfriend, Asami. It was powerful, seeing someone who shares my identity as a heroine and main character in a show I loved so much (I even keep up with the graphic novels that followed!), and I knew that going into Reign, I wanted to write a YA heroine who also shared my identity. As an aside, though: I wrote Reign for *me.* I didn’t know if the world was ready for a bi heroine in a YA fantasy, but to my surprise, sharing this story with others turned out to be an amazing, empowering experience.
Q: Who is the first bisexual character you remember seeing or reading in media?
SGM: I think it might’ve been some of the characters in the Kushiel’s Legacy Series by Jacqueline Carey, which I read when I was a bit too young for some of the content (like torture, yikes!) in those books. Whoops! 13- or 14-year-old Sarah was not ready for that. I will say, though, that those books treat bisexuality as accepted, so they had some good things going for them!
Q: Did you gain your inspiration from any particular tv shows or books? Which authors would you call your biggest inspirations?
SGM: As mentioned a little earlier, Legend of Korra was definitely an inspiration when writing Reign! Overall though, I tried to avoid being inspired by any books or shows, particularly because I wanted to be sure my version of necromancy was unique. I did my world building while only reading like, adult nonfiction books (and the occasional ghost story, because I just can’t stay away from those!).
As for authors who are my biggest inspirations: Patricia McKillip, hands down. Her writing is the strongest and most beautiful I’ve ever read, and I wish I had a style as elegant and mysterious as hers. If you’re not familiar with her work, here are some titles I love: Ombria in Shadow, Winter Rose, and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.
Q: Are you a pantser or a plotter?
SGM: Reformed pantser, now plotter! I pantsed a lot of Reign, only knowing the major plot points, but now that I write books under contract, I find I have to share the plot with certain people ahead of time (like my editor)—so basically, I had to become a plotter! Luckily, I found a method for plotting that works well for me, so I think the change has been a good one!
Q: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
SGM: I don’t, unless someone deliberately tags me in one. Reviews are for readers, not for me as the author, because I can’t go back and change a book that’s already written and printed! I’m lucky that I’ve only ever been tagged in friendly reviews, and hope that continues to be the case; I’d be crushed to be tagged in a negative review because that would be mean-spirited on the reviewer’s part, knowing I was going to see something I didn’t want to, and I’d never wish that kind of negativity on anyone!
Q: Do you have a playlist for Reign of the Fallen?
SGM: I sure do! Here’s a sampling of the track list—in some cases, I’ve noted which songs match up with certain characters:
Battlefield by Svrcina –Theme song
Is There Somewhere by Halsey – Odessa and Evander
Heathens by Twenty One Pilots
When it Comes To Us by Frances
Running with the Wolves by Aurora – Meredy
I Will Not Bow by Breaking Benjamin –Odessa
Forfeit by Chevelle –Jax
Bow Down by Chvrches – Valoria
Young God by Halsey
Lover. Fighter. By Svrcina –Danial
Q: How do you choose the names of your characters?
SGM: That depends on the type of story I’m writing; if it’s historical, or set in a certain place, I like to look at census data and pull real first names from there, then mix them up with various last names. However, for Reign, I’ll be honest and admit that I simply did google searches for ‘unusual names’ and picked ones that sounded *almost* like names we’re used to hearing, but not quite. Here’s an example of what I mean: “Meredy,” one of Odessa’s friends in the story, sounds a lot like “Meredith” or “Melody,” but is unique all the same.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? What would you tell your younger self about writing?
SGM: Here’s my best advice for aspiring authors, broken into three parts:
Get others to critique your work, but more importantly, offer to critique for others! Critique as much and often as you can. There’s nothing like finding the strengths and weaknesses in a variety of different authors’ work to teach you about how to edit your own stories.
Read voraciously in the genre/category in which you want to publish. When you’re doing that, and you have a strong response to something- love it, or not so much- try to identify what it is you’re enjoying, or what’s not working for you about the story you’re reading. You’ll pick up things you might like to try in your own writing this way (for instance, maybe you’ll be inspired to try a new POV!), and will also identify things you may want to avoid (the things that don’t work for you as a reader).
Seek community. In the online writing community, I’ve found like-minded people, learned more than I ever would have imagined possible, and made life-changing connections with wonderful authors and bloggers who I’m so happy to call friends. You have everything to gain by interacting with other book lovers online!
As for what I’d tell my younger self about writing, I’d say this:
Treat your dreams seriously, as if they’re possible, and you’ll be a big step closer to actually making them happen. I wish I had done this when I dreamed of being an author someday, because I would have started working on telling book-length stories much sooner!
Q: Favorite YA book you read last year?
SGM: It’s so hard to choose just one, but I have to give that honor to Nic Stone’s DEAR MARTIN for being the most impactful, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking read of 2017. If you haven’t checked it out yet, or gotten to hear Nic speak at a book event, I’d suggest doing both of those things ASAP!
Q: If you were a character in Reign of the Fallen, what would your fantasy name be?
SGM: Oh, this is fun to think about! Well, since my only naming schematic was “unusual,” and I’d want something that sounds close to my real name…probably Saskia or Sadira!
Q: Have you ever thought about having a book trailer? Do you ever play out ideas for one in your head? Do you have any celebrities in mind that you’d pick to play your characters?
SGM: I would love a book trailer for Reign! The story has always felt cinematic to me, and I could see everything playing out in my mind on a screen as I wrote.
As for a dream cast to play the characters, here are some ideas:
Odessa: Hannah John-Kamen
Valoria: Evanna Lynch
Meredy: Saoirse Ronan
Kasmira: Lyndie Greenwood
Simeon: Cole Sprouse
Danial: Hale Appleman
Jax: Ricky Whittle
Hadrien: Tom Felton
Evander: Liam Hemsworth
Q: What types of scenes are hardest to write?
SGM: Why, death scenes, of course! Not that there’s any of *that* in the sequel to Reign…
Q: Do you write a certain amount of words or pages per day? Per week?
SGM: I don’t force myself to write every day- only when I’m feeling it, otherwise I’ll work on brainstorming, or edits, or other aspects of author life- but when I’m drafting something and need to get words down, an average day for me would look like 2-3K. If I push myself and stay disciplined, 10K written and edited would be a good week for me. 15K has happened before, too!
Q: Can you tell us anything at all about book 2? Or about any other books/series you’re currently writing? What’s next?
SGM: Let’s see. Odessa gets an adorable new companion in book two. As in, not a person, but a creature—I’ll leave you all to guess what kind in the comments below! You’ll also get to see Kasmira really use her weather working power, which was fun to write. You’ll get to see some of the wider world outside Karthia, and learn how other cultures treat necromancers and the Dead; you’ll also see plenty of familiar faces mixed in with some new favorites. Oh, and the black fever sucks. You might’ve gotten a hint of that in the first book, though…
As to what’s next: I’m dabbling on two different fantasy projects which include family bonds, queer people being awesome, ownvoices rep for bisexuality and anxiety, and…well, I’d better hush about them for now, but hopefully I’ll be bringing you some more fun reads in the future!
And that’s that! Thank you so much to Sarah Glenn Marsh for taking the time to answer my questions, and to Penguin Random House for asking me to participate in the blog tour for this wonderful book!
What are you guys most excited for in book two? Who do you ship Odessa with? Favorite character? What kind of creature do you think Odessa’s new companion is going to be? Which zodiac sign would you assign to each character? Let me know! (But use spoiler warnings if necessary please!)