I met Andrea Stewart a few years ago at a local author event, and have been tracking her career ever since. I’m so excited to feature her Adult SFF novel, THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER, the first in the Drowning Empire trilogy:
The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.
According to your website bio, you are the daughter of immigrants, and were raised in a number of places across the United States. Can you tell us more about this experience, and in what ways, if any, did it lead toward writing?
Funnily enough, my parents emphasized math and science over any creative pursuits. We were in the land of opportunity–surely I was going to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer? If I’d said I was going to be an author as a kid, they would have said, “Okay, but how are you going to make money to live on?” They did heavily encourage reading as a pastime (though I think I frustrated my mother on many occasions by being off in my own world when reading!), and set me up with my dad’s old computer when I expressed interest in writing stories. We did move a lot when I was a kid, following job opportunities for my dad, and I think it definitely contributed to my sense of adventure. My mom likes to tell me about how I asked her excitedly a little after we’d settled into a new place–when we were going to move again? Moving is a lot more fun when you’re not an adult and having to move your own things! I definitely enjoy exploring new worlds and new places in my writing. And look: I don’t even have to get up from my chair!
So true! Lin’s journey in THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER has a lot to do with the obstacles she has to overcome. How did Lin develop as you wrote her?
I knew from the beginning that I wanted her to be trapped in this palace of locked doors, striving to uncover her father’s secrets. I knew she’d be desperately longing for her father’s approval while feeling like she was constantly falling short. Most people with at least one Asian parent probably know what that’s like! She starts out with this as her singular focus: proving to her father that she is worthy of being his heir. But as her world broadens throughout the book, so does her point-of-view. It’s no longer just about her and her father. There’s an Empire at stake here, and she starts to understand exactly what that means. What once was something of a selfish task becomes so much more.
I love when a character’s motivation evolves throughout a story! You’ve also published short stories. What do you like most about writing shorter fiction?
I love the experimental nature of short fiction! You can get a lot weirder with short fiction and it’s OK because you haven’t invested several months of your life into it. You can play around more and not be too bummed out if a piece doesn’t sell or even get read. I’ve fiddled with ideas in my short fiction I wouldn’t have dared try in long form. I think it also taught me a lot about story arcs and how to write a good ending. That’s a lot harder to learn when you’re writing books and not completing quite so many of them!
Indeed! I’ve also found inspiration for novels from short stories I’ve written. What are some of your current projects?
Obviously I’m hard at work on Book 2 in The Drowning Empire trilogy! There are some new characters, things get a little more complicated, and secrets I’ve been setting up since Book 1 are revealed. I’m very excited to share the next book! I’ve also got a science-fiction book in progress involving time bubbles, a lab android turned assassin, and a galaxy on the cusp of destruction. And I’ve been slowly growing some new ideas for more epic fantasy series! There are a lot of worlds floating around in my head that I’m looking forward to exploring, as well as sharing with all of my readers!