Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Interview with Jill Criswell for Beasts of the Frozen Sun

Beasts of the Frozen Sun (Frozen Sun Saga #1)

by Jill Criswell
Publisher: Blackstone
Release Date: August 6th 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.

Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people's souls, to see someone's true essence with only a touch of her hand.

When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland--one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun--Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he's been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.

As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira's life, for Reyker's soul, and for their peoples' freedom has only just begun.

Can you briefly describe BEASTS OF THE FROZEN SUN and the characters? 

Beasts of the Frozen Sun is a young adult fantasy inspired by Viking invasions in Ireland. It's about Lira, a chieftain’s daughter with the power to read a person's soul, who saves Reyker, a foreign invader sent to attack her village. Despite being from enemy nations, they begin to care for each other. But Lira’s father and Reyker’s warlord will do anything to keep them apart, forcing them to choose between loyalty and love, between the fates of their countries and the desires of their hearts. 

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

It's hard to choose between Lira and Reyker. Lira starts out an idealist, but as the people she cares for die or betray her and the gods she worships use her as a pawn in their schemes, her character gets darker and darker. Reyker has already hit rock bottom, and his journey is about clawing his way back to redemption, with many setbacks and relapses along the way. Both of them are flawed and struggling through tragedy and trauma, which made it fascinating to write from their points of view. 

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

Years ago, I journeyed to Iceland and fell in love with its stark landscapes and Viking heritage. Inspiration struck when I toured the Saga Museum in Reykjavík: there was an exhibit about the legend of an Irish princess who was kidnaped by Viking invaders and taken as a slave to Iceland. I got an image in my head of a girl standing on the coast of Ireland, watching Viking longships come ashore, filled with terror and awe. “That,” I said to myself, “is a story.” That idea became Beasts of the Frozen Sun. 

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

I have a playlist for my book on Spotify, and the link is posted on my author website ( This playlist includes many of the songs I listened to or was inspired by as I was writing Beasts of the Frozen Sun. If I had to pick one song from the playlist to represent the book as a whole, it would be "Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums" by A Perfect Circle. I think of it as the theme song for Draki, the story's main villain. The beat is eerie and beautiful, and it has a primal feel to it. The lyrics capture the essence of who Draki is, what he wants, and how he plays with Lira's and Reyker's minds. It's a great song to have playing in the background of a battle scene. 

If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would play your characters?

If it was being made today, this would be my dream cast: 

Emma Watson as Lira 

Nicholas Hoult as Reyker 

Alexander Skarsgård as Draki 

Bob Morley as Garreth 

Torrance Coombs as Quinlan 

Zazie Beetz as Zabelle 

Fall is almost here (at least in England it feels like it!), and we love to go out and enjoy the sun. What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date? 

Most of the book takes place in a village called Stony Harbor, which is a bit of a mix of Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula and Scotland’s Ilse of Skye, so anywhere that has a rocky coastal area is going to be the perfect atmospheric setting to go along with the book. When the clans of Glasnith get rowdy, they always have some ale, so I’d suggest a nice pint of Guinness. Or, for those who don’t fancy beer, a strong cup of Assam tea—just make sure to fix it the proper Irish way by pouring a generous serving of milk in and then adding the tea. 

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish BEASTS OF THE FROZEN SUN? 

Some of the series that inspired Beasts of the Frozen Sun are The Sevenwaters Trilogy by Juliet Marillier, Kushiel’s Legacy by Jacqueline Carey, The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson, and The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. Readers have also compared Beasts of the Frozen Sun to Sky in the Deep, which is another book I loved. 

What’s next for you? 

Right now, I’m focused on promoting Beasts of the Frozen Sun and finishing up work on the sequels (which should be released in 2020 and 2021, respectively). But I do also have a draft of a Hindu-inspired young adult fantasy sitting on my computer, just waiting for some attention, so I’m hoping to polish that up and make it my next book project.

Jill Criswell is a writer of Young Adult Historical Fantasy. She was born and raised in the swamps of northeastern Florida. She earned degrees in English and Psychology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Her greatest passion, besides reading and writing, is traveling the world; she’s visited fifty countries across six continents, falling in love with places like Iceland, Namibia, and Cambodia. She works as a university English teacher and lives in South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and daughter (who is named after a volcano in Iceland).


  1. I love YA, I live for these kind of tropes. And I simply can not wait to read this book. It's on my TBR list.