IndieView with Brianna da Silva, author of City of Reckoning

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A major source of inspiration did come from a few of my more recent experiences in political activism, where I observed some of the disturbing effects that can come from trauma when it is not processed in a healthy way. I saw some people openly funneling their rage and trauma into their own radicalization, and I saw how that distorted their view of the world, and of their role as activists.

Brianna da Silva – 7 October 2021

The Back Flap

Kindy Sharro is used to hiding. As a Nocturan, her bat wings, claws, and night vision place her under constant threat of hunters, who cruelly slaughter her kind for sport.

But everything changes the day of the invasion. The Dorish Empire drafts the Nocturans it once persecuted to help defend against a godlike foe. Kindy enters the war, but she has an ulterior motive: Use the war to destroy her arch enemy, Charris Pouden, before he gains enough power to destroy her first.

Meanwhile, Lasía Mae’olo, an elite wolf-accompanied warrior, plots rebellion against the Dorish Empire. When she is drafted to fight for her enemies, she must find a way to subvert the war for her own purposes.

But suspicion and distrust haunts her every move. This war has many sides—and she’s not sure which side she’s on anymore.

The bonds of friendship will be tested. Alliances will be questioned. In a story of political intrigue, ethics of war, and young love, one question must be answered: Which side will you join?

About the book

What is the book about?

City of Reckoning is an epic fantasy about a group of young people who get caught up in a war, only to wonder if they are fighting for the wrong side. Featuring winged people, wolf companions, and epic journeys, it is a dark, violent story that deals with trauma, revolution, and revenge.

When did you start writing the book?

I started officially writing the book in early 2014, though I had been imagining the world, characters, and story for years before that.

How long did it take you to write it?

All the writing, revising, and editing added up to over 7 years. Whew!

Where did you get the idea from?

The first genesis for this book was so long ago, I can’t say for certain where it all started, though there were certainly multiple sources.

A major source of inspiration did come from a few of my more recent experiences in political activism, where I observed some of the disturbing effects that can come from trauma when it is not processed in a healthy way. I saw some people openly funneling their rage and trauma into their own radicalization, and I saw how that distorted their view of the world, and of their role as activists.

At that point, I was in the middle of major rewrites for the book. And that was how I found its theme, around this question of: how can unresolved trauma and radicalization make us do terrible things, even as we still think ourselves the hero? And how we can we prevent that?

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

One of the main characters, Lasía, was difficult to get right. In an early draft, beta readers unanimously hated her. I had to work on finding the balance in creating a character who was decidedly flawed, but still easy to understand and empathize with. It seems I ultimately succeeded, because now people often say Lasía is their favorite character!

What came easily?

Action sequences are one of my favorite type of scenes to write—and there are certainly many in the book!

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

I always go about creating characters as if they are entirely fictitious. But I do find that, on a subconscious level, I will build them with the character traits of people around me. If I think about it hard enough, I’ll start to see resemblances in my characters to multiple people I know. But I don’t do it on purpose!

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

Maggie Stiefvater and Pierce Brown were both heavily influential on me. Their two major series, The Raven Cycle and The Red Rising Trilogy, respectively, have set the standard in my mind for how to write characters. Also, Pierce Brown’s series, along with Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games), really inspired me with how to tell dark, epic stories that deal realistically with characters’ psychology and emotions.

Do you have a target reader?

If you enjoy female-centric fantasy with anti-empire themes like The Unbroken, and grand, sweeping world building like The Priory of the Orange Tree, then City of Reckoning is for you.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I tend to draft a scene in two major stages. First, I write what I internally call “the vomit draft,” where I just toss everything on the page that’s going to happen. I don’t have to worry about formatting or sentence structure here; it’s just raw creativity, as I visualize and feel out the action, dialog, emotions, and pacing of the scene.

Then I “actually write” the scene. In other words, I take the messy vomit draft and shape it into sentences. This is the point where I can devote all my focus to word choice and craft.

I find it’s easier and faster for me to write this way. It’s hard to focus on what’s happening in the scene while at the same time thinking about which adjective I want to use, or how long this or that sentence should be, etc.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

I do outline, but there’s no particular structure to it. Before I write a draft I’ll have a major document of all the character arcs, plot points, and scenes I’m imagining, with some already in that “vomit draft” stage, and others little more than a sentence.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I try not to edit as I go, but I can’t help it. Ultimately, I’m always editing, as I draft and after I draft, and again and again until I’m forced to stop!

Did you hire a professional editor?

Yes, I hired two actually! One for the developmental edit, and another for a line edit. Since this was my first published novel, I wanted to be thorough in getting the book as professional and polished as I could.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I created several Spotify playlists for this book, and had a number of songs I’d occasionally play on repeat while drafting. A couple examples include What Still Remains by Azaleh, which I listened to while writing much of Lasía’s POV, and The Right to Destroy Myself by OKADA, which I often listened to while writing Kindy’s POV.

I have a total of 6 playlists for City of Reckoning on Spotify, with many of them catered to individual characters. If you want to give them a listen, you can find them all here: https://open.spotify.com/user/123167701/playlists (You will have to scroll down a bit… I have a lot of playlists!)

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

No. I knew from the start I wanted to self-publish this book.

What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?

Honestly, it just sounded fun to me. I love marketing, and I like having creative control. One day I would love to become a hybrid author, with some books published traditionally as well, but I knew I wanted to start with self-publishing.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

I had it professionally done by the folks at DesignForWriters.com.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

I do have a marketing plan, but unfortunately I’ve found it’s been much more challenging to execute it all than I anticipated, due to limited time and resources. At this point, I’ve only done a fraction of the marketing plan that I originally planned. This has been disappointing, but also a learning experience. Self-publishing is fun, but also an incredible amount of work for just one person!

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

I always tell people to join the Facebook group 10Booksto50k. It’s an incredible community and resource; I’ve been learning a lot from it!

End of Interview.

For more from Brianna, visit her blog and follow her on Twitter.

Get your copy of City of Reckoning from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

The post IndieView with Brianna da Silva, author of City of Reckoning first appeared on The IndieView.

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