Welcome to Ink & Magick. I'm your friendly neighborhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you (or your character) today? What a lovely question! If I could, I'd ask for the gift of resilience. There's so much in the world right now to distract and dismay, and it can cloud and even halt creativity, which makes writing well-nigh impossible. But I don't want to be an ostrich and hide from the world because that's not what a concerned human does. So I'm trying to cultivate the strength to keep creating even in the face of distraction, and not get bogged down in sadness and worry and fear.
That's a worth-while sentiment, and I have just the spell for you: a spell for strength and courage from Plentiful Earth. I am so excited you came in today. I've read your novel Bewitching Season and loved it, please tell me about your new Young Adult fantasy Between Silk and Sand.
The best-laid plans, even of princesses, can go awry...very, very awry.
Seventeen-year-old Saraid of Thekla is on her way to marry the ruler of far-off Mauburni. But she’s not sobbing into her silk-curtained litter at the thought of leaving home, because she has plans—and The Book. She’s studied this ancient treatise on the art of kingship for months to make herself the ideal queen for her adopted country. Once her new husband sees that, he’ll fall madly in love with her. It will all be perfect. She knows it.
But The Book is silent on what to do when one’s journey across a cursed desert wasteland is halted by a mysterious young warlord. Cadel has plans of his own—plans that don’t include her going to Mauburni. As she begins to unravel his secrets, Saraid will have to lay aside The Book and trust her own wisdom—and her heart—to navigate the treacherous shoals of politics and power and become the queen she yearns to be.
Excerpt: From early in the book, as Saraid is embarking on her journey to her new home:
They were high in the hills near the border now. Captain Zamas, the head of her guard, had said that they would reach the hills’ end by morning. One more ridge, and then a steep road led down into the Adaiha. If it hadn’t been the middle of the night, she could have looked back at the verdant Theklan plains, spread like a fading green silk coverlet splotched with the brown of approaching colder weather. But she didn’t turn. She didn’t want her last view of her homeland to be one of flat darkness.
“This traveling by night ain’t natural. How’re we supposed to know where we’re goin’ in that desert if we ain’t got the sun to see by?” Talnith complained.
“Most travel in the Adaiha is by night, when it is cooler.” The captain gestured. “We will navigate by the stars, just as sailors on the ocean do.”
“Well, how you can tell one little twinkling bit from another, I’ve no idea. And what about this curse I’ve been hearing about? I don’t like the idea of ridin’ in no cursed land.”
“Don’t worry, Talnith,” Saraid said quickly. “The curse won’t affect you. It’s supposed to be on the Adaihans only. We’re perfectly safe.”
“That’s what they say,” Talnith muttered darkly. “How long’s this curse been around?”
Hmm. Maybe a bit of storytelling would take Talnith’s mind off her sore bottom—and everything else. “It was three hundred years ago when the curse turned the grasslands of the Adaiha into a great desert waste,” she intoned.
“Three hundred years ago?” Talnith frowned in concentration. “That’s when my Gran was born. At least that’s what she says.”
Intriguing! What kind of research did you do for this book? A lot of natural history research, mostly. Most of this story takes place in a desert region, and I knew very little about deserts and desert ecology. Even though the desert in Between Silk and Sand isn't quite a natural one (ahem!), I wanted the flora and fauna and how people exist in arid desert conditions to feel somewhat realistic or at least probable--this is a fantasy, after all.
As a lover of history, is the world you created in Between Silk and Sand rooted in any culture readers would recognize? Not really. I kind of went out of my way not to root the cultures in the story in any known one, because that's cheating. ;) That being said, though, the major setting of this book is a desert, and there can't help being similarities between things like food and clothing in my world and in desert cultures of the real world, because some things just work better in a hot, dry setting like voluminous, non-binding clothing (which keep you cooler) and traveling by night (also when it's coolest).
That makes sense. Which one of your characters surprised you? Ooh, that's an interesting one. Quite probably it was Belet, the young woman who is sometimes my main character Saraid's ally and sometimes her antagonist. I didn't like her very much, but I sympathize with her and can understand why she did most of the things she did. She'll be an important part of the sequel to Between Silk and Sand, and I'll be very interested to see what she does in that book.
Who is your favorite favorite character and why? I gotta say that Cadel, the hero, is probably my favorite, the dear. He's also the hero I like best out of all my books so far (emphasis on the so far...I'm pretty crazy about the hero in a work-in-progress...) He has the confidence of an alpha without ever stepping into hairy-chested jerk territory combined with the sheer "nice guy"-ness of a beta. I guess that makes him a gamma, then. :) I'm also very fond of Perrin, who knows exactly what's going on but also knows that everyone has to work it out for themselves, and has the strength not to interfere...until she has to. Let's hear it for wise older women!
Favorite so far. Quite the statement! But I know the feeling. So you wanted to be an archeologist? What time-period/culture do you enjoy learning about most? Yup! Started a doctorate in archaeology before running out of money (and patience--I'm so not cut out to be a university professor). Though I studied ancient Near Eastern archaeology in my undergrad years, I spent my junior year at the College of William and Mary to take classes in historical archaeology, which was my true love. So 17th through early 19th American was what I studied, though there's a lot of overlap with English culture of the same period.
Haha! After my first semester of college, my plan to get a doctorate in history went right out the window (lack of patience, indeed!) What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful? Oh my goodness, thank you for asking that! While leaving reviews and star ratings on different sites is lovely, the absolutely most helpful thing a reader can do for a book she enjoyed is to tell her friends about it if she thinks they would enjoy it, too. Direct word of mouth is truly what sells books.
Here, here! What can we expect from you next? You know, I'm not so sure of that myself. My agent is shopping around another young adult novel...and I have another one completed that I'd also really like to send out into the world...but I'm working on an adult historical fantasy series as well...and then there's a sequel to Between Silk and Sand that needs to be written. It's a target-rich environment. All I can say is, stay tuned! And thank you for letting me be a guest on Ink & Magic!
Busy, busy! Well, good luck, and thank you so much for coming! I do hope you will stop by again.
As a special treat, Marissa will award a free copy to one person out of those who leave comments below. The winner gets to choose which of Marissa's books she or he wants. *One entry per person please. Offer only available to those in the US and Canada. Entries will close at Sept. 7 at 9 a.m. Central.*
Check out the descriptions of her other books to make your choice.
Marissa Doyle graduated from Bryn Mawr College and went on to graduate school, intending to be an archaeologist but somehow got distracted. Eventually, she figured out what she was really supposed to be doing and started writing. She’s channeled her inner history geekiness into a successful young adult historical fantasy series (the Leland Sisters from Holy BYR/Macmillan), and is now also happily writing fantasy of various types for teens and adults. She lives in her native Massachusetts with her family, including a bossy but adorable pet rabbit, and loves quilting, gardening, and collecting antiques. Oh, and coffee.
You can connect with Marissa on her website or through her history blog, NineteenTeen.
Please visit her at her website, , and at her history blog, NineteenTeen.