We are THRILLED to be back with our friends at TBR and Beyond Tours sharing an interview with Margaret Owen, the AMAZING author of the Merciful Crow duology. The second book in the series, The Faithless Hawk, was just released and we LOVE IT SO MUCH. To find out even more, check out all the stops over on their blog.
Book Information and SummaryThe Faithless Hawk (The Merciful Crow, #2) by Margaret Owen
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on August 18, 2020
Kings become outcasts and lovers become foes in the thrilling sequel to Margaret Owen's The Merciful Crow.
As the new chieftain of the Crows, Fie knows better than to expect a royal to keep his word. Still she’s hopeful that Prince Jasimir will fulfill his oath to protect her fellow Crows. But then black smoke fills the sky, signaling the death of King Surimir and the beginning of Queen Rhusana's merciless bid for the throne.
With the witch queen using the deadly plague to unite the nation of Sabor against Crows—and add numbers to her monstrous army—Fie and her band are forced to go into hiding, leaving the country to be ravaged by the plague. However, they’re all running out of time before the Crows starve in exile and Sabor is lost forever.
A desperate Fie calls on old allies to help take Rhusana down from within her own walls. But inside the royal palace, the only difference between a conqueror and a thief is an army. To survive, Fie must unravel not only Rhusana’s plot, but ancient secrets of the Crows—secrets that could save her people, or set the world ablaze.
Born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail, Margaret Owen first encountered an author in the wild in fourth grade. Roughly twenty seconds later, she decided she too would be an author, the first of many well-thought-out life decisions.
The career plan shifted frequently as Margaret spent her childhood haunting the halls of Powell’s Books. After earning her degree in Japanese, her love of espresso called her north to Seattle, where she worked in everything from thrift stores to presidential campaigns. The common thread between every job can be summed up as: lessons were learned.
Fortunately, it turned out that fourth-grade Margaret was onto something. She now spends her days wrestling disgruntled characters onto the page, and negotiating a long-term hostage situation with her two monstrous cats. (There is surprisingly little difference between the two.) In her free time, she enjoys exploring ill-advised travel destinations, and raising money for social justice nonprofits through her illustrations.
We absolutely adored The Merciful Crow and cannot wait to get back to the world of Sabor. Was there anything specific that sparked this story idea for you, or was it a longer process to develop the overall world?
The original idea came from an article I read on the lives of medieval executioners—I was really fascinated by how they played such a pivotal role in society and the justice system (more or less) at the time, but were still outcasts of the communities they served. While it took a few months to really build up the world and its history, language, and structure, that dynamic really stuck with me from the start.
Let’s talk teeth! So much of the magic in this duology involves teeth — do you recall any specific thing that led to that decision or how did it come about?
I wanted the Crows’ magic to be something macabre and unglamorous, because if it was something cool and flashy like Peacock illusions, it would be desired and valued by the rest of the nation. So I settled on magic that can be pulled from bones, since acquiring the bones themselves would be, uh, unpleasant. (Or hopefully unpleasant. A Crow serial killer might have a blast, who knows?) But the logistics were challenging, as you can’t exactly walk around with a bag of femurs, so I landed on teeth as a more travel-sized form of bones that people naturally shed throughout their lifetimes anyway. The downside is that now I get a lot of tags whenever there’s a weird news story about teeth.
Which authors inspire your writing the most? Is there anyone you would love to co-author a book with?
I try to actively not be inspired by other authors, as strange as that sounds! My brain is a bit of a magpie, picking up turns of phrase from all over the place, and I have to be careful to not accidentally regurgitate something I’ve read somewhere else. That said, there are a couple folks who I look to for different dark deeds:
- To enchant someone, Margaret Rogerson
- To curse them, Holly Black
- To roast them, LL McKinney
- To rob them, Leigh Bardugo
- To stab them, Tara Sim
- To break a heart, Hanna Alkaf
- To entrap one, Naomi Novik
I would die to co-author a book with any one of these incredible folks!
Is there a character from the duology that you connect with the most? Which one was the most fun to write?
I have to take Barf the cat out of the equation, because I too feel a deep need to nap most of the day. I try to put enough of myself into each character to connect with them, but I think Fie and Jasimir were the closest to my heart in this one, because they’re both grappling with a failing system and finding there are no easy answers. That said, the cat(s) were definitely the most fun to write!
Did anything surprise you as you wrote the second book, or did you have everything planned out thoroughly from the beginning?
I always knew how the series was going to end, but getting there was a bit of a volatile process! On the plus side, I’m an outliner, so while I did go through a couple different outlines as I figured out how I wanted to get to that ending, I didn’t have to do any major rewrites.
How is writing a duology different from writing a standalone or longer series? What made you decide to make this a duology?
IT’S COMPLICATED, haha. We pitched The Merciful Crow as a standalone that could be the beginning of a trilogy, but my deal wound up being for a duology and a standalone. When you write a first book, whether it’s a standalone or the start of a series, it needs to be a semi-complete story on its own. That means resolving at least some of the conflicts, even if you leave other threads to dangle. When adjusting from a trilogy to a duology, I had to think about The Merciful Crow as the first half of a story, instead of the first third, and plan out The Faithless Hawk as the second half of that story, instead of the final third.
Are there any other upcoming releases you think should be on our radar?
I am really, really looking forward to Cemetary Boys by Aiden Thomas! It looks like so much fun.
When you aren’t writing (or reading), what else do you enjoy doing?
I love drawing, painting, basically any kind of creative work! My friend recently taught me how to (very amateurishly) bind books by hand, so I’ve tinkered around with that too.
If you were creating a soundtrack for your duology, what three songs would HAVE to be on the list?
“The Bleeding of Mercy” by Telepathic Teddy Bear, “A Little Wicked” by Valerie Broussard, and “Arsonist’s Lullaby” by Hozier!
What’s up next for you? Are you working on anything right now?
I am working on my third book, which is set in a completely different world from TMC/TFH, but has been a whole lot of fun to write! It’s a VERY loose retelling of The Goose Girl fairytale from the perspective of the villain, the wicked maid. The book follows the former maid of a minor princess betrothed to an absent margrave, who has stolen the princess’s identity and, for the better part of the last year, has used that to scam her way around high society parties and rob the hosts of their jewelry. Then she steals from the wrong family, and winds up crossing a local god, who curses her to slowly turn into jewels herself, unless she can make up for everything she took. If all goes according to plan, it should be out sometime next year!
That’s right, we have finished copies of The Faithless Crow to giveaway thanks to TBR Tours and the publisher! Good luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you just can’t wait to see if you win, definitely check out The Faithless Crow at one of these links, or at your favorite Indie Bookstore!