Author Chat with Jill Criswell (Beasts Of The Frozen Sun), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)
Today we're excited to chat with Jill Criswell author of
Beasts Of The Frozen Sun.
Read on for more about Jill and her book, plus an excerpt and an giveaway!
Meet Jill Criswell!
Jill Criswell is a writer of young adult historical fantasy. Born and raised in the swamps of northeastern Florida, she earned degrees in English and psychology and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Central Florida. Her greatest passion, besides reading and writing, is traveling the world; she’s visited fifty countries across six continents, falling in love with places like Iceland, Namibia, and Cambodia. She works as a university English teacher and lives in South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and daughter (who is named after a volcano in Iceland). Beasts of the Frozen Sun is her debut novel. For more information, visit JillCriswell.com.
Meet Beasts Of The Frozen Sun!
Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.
Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand.
When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland—one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun—Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he’s been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.
As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira’s life, for Reyker’s soul, and for their peoples’ freedom has only just begun …
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I traveled to Iceland and fell in love with the country. It’s stark and wild and beautiful, and I really wanted to write a story about it. When I visited the Saga Museum (a wax museum depicting history and legends about ancient Iceland) in Reykjavik, there was an exhibit about an Irish princess named Melkorka Myrkjartansdottir, who was captured and enslaved by Vikings, and taken to Iceland against her will. According to historical evidence, many of the Vikings who settled Iceland stole women from Ireland and Scotland to be their wives and concubines.
I got an image in my mind of a girl standing on a shore in Ireland, watching a Viking ship sail toward her homeland, feeling terrified and awed. “That’s a story,” I said to myself. And that was the seed that became Beasts of the Frozen Sun.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
It's hard to choose between Lira and Reyker. Lira starts out an idealist, but as the people she cares for die or betray her and the gods she worships use her as a pawn in their schemes, her character gets darker and darker. Reyker has already hit rock bottom, and his journey is about clawing his way back to redemption, with many setbacks and relapses along the way. Both of them are flawed and struggling through tragedy and trauma, which made it fascinating to write from their points of view.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel came first—I started writing it under a different name that I wasn’t quite happy with. It wasn’t until I’d finished a draft and started revising that I realized the legends about the Dragonmen needed to play a larger role in the story. That’s when I latched on to Beasts of the Frozen Sun as the title, and it just felt right.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
The ending! I love books that have explosive, cliffhanger endings, like those in the Throne of Glass and Ember in the Ashes series. I wanted to do something like that. It took careful plotting to create an ending that was fast-paced, gut-wrenching, and dropped a few bombshells. A lot of people have mentioned loving the ending, and that’s been really gratifying.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
When I first started trying to write novels, it was the equivalent of aimless wandering—a lot of fight scenes and romance that didn’t add up to much. Since then, I’ve learned about the importance of structure and pacing, how every scene needs to move the story forward and serve a specific function, and if a scene doesn’t, it has to go.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love everything about my cover (shout out to Kurt Jones, my brilliant cover designer!), but the image of Lira is my favorite part of it. She looks exactly how I envisioned—her hair, her outfit, her sword, and the determined set of her shoulders. All of it comes together to give a sense of who she is, before a reader even starts reading her story. It’s amazing to see a character I created come to life so perfectly.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2018?
There were a lot of 2018 books I loved, but I have to say The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen was my favorite. It’s a young adult historical fantasy based on a famous opera. The story is haunting, with complex characters who aren’t always likeable, plot twists you never see coming, and an ending that breaks the rules for what’s normally “allowed” in young adult books. In short, read this book, it’s awesome!
YABC: What’s up next for you?
Right now, I'm focused on the Frozen Sun trilogy, revising the second book and finishing up the third book. But I do have a draft of a Hindu-inspired young adult fantasy I’m really excited about, and this will hopefully be the next series I get to work on.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Lira’s father, Torin, was the most difficult to write because he’s neither a hero nor a villain, but has aspects of both. He wants power and status, but in his mind, it’s a required tool to protect his people. He does horrible things to achieve this power, but he thinks the ends justify the means. I wanted him to be monstrous, but still sympathetic and honorable, and that was a hard line to straddle.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I’ve loved to read since I was a kid. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t had access to books, through my school and county libraries, as well as teachers and librarians who encouraged me to read. Reading goes hand in hand with knowledge, education, and opportunity.
Because of that, I’m drawn to organizations that help underprivileged children in developing countries learn to read and provides them with access to books—organizations like Child Aid and Book Aid International. These are great organizations book lovers looking to make a difference can donate to.
Beasts Of The Frozen Sun
By: Jill Criswell
Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Five winners will each receive a copy of Beasts Of The Frozen Sun (Jill Criswell) ~ (US Only)
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*