Hello Readers & Writers,
I have another author on the blog today and that is Nicki Pau Preto! Her book Crown of Feathers will be out in this world in February 2019 from Simon Pulse. This book not only has phoenixes and warriors, but a strong theme of sisterhood.
Before we jump into the interview, here’s what you need to know about the book.
I had a sister, once…
In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.
I promised her the throne would not come between us.
Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.
But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.
Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.
Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.
- I want to start off by thanking you for joining me on the blog, Nicki. I am beyond excited for Crown of Feathers and want to ask, how do you feel knowing your book will be out in the world in a few short months?
Nicki: You are so welcome! I am honestly still in a state of shock. Every new milestone just makes me retreat deeper into my frozen, robotic state. I remember when I got my ARCs (advance reader copies) in the mail, I just stared at them, trying to comprehend how that was my cover, my name—my book. It’s still hard for me to wrap my brain around the idea that strangers will be reading it. It’s both exciting and terrifying.
- What’s been your favorite part about the publication process?
Nicki: I think getting my cover. I was SO nervous. I’m a graphic designer and an artist, so I felt really REALLY invested (aka TERRIFIED). Of course all authors are, and I had absolutely zero need to worry. The cover my publisher gave me is better than I could have imagined, and opening that image on my screen and seeing my name overtop…I just started running in circles, freaking out. With dignity, of course (not).
- Tell us as much as you can about the relationship between Veronyka and her sister. How is sisterhood explored in your book?
Nicki: Veronyka has a very complicated relationship with her sister. I don’t have any sisters of my own, only brothers, so it was fun to explore that dynamic, even if it is a toxic one (or maybe because it is). They grew up together, and in many ways, Val raised Veronyka. So, no matter how nasty and controlling and cruel Val is, Veronyka loves her because so much of who she is is tied up with who her sister is. They wouldn’t be who they are without each other, good or bad.
- Were there any challenges you ran into while writing Crown of Feathers and how did you move past it?
Nicki: Where to begin! COF is the first multiple point-of-view book I’ve written, and I think I, uh, underestimated how hard that would be! It can be so satisfying to read, but you have to line up timelines and character decisions and ensure everything makes sense, or else it all falls flat. It requires extensive planning, but also the ability to shift and adjust to make sure everything works together as well as separately. Just talking about it makes my brain hurt!
- Describe your book in three words.
Nicki: Phoenix. Riding. Warriors.
- Who do you relate to most out of your characters and why?
Nicki: I actually think that if Veronyka and Val were on a spectrum, I’d fall somewhere in the middle. They are both determined and strong in their convictions, but while I have some of Val’s cynicism and sense of self-preservation, I also have Veronyka’s wild hope and willingness to take risks.
- What do you love most about the world you created?
Nicki: Honestly, I think the phoenixes. Not that I can take credit for the mythological creature, but as I was writing the first draft, I kept stumbling on all these amazing possibilities. As soon as you introduce a creature like that into a pre-industrial revolution world, you change the game. War, hunting, travel…everything changes. Then there’s the symbolism of feathers and fire and of course, resurrection. Phoenixes are so rife with possibility, so dynamic and exciting. They’re basically like dragons but they can be reborn. Can it get any cooler?
- What do you hope readers take away from your book?
Nicki: I’ve had some readers compare the feeling they got when reading my book to the way their favorite writers growing up made them feel, authors like Tamora Pierce. That is honestly the highest compliment I could ask for, and exactly why I wrote this book. It was a love letter to the fantasy I grew up on: dark and vast and complex, but peopled with brave, compassionate people doing their best. I think the overall message is one of hope, and Veronyka’s strength doesn’t come from kickass fighting skills or otherworldly talent; it comes from endless determination, perseverance in the face of devastation, and above all, a fiercely defiant conviction in what is right.
- Tell us readers a fun fact about either you or your book.
Nicki: So, I first conceived of the idea for Crown of Feathers on a bus on the way to the airport after a writer’s retreat in Cuba. Morgan Rhodes, author of the Falling Kingdoms series, was there with me, and she helped brainstorm the initial seed of the idea. We were discussing the possibilities, and since the Game of Thrones TV show was huge at the time, she told me to call it “A Phoenix of Ice and Fire.” A lot of the things we talked about during that conversation remain—like the idea of doing multiple POVs—but alas the title did not 🙂
About the Author
Nicki is a young adult fantasy author living just outside Toronto, Canada. After getting a degree in visual arts, a masters in art history, and a diploma in graphic design, Nicki discovered two things: She loves to escape the real world, and she isn’t interested in a regular nine-to-five life. Luckily, her chosen career covers both.
Once again, a huge thank you to Nicki for joining me and I hope you all are ready for the badass book that will be Crown of Feathers!!