Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Interview with Roseanne A. Brown for A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin #1)

by Roseanne A. Brown
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 2nd 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png


The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.

For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

Can you briefly describe A SONG OF WRAITHS AND RUIN and its characters?

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is a YA fantasy novel set in a fantasy world inspired by West African folklore. It follows two protagonists, a refugee named Malik and a princess named Karina. When Malik’s sister is kidnapped by a vengeful spirit, he makes a deal to win her freedom by killing the crown princess. To do this, he enters a competition to win the princess’s hand in marriage. However, Malik doesn’t know that Karina is planning the winner of the competition for a spell that will bring her dead mother back to life. Sparks fly when they finally meet and realize they have far more in common than they thought….

Or the TL;DR version, it’s what would happen if Aladdin and Jasmine had to kill each other but in a West African-inspired world. There is lots of court intrigue, lots of dark magic, and maybe a talking hyena as well. 

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

I’d say Karina is probably my favorite character, but Malik is the one I relate to the most. Karina is the kind of Black girl I’ve always wanted to see in books. She is fierce and powerful and loving, but she is also hurt and constantly making mistakes and learning from them. Because I grew up with Black girl character who were rarely more than stereotypes or the sassy sidekick, getting to write Karina as a three-dimensional person with so many emotions and layers who still gets to love and be loved meant the world to me. But temperament wise, I’m definitely more of a Karina than a Malik!

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

I got the idea for A Song of Wraiths and Ruin back in 2016. I was coming back to a therapy session thinking a lot about the ways mental illness had impacted my own life and I thought to myself “If a ghost tried to take over my mind right now, it would be like ‘There is a lot going on in here. You can have this back.’” Then an idea came to me for a boy who dealt with both mental illness and the supernatural, and that character became Malik! 

From there, the idea grew as I incorporated more story elements that I loved. Oral storytelling is super important to Ghanaian culture, so I wove that into the magic system, and I’m a huge sucker for romance, so I made the main romance trope enemies-to-lovers. Bit by bit, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin was born! 

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

One song I listened to on repeat over and over again was I See Fire by Ed Sheeran, HEAR ME OUT HERE, I’m not a huge Ed Sheeran fan OR Lord of the Rings fan, but that song perfectly captures the essence of heartbreak, tragedy, and epic scale of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. (That sounds extremely depressing; I promise this isn’t a sad book!) 

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

Justice Smith for Malik 100%. He is so funny, and perfectly exudes that mix of strength and compassion that is integral to Malik’s character. I just adored him in Detective Pikachu. And she’s a little older than an ideal Karina actress would be, but I would love Danielle Brooks in the role. She is an amazing actress, plus Karina would absolutely need to be played by a dark-skinned, plus-sized Black actress. 

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

I think the book would go best with a cup of mint tea, seated by a campfire as a storyteller weaves you a tale of epic proportions that whisks you off to a far away world. 

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish A SONG OF WRAITHS AND RUIN?

Sure! For people who find themselves with a massive book hangover after ASOWAR, they should definitely check out THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT by Swati Teerdhala, which is an enemies-to-lovers, Hindu mythology inspired fantasy cat and mouse game between a soldier and the rebel who killed his general.

Another book they’d devour is A SONG BELOW WATER by Bethany C. Morrow. It follows two sister friends in a magical version of Portland, and it features sirens, magic, and a realistic and timely portrayal of the kinds of injustices Black women face when trying to find their voice.

These ones aren’t out yet, but WHERE DREAMS DESCEND by Janella Angeles, RAYBEARER by Jordan Ifueko, and CINDERELLA IS DEAD by Kalynn Bayron are some of my most highly anticipated YA Fantasy books for this year!

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

I think the most difficult part of writing a book is accepting that what you see in your head and what you get on the page aren’t going to match for a long, long time. That gap between what a book could be and what it is disheartens so many people, and it’s the biggest reason why I never finished a book before A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. But I’ve learned since that I need to accept the ugly writing for what it is, because without it in all its hideous glory, I won’t have anything to polish into the beautiful stories hiding inside. 

What’s next for you?

ASOWAR 2 is due back to my editor only a few weeks after ASOWAR comes out, so right now my life is a steady diet of Gatorade and furious typing. Outside of the realm of ASOWAR, I have another project in the works. I can’t say much now, but I will say fans of vampires, Sailor Moon-style team ups, and spooky settings are going to love it. Follow my Twitter and IG @rosiesrambles for more updates as I’m allowed to share them!

Click on the image to submit your pre-order info!

Roseanne “Rosie” A. Brown was born in Kumasi, Ghana and immigrated to the wild jungles of central Maryland as a child. Writing was her first love, and she knew from a young age that she wanted to use the power of writing—creative and otherwise—to connect the different cultures she called home. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and was also a teaching assistant for the school’s Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House program. Her journalistic work has been featured by Voice of America among other outlets.

On the publishing side of things, she has worked as an editorial intern at Entangled Publishing. Rosie was a 2017 Pitch Wars mentee and 2018 Pitch Wars mentor. Never content to stay in any one place for too long, Rosie currently teaches in Japan, where in her free time she can usually be found exploring the local mountains, explaining memes to her students, or thinking about Star Wars.