Today is my stop on the Crown of Feathers blog tour and I’m delighted to be bringing you guys a Q&A with the author or this brilliant new fantasy, Nicki Pau Preto.
Huge thanks to Nicki and Ink Road for giving me the change to do this Q&A! Let’s dive right in.
What was your inspiration for the story behind Crown of Feathers?
Most of my ideas tend to be a convergence of several different things. I knew I wanted to write a “girl dressed as boy” trope, because it’s an all-time favourite, and I’d had these two sister characters floating around my head for a while.
Then, with all the Game of Thrones TV show excitement, I thought there would be an upswing in dragon books. I wanted to write something fiery and exciting like that, but maybe a bit more unique. Then I thought of phoenixes and everything came together!
The book features two very different sets of sisters. What made you want to write about sibling relationships?
I’m honestly not sure why the idea was so compelling to me. I have two older brothers, but no sisters of my own, so maybe I wanted to explore something that I had no personal experience with.
I also think there’s something so thrilling about these two fierce, flawed, passionate female characters facing off—especially with all the baggage and emotional ties between them.
Do you prefer writing action sequences or dialogue scenes?
This is tough! I really like both, and of course, both have their challenges. I think action requires more planning and forethought, otherwise the scene becomes muddy and confusing.
Dialogue can be so much fun when it comes out naturally between two dynamic characters, but, sometimes dialogue has to reveal important information and it can be hard to make that happen in an organic way.
Everybody loves mythical and legendary creatures. (I know I do!) Did you have fun writing about phoenixes?
I loved writing the phoenixes! I also really enjoyed researching their lore and delving deeper into their mythology—within the real world and within my own invented one.
In terms of mythical creatures, phoenixes have all the fun of dragons with fire and flight, yet they’re so much richer symbolically—immortality, resurrection, sun, and of course, fire.
I also think they’ve gotten less attention in media so I felt like I was really making them my own.
You’ve mentioned before that Veronyka’s strength comes from her heart and her determination. What’s one of the main messages we should take away from her story?
I’ve had some readers compare the feeling they got when reading my book to the way their favourite writers growing up made them feel, authors like Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley.
That is honestly the highest compliment I could ask for, and exactly why I wrote this book. It was a love letter to the fantasy I grew up on: dark and vast and complex, but populated with brave, compassionate people doing their best.
I think the overall message is one of hope, and Veronyka’s strength—her heart and her determination—leads her to persevere in the face of devastation, to constantly fight for what’s right.
Walk us through your writing process. Do you plan the world first, the characters, or the plot? Are you more of a morning or an afternoon writer? Do you have a specific writing hideout?
Oh boy. I swear, from the moment I started writing book 2, everything I thought I knew about myself as a writer changed.
I used to write best in the mornings; COF2 wanted to be written at night. I used to write quick, short first drafts (Crown of Feathers took 6 weeks and clocked in at 75,000 words), and COF2 took me 5 months and the word count was 138,000. It’s at 180,000 now and still climbing.
I’m also usually a very organized, structured reviser, and I was all over the place during my first rounds. I’m still working hard on book 2 at the moment, but I think I’ve finally got it going in right the direction.
Though much about my process has changed, I always outline—quite extensively—and I’m definitely a character-oriented writer.
That being said, character comes to me intuitively, while plot, one of my weaknesses as a writer, requires more time and energy for me to pin down. World building is something I love to pieces and am constantly having to rein in.
Recommend us some of your favourite books that you’ve read in the last year!
– Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake (Three Dark Crowns series)
– Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
– Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Finally, are you working on any new projects and can you give us any hints about them?
I’ve always got a ton of different ideas circulating, but right now I’m revising the sequel to Crown of Feathers. I can’t share too much yet, but I can promise it will have more sisterly drama, more phoenix lore…and more romance, too!
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour!