October SST: Interview with Bound by Blood and Sand Author Becky Allen (+ Giveaway!)

Sunday, October 16, 2016
Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Release Date: October 11, 2016

About Bound by Blood and Sand (via Goodreads):

Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.

Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free.

Lord Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.

But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.

Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the kingdom’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever.


When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

I don't remember exactly, but it must have been somewhere around fifth grade. I was a voracious reader as a kid, and that's when I can first remember writing stories for class - my creative short story was at least three times as long as everyone else's. (Also, it was fantasy, as I recall, something about a girl who turned into a phoenix.) Over the next couple of years I wrote more and more, with stories getting longer and longer all throughout middle and high school - I wrote my first (not very good) real novel in college. (It is never going to see the light of day.)

Have you ever/do you ever plan to write novels outside of the genre of Bound by Blood and Sand (if so, what genre)?
I definitely want to write some science fiction, too - I love scifi and fantasy both.

What's your favorite thing about being a writer?
Ooooh. That's tricky - there are pieces in all parts of the process that I love, and pieces that are pretty awful. But I think there's something magical about the time an idea is just starting to take shape, when you can play with it and brainstorm and worldbuild. In that stage, the idea feels shiny and perfect, without any actual words messing things up yet.

What is your writing process like?
I usually set aside time to do three to four  writing sessions a week: at least one evening after work (I have a full time job), plus both Saturday and Sunday. On those days, I take my laptop to a cafe and work for at least an hour. Usually I start by pre-writing for about 10 minutes to figure out how the scene is going to play out, and then I write in 30 minute chunks.

How long does it typically take you to complete a draft?
Usually three to four months, working three to four days a week. By the time I hit that last month I am always so impatient to be done already!

What is the most important lesson you've learned throughout your journey to become published?
When it comes to revising, don't ever dismiss an idea for being too hard or because you know pursuing it would take too long. Often, it's those time consuming, massive plot overhauls/rewrites/etc that will make your book the strongest it can be - and at the end of the day, that's the most important thing.

Do you have any advice to young writers who want to be published one day?
Yes! There are a lot of things I could say, but to focus on one: write for fun for yourself before you worry about getting published. For one thing, because if you don't find writing in and of itself to be fun, trust me, you're not going to find writing for publication fun either (because it's more of the same, but with WAY more stress).

But more than anything else, writing just for fun takes off so much pressure. Give yourself the freedom to write without caring if it's any good, if it makes any sense, if anyone else would ever want to read it. Tell yourself stories you love. Experiment with writing anything that interests you - whether that's fantasy or romance or essays or poems. Anything! The more you write, the more you'll figure out what it is you love to write, and the more you'll find your own voice. Publication can come eventually (sooner for some of you - a bit later for me!) but giving yourself the freedom to experiment and learn in an environment that's just fun is vital.


Becky Allen grew up in a tiny town outside Ithaca, New York, and graduated from Brandeis University with a major in American studies and a minor in journalism. She is the website director of TheBody.com, an online HIV resource, and loves New York, brunch, and feminism. Becky lives in New York City.


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