We are so excited to be back with our friends at TBR & Beyond Blog Tours sharing an interview with Hanna C. Howard, who is the author of new release Ignite the Sun. This is such a fun and imaginative book and if you love great worldbuilding, you definitely need to check it out! And don’t stop with this post — for more information about the book and some excellent content, check out the full tour stops over on their blog! Read to the bottom for info on a giveaway!!
Book Information and SummaryIgnite the Sun by Hanna Howard
Published by Blink on August 18, 2020
Once upon a time, there was something called the sun...
In a kingdom ruled by an evil witch, the sun is just part of a legend about light-filled days of old. Luckily for everybody in the kingdom, Siria Nightingale is headed to the heart of the darkness to try and restore the light--or she will lose everything trying.
Sixteen year-old Siria Nightingale has never seen the sun. The light is dangerous, according to Queen Iyzabel, an evil witch who has shrouded the kingdom in shadow.
Siria has always hated the darkness and revels in the stories of the light-filled old days that she hears from her best friend and his grandfather. Besides them, nobody else understands her fascination with the sun, especially not her strict and demanding parents. Siria's need to please them is greater even than her fear of the dark. So she heads to the royal city--the very center of the darkness--for a chance at a place in Queen Iyzabel's court.
But what Siria discovers at the Choosing Ball sends her on a quest toward the last vestiges of the sun with a ragtag group of rebels who could help her bring back the Light... or doom the kingdom to shadow forever.
Hanna C. Howard spent most of her childhood wondering how she might avoid growing up, and eventually solved the conundrum by becoming an artist and a writer. She considers tea an essential food group, has more books than shelf space, and thinks the ultimate geek triumvirate is Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Doctor Who. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband and son, their Disreputable Dog, and a cat skilled in the martial arts.
The world of Ignite the Sun seems so intriguing! What initially sparked the idea for this novel?
Thank you! My first idea spark came with the words, “Dusk the sunchild.” I don’t know where the words came from, and at the time I didn’t know what they meant, but I wanted to explore them. The next spark came on an afternoon while walking my dog, when I started to feel really uplifted and relieved every time I crossed out of the shadows on the path and into a beam of sunlight. I felt almost as if I could fly in those moments, and I started to wonder what would happen if I could only fly in the sun. Would I fall in every patch of shadow, or might my momentum be enough to propel me from one sunbeam to the next? The ideas sort of grew from there.
How do you go about worldbuilding when you’re writing a fantasy novel?
My own work to develop a new world tends to be really sprawling and disorganized. I like to draw maps, fill out questionnaires and forms about fantasy world details, write long brainstorming notes, and make Pinterest boards. When I get to the page itself, though, I need to have a pretty robust idea of the world inside my head, because I believe the more the author knows about her world, the more authentic it feels in the narrative, and the more the reader can sense details off the page.
Which authors inspire your writing the most? Is there anyone you would love to co-author a book with?
Oh my. Well, like most people, I am so inspired by J.K. Rowling’s work. I think her ability to build and write characters is astounding, and so inherent in that is an incredibly apparent, deep understanding of people, and how they tick. When it comes to magic systems, I stand in awe of Brandon Sanderson. For sheer whimsy, creativity, and poetic delight, I love Neil Gaiman’s books. And for pacing and peril, I love Garth Nix. (There are so many more, but I’ll stop there.)
As for co-writing, I think one of these days my friend Joanna Ruth Meyer and I will have to co-author a book, because we have so much fun texting and commiserating about the writing life already. The idea of sharing a project is fun, but also kind of daunting! Writing is such a personal activity for most of us, it would be interesting to bring someone else into that process who had just as much stake in it as you.
Is there a character from Ignite the Sun that you connect with the most? Which one was the most fun to write?
Well, Siria got all my anxiety and Seasonal Affective Disorder, poor girl. So I connect with her a fair bit. But Linden is much more my speed in terms of personality and focus. He’s not all that concerned with impressing people or meeting expectations, and I think he’s probably a bit of a hipster (which I get accused of being sometimes). But strangely enough, there are no Enneagram 4s in Ignite, which is my number.
My favorite character to write was probably Merrall. She’s very abrasive, and not at all afraid of conflict, which is really fun. Plus she’s super powerful, so she’s really hard to intimidate.
Did you always want to be an author? Can you share with us a few of the stories that developed your love of reading and writing?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a vet… until I learned that vets have to euthanize dogs, which was effectively the end of that ambition. My fourth grade teacher suggested I might be a good writer, but at the time I thought that sounded sort of lame, so I dismissed the idea without consideration (even though I had great fun writing). In tenth grade, though, the suggestion resurfaced, when my best friend nudged me to start writing down the stories I invented to entertain myself. My authorial dreams sort of sparked from there.
But my love of storytelling really came from a childhood spent using imagination as much as any muscle. My brothers and I read a lot, but we also played outside and inside with perpetual use of narrative. Sometimes we were the characters ourselves (we loved dress-up clothes), and other times we built whole villages out of Playmobil on the floors of our bedrooms, playing an extended story for days at a time before the whole mess was packed away. We always did the summer reading program at the library, which I remember loving, and we were encouraged to read the things we enjoyed.
What kind of research do you do when you are writing a novel like Ignite the Sun? Can you tell us a bit about your writing process and whether you have any author quirks?
Ignite has been a long time in the works. I started drafting it almost a decade ago now, so my process has changed some since then (hopefully to quicker results!). But I remember feeling, back at the beginning, like I had read everything I could find online about the impact of sunlight on animals and plants, and the potential repercussions of life without it. I even did some hands-on research by putting one of my plants in a closet for the winter: when I took it out several months later, it was still alive, but all the new growth was pure white, instead of green. The world of Ignite is a fantasy one, of course (and the lack of sunlight works through the aid of magic), but I wanted to explore my ideas with an eye on reality and science to ensure the reader could find them feasible.
Are there any other upcoming releases you think should be on our radar?
Yes! Into the Heartless Wood by Joanna Ruth Meyer, We Are the Fire by Sam Taylor, Jade, Fire, Gold by June C.L. Tan, Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart, Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston. (And anyone else who has debuted in 2020, because debuting in a pandemic is kind of the worst!)
When you aren’t writing (or reading), what else do you enjoy doing?
My other job is running an Etsy shop where I sell my hand-painted mugs, so I do love drawing and painting. Also a super big fan of gardening, rambling philosophical and theological conversations, board games, and walks. As of March of this year, I’m also a mom, so lots of my time now goes to taking care of my wee son.
If you were creating a soundtrack for Ignite the Sun, what three songs would HAVE to be on the list?
Ooooh. Great question. I think so much of Florence + the Machine’s music feels perfect for Ignite, but ‘Rabbit Heart’ could probably be its theme song. ‘The Brightest Lights’ by King Charles would need to be there. And probably ‘Clearest Blue’ by Chvrches. (But seriously, listen to Florence while you read this book and you’ll see how perfect she is for it.)
What’s up next for you? Are you working on anything right now?
I’ve just started in on a new project that I can’t really talk about yet, but I’m excited to see where it goes. It will be YA fantasy and heavily feature a dog… 🙂
Now if that didn’t get you excited for your very own copy, then I don’t know what to tell you! 🙂 If you’re in the US, enter this giveaway to get one from TBR & Beyond Tours and the publisher!a Rafflecopter giveaway
And if you just can’t wait, check out Ignite the Sun at one of these links, or your favorite Indie Bookstore!