2021 Debut Interview: Sam Taylor!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and to spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun for years to come! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2021 debuts and chat with them about their writing process and what it's like to be a new author. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats, and more!
At the end of 2020, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Sam Taylor and her novel WE ARE THE FIRE, and we have been interested in it ever since! We are so excited to have Sam on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Sam Taylor grew up in Arizona's deserts and now lives among Connecticut's trees. She spends her days writing, being mom to the world's cutest boys, whirling through dance workouts, and baking too many cakes.

Keep up with Sam: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?

Sam: I'm so happy this book is being published and that it's the one to launch my author career. We Are the Fire came out of some very difficult times in my life. Often it was grueling to write this story, but it's immensely important to me because it was an outlet for my feelings and questions. And for a while it looked like this book would only ever be a file on my computer, so knowing it's about to be out in the world--and with such a rad cover!!--is thrilling, and I'm very grateful.

The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?

Sam: Drafting is the hardest part for me. It's so challenging to build a whole book from a blank page. I always outline thoroughly--it's what works best for me. But even with that, the murky middle is usually a struggle. My favorite parts are the brainstorming stage, where every new idea is full of so much potential, as well as revision, where I get to take the rough clay of the story and sculpt it into something I'm proud to share with others.

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the idea for WE ARE THE FIRE?

Sam: I was angry, and wanted to watch something burn! My day job at the time was run by some corrupt people. I felt powerless to fix the situation, and often wasn't even sure what were the right choices. I wanted a story with fire magic, to vent out my frustrations. I wanted a story where the right decisions weren't always clear, because sometimes they aren't. I wanted a story with unlikely allies coming together--something that got me through my own struggle. And I wanted a story that ended with hope. 

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?

Sam: Can't pick just one. Can't! I love my fierce girl Oksana who learns to view her world and herself with more complexity. I love bold Pran, who has to learn to let others help him, that being strong doesn't mean doing everything on his own. I love Sepp and how she went from being a very minor, almost throwaway character to becoming crucial to both Oksana's and Pran's stories. And yes, I love Rootare, the villainous alchemist. He's my favorite villain I've ever written because he's so creepy and layered--absolutely the protagonist of his own story, though he'll stomp on anyone to get what he wants. The most difficult characters were the Commanders, particularly Kraanvelt. I'm low-key horrified that such evil characters came out of my brain.

The Book Bratz: How did it feel to write a book that deals with so much rebellion in a time where we're living through so much of it? 

Sam: This book became considerably darker after the 2016 election! Between that and my day job, I vented so many of my frustrations and anger about people in power abusing their positions, and how hard it can be to rise up against those utterly without scruples or ethics. I wrote this story because I needed hope that we could create a more compassionate, inclusive, and humane world.

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from WE ARE THE FIRE?

Sam: I hope readers are encouraged by a story that explores how--even when the right choices aren't always clear and sometimes come with steep prices--through bonding with the right allies, it's possible to overcome the most difficult of circumstances.

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of WE ARE THE FIRE in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?

Sam: This book is a standalone... though I wouldn't be sad to write more about Oksana and Pran! (Good sales and buzz could help that along... just saying.) In the meantime, I do have a historical YA fantasy on submission to editors right now. Think Inception in 1904 Iceland, with witches and Viking-age magic, and an ace/aro MC. This book is super important to me, because it helped me understand my own ace identity. Really hope this one finds a home! And I'm currently revising a middle grade full of baking magic and shenanigans. It's been the perfect project to keep me going during all the chaos of 2020.

Title: We Are the Fire
Author: Sam Taylor
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: February 16th, 2021 

Summary: In the cold, treacherous land of Vesimaa, children are stolen from their families by a cruel emperor, forced to undergo a horrific transformative procedure, and serve in the army as magical fire-wielding soldiers. Pran and Oksana―both taken from their homeland at a young age―only have each other to hold onto in this heartless place. Pran dreams of one day rebelling against their oppressors and destroying the empire; Oksana only dreams of returning home and creating a peaceful life for them both. When they discover the emperor has a new, more terrible mission than ever for their kind, Pran and Oksana vow to escape his tyranny once and for all. But their methods and ideals differ drastically, driving a wedge between them. Worse still, they both soon find that the only way to defeat the monsters that subjugated them may be to become monsters themselves. 

Thank you so much to Sam for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about WE ARE THE FIRE and can't wait for it to be out in the world on February 16th!

Want a copy for yourself? We're giving away an eARC on our Twitter account -- pinned to the top of our page!

Celebrate So Excited GIF by Hey Violet

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