Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Interview with Joanna Hathaway

Dark of the West (Glass Alliance #1)

by Joanna Hathaway
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: February 5th 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
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He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner's Cursein Joanna Hathaway's Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

Can you briefly describe the world in Dark of the West and their main characters?

Sure! Dark of the West takes place in a fantasy world that feels a lot like ours, specifically during the time of the world wars. The geopolitics parallel the build-up of the First World War, while the technology and battle campaigns are inspired by the Second World War. In the midst of these shifting politics and rising tensions, we have two young people — Athan, a fighter pilot, and Aurelia, a princess— from families on opposite sides of the brewing conflict, and their meeting sparks newfound love along with a lot of tough questions about loyalty to family, nation, and self.

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

Oh, that’s a tough one! I suppose I’d say a certain best friend with a heart of gold. If you read the book, you’ll know who I’m talking about. He tends to win a lot of fans, and many readers beg me to confirm if he gets a good fate at the end of the series. I adore him, too! But I can’t make promises about any of the characters in this book… War plays no favourites.

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

Most of this story was inspired by a youth spent devouring history books. That’s all I read—the stories of real people from around the world, confronting and enduring incredible events, their bravery making them my personal heroes. I was fascinated by both the will to survive and also the flame of hope that kept burning even in the most horrific circumstances. Thus, when I sat down to write the story that would become Dark of the West, it was important to me that this book contained a diverse and complicated world that reflected our own (while never being an exact mirror), as seen through the eyes of two idealistic young narrators who are fighting for good even when the odds are against them.

What’s your favourite quote from the book?

There’s an expression that comes up a few times — “Eyes on the horizon”—and I love the many layers to it. In some ways, it can be seen as a bit escapist, since if you’re only looking ahead, you’re not focused on what’s right in front of you. And we need to be present and passionate in our lives, working through the tough stuff. That’s a lesson Athan has to learn (as I have). But, it’s also a good reminder that when things seem overwhelming and too big, you can’t allow yourself to get completely mired in the moment. There is something worth working towards, worth fighting for, and we’ll get there. Don’t lose sight of the good.

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

Hmm! I usually have playlists for various sections while I’m drafting, which is often more about the tone of the song than the actual words. They get me into the “feel” of the scene. But recently I discovered Here with Me by Susie Suh and wow, I think it’s utterly perfect for the Glass Alliance series. Such a beautiful song!

If the book was a movie/TV show, who would you imagine representing your characters?

I have to be honest — I still don’t have an answer for this popular question. But I did watch the Free Rein Christmas special over the holidays (I needed something fun and happy to curl up with!) and Manpreet Bambra reminded me of Aurelia, especially since she was riding horses. 

Since it is still cold outside, what hot drink do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

Oh, I think you should pick whatever suits your tastes! I’m a big tea drinker and so is Aurelia. But Athan would definitely go for a strong coffee.

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish Dark of the West?

Definitely! If you haven’t read The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, you’ll want to try that. I actually hadn’t read it until after I finished Dark of the West, and early readers were saying “Have you read this series? Because you need to!” — and they were right. It’s a great low fantasy filled with politics and romance. For historical YA, I recommend Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein and Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. Branching out to general historical fiction, I love Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa and Girl at War by Sara Novic. I think stories are such a great way to learn more about the world around us (especially ones written by women). 

What’s next for you?

Currently, I’m hard at work polishing off the sequel. I’m very excited for readers who enjoyed Dark of the West to pick it up next year! Things get ever more complicated and romantic. I’ve found it a super compelling process, expanding the personal journeys for both Athan and Aurelia, getting them closer to who they are in the prologue, and I hope everyone else will feel the same.

Joanna was born in Montréal and is an avid storyteller who was inspired to write after reading her great-grandfather’s memoirs of the First World War. A lifelong history buff, she now has shelves filled with biographies and historical accounts, and perhaps one too many books about pilots. She can often be found reading, traveling, or riding horses.

Her debut novel, DARK OF THE WEST (Tor Teen, February 5th, 2019), is the first in a WWII-infused fantasy series of forbidden love and deadly revenge.


  1. I am SO excited for this one!! Code Name Verity is one of my favorite books so I've been hyped ever since I saw this one compared to it.

  2. I am excited about this book--the premise sounds so much fun to read. I have been reading lots of YA fantasy lately and falling in love with this genre.