I have the privilege of interviewing my dear friend Sarah Delena White on her upcoming beautiful fantasy, Halayda. (Or is it Phantasie, like George MacDonald spells it?) Don’t forget to pre-order the book here.
Sarah and I have shared a love of George MacDonald, Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, tea, Messiah College, late night impromptu walks and talks, and many other academic and authorly things. My path has taken me far away from the East Coast and I now live in Denver. I miss Sarah, so reading this book is like sitting down for a good long talk. Seeing her author dreams come true makes me incredibly happy.
I’ll be doing a review of the book soon, but if you want some initial reactions, they can be found in this post.
P.S. I love it.
How did you come up with the idea for Halayda?
The seed for the story came from a dream—something that almost never happens for me! I dreamed about someone who got dragonfly wings as the result of a mad science experiment gone wrong. The idea lingered in my mind after I woke up, but when I tried to put it on paper I realized it was too similar to a number of superhero stories… so I decided to mash it up with Celtic mythology and steampunk. Once that was in place, the story took on a life of its own!
Which books or authors have influenced you the most?
George MacDonald’s fairy tales top the list, especially Phantastes and Lilith. Some subtle tributes to MacDonald slipped into Halayda. Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s and Julie Kagawa’s books sparked my interest in fae lore, and I also took a lot of inspiration from classic Celtic mythology.
What is your writing process like?
I break pretty much every first-draft writing rule! I write slowly, carefully crafting each scene and usually spending several days (if not a week) on each chapter. I find that if I try to write faster and in less detail, I don’t get to the heart of the story. For me, the story IS the layers and nuance, and if I haven’t tapped into those, I don’t know where it’s going or what the characters’ arcs truly are. I also share each scene with a few fellow writers as soon as it’s finished and get their reactions, so I can get a feel for whether the story works outside of my own brain. Once it’s finished, I let the manuscript sit for a few weeks, then put it through a thorough self-edit to work out as many issues as I can. Then it goes through several rounds of edits by professional editors.
What gave you the most difficulty when writing Halayda?
There were quite a few challenges along the way, but that really stand out in hindsight. The first was figuring out how to finish a story. Before starting Halayda, I abandoned over half a dozen partial manuscripts because the stories weren’t working. I was determined to finish Halayda because I cared about the characters and wanted to see their journey through, but it involved giving myself a crash course in story structure and figuring out ways to make each scene interesting.
The second? Working a major character into the story after the first draft was written! It was worth it, but I hope I never have to do it again!
What is your favorite writing fuel?
Lattes! Especially caramel and chai. Lattes are expensive, though, so most days I substitute tea and dark chocolate instead. Also, does music count as fuel? I have playlists for each of my projects, which help me focus on what I’m writing and get a better feel for the characters.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from this book?
A renewed sense of wonder and courage as they face the real world. We see the world through lense of the stories we love, and I hope the tales I write will shape my readers’ reality in some small way.
What’s your next project?
I’m planning to start the sequel to Halayda next month! Book two in the Star-Fae Trilogy will follow Sylvie and Taylan as they face their pasts, embrace their destinies, and deal with everyone who wants them dead after the events of book one (no spoilers, haha!). I’m also chipping away at a backburner project: a futuristic epic fantasy about a mage who is risking his soul to overthrow an evil emperor and a cyborg elf who is determined to overturn his carefully laid plans.
A mortal alchemist. A faerie king. A bond that transcends death.
Betrayed by a trusted mentor, Sylvie Imanthiya hides on the fringes of society, caring for half-fae orphans and trading her alchemical creations on the black market. She lives for the one night each season when she can see her dearest friend—a man whose destiny is far above hers.
King Taylan Ashkalabek knows better than to exchange halayda vows with a mortal. Even their friendship is a risk; love is an impossible dream. Then a brutal alchemical attack poisons his realm, unearthing a dark power within him—and leaving Sylvie with the ancient mark of Faerie’s savior.
Manifesting unpredictable abilities and aided by allies with their own secrets, Sylvie and Taylan journey into the wilds of Faerie to heal the damage and confront Casimir, an invincible star-fae determined to claim the realm as his own. But only their enemy knows Sylvie’s true capabilities—and Taylan’s weaknesses—and how to use them in his vicious schemes.
Her fate is life. His fate is death. With Faerie in the balance, Sylvie and Taylan must stand together before reality as they know it is destroyed.
About the author:
Sarah Delena White was raised by wolves in an alternate dimension. She writes eclectic speculative fiction that reworks mythology with a fine balance of poetry and snark. She’s an experienced world traveler who loves to weave world folklore and ancient concepts into vibrant, original story worlds. She is the Benevolent Firebird (acquisitions editor) for Uncommon Universes Press. When she’s not writing or editing, she can be found making jewelry, singing Irish ballads, drinking tea, and working a variety of odd jobs. She can be bribed with dark chocolate.
More information about the book:
3/18: Brianna Merrit
3/22: Marisa Porter
3/23: Zachary Totah
3/24: Annie Douglas Lima
3/25: Lands Uncharted
3/30: Laura Pol
4/1: Janeen Ippolito
4/3: New Authors Fellowship
4/4: J.M. Hackman
4/6: Bethany Jennings
4/8: H. L. Burke