I have a special treat for y'all today! It is with great excitement that I introduce to you Gillian Bronte Adams, author of The Fireborn Epic. She's just released the second book in that series, and to help spread the word, she's appearing on my blog today to give y'all a chance to get to know her a bit better. (My questions/comments are in bold.)
Let's start with an ice-breaker...
What's your favorite holiday, and why?
Christmas is my favorite holiday! I am not the biggest fan of winter—I love t-shirts and shorts and endless daylight hours—but getting to put up lights and the Christmas tree, play Christmas music, and read by the fireside makes winter so much fun! I love that during the darkest time of the year we stop to celebrate the fact that the Light of the World has come. Once Christmas is over, I feel like we should just jump to spring … or else just keep all the Christmas lights up until the sun is staying longer in the evenings.
How long have you been writing? What first made you interested in it?
I have been telling stories ever since I was a child. I grew up around stories—my parents did a ton of read alouds, my older sister and I played complex made-up stories in the back yard, and everywhere I looked, our house was full of books. So the step from reading stories to eventually telling them felt very natural. But it wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized just how much I loved writing and wanted to stick with it. For me, the draw came from recognizing just how powerful stories could be and wanting to be able to write stories that could impact and empower others the ways that my favorite stories (and the characters who inhabited them) had impacted and formed me.
Do you remember the first story you wrote? What was it about?
Oh this is a tough one. One of the earliest stories I remember writing was a combination of the Lord of the Rings and my favorite preteen mystery series … only everyone was a cat. So, yes, there was cat Aragorn and cat Frodo, and I’m so thankful this story has been lost to the depths of time! The next story I recall trying to write was as a preteen when I decided to tackle historical fiction and create a fictionalized account of what happened to the Princes in the Tower. I think I got about 1500 words written before I realized that historical fiction was not for me. But interestingly enough, it wasn’t until after I was well into working on The Fireborn Epic that I realized that Rafi and Delmar draw traces of their origin story from the inspiration of the Princes in the Tower.
So I kind of want to read about cat Aragorn now.
What role does faith play in your writing?
Storytelling is a huge part of my life and a huge part of how I interact with and think about the world. Because of that, I find that the Lord often works in my heart through stories. Both through books I’ve read and through the ones I’m writing. I think He knows how to speak to us in the language of our hearts, and apparently stories are mine. It’s interesting how often I find myself setting out to write about characters on a specific journey of growth only to find those same questions and struggles and “themes” playing out in my life while I’m trying to write it. Which is not always fun, to be honest, but I’m grateful for the growth the Lord has brought out of those moments.
Which of your books is the most meaningful to you (whether because of theme, characters, or just what you learned through writing it)?
The Fireborn Epic as a whole is particularly meaningful to me, because it’s the story of my heart. There are so many of the things that I love—horses, the relationship between horse and rider, the depth of the character journeys, the epic scope of the tale—wrapped up into it, that it feels a bit like putting my heart on the page and sending it out into the world for everyone to see. Of Sea and Smoke was especially difficult to write because I was trying to complete it during a season of intense creative burnout, and there were more than a few moments where I doubted that it would ever be completed. Because of that, some of the themes in the book feel particularly resonant to me, like the idea of rising and riding again, of not letting “failure” stop you, and recognizing that it takes a different kind of strength to acknowledge when you need others to step in to help you get back up and keep going. Getting to hold Of Sea and Smoke in my hands now feels like an enormous answer to prayer, and the fact that I’ve already heard from several readers who felt like it had been written just for them because it spoke so strongly to their own circumstances makes me so unbelievably grateful!
What does your worldbuilding process look like?
Honestly, it varies a lot from project to project! I do a lot of stream of consciousness brainstorming, where I start typing up random ideas and then use if/then logic and “what if” questions to work out the consequences or effects of each one. Often, I’m starting the process with one core element already in mind, like music for The Songkeeper Chronicles or magical warhorses for The Fireborn Epic, and then working my way out from there to figure out what the specific cultures, governments, environments, traditions, etc. look like. Once I set some of those big foundational pieces in place, I start looking for the really unique little details that I can sprinkle to make the world feel authentic and come alive for readers.
What draws you to writing fantasy? Have you ever tried other genres?
