Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Interview with Zoraida Córdova for Incendiary

Incendiary (Hollow Crown #1)

by Zoraida Córdova
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: April 28th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.

Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King's Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata's ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King's Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred--or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned "hollow" during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez's top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom--and end the war that has cost her everything.

Can you briefly describe INCENDIARY and its characters?

Incendiary is a fantasy novel about a girl with the power to steal memories, who returns to the place of her childhood prison in order to find a weapon created to destroy her people. It’s got romance, political intrigue, and a heroine who will stop at nothing to get her revenge. 

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

Probably my protagonist, Ren because redemption is one of my favorite themes to explore! Ren’s POV is the toughest one I’ve ever tried to tackle. She has suffered so much and she spends most of her young adulthood feeling guilt over things she couldn’t control as a kid. She was a weapon and she’s still a weapon. In the context of Puerto Leones, this fantasy kingdom, what does it mean when her whole being is suspect? When her own people distrust her? How long must she atone for? Should a child have to atone for the things they did, while under manipulation? It’s all so difficult to answer. Ren’s mind is so dark, and a lot of my other books have so much comic-relief, so this was definitely a challenge for me! But I loved the girl Ren is and the one that she chooses to become.

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

Lost River by Murder by Death, mostly because it’s one of the songs I listened on repeat while I drafted it.

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

I’m the worst at fancasting! But I’ll give it a shot. 

Renata: Emeraude Tobia 

Castian: Dominic Sherwood-ish

Dez: Luke Pasqualino-ish

What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

A glass of cava and an incredible Iberian charcuterie board.

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish INCENDIARY?

What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book?

I actually teach workshops on this, so I wouldn’t be able to answer it without going into great detail. The short version is: I use the theory of the cultural iceberg to shape my magical and fantastical civilizations. I don’t think that you can create something from true scratch because everything has an analog. It can be original, but there will still be real world references. Using the cultural iceberg, I think about what is surface culture (the things we see like clothes, food, music) and what is deep culture (the things like values, religion, politics). I talk about it on my podcast, Deadline City, with my co-host Dhonielle Clayton. March 2020 was our “World Building March” and we broke down both our fantasy writing processes. https://deadlinecity.com/2020/03/25/season-2-episode-7-iceberg-inlet/

Zoraida Córdova is the author of many fantasy novels including Star Wars: A Crash of Fate, the Brooklyn Brujas series, and The Vicious Deep trilogy. Her novel Labyrinth Lost won the International Book Award for Best Young Adult Novel in 2017. Her short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, and Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft. Her upcoming books include Incendiary, book one in the Hollow Crown duology (Hyperion 2020) and she's the co-editor of Vampires Never Get Old (Imprint 2020). Zoraida was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. When she isn’t working on her next novel, she’s planning her next adventure.


  1. I enjoy reading YA fantasy, so this book will be a delight to read.

  2. This book sounds so exciting!