The sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that was "made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir" ( Bustle ), Lady Smoke is an epic new fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people.
The Kaiser murdered Theodosia's mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo's country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess--a pet to toy with and humiliate for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn't realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon.
Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage--Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser's rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne.
To get them back, she will need an army. Only, securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done.
Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself.
"A darkly enchanting page-turner you won't be able to put down." --Bustle on Ash Princess, Book 1 in the Ash Princess series
Laura Sebastian was born and raised in South Florida (the Redlands and Key Largo) and has always loved telling stories–many apologies to her little brother who often got in trouble because of them. No copies of her first book, a Cinderella retelling about angels circa 2nd grade, remain. Thankfully.
After getting her BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design, she moved to New York City thinking that she would stay for a couple of years before going somewhere better suited for a small-town, sun-loving girl. Five years later, she’s still here and madly in love with it.
When Laura isn’t writing, she’s probably reading, baking cookies or cupcakes, buying more clothes than her overstuffed closet can fit, or forcing her lazy dog Neville to take a walk.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
I love reading epic fantasy, but I always felt like if I were thrust into these magical worlds, I would die in the prologue. I’m not someone who’s tough or snarky or knows how to use a sword and for so long when we heard the term “strong female character” there was only one type of strong we were talking about. So I wanted to write about a girl who shouldn’t have survived the prologue, but was still strong in a different way. Theo might not be able to wield a sword, but she’s strong. She’s smart. She’s conniving. She sees what people expect from her and she knows how to use it against them. And with those skills, she manages not just to survive but to thrive.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
It’s hard not to say Theo because I’ve been living in her head, for better or for worse, since 2015 and she feels like such a part of me at this point. Beyond her, though, I love Artemisia and specifically, I love writing the two of them together.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
I really hate titling books so for a while I just had the document titled ‘Revenge Project’ or something similar, though I think as soon as I wrote the second chapter where Theo is first called Ash Princess, it stuck in my mind.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I get a lot of people who say the book is dark and violent—and it is!—but I never set out to write a dark or violent book. In fact, those scenes were really difficult for me to write. I would often have to take breaks every so often, go outside, clear my head, and come back to it. But in the end, I think they were so necessary and I’m incredibly proud of them. The scene where we see Theo punished by the Kaiser was definitely the hardest. Even rereading it now is difficult, but I think that means I did it right. Scenes like that should be hard to read.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
How to edit! I wrote my first book more than ten years ago now, when I was seventeen and I thought that first draft was it. When people talk about editing, I thought they just meant proofreading and checking for spelling errors, etc. It took a long time for me to learn how to take apart that first draft and rebuild it into something stronger, faster-paced, and deeper. And the best way to do this is to get other people’s eyes on your work, which is also scary. It’s so necessary though.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love how the artist, Bilelis, and my team at Delacorte/Random House worked together to find what is the defining image of the books—first the ash crown in the first book and now this bejeweled goblet that you definitely DON’T want to drink out of. The style is so evocative