Today I’m excited to share a Q&A with Makiia Lucier, the author of Isle of Blood and Stone. This fantasy novel has been getting a ton of buzz online and with an intriguing premise and beautiful cover, our interest was piqued! We chatted with Makiia about her writing process, worldbuilding, the strangest things she Googled while writing this book, and more:
Where did the idea for Isle of Blood and Stone come from?
As a kid growing up on Guam, I was obsessed with the Indiana Jones movies. I wore out our VHS copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I waited in line, in the sweltering, tropical heat, on opening days for The Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade. The snakes were awesome and so were the catacombs full of rats. But what I really loved was how Indy solved puzzles, turning the clues over in his mind, and using his knowledge of art, history, and myth. Isle of Blood and Stone is inspired by my love of adventure stories with smart, funny heroes. It’s the kind of story I grew up loving, the kind I would wait hours outside a movie theater to see.
Do you consider yourself a pantser, plotter, or something in between? What was your process while writing Isle of Blood and Stone?
A pantser, definitely. When I begin a story, I have a very hazy idea of what I would like to write. With Isle, for example, my initial thoughts were along the lines of-There’s this guy, he’s a young mapmaker in some sort of medieval world, and he discovers a riddle hidden in an old map. The riddle suggests that his father, a royal mapmaker, and two young princes who were supposedly killed years ago, didn’t die after all. And that’s it, that’s all I have. Seven drafts later, the core of the story remains the same, but everything else-character names, scenes, the beginning, the end, the title-has been rewritten more times than I can count.
Isle of Blood and Stone is set in a fantastical world still reeling from the loss of their princes. What did you find most challenging in building this world?
Research was both fun and challenging-making sure anything having to do with maps, ships, diplomacy, and even diseases was accurate to the late fourteenth, early fifteenth centuries. It was very important that the “history” part of my historical fantasy be correct.
What did you enjoy most about telling this story?
Many parts of Isle were inspired by my childhood on the Pacific island of Guam. The landscape, the food, the legends. I loved being able to name the Sea of Magdalen after my mom and the village of Esperanca after my grandmother. This book feels very personal to me.
What was the weirdest or most interesting thing you Googled while writing Isle of Blood and Stone?
There were so many! But at the top of the list are “the history of dentistry” and “bizarre ways to die in the Middle Ages.”
If you could spend a day with a character from Isle of Blood and Stone, who would it be and why?
I would love to hang out in the Tower of Winds one day and watch Elias (and Luca and Reyna) create maps, fourteenth-century style. How fun would that be?
What were your favorite books when you were a young adult? Did that influence your own writing at all?
Anne of Green Gables, Jane Eyre, and The Count of Monte Cristo were favorites. And yes, I think these stories absolutely influenced my writing. I have always loved historical fiction, romantic stories, and adventures, so it’s no surprise that these are the types of books I’ve chosen to write about.
About the Book:
Nineteen-year-old Elias is a royal explorer, a skilled mapmaker, and the new king of del Mar’s oldest friend. Soon he will embark on the adventure of a lifetime, an expedition past the Strait of Cain and into uncharted waters. Nothing stands in his way…until a long-ago tragedy creeps back into the light, threatening all he holds dear.
The people of St. John del Mar have never recovered from the loss of their boy princes, kidnapped eighteen years ago, both presumed dead. But when two maps surface, each bearing the same hidden riddle, troubling questions arise. What really happened to the young heirs? And why do the maps appear to be drawn by Lord Antoni, Elias’s father, who vanished on that same fateful day? With the king’s beautiful cousin by his side—whether he wants her there or not—Elias will race to solve the riddle of the princes. He will have to use his wits and guard his back. Because some truths are better left buried…and an unknown enemy stalks his every turn.
About the Author:
Makiia Lucier is the author of historical fiction and fantasy for young adults. She grew up on the Pacific island of Guam (not too far from the equator), and has degrees in journalism and library science from the University of Oregon and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Her debut novel, A Death-Struck Year, was called a “powerful and disturbing reading experience” by Publishers Weekly. It was a finalist for Germany’s top book prize for children, the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis, as well as Japan’s Sakura Medal, and was named an ABC Best Books for Children Selection by the American Booksellers Association.
She lives with her family in Raleigh, North Carolina.