Kate Elliott has been writing stories since she was nine years old, which has led her to believe that writing, like breathing, keeps her alive. As a child in rural Oregon, she made up stories because she longed to escape to a world of lurid adventure fiction. She now writes fantasy, steampunk, science fiction, and YA, including recent works Black Wolves, Court of Fives, and Cold Magic.
It should come as no surprise that she met her future husband in a sword fight. When he gave up police work to study archaeology, they and their three children fell into an entirely new set of adventures amid dusty Mexican ruins and mouthwatering European pastry shops. Eventually her spouse’s work forced them to move to Hawaii, where she took up outrigger canoe paddling. With the three children out of the house, they now spoil the schnauzer.
Meet Buried Heart!
The explosive finale to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott's captivating, New York Times bestselling young adult series...
In this third book in the epic Court of Fives series, Jessamy is the crux of a revolution forged by the Commoner class hoping to overthrow their longtime Patron overlords. But enemies from foreign lands have attacked the kingdom, and Jes must find a way to unite the Commoners and Patrons to defend their home and all the people she loves. Will her status as a prominent champion athlete be enough to bring together those who have despised one another since long before her birth? Will she be able to keep her family out of the clutches of the evil Lord Gargaron? And will her relationship with Prince Kalliarkos remain strong when they find themselves on opposite sides of a war? Find all the answers in this beautifully written and exciting conclusion to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott's debut New York Times bestselling young adult trilogy!
Meet Poisoned Blade!
Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives—the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes's only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the chance to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on Jes's traveling party puts her at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos—the prince she still loves—is fighting against their country's enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal's life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion...She must become a warrior.
Meet Court Of Fives!
On the Fives court, everyone is equal.
And everyone is dangerous.
Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.
Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.
In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
First, I wanted to write a story about a girl who is a competitive athlete. I have played sports since I was a teen, and this was my chance to pay tribute to all the girls and women who love to play sports, be active, and compete.
Second, my husband’s archaeological work on a Greco-Roman site in Egypt, dating from about 2000 years ago, the period we most commonly think of as Cleopatra’s Egypt. It’s a period when Greek (and later Roman) foreigners conquered and ruled the indigenous population. I became intrigued by the dynamic of outsiders imposing their rule and some aspects of their culture upon an established nation that had its own long history and culture (the one we commonly know with its pharaohs, gods, pyramids, and temples). This history of conquest became the basis for the world of Court of Fives.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
As a writer who was trying to do something a little against type, my favorite character in the trilogy is Kalliarkos.
In my last trilogy (the Spiritwalker trilogy, which opens with Cold Magic) the main male character is a mage named Andevai who, when you first meet him, is cold, arrogant, and rather obnoxious (also really handsome). He has reasons for behaving the way he does, some good and some bad, and his character unfolds and transforms over the course of the three volumes of that trilogy.
After writing Andevai, who is modeled on what I call the classic arrogant angsty hero mold (and who I really loved writing), I wanted to write a young man who is a genuinely decent person trying to do his best in an untenable situation. Kal was born and raised at the highest level of his society but at heart, for whatever reason, he wants people to like him. He works to be respectful toward others, even (and especially) those who are considered (by his own people) to be his social inferiors. He has the skill of getting on well with others--a skill I admire when I run across it in real life. Sometimes it feels that in YA if a male love interest isn’t a jerk, then he’s considered boring. But I believe that kind, respectful people who want to make the world better can also be heroes. In fact, they’re the heroes I most hope for in our own world. Kal wants to do the right thing, and I admire that about his character.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The first novel, Court of Fives, started life with a working title of MASK. My editors and I went through multiple brainstorming sessions before they came up with Court of Fives, which I now think is the perfect title. So in that case the novel was written before it got a title. The second novel started life as Poisoned Flower, but a blade seemed more dramatic than a flower, and as it happens Poisoned Blade works better for the plot anyway.
