2021 Debut Author Interview: Liselle Sambury!

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 Liselle Sambury and her novel BLOOD LIKE MAGIC, and we have been interested in it ever since! We are so excited to have Liselle on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Liselle Sambury is a young adult author currently residing in Ontario, Canada. Check out her YouTube channel for videos detailing her publishing journey and helpful advice for upcoming writers about the publishing industry and writing related topics.

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

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

Liselle: Being a debut author is a strange mix of excitement and imposter syndrome for me. Mostly, I’m super excited about the fulfillment of my childhood dream, and the fact that I’ll get to see my book on shelves in a bookstore for the first time in my life. But there’s also that bit of imposter’s syndrome where I’m shocked that this is happening to me and sometimes, I just sit and think “oh is this really going to happen?” and it feels super unreal.

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

Liselle: This is a tough one, but I would say that I love the plotting and planning part of the process the most. Bringing shape to that original idea really fuels me, and I love when I’m hit with all these ways that I can add depth to the story. In particular, I really enjoy writing long synopses because it just lets me tell myself the whole story verbatim without having the make it pretty like with drafting. That process also helps me figure out where I may have any plot holes before I start writing. The hardest part of the process for me is when we get to things like copyedits and proof pages. At that stage, you’re essentially reading over your manuscript repeatedly to check for little errors which, while very necessary, can be tedious. 

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the inspiration for BLOOD LIKE MAGIC?

Liselle: When I decided to write Blood Like Magic, it was NaNoWriMo 2017, and I had started with a different book about death reapers. But I lost steam with that project pretty quickly. At the time, I was also living away from Toronto, and I was missing my hometown. I decided that I wanted to write something new, something set there, and I wanted to write about a family of Black witches. I also put it in the future just because that seemed fun. I don’t know where the initial idea of witches came from, but I wanted to create a story with the sort of action-packed feel I got from YA that I read as a teen, but with a Black main character.

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

Liselle: Maybe this is traitorous to my main character, but Keisha is definitely my favourite character to write. She’s my MC Voya’s older cousin, and she’s obsessed with dating, modeling, and constantly changing up her look. I love writing her because she’s so mouthy, so she has some great lines, but she’s also got a lot of heart. Even though she’s seen as a superficial person, there is a lot of depth to her, there are things she struggles with, and ultimately, she’s committed to protecting her family. I honestly think that Voya is the most difficult to write because I’m so obsessed with getting her right. For a long time, I actually had a character motivation for her that didn’t fit, and I ended up changing it during edits with my publisher. That was the second time I had made a major change with her. It took me awhile to really discover who she was. I remember when I was initially drafting, I struggled a lot with getting her character voice right. And so, because my expectations with her are so high, I do find her difficult to write.

The Book Bratz: The idea of genetic matchmaking in your book is so interesting! Where did you get that idea? 

Liselle: I think what the process was is that I wanted a reason for why Voya and Luc would be kind of forced together, on top of needing a way for her to find a first love very quickly. Voya isn’t a dating sort of person, and it felt too easy for her to just go out and immediately find some guy. But if it was a trusted matchmaking program, then it would make sense, and it would force a connection where Luc could be invested. Though if you read the book, he’s not haha but that was the initial idea. I also had some personal experience with dating apps and thought it would be fun to imagine what the future of that might be.

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from BLOOD LIKE MAGIC?

Liselle: I hope that readers discover something about the pressures they put on themselves and the pressures that others put on them, and the importance of trying to discover where you came from. But I also just hope that people have a fun time reading it.

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

Liselle: Yes, Blood Like Magic will have a sequel to finish off the series that I have already been working on that I’m really excited about. I think, like many sequels, it does have a darker tone, but there’s still room for the little fun bits that I loved about the first book. I won’t say too much because I feel like everything in the sequel that I’m excited about is a spoiler. I’ll also have a new YA standalone coming out in 2023 called Butcherbirds about a girl who has to face the literal and figurative ghosts of her mother’s past when they inherit a mysterious mansion in Northern Ontario.

Title: Blood Like Magic
Author: Liselle Sambury
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Publication Date: June 15th, 2021

Summary: After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic. Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her? With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.

Thank you so much to Liselle for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about BLOOD LIKE MAGIC and can't wait for it to be out in the world on June 15th

Celebrate So Excited GIF by Hey Violet

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