The Seventh Sun (The Age of the Seventh Sun #1)
By: Lani Forbes
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Publication Date: February 18th, 2020
Thrust into leadership upon the death of his emperor father, young Prince Ahkin feels completely unready for his new position. Though his royal blood controls the power of the sun, he’s now responsible for the lives of all the Chicome people. And despite all Ahkin’s efforts, the sun is fading–and the end of the world may be at hand.
For Mayana, the only daughter of the Chicome family whose blood controls the power of water, the old emperor’s death may mean that she is next. Prince Ahkin must be married before he can ascend the throne, and Mayana is one of six noble daughters presented to him as a possible wife. Those who are not chosen will be sacrificed to the gods.
Only one girl can become Ahkin’s bride. Mayana and Ahkin feel an immediate connection, but the gods themselves may be against them. Both recognize that the ancient rites of blood that keep the gods appeased may be harming the Chicome more than they help. As a bloodred comet and the fading sun bring a growing sense of dread, only two young people may hope to change their world.
Rich in imagination and romance, and based on the legends and history of the Aztec and Maya people, The Seventh Sun brings to vivid life a world on the edge of apocalyptic disaster.
1) The premise of blending Mayan and Aztec history and myth is so incredibly intriguing! What was your inspiration for the story and what research did you do (books, museums, trips, etc) to help flesh out your characters and their world?
The inspiration for the story really came from researching Aztec mythology after my parents moved back to Mexico. I’ve always been fascinated by ancient civilizations, and ancient Mesoamerican civilizations in particular. My mother is a research librarian and taught me from an early age the importance of doing quality research. I came across a creation myth called “The Five Suns” and was really inspired by the idea of the world being destroyed and recreated multiple times. I started by watching documentaries and researching online through different historical sites. Eventually, I got connected to some amazing resources with experts in London specializing in Aztec and Maya history and mythology. They recommended books and professors to reach out to. I read some wonderful textbooks (such as ‘The Handbook to Life in the Aztec World” by Manuel Aguilar-Moreno) and interviews with some of the top professionals in the field. I also got the incredible opportunity to travel to Belize and Guatemala and tour ruins and museums. My favorite experience by far was hiking into the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave and seeing actual artifacts and skeletons of sacrifice victims.
2) What is your favorite part of the world you created for THE SEVENTH SUN? Was there an aspect that you struggled with but still felt compelled to include?
I love the prevalence of the religious practice in a fantasy world. I feel like it gives so much more depth and reality, as well as creating complex issues for the characters in the world. I loved how their religious practices influenced almost every aspect of their daily lives and I wanted that to be the same for the fantasy empire of the Chicome. I also rarely read stories about teens wrestling with religious or spiritual issues and I really wanted that to be at the forefront. An aspect I was nervous but felt compelled to include was tying magic to the idea of bloodletting. I didn’t want to seem as though I was encouraging self-mutilation, but it was important to me to respect the historical significance of the practice. The Aztecs and Maya believed that great power was housed in blood, so it made sense for blood to hold other kinds of power as well.
3) Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble? If you could ask a character of your choice from THE SEVENTH SUN one question what would it be?
I really love Yoli, the fire princess. She has such a dry, morbid sense of humor and I had so much fun writing her. She felt so real to me, and I loved imagining what she would say or how she would react in certain situations. Ahkin probably gave me the most trouble because his character is supposed to be more serious and stuck in his head, but he does have a soft interior that he’s been forced to ignore. I struggled to show that in a way that made sense, but I also had a tendency to make him a little too “wordy” and my critique partners were quick to point out when he was talking too much!
4) 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?
I don’t want to ruin the end of the book, but there is a scene that made me incredibly emotional. A character makes a very unexpected choice that shocks everyone and it was heart wrenching to write. I felt the tension and terror of the characters when it happens. When you read it, I think it will be pretty obvious what scene I am talking about!
5) 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?
The original version actually had chapters from several other character POVs! I had a chapter from Zorrah’s perspective, a chapter from Metzi’s perspective, and even a chapter from the perspective of the head priest, Toani. I loved getting deeper into their heads and motivations, but ultimately we decided it was too jarring to switch to a different perspective so far into the story when we’d been with Mayana and Ahkin most of the time. Don’t worry though, I still have those chapters saved and would love to share them someday. And books two and three will add some more POV characters too!
Lani Forbes is the daughter of a librarian and an ex-drug smuggling surfer, which explains her passionate love of the ocean and books. A California native whose parents live in Mexico, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest where she stubbornly wears flip flops no matter how cold it gets. She teaches middle school math and science and proudly calls herself a nerd and Gryffindor. She is also an award-winning member of Romance Writers of America and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
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