I first came across the Skybound series when I was lucky enough to get an ARC of the first in the series, BLACK WINGS BEATING. GOLD WINGS RISING rounds up the series, and is due out on September 1st:
The war on the ground has ended, but the war with the sky has just begun. After the Siege of the Six Villages, the ghost eagles have trapped Uztaris on both sides of the conflict. The villagers and Kartami alike hide in caves, huddled in terror as they await nightly attacks. Kylee aims to plunge her arrows into each and every ghost eagle; in her mind, killing the birds is the only way to unshackle the city’s chains. But Brysen has other plans.
While the humans fly familiar circles around each other, the ghost eagles create schemes far greater and more terrible than either Kylee or Brysen could have imagined. In the final installment of the Skybound Saga, the tug-of-war between love and power begins to fray, threatening bonds of siblinghood and humanity alike.
More in the Skybound series:
Book 1: BLACK WINGS BEATING
The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists.
Brysen strives to be a great falconer–while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She’s nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe.
Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he’s long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother’s future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.
Book 2: RED SKIES FALLING
In this thrilling sequel to Black Wings Beating, twins Kylee and Brysen are separated by the expanse of Uztar, but are preparing for the same war – or so they think.
Kylee is ensconsed in the Sky Castle, training with Mem Uku to master the Hollow Tongue and the Ghost Eagle. But political intrigue abounds and court drama seems to seep through the castle’s stones like blood from a broken feather. Meanwhile, Brysen is still in the Six Villages, preparing for an attack by the Kartami. The Villages have become Uztar’s first line of defense, and refugees are flooding in from the plains. But their arrival lays bare the villagers darkest instincts. As Brysen navigates the growing turmoil, he must also grapple with a newfound gift, a burgeoning crush on a mysterious boy, and a shocking betrayal.
The two will meet again on the battlefield, fighting the same war from different sides―or so they think. The Ghost Eagle has its own plans.
According to your website, you “quit your job as an assistant to a movie agent in order to get a Master’s in Library Science because of a speech Chris Crutcher gave.” What about this speech was so pivotal for you, and what do you remember most about it?
To be honest, I don’t remember much about the speech, but a lot about the audience. It was at an event for the New York Public Library, so the audience was mostly librarians and educators, and Chris Crutcher told some story about censorship and the power of getting the right book to the right kid at the right time and how librarians are on the front lines of that.
What I remember most was how the people in the audience responded, the energy in the room and the deep and joyful commitment to service they had. There was no glory in it, and little money, yet all these book people were so fired up about it…it was the opposite of what I was doing for my day job at the time, and that’s when I felt like I heard the call to that kind of service. I gave notice at my job that week and applied to grad school and ended up working as a YA librarian at the New York Public Library. Even though I no longer work as a teen librarian, I still try to bring that passion of service to young readers to my work now as an author.
As a former teen librarian, I can also attest to the joy of that kind of passion and service. GOLD WINGS RISING, the third in the Skybound series, shows the ghost eagles as an even bigger threat than before. How did the ghost eagles originally come to you, and how have they developed as you’ve written them?
Honestly, they started as just a cool bird. Birds of prey are amazing and frightening creatures with minds that are quite opaque to us, and picturing a huge, nocturnal, psychic one was about the most terrifying thing I could think of. As I plotted out and wrote the series, the ghost eagles became so much more though. They surprised me, revealing powers I hadn’t planned on, and a backstory that makes them so much more than scary monsters. They became, in a way, a literary vehicle for my characters to address trauma, both personal and societal, and for me, as an author, to do the same. And of course, as they became richer and more complex figures in the trilogy, they got a lot scarier!
They certainly did! Can you think of a time along your writing journey that felt like a failure, but was actually a triumph?
Finishing. Each book and the trilogy as a whole. Writing is always, in a sense, an exercise in failure. The book that comes out is never precisely the book I first dreamed up, which is the blessing and the curse of writing books. Getting to the end of one, and then of a cycle of three, is a chance to see all the ways it isn’t what I thought it was, and that failure can lead to self doubt and beating myself up, but also it’s a pretty amazing thing, to see what the act of creating something leads to. All books are really more than the sum of their parts and of their authors intentions. I’m still learning to celebrate that as a triumph.
Sounds like a good learning process for any writer. What are some of your current projects?
Oh I have to be about coy about them, but I’m working on a lot of new things, getting out of my comfort zone. There are screenplays and novels and at least one short story in a sci-fi anthology. I’m also trying to write some contemporary stories, which I haven’t done a lot of, and also… cyberpunk dragons. There will be dragons.
Book 1: Black Wings Beating
Book 2: Red Skies Falling
Book 3: Gold Wings Rising
For more about Alex London and his other books, visit calexanderlondon.com.