Back in 2020, I featured Shannon Dittemore’s YA Fantasy WINTER, WHITE, AND WICKED. The sequel, REBEL, BRAVE AND BRUTAL, is currently set to debut on January 10, 2023:
Sylvi Quine, the best rig driver on Layce, has braved the dangers of the Shiv Road to save her friend and learned the truth of her power over Winter. Now, she’s joined the rebels working to take down the Majority. Her magic could change the course of their fight, and she agrees to meet the king of Paradyia to offer an exchange: the healing powers of the Pool of Begynd for his army.
The journey won’t be easy. To get there, Sylvi will have to navigate the Kol Sea, crossing through Winter’s storms and swarms of her Abaki—all while outrunning the Majority, who have sent their best Kol Master to track her down and bring her in, dead or alive.
But she isn’t traveling alone. Mars Dresden knows Sylvi is the key to freeing Layce, and demands she train like it. Kyn, the boy with stone flesh and a soft heart, is bound to Sylvi in more ways than one, a connection that both hurts and heals. And Lenore, Sylvi’s best friend, insists the Majority pay for what they’ve done to her parents. Even though her crew believes in her, Sylvi’s still learning to use her power, and Winter’s whispers are constant.
Will she be able to control Winter when it matters most? Or will this be the end of the rebellion?
In our last interview, you were working on an entirely new fantasy that you said “scared” you a bit. What did you learn during the process of writing that book?
That book is working its way through the submission process right now on proposal, so fingers crossed it lands with the right house! I had to set it aside when the offer for REBEL, BRAVE AND BRUTAL came through because that one came with a deadline, but I’m glad to be back in it now. It’s a story I simply need to tell, and I think you have to honor that as a creator. While we hope to sell everything we write, that doesn’t work as a motivating factor for me. I wish it did! Mostly, I’m motivated by honesty in storytelling, and when an idea takes hold, I think you have to commit to see it through, doing your best to show truth in the actions of the characters, and in the plot of the story. It can be difficult to find where those things intersect, but when I arrive at that place, I remember again the joy of storytelling. If this fantasy has taught me anything, it’s to trust my instincts in that area.
Honesty in storytelling is a great motivation to have! Sylvi has quite a different vibe on the cover of REBEL, BRAVE AND BRUTAL than she did on WINTER, WHITE, AND WICKED. Without giving away spoilers, how did you determine the ways the stakes in Sylvi’s story had to level up?
The final words of WINTER, WHITE AND WICKED really throw you directly into the plot of REBEL, BRAVE AND BRUTAL. The rebellion was an inevitable starting point for Sylvi this go round, and because she’s such an independent thinker, working with others to meet ends she doesn’t always feel comfortable with, while dealing with a magical ability she’s just beginning to understand, made for excellent fodder. There’s a real clock on this leg of her journey, and if she can’t deliver on time, lots of people will die. The ticking clock and that unbearable weight on her shoulders shifts everything into a higher gear, and then we add to that the growing complexities of having a love interest whose very life depends on her survival, and the frostbite that comes when she commands Winter to do her bidding, and it was simply down to me take all of that and craft a compelling narrative. I hope I’ve succeeded there.
I have no doubts. I also saw that you were offering a free gift package with every pre-order of REBEL, BRAVE AND BRUTAL. What is your favorite part of the gift pack?
OHMYGOSH, yes! I love offering a thank you gift to readers who purchase the book early, and this gift is just beautiful. We’re giving away a 5×7 art print, four character cards, a bookmark, a sticker, and a signed bookplate, and the artwork on everything is my absolute favorite. Jenneth Leed was the artist behind the art print and the character cards, and she’s just captured every character so perfectly. She generated artwork based off an action sequence in the book, and I cannot fathom how difficult that was, but she nailed it, and I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect artist for the task. Emilie Haney did the artwork for the sticker and the bookmark, and she is just a wealth of talent and knowledge when it comes to swag. I would hire both of these ladies again in a heartbeat.
They are very talented indeed! What is something you would tell your younger writer self and why?
So many things, right? Just now, I think I’d tell her this: Writing a book is hard, but there is such value in finishing what you start. Keep writing. Keep doing the difficult things. It’s in the blood, sweat, and tears of the journey that you will grow and find the most satisfaction.
Thank you so much for having me, Karen. What a lovely interview!
Of course! Your answers were so inspiring!