Now more than ever, series are the most important types of books. While we’re doing our best to social distance and stay safe, series can offer hours of distraction and allow us to escape deeply into a whole other world. And there’s nothing more satisfying as knowing that your favorite books don’t end after the last pages and that you can continue on in the world that you’ve come to love. Sara B. Larson knows all about series—she just completed her third with Warriors of Wings and Flame, a fabulous genre blend of fantasy and romance.
Read on to find out how Sara’s coping with quarantine and how she reacted to a world of quarantine after writing a book that takes place during isolation!
TYF: First of all, congratulations on the completion of the duology. What did you do once you finished writing or editing the last page?
Sara B. Larson: Thank you so much! Even though this is my third completed series, it still feels monumental every time I make it to the end. It doesn’t get any easier! There is so much emotion in those last moments with a story. Relief, certainly, but also sadness…it’s always hard to leave characters and a world that you have come to love so deeply. I try to focus on the positive though and I have always believed in celebrating victories, big or small. So when I finished I went to a nice dinner with my husband to celebrate and bought myself a new outfit!
TYF: Releasing a book in a pandemic is stressful. What have you been doing to cope with this new normal?
Sara B. Larson: It is so stressful and so unknown. We’re all scrambling, trying to do the best we can to still give our books a chance to soar, but it’s definitely difficult right now. I use the same techniques I have used to manage my stress and anxiety for years—I exercise daily, I try to get outside and get fresh air and sunshine and just breathe. The endorphins from exercising are huge in combatting stress and help give me a sense of control, at least for a minute. And being outside in nature is so healing. It helps me remember the big picture of life, and that even though things are hard, the sun still rises and sets, the flowers still bloom, the leaves on the trees still change. With how many things feel out of control and unknown, making a concerted effort to be healthy and focus on what is the same helps me.
TYF: For readers just getting introduced to the series, what can you tell them of what to expect?
Sara B. Larsen: The Sisters of Shadow and Light Duology is the story of the bond between sisters, about the family you’re born into and the family you choose. It’s about finding yourself, and what makes you strong, what makes you unique and valuable—finding your path in life. It’s about learning how to be strong in the face of immense difficulty. It’s full of magic, and secrets, and romance, and it has gryphons—which was one of my favorite aspects of this series! I hope fans of my previous two series (Defy and Dark Breaks the Dawn) will enjoy this one—and that it will find some new readers as well!
TYF: Without giving too much away for our readers—this series deals heavily with characters that are in isolation. You wrote this before quarantine set in; what did you learn while writing these characters that helped you during Covid-19?
Sara B. Larsen: Isn’t that crazy? I definitely was NOT planning on experiencing the isolation that I put my characters through in real life, so now I feel even worse for them. *Hides face in hands* It’s interesting to me that I wrote into my story how important it was for Zuhra and Inara to get outside, as that has been a vital part of surviving the quarantines and stress of Covid-19 for me as well. My experience was a little different though, because I was the mom, trying to handle my four kids going stir crazy and driving each other nuts. Luckily I *think* I’ve done a better job than Zuhra and Inara’s mom did!
On a lighter note, I saw a meme that said we were all judging Anna for falling for Prince Hans so quickly after being locked away in a castle for her entire life, but after just a few months of isolation we suddenly understand why she was so desperate for connection and thought herself in love with the first man she met. Well, hopefully some of the thoughts and decisions my characters make will also been seen in a more understanding light now that we’ve all experienced the struggles that come from lack of human contact! Especially if you think about what it would to do you if it had been your whole life! My poor innocent sisters had a lot of learning to do when they finally got a chance to meet other people and experience the world beyond their abandoned citadel!
TYF: This series contains one of my favorite genre blends—romance and fantasy, mystery and adventure. Why was it important to combine those story elements and what other books would you recommend to readers who love those?
Sara B. Larson: Thank you so much! I think the reason it was important is because, like you, that is my favorite genre blend as well! I love creating worlds, and exploring different kinds of magic systems. And of course you have to include romance—what is a story without falling in love and some amazing kisses?? I strive to include adventure and mystery elements as well to keep the pacing and excitement levels high. My favorite stories include all of those elements, so naturally I strive to accomplish the same thing! Some of my favorite books that fit that bill are the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, the Caraval series, Bone Crier’s Moon, anything by Sarah Maas or Leigh Bardugo, and so many more!
TYF: I loved the idea of “owning your magic” that I came across in the press materials for this book. What does this mean to you? And what does it mean for Inara and Zuhra?
Sara B. Larson: For Zuhra and Inara, it means different things. I can’t go into detail without being spoilery, but they both have to come to terms with their magic, or lack thereof, and discovering how to find the power within themselves (regardless of actual magic or not) to accomplish their goals and find their true paths in life. For me, owning your magic is embracing what makes you unique and special. Finding strength in your individuality and having the courage to be authentically you. When you find the freedom to fully embrace who you are and your goals, dreams, and ambitions, that is true power. That is truly magical.
Warriors of Wing and Flame is available now. Support your local indie bookstore or order a copy at your library.