Curbing curiosities, or an interview with S.M. Beiko author of Children of the Bloodlands (and a giveaway)


children of the bloodlands

Children of the Bloodlands (The Realms of Ancient #2)

By: S.M. Beiko

Publisher: ECW Press

Publication Date: September 25th, 2018

The dazzling second book in S.M. Beiko’s Realms of Ancient series

Three months after the battle of Zabor, the five friends that came together to defeat her have been separated. Burdened with the Calamity Stone she acquired in Scion of the Fox, Roan has gone to Scotland to retrace her grandmother’s steps in an attempt to stop further evil from entering the world.

Meanwhile, a wicked monster called Seela has risen from the ashy Bloodlands and is wreaking havoc on the world while children in Edinburgh are afflicted by a strange plague; Eli travels to Seoul to face judgment and is nearly murdered; Natti endures a taxing journey with two polar bears; Phae tries desperately to obtain the key to the Underworld; and Barton joins a Family-wide coalition as the last defense against an enemy that will stop at nothing to undo Ancient’s influence on Earth — before there is no longer an Earth to fight for.

Darkness, death, and the ancient powers that shape the world will collide as our heroes discover that some children collapse under their dark inheritance, and those who don’t are haunted by blood.

1) Hi Samantha, we’re glad to have you back! I know you answered this question before, but we got such a good answer the first time, I wanted to ask the question again for your new book:  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?

So happy to be back, thanks for having me!

This book was…very different for me, process-wise. The delivery date of the finished manuscript changed from May 2018 to May 2017—a full year sooner. And I got this news at the end of March! Because of that, I had to cancel everything I was doing, and essentially write 130,000 words in 30 days. By the end of it, my skull was like a scooped-out pumpkin.

Because of that, the editorial process was sort of spooky. There were a lot of instances of “I do not remember writing this at all?” due to writing jags that went into the late morning hours. But strangest of all is that there weren’t any things that were sliced out, despite having written it so quickly! The only way I got through it from start to finish was setting hard word deadlines and planning every chapter.

2) Every world survives and makes sense because of rules. What were some rules you built your world on? Were there any that you started with that had to be bent along the way?

Ooh, good question! I have one major rule writing this series, and it was that everyone has to be fallible. The characters in this book have pretty crazy powers, but they aren’t infinite and using them comes at a cost. A major example of this is Phae, a Deer with healing powers; but she can’t bring people back from the dead, and using her powers too much depletes her and could kill her.

Even the main villain in Bloodlands, even the gods from which all of the Denizens’ powers come from, have to have weaknesses, either emotional or tangible, that can bring them down. If there is nothing at stake, then why would we care about the characters’ struggles? The only character in my series, I’d say, that is absolute in their powers is the Moth Queen, Ancient’s shepherd of Death.

3) Writing a sequel and returning to an already created world, what is it like and was it easier or harder to do?

I wouldn’t say ‘harder’—Book 2 was a lot of fun, and felt like a breeze (for the most part), but it had its challenges. In the first book, the conflict was on a small scale and viewed through a tight lens: Roan had to fight a bad guy in her hometown, and it was mostly focused on her own perspectives on this crazy world she’s been thrown into. In Bloodlands, Roan has to go out into the much wider world, and is exposed to much deeper conflicts within the Five Families, and the gods that govern them. She is thrown into circumstances beyond her own perspective—as are her friends—so there’s a lot she has no control over. Characters also go deeper into the Realms, and to far flung countries throughout our world, like Russia, the Arctic Circle, Europe, and even the Middle East. Global conflict development, spread over the perspectives of over seven core characters, can be crazy…but it was also super rewarding in the end to invite other characters to have their say in the story.

4) Was there a scene in CHILDREN OF THE BLOODLANDS that was gratifying or you had been looking forwards to since SCION OF THE FOX?

When I compose scenes that eventually become whole chapters or, well, the entire book, they all come from these visual kernels I see in my mind, like out of context film sequences. These are mostly climactic battle sequences or scenes rife with emotional pathos. Without giving too much away, my favourite scenes to finally bring to life in Bloodlands were Cecelia’s scenes, when she was young and reckless, as well as the MAJOR twist at the end of Part II—poor Roan never catches a break with her family.

5) What is your favorite part of the world you created for THE REALMS OF ANCIENT series? Was there an aspect that you struggled with but still felt compelled to include?

I really, really love delving into the Realms themselves, the worlds that each of the five Matriarch gods control (in Bloodlands we see the Abyss and the Glen, the realms of the Seals and the Deer, respectively; we only ventures into the Warren in Scion, and the in-between space called the Veil.) I wanted to get more into the gods and their backstories, but this book is more about global Denizens and the impact their powers have on the human world. I also loved Saskia’s origin story and her development. She’s my secret favourite.

An aspect I always struggle with is giving each Family their fair share of screen time. If you can’t tell, I really like writing Roan and Eli because they’re both such sarcastic jerks (like me!) and major drama kids, and I found writing Phae and Natti the toughest. Once I put them together, though, they played off each other with a different yet rewarding dynamic.

6) What was the best, the worst, and the hardest thing about writing your sophomore novel?

I was nervous at first, but in reality, writing Book 2 was even easier than Book 1 when all was said and done. The world and the characters were established, as were their limits; I could draw on the history of what’s already happened to them, and I didn’t have to worry too much about how I’d have them react in certain situations.

One of the hardest things, though, was keeping track of what was ‘hinted at’ in Book 1, and making sure that those questions were answered in Book 2. I dropped a lot of threads in Book 1 not actually knowing for sure if this would be a series, to be honest! When I sold Scion to ECW Press, they asked if it was a series, and without thinking I said “Yep!” So I definitely had to re-read Scion a few times, making notes, so that things weren’t missed, or rules I’d set up in Book 1 weren’t contradicted in Book 2.

Also, the great thing about a direct sequel is that if you drop MORE threads, you say, “Well I’ll just go more into that in Book 3!” Except now I’m 3/4 of the way through Book 3 going “Oh no, why did I do this to myself, I only have so much space left to wrap this up!!” Haha, so every book has its challenges, that’s for sure, but it hasn’t stopped me yet.

S.M. Beiko is an eclectic writer and artist based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She also works as a freelance editor, illustrator, graphic designer, and consultant in the trade book and comic publishing industries in Canada and the U.S. Her first novel, The Lake and the Library, was nominated for the Manitoba Book Award for Best First Book as well as the 2014 Aurora Award. Her fantasy trilogy, The Realms of Ancient, began with Scion of the Fox, followed by Children of the Bloodlands, and will be concluded with The Brilliant Dark (2019).

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, info, and more were provided by ECW Press.

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