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This blog was featured on 03/12/2020
Sarah J. Maas on Genre, World-Building & Grit
Written by
She Writes
March 2020
Written by
She Writes
March 2020

This month, #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas launched her brand-new Crescent City series, making her adult debut with House of Earth and Blood. This first book in her new series follows the story of half-Fae and half-human Bryce Quinlan as she seeks revenge in a contemporary fantasy world of magic, danger and searing romance.

On Genre

As Maas breaks into the world of adult fantasy, she hits pause on the YA genre for which she has become known and loved.

“I have so many emotions. There are tears of sorrow, but also tears of pride. I started the Throne of Glass series as a teenager, and now I’m a mom. I had a baby in the same year that Throne of Glass wrapped up; one chapter in my life closing as one was beginning. I’ve literally worked on these books for half of my life.”

This excerpt was originally published on Bookish. Read the full interview here.

As for the process, writing adult fantasy didn’t differ much from YA, she confesses.

“I think there's this misconception out there that writing YA is ‘easier’ than writing adult fiction, and I completely disagree with that. There are so many excellent YA fantasy novels out there with complex world-building and character growth that are on the same level as any adult fantasy I’ve read.”

This excerpt was originally published on Goodreads. Read the full interview here.

On Setting

Maas is known for intricate world-building. Goodreads recently asked about her influences while setting up a fictional society.

“There are so many influences,” she says. “But one of the biggest is traveling. I love to travel and see new places and meet new people, and I like to think that every place I’ve been has inspired some part of these fictional worlds."

"I often find that the memories I have of a place – scents, sounds, even the feeling of the light or the wind – allows me to add similar details in my work and help bring the world alive.”

The setting in Crescent City’s new world is more modern than her other works, with an urban fantasy feel.

“I love urban fantasy; I love paranormal romance. I never thought that I would write one myself because I could never think of an idea for one. Years ago, while on tour, I was on a plane and listening to a piece of music and a scene began playing out in my head. That scene is now the climax of the first Crescent City book.”

That idea stuck with her and she began writing it for fun when extra bursts of creative energy would strike – thus began her latest series, as a passion project.

“It’s been really fun to write about this completely new setting and figure out the rules of the world, who occupies it, who rules it. It came with its own host of challenges. If I need characters to communicate quickly then cell phones are great, but if I need to keep information from them, I need to find a reason for that phone to break.”

This excerpt was originally published on Bookish. Read the full interview here.

On Advice

Maas preaches persistence and grit to aspiring writers working on their own fantasy novels.

Plenty of people are going to look down their noses at you for writing fantasy but don’t ever listen to them. You write what you love, and screw the rest. It’s a long road to publication, but not an impossible one – if you stick with it, if you write what you love and believe in yourself, you will get there one day!”

This excerpt was originally published in United By Pop. Read the full interview here.

She also recommends being a constant sponge, taking in everything around you.

“Take the time to observe people: how they talk, how they move, how they interact. Keep your eyes open wherever you go, because you never know when inspiration will strike.”

And she urges writers to be open to criticism and don't be afraid to get your writing out there. Take a writing class, she suggests, or ask a favorite teacher to read your work.

“Being able to accept and incorporate criticism is one of the hardest things to do – and one of the most crucial to our professions. Learning to accept it will only help you in the long run - and will help your writing improve. As Lloyd Alexander once wrote (in Taran Wanderer), 'Metal's worthless till it's shaped and tempered.'”

This excerpt was originally published in Book Trust. Read more advice from Maas here.

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