I first saw Laura Sebastian on a panel at the Bay Area Book Festival, and once I saw the cover for ASH PRINCESS, and heard her talk about the premise, I had to feature it:
Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.
For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.
Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword.
And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.
For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.
According to your website bio, you initially moved to New York City with the idea of settling elsewhere. What inspired you to stay, and what do you love most about the city?
Growing up in a small town in the south, the idea of living in New York City was terrifying to me—it was the polar opposite of everything I knew. At the same time, it also had an allure because it was so different. I thought I would stay for a year to see what it was like and get it out of my system, then end up somewhere in between the two extremes. But somehow, NYC just became home to me. The high-energy bustle that I thought would overwhelm me became exactly the environment I function best in.
High energy environments are the best! ASH PRINCESS has one of the best prologues I’ve ever read. How did you know this story needed a prologue, and in what ways, if any, did the story’s beginning shape itself over time?
I think prologues get a bad rep because a lot of times they just aren’t necessary. They provide too much backstory, usually featuring characters the reader doesn’t know or care about. It was important to me that if I was going to have a prologue, I had to keep it short and impactful, to introduce readers to the brutality of the world they were entering and put them in Theo’s head from the first page, showing exactly what had built her.
It’s beautifully crafted, and it’s no surprise that ASH PRINCESS also became a NYT Bestseller. Where were you when you heard the news, and what was your initial reaction?
I was out in LA, on the tail end of some events, relaxing and visiting friends. Some other NYC friends happened to be around too (Kidlit Wondertwins Jeffrey and Jeremy West), so we were hanging out, grabbing coffee. I was honestly not expecting it so when my editor called I was totally shellshocked. After that, it’s a blur of celebratory phone calls and champagne!
Sounds perfect! What are some of your current projects?
I’m finishing up the ASH PRINCESS series! The sequel, LADY SMOKE, is out on April 2nd, and the last book will be out about a year after that. I’m also horrible at sitting still so I’ve got a handful of other projects in the works that I can’t talk too much about yet, but hopefully I’ll get to share some more details soon.