Beasts of the Frozen Sun
(Frozen Sun Saga #1)
Publication date: August 6th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.
Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand.
When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland–one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun–Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he’s been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.
As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira’s life, for Reyker’s soul, and for their peoples’ freedom has only just begun.
Jill Criswell interview
1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
I loved reading and writing stories as a kid. I often made up my own storylines for my favorite books, movies, and TV shows. As I got older, I went back and forth about what sort of career I wanted, and I kept coming back to writing. I double-majored in English and Psychology, and in the end, writing (and teaching writing) won out.
2. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
Usually a year—around 6 months to write a draft, then I let it sit for a while, come back and read and revise it myself, give it to my critique partners to read, and revise based on their comments, then send it to an editor (either one I’m working with through a publisher or one I hire) and revise again. All of those revisions together can take up to 6 months before the manuscript is finally in publishable condition.
3. How do you come up with themes for your stories?
Lots of things inspire my writing. Books, movies, TV shows—ones I’m a fan of now, and ones I’ve loved for years. Travel is another big inspiration. I never would have written Beasts of the Frozen Sun if I hadn’t traveled to Iceland and fallen in love with it.
4. Do you have a schedule of when you write?
I try to write/revise every day, unless I’m in between books and brainstorming before I get started. How much I write depends on how busy I am and how into the scene I am—sometimes all I have the time or patience for is twenty minutes of writing, other times I can write for hours. I prefer writing in the morning, but I also write in the afternoon and in the wee night hours—anytime I feel inspired.
5. How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
It’s tough. I have a family and a day job. It’s even harder now that I have a book coming out, because I spend a lot of time doing promotional stuff. I’ve had to squeeze in writing time whenever I can, and be flexible about when I write and for how long.
What keeps me going is the characters. If I love my characters, then I want to find out what happens to them, I want to tell their story—even if it keeps me up past my bedtime, or gets in the way of grading my students’ papers (shh, don’t tell them I told you that!).
6. What elements do you think make a great story line?
For me, it’s about creating a fascinating world and characters worth caring about. The plot details are the icing on top, but they’re pointless if your cake is collapsing.
7. What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Getting it to the point where it was publishable. The first draft was a disaster, and I had to rewrite huge sections of the story three times before it was anywhere close to good enough. It took me a while to figure out how to juggle all the different elements that go into writing an epic fantasy, but once I got it, I ran with it and never looked back.
8. How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
I’ve written seven books total. Beasts of the Frozen Sun was the fourth book I wrote, and books six and seven are the sequels to Beasts. Since I just finished it and worked really hard on it, the third and final book of the Frozen Sun Saga is my current favorite. It’s the first series ender I’ve ever written, and it was really satisfying to see where these characters ended up and how they’d changed since the beginning of their story.
9. Do you have a favorite character?
It's hard to choose between Lira and Reyker. Lira starts out an idealist, but as the people she cares for die or betray her and the gods she worships use her as a pawn in their schemes, her character gets darker and darker. Reyker has already hit rock bottom, and his journey is about clawing his way back to redemption, with many setbacks and relapses along the way. Both of them are flawed and struggling through tragedy and trauma, which made it fascinating to write from their points of view.
10. Where do you write?
I can’t write in public—too distracting—so I have a quiet office with a desk, a computer, and a window that looks out at the woods behind my house.
11. When deciding on how to publish, what directed you to the route you took?
I wanted to try and get traditionally published, so the only option was for me to get an agent. From there, I trusted in her expertise when it came to submitting to editors, and though it took a long, long time, in the end, it paid off.
12. Have you gotten feedback from family about your book(s)? What do they think?
There aren’t a lot of readers in my family, which makes me seem that much stranger. My husband read multiple versions of Beasts of the Frozen Sun while I was working on it, and he likes it a lot, and my aunt and sister-in-law have said they love it and can’t wait for Book 2.
13. What kinds of things do you like to do outside of writing?
I read a lot, mostly young adult fantasy. I put in some hours at my day job, teaching writing at the local university. I try to work out a little every day to stay in shape, and I binge-watch shows (often while doing my workouts) when I can. I just finished watching season 1 of The Boys, and now I’m getting caught up on Season 6 of The 100.
14. What kinds of advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing?First, be prepared for failure, but don’t let it stop you. Beasts was one of five books that I wrote as I was trying to start my career as an author. Those other books may collect digital dust on my computer forever, but I learned a lot from writing them, so it wasn’t a waste.
Second, don’t commit to finishing a novel unless you love it. You have to love your characters and your story enough to keep writing, enough to read and revise many times. If you don't love it, it will be hard to get anyone else to.
15. What is your favorite book? favorite author? Do you have an author that inspired/inspires you to write?
One book I’ve read over and over again and still love is Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. Some of my favorite authors (all of whom inspire me) are Juliet Marillier, Jaqueline Carey, Karen Marie Moning, Sabaa Tahir, and Marie Rutkoski.
16. Do you have any go to people when writing a book that help you with your story lines as well as editing, beta reading and such?
I’m lucky that my husband (Brock Adams) is also an author, so I always have someone to brainstorm ideas with, someone to catch my comma splices and plot holes. Whenever I finish a draft, he’s the first person I hand it to, and the first person who lets me know if it’s any good or not.
17. Are you working on anything now?
Right now, I'm focused on the Frozen Sun Saga, revising and editing the second and third books. But I do have a draft of a Hindu-inspired young adult fantasy I’m really excited about, and this will hopefully be the next series I get to work on.
18. Tell us 5 things that make you smile
A good book.
A good cup of coffee.
Free time to write for as long as I want.
Looking at pictures of places I’ve traveled to.
Thinking about the next book I want to write.
19. Tell us 5 things that make you sad
Trying to read a book that I’m not really into.
Being so busy I don’t have time to write.
Going too long without traveling anywhere.
Watching/reading the news—I know I need to stay informed, but it’s just depressing.
20. If you could travel anywhere in the world to visit a place so you could use it as a background for a book, where would it be?
I would love to go to Nepal. There’s so much history and mysticism surrounding the Himalayas, and I’d like to hike to Mount Everest’s base camp and use it as the setting for a story.
Jill Criswell is a writer of Young Adult Historical Fantasy. She was born and raised in the swamps of northeastern Florida. She earned degrees in English and Psychology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Her greatest passion, besides reading and writing, is traveling the world; she's visited fifty countries across six continents, falling in love with places like Iceland, Namibia, and Cambodia. She works as a university English teacher and lives in South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and daughter (who is named after a volcano in Iceland).
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