Fantasy is my favorite genre to read and it has been ever since my dad introduced me to the Lord of the Rings. So when it came to writing, so much of my imagination had been formed through fantasy that the stories I wanted to tell naturally fell in that genre. I think fantasy also lends itself uniquely to the types of stories I love. Stories about broken, very human heroes and heroines fighting against the odds, refusing to give up when everything seems lost, and choosing to hope still. Stories with vibrant worlds and sweeping landscapes and conflicts with wide reaching effects. Stories with found families and fellowships and relationships that are forged through fire and all the stronger because of it. Stories that make your heart ache and sing all at the same time.
Because of that, I haven’t tried to write much in other genres (aside from a few short historical fiction projects that I quickly abandoned), but if I ever do, I would still hope to tell stories that feel the same way.
What's something you wish someone had told you when you first got serious about writing?
Remember what it is that you love about writing and hold onto that. The publishing business can be a discouraging one, and that’s true at every stage of the process, whether you’re in the query trenches or a debut author or a multi-published author working hard to grow your readership. And so much of it is outside of your control. It can be tempting to throw yourself into scrambling frantically to do absolutely everything you can think of to achieve whatever level of success you’re chasing at the moment, but I can’t think of a quicker way to burn out or wind up devastated when the discouragements come.
That’s why it’s so important to hold onto why you’re doing this! To remember what it was that first made you want to sit down and pour your heart out on the page. Because when discouragement tries to knock you down, you’ll want to be able to come back to that. For me, it’s knowing that my books are the sort of stories that would have touched something inside of reader-me and made me feel seen, and there are others like me out there, and my books can do the same thing for them. Knowing that that has been true for even just one reader, makes it all worth it, somehow.
Finally, from one Tolkien enthusiast to another... You wake up and find yourself in Middle-Earth. What's the first place you want to visit?
Oh, my gosh, you picked the perfect question to stump me! Everywhere. Well, almost everywhere. Maybe not Mordor, but I hear that one can’t simply walk into Mordor anyway, so I’d probably need to at least make a reservation first. Seriously though, I’d want to see Lothlorien, Rivendell, the Shire, and (of course), Rohan. Trying to pick which one to see first, though, that’s tough. Maybe I’ll start off in the Shire and then hike my way to all of the rest?
An excellent answer. Just be sure to avoid the trolls!
Thanks so much for coming to my blog today. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have!
Needless to say, Gillian Bronte Adams is one of my favorite authors! The Fireborn Epic series is truly... well, epic. I mean, how can you go wrong with magical horses and deep themes set against the backdrop of an amazing world?
You can find out more about Gillian's books (and check out her awesome merch store) at her website.
In the meantime, here's a quick presentation of the two published books of The Fireborn Epic:
She rides a fireborn, a steed of fire and ash, trained for destruction.
Ceridwen tal Desmond dreams of ruling like her father over the nation of Soldonia, where warriors ride to battle on magical steeds—soaring on storm winds, vanishing in shadow, quaking the earth, and summoning the sea. After a tragic accident claims her twin brother, she is exiled and sworn to atonement by spending her life—or death—for her people.
But when invaders spill onto Soldonia’s shores and traitors seize upon the chaos to murder her father, Ceridwen claims the crown to keep the nation from splintering. Combatting overwhelming odds and looming civil war, she begins to wonder if the greatest threat to the kingdom may, in fact, be her.
With fire before her and ash in her wake, how can she hope to unite instead of destroy?
Flames rage and oceans rise in this explosive first installment of The Fireborn Epic as the exiled heir, a novice priest, and a reluctant rebel wage war against a hidden power that threatens to shake the world.
He rides a seablood, a steed of salt and spray, born to challenge the tides.
Six years ago, the wrong brother survived, and nothing will ever convince Rafi Tetrani otherwise. But he is done running from his past, and from the truth. As civil war threatens Ceridwen’s tenuous rule in Soldonia, Rafi vows to fight the usurper sitting on the imperial throne of Nadaar, even if it means shouldering his brother’s responsibilities as the empire’s lost heir.
The stolen shipload of magical warhorses offers just the edge he needs. But the steeds have been demanded in ransom by the emperor’s ruthless assassin, and if Rafi hopes to raise a band of riders, he must first outwit his brother’s murderer.
Yet when his best efforts end in disaster, and an audacious raid sparks an empire-wide manhunt, even forging an unexpected alliance might not be enough to help Rafi turn the tides, let alone outrace the wave of destruction intent on sweeping them all away.
Seas boil and jungles burn in this tempestuous second installment of The Fireborn Epic as the outcast queen, captive missionary, and royal rebel strive to unearth the mysterious power that hungers for their world.