Because Buried Heart is the third book of the trilogy, my editors and I had pretty much narrowed down the possible titles for this book to two: Buried Heart or The Adversary Kiss. Buried Heart works best (although there is a kiss in the story)(or maybe more than one kiss), and it also works thematically for the larger story, so in the case of book three the title was set before book two came out.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
There are multiple scenes in this book I’m really proud of for their powerful emotions. This is a very emotional book, intertwined with a lot of action: breakneck overland journeys, battles, kidnapping, treachery, heartbreak, and at least two deadly clever ruses.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I’m going to combine these two questions because they are related.
First, I believe the most important quality for any endeavor is persistence. Stick-with-it-ness will get you farther than anything else, including talent.
Second, whatever decisions I have made across my career in terms of what I need to write next, given the current market conditions and which of my potential projects I think have the best chance of selling, I always remember that at root I have to love the story I’m telling. If I don’t love it, why should any reader love it? Ultimately a tale has to matter deeply to me to make it worth writing.
Third, in craft terms, the most important thing I’ve learned is how to revise: how to turn the story as I envision it in my head into words that bring the reader as close as possible to the mental and emotional vision I have.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
Because Buried Heart is the third of a trilogy, it needed to have a similar look to the first two covers so people browsing can guess that the books belong together. I like how LBYR has coordinated the colors and the background pattern with its overlapping rings for all three books. Best of all, there’s a spider on the cover in honor of the main character’s Fives competition name.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2017?
I’ll mention two:
Cindy Pon’s WANT, a near future sf story about a polluted Earth in which the rich are insulated from its worst effects while the poor suffer. Jason Zhou is a teen who decides to infiltrate and destroy the big corporation in the city where he lives, but things get complicated when he meets Daiyu, the daughter of the corporation’s CEO. I’ve been waiting for this book for over a year. My son got me a signed copy in San Diego and he’s bringing it to Hawaii later this month. I can’t wait!
I’ve already read Malinda Lo’s A LINE IN THE DARK, a YA contemporary psychological thriller set in New England about four girls and an unsolved murder. I don’t often read mysteries. This one is just fabulous with all the suspense you would want plus a really smart unfolding of the complex and not always savory aspects of friendships and relationships. And it’s got a perfect ending.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2016?
I never have a single favorite book. Over at Book Smugglers this past January I wrote a long post about some books (and films) I really enjoyed in 2016 that had compassionate and complex relationships.
My favorite non fiction title read in 2016 might be The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors by James Hornfischer. He tells the searing story of the Battle off Samar, part of a the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippine Sea in October 1944 (World War 2). Using both written and oral accounts and interviews with surviving sailors, he relates the harrowing story of sea battle in a compelling and immediate way. I read it because my dad served in the Navy during and after World War 2 (although not in this battle) and my son serves in the Navy now.
If I had to urge you to read one under-rated genre novel that I first read in 2016 I would have to go with Philip Reeve’s RAILHEAD. In this science fiction fantasy, star systems are linked by mysterious trains, and a thief gets caught up in a conspiracy to bring down the ruling class. Great, imaginative worlds. I loved it.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
Two novelettes set in the Spiritwalker universe (Cold Magic) in the forthcoming anthologies THE BOOK OF SWORDS (2017) and THE BOOK OF MAGIC (2018), both edited by Gardner Dozois. Book two of the Black Wolves epic fantasy trilogy (still working on it). And a mystery project that I’m calling genderbent Alexander the Great as a space opera.
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
The one I hope makes every reader cry. But I can’t say more because it would be a spoiler.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
Voting rights, in general. The right to vote should never be suppressed, or taken away from people.
Specifically, I’m proud to support the work of Partners in Health, a global organization that is, in its own words, “relentlessly committed to improving the health of poor and marginalized people.”
Thanks for having me!
By: Kate Elliott
Publishing Date: July 25th, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
Three winners will receive a copy of Buried Heart (Kate Elliott) ~ US Only
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