We are mid-way through April and wow have we read so many books that we’ve loved. Our author interview line up is amazing for this spring and summer so make sure to keep up to date through our instagram page. You don’t want to miss out on any of these interviews!
Speaking of author interviews, we had the absolute privilege of interviewing the one and only Tara Sim, author of Scavenge the Stars and the thrilling Timekeepers Trilogy. But we talked to her about her newest book “The City of Dusk” which kicks off an epic fantasy adult series. It gripped us from the very start so we hope you’ll click the link to your right and grab a copy for yourself as it will take hold and never let you go, becoming your favourite epic fantasy series to date.
Here’s a little sneak peek into what the book is about and then onto the interview after the read more break!
“The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.
But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.
Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city.
But their defiance will cost them dearly.”
BT&W: Thank you so much for this interview! We loved this book so much and are excited to find out more about yourself and your journey to this series. Can you first tell us a little bit about your writing journey in general? How did you get into writing and your first books?
Tara Sim: Thank you for having me! I think a part of me always loved writing, ever since I was a kid, but I was inspired pretty heavily by the books I read growing up–like Tamora Pierce, The Lord of the Rings, etc–to write my own fantasy books. I wrote my first one at 15, and it was extremely long (longer even than TCOD!) and bad, but I loved it so much that I knew it was what I wanted to keep doing!
BT&W: How did City of Dusk itself come about?
TS: When I was in college (my junior or senior year, I can’t quite remember), I got the basic premise: four noble houses descended from the same line of monarchy, all in contention for the throne. Beyond that, I knew one character name–Taesia Lastrider–and that was about it for several years until I started to get inspired to work on it. From there I discovered nuggets about the world, such as that there were four realms and four gods, and it just sort of spiralled from there.
BT&W: You’ve taken four known Greek gods and given them a twist; including some gender swapping of the Gods. Can you tell us more about why you decided on these particular Gods/ Goddesses and the changes that you decided to make?
TS: When I created the gods, I wasn’t really approaching it with the intention to tweak the Greek gods specifically. Since I wanted to use Latin/Greek as a base language for inter-realm worldbuilding, these names–mostly, Nyx–just fit too perfectly to not use. There’s a bit more lore into the gods in the sequels, but basically, they used to be able to change forms, genders, etc. until the Sealing, which is why some of them might seem to be genderbent.
BT&W: In the acknowledgements section, you mentioned that City of Dusk started with the Lastrider family. How did all the names in this book come about? Are there any special meanings to some of the names of the houses or the characters?
TS: The creation of the book happened so slowly that sometimes I don’t remember where certain names came from! There were some, like Waren, that I just kinda made up and liked how it sounded. And there are others like Risha that just seemed to fit when I looked up names. However, there is one house, Cyr, that I took directly from a TV show that happened to be on. It was some sort of ghost hunting show on cable, and I wasn’t paying much attention, but someone said “Cyr house” and I thought, hey that’s a really cool name, I’m stealing it.
BT&W: I, Ashli, personally am in love with Taesia. Can you give us more details about the backstories of how and why you came up with our four-five main heirs?
TS: I feel like Taesia was always who I imagined as the “main character,” even though you could argue that there are several of those. Her conflict is the one I always found the most compelling, and she has the most growing to do out of all of them. For the heirs in general, I wanted to write about adults in their early 20s who range from responsible to immature, because when I was that age I had no idea what I was doing and felt kind of lost and unsure. So I wanted to capture that specific feeling in these characters, who deal with the struggle in their own ways, in the hopes that it would resonate with others who felt the same way.
BT&W: There are some amazing LGBTQ+ relationships and teases in this book. From Angelica’s two moms to her own relationships with women in the brothel to her budding relationship with Cosima to that beautiful little hint of a spark between Nik and Fin… how did you decide who was going to have LGBTQ+ characteristics and what do these characters mean to you? Also, are you able to confirm that Nik does indeed have a thing for Fin and is bi-sexual? At the beginning of the book, we were rooting for Taesia and Risha but we’re going to guess that that is not a relationship option with Julian in the picture?
TS: I was wondering if anyone would ship Taesia and Risha! I think from the beginning I had the mindset of “everyone is bisexual,” but as I discovered the characters more I began to see how they approached relationships and made a couple adjustments in accordance with that, such as Angelica being a lesbian and Risha being ace. When in doubt, assume that everyone else (including Nik) is at least bisexual or pan.
BT&W: What were your inspirations for the magic systems that are in play? We can see some of the inspiration that comes from the Gods themselves, but there are so many different variations even within the individual families.
TS: I think I primarily wanted magic systems that I personally thought were cool and wanted to play around with. Necromancy and shadow magic, in particular, were my favorites. But I also wanted to play around with opposites, which is why you have light and shadow, life and death. I wanted magic systems that felt familiar to fantasy readers but also putting a spin on them, such as necromancy sometimes requiring string and Lumins being able to form wings.
BT&W: How many planned books are there in this series and when can we expect book two, The Midnight Kingdom? Will there be any prequels that explain more about how the world itself got created with the Gods or our heirs’ families?
TS: I always imagined it as a trilogy, and I suspect that’ll be the right number of books for this story in particular. I do have an idea for a prequel novella that I might tinker with down the line, but only until the trilogy is done, because spoilers. Hopefully book 2 will be out next year!
BT&W: What is your personal writing process like? Do you have playlists or pinterest/ mood boards?
TS: I tend to need music when I write, so I’ll put on a playlist (usually video game soundtracks while I’m drafting) and get to work. Sometimes if I need a reference I’ll head to pinterest or google, and more often than not I need coffee for fuel.
BT&W: I see that you have cats… can you tell us about your furry writing partner(s)?
TS: Beka and Rey are adorable brats. I have a small cat tree in my office that they like to sit in while I work sometimes, although Beka does enjoy walking all over my desk and trying to get into my lap during inopportune times.
BT&W: If you could create a tea that is based on the book as a whole or based on your four-five main heirs, what would it be like?
TS: Hmm, I’m thinking something similar to chai, warming and filled with spices that would be best served with milk/cream.
We hope that you enjoyed our chat with Tara! There are more interviews coming up and this is also your reminder to grab your own copy of The City of Dusk by clicking the link on the right.