Rory Power is one of my favorite authors, and I was honored to feature her previous YA books, Wilder Girls and Burn our Bodies Down. Her newest novel, IN A GARDEN BURNING GOLD, is an adult fantasy that promises rich and unique worldbuilding:
Rhea and her twin brother, Lexos, have spent an eternity helping their father rule their small, unstable country, using their control over the seasons, tides, and stars to keep the people in line. For a hundred years, they’ve been each other’s only ally, defending each other and their younger siblings against their father’s increasingly unpredictable anger.
Now, with an independence movement gaining ground and their father’s rule weakening, the twins must take matters into their own hands to keep their family—and their entire world—from crashing down around them. But other nations are jockeying for power, ready to cross and double cross, and if Rhea and Lexos aren’t careful, they’ll end up facing each other across the battlefield.
In our last interview, you discussed fraught and complicated family relationships within stories. Can you share any books you’ve read lately that have addressed this dynamic in a way that was satisfying to you as a reader?
Absolutely! I’ve loved NK Jemisin’s the Inheritance trilogy, which starts with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and also Jade City and its two sequels by Fonda Lee. Both trilogies really dig into the dynamics inside complicated families, and into how those dynamics affect the youngest generation.
Awesome. IN A GARDEN BURNING GOLD is a mythic epic fantasy. What did you find most challenging about writing a book in this genre and why?
The length of the book was really the most challenging thing about it for me. My young adult work tops out at around 80k, and Garden (as well as its sequel) both exceed 130k, so I found myself needing to remind my brain that I’m actually not done with the book even though it feels like I am once I pass the 80k mark. It felt like a sprinter having to suddenly run a marathon – it has definitely gotten easier, but this kind of breadth for a project uses a whole new group of muscles.
That “sprint to marathon” thing definitely tracks. The book also has a dual-POV. How did you know this was the best narrative choice to use?
The two POV characters, Lexos and Rhea, are twins, and I knew from the start of the book that I wanted to give both of them a chance to speak. They are very similar but also end up tracing very different arcs through the book, and I wanted to create that “two sides of the same coin” feel. I did consider giving the other two siblings their own POVs, but I decided that should wait for the sequel.
I love stories with twins–they epitomize the often complex dynamic of two intertwined people also existing separately. What would you tell your younger writing self and why?
I would tell her to try not to worry so much about trends and what the market wants. Obviously it’s good to stay up to date on what’s selling and what people are publishing, but it’s so easy to get lost in trying to fit yourself into that at the expense of your work.