Havenfall (Havenfall #1)
By: Sara Holland
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2020
A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it–at any cost.
Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds–each with their own magic–together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.
For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.
But this summer, the impossible happens–a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie–no one can be trusted, and no one is safe . . .
1) A book goes through a lot of different versions and rounds of editing before it’s complete. What are some “fun facts” or behind the scenes info you can share about the characters from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book?
In HAVENFALL, the Inn run by Maddie’s uncle sits on top of the doorways to three different magical worlds—there used to be more, but a lot of the doorways have mysteriously closed over the years. Too, I imagine that there used to be doorways in other places around the world… or maybe there still is, and humans just haven’t found them yet. This book is pretty self-contained to the Inn and its immediate vicinity, but I had fun thinking about other places in our world that magic might be hiding.
2) Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble? If you could ask a character of your choice from HAVENFALL one question what would it be?
I like all of them, but I have a soft spot for Taya—the mysterious girl who makes her entrance on the page by almost running Maddie over with her motorcycle. And I had so much fun writing the Silver Prince and leaning into the villainy! If I could ask one character any question, I’d ask Havenfall’s chief of staff, Willow, about the events in her home world that landed her in permanent—if comfortable exile in Havenfall. To be honest, I don’t know the answer; when conceptualizing her character, I only dug as deep as I needed to to craft Maddie’s narration. So I know there was some kind of scandal involving Willow and she doesn’t like to talk about it. But I bet it would be a good story.
3) What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)? Is there a scene that you had difficulty with and just had to “power through” to finish the book? Or a scene that made you very emotional?
The scene I’m most proud of might be when Maddie and some other people from Havenfall go out into the woods to hunt the monster that (they think) is terrorizing the inn. I don’t think of myself as particularly good at fast-paced action scenes—I’d rather write characters ambling through a garden and talking about their feelings any day. But I think this scene came out really well and even has some horror-y vibes, which I love!
I don’t really get emotional when writing. Maybe that makes me a monster, haha. But from a craft standpoint, anything that makes my characters’ lives worse will be good for the story because it will generate conflict and tension. So my main question is usually along the lines of “how can I make them suffer more?”
4) What is your favorite part of the world you created for HAVENFALL? Was there an aspect that you struggled with but still felt compelled to include?
I always knew that I wanted to write contemporary fantasy at some point—most of my favorite books growing up were about magic hidden away in the real world. I loved these so much because they made me feel like magic might be just around the next corner, but actually writing it was trickier than anticipated. In some respects, it was easier than writing second-world fantasy because I knew my readers would already be familiar with the story world, and I wouldn’t have to explain basic concepts—if I say a character arrived in a red car, you know pretty much what that looks like. But setting a fantasy story in the modern day also posed some challenges I hadn’t faced before: instead of creating whatever rules I wanted for the magic, I now had to account for the real world’s challenges and limitations, and figure out how magic would have been kept under wraps. I went back to a lot of contemporary fantasy books I love, like DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, LABYRINTH LOST, and the Shadowhunter books to see how the authors I admire had pulled it off.
5) Do you have a special story, a discovery you made while doing research, or an innocuous thought that grew into something bigger that is behind your inspiration for HAVENFALL?
I was lucky enough to do a fair bit of traveling to promote my first two books, EVERLESS and EVERMORE. In the course, I stayed in a lot of hotels. They’re strange, contradictory, liminal places—luxurious and comfortable, but full of mysterious strangers coming and going. In a hotel, you sense that anyone could be here, anything could happen, and probably no one would bat an eye. It seemed like a great place to hide magic. And the whole story kind of took off from there!
Sara Holland grew up in small-town Minnesota among hundreds of books. She graduated from Wesleyan University and worked in a tea shop, a dentist’s office, and a state capitol building before heading to New York to work in publishing. These days, she can be found exploring the city’s bookstores or finding new ways to put caffeine in her bloodstream. EVERLESS is her debut novel.
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