Is THE LAST NAMSARA the first in a series?
It’s the first book of a trilogy. But while all three books build towards an epic conclusion, they each technically stand alone (so you can read them out of order if you want to). Each book is told from the perspective of a different character, but they happen chronologically, and all the major characters show up in all three books.
Why did you write THE LAST NAMSARA?
Like Asha (the main character) I’ve spent most of my life being ashamed of the things I love most, namely: creativity, imagination, and stories. So I wanted to explore a world where those things really ARE shameful. I wanted to write a book where stories are inherently dangerous things that, when used, get people hurt. And I wanted my main character to a) be particularly good at wielding these dangerous stories, and b) be deeply ashamed of herself as a result.
It seems like all the girls in your books are badasses. Isn’t that a little unrealistic?
To be honest, most of the women in my life are badasses. So it never really occurred to me to write any other kind of girl. I know some people think that girls being strong or girls hunting dragons or girls marching armies across a desert are improbable, but I have to disagree. If you take even a cursory look at history, you find women like Yaa Asantewaa. Or Tomoe Gozen and the rest of the onna-bugeisha. Or Ching Shih. Or Joan of Arc. Or Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians. Or Teuta of Illyria. Or Sayyida al-Hurra. Or Qutulun. Or any of the daughters of Genghis Khan. And that’s just skimming the surface.
So no, I don’t think my badass girls are unrealistic. Not in the least.
When do Book 2 and 3 come out?
The Caged Queen hits shelves September 25, 2018. Book 3 comes out Fall 2019.
Will your book(s) come out in [language/country]?
Here are the countries THE LAST NAMSARA will be published in:
Brazil: Companhia Das Letras
Czech Republic: Alpress
The Netherlands: Blossom Books
Russia: AST Publishers
Turkey: Dogan Egmont
For inquiries about foreign rights, please contact heatherflaherty[at]thebentagency[dot]com.
Where can I get an advanced review copy of your book?
Sadly, I receive far more requests for review copies than my publisher gives me! (Authors receive very few review copies of their books.) If you’re interested in reviewing my book, try requesting it on NetGalley or Edelweiss, add it to your Goodreads so you can be alerted to giveaways, or email my publisher.
Will you look at my manuscript?
Unfortunately, I just don't have the time! If you’re serious about improving your craft, a great way to get feedback is through online writing forums like Wattpad, or entering contests like Pitch Wars, or checking out Maggie Stiefvater’s Critique Partner Matchup.
What did you do before you were an author?
I was a barista, then a baker, then a bookseller, then a ceramic artist, and I also worked for a nonprofit organization with roots in the Catholic Worker movement.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
My bed. No, seriously. It’s my favourite place to write (and read!). Maybe because it’s so cozy and safe? And writing is an inherently vulnerable act? Or possibly I’m just lazy. ;)
What kind of music do you listen to while you write?
A selection of the musicians I listen to most include: Great Big Sea, The East Pointers, Ludovico Einaudi, Radical Face, Flogging Molly, Hanneke Cassel, Gogol Bordello, Alan Doyle, Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas, Rancid, The Rural Alberta Advantage, The Sunparlour Players, Dan Mangan, Bright Eyes, Max Richter, Jonsi, Nils Frahm, The Mountain Goats, Coeur de Pirate, Regina Spektor, Tegan and Sara, and The Weakerthans.
The Force Awakens, How's Moving Castle, Pacific Rim, Silver Linings Playbook, How to Train Your Dragon, Pan's Labyrinth, Little Miss Sunshine, Rogue One, The Prince of Egypt, Moulin Rouge, Hysteria, Pirates of the Caribbean (#1 and #3), Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, and Pride & Prejudice (yes, that version). And though it isn't a movie, I'm also obsessed with Firefly.
Do you have any writing advice?
Gosh, yes! Read a LOT and write a LOT. Don’t be discouraged if your writing isn’t where you want it to be. Keep writing until it is where you want it to be. It takes a while, just like everything else. Reread and study your favourite books. Pick them apart. Figure out why they work so well. Do the same to books that don’t work for you. Figure out what doesn’t work so you can find it and fix it in your own writing. Remember that rewriting is 90% of all writing, so don't get attached to your words. You need to be willing to cut the scenes you love most if they don't serve the story. Join a writer’s group. Give your work to people to read. Get comfortable with feedback. Listen to feedback so you can make your books better. Find mentors. (My mentorships were the best thing to ever happen to my writing.) Write, write, write. Read, read, read.
Do you have any publishing advice?
Get really comfortable with rejection (because it’s coming, and it doesn’t stop coming) and don’t let it stop you. Keep up with the current trends in your field. If you write YA fantasy, be well read in that genre. (But read outside of your genre too so you're not writing the exact same thing all your peers are writing.) Write what you love. I'll repeat that: WRITE WHAT YOU LOVE. If you don't love it, your readers will know. Put your work out there. Enter contests. Make sure you have a stellar query letter. Make sure you have a stellar book. Don’t think of agents and editors as the enemy. Agents and editors are book nerds just like you. Book nerds who happen to be overworked and underpaid and just don’t have time to tell every writer who queries them why they didn’t connect with a story. Respect the work they do and maybe one day they’ll be doing that work for you. Most of all, though, if you believe in the thing you’ve written, don’t give up on it. Don’t give up, period. Also, listen to Neil Gaiman:
“It does help, to be a writer, to have the sort of crazed ego that doesn’t allow for failure. The best reaction to a rejection slip is a sort of wild-eyed madness, an evil grin, and sitting yourself in front of the keyboard muttering “Okay, you bastards. Try rejecting this!” and then writing something so unbelievably brilliant that all other writers will disembowel themselves with their pens upon reading it, because there’s nothing left to write. Because the rejection slips will arrive. And, if the books are published, then you can pretty much guarantee that bad reviews will be as well. And you’ll need to learn how to shrug and keep going. Or you stop, and get a real job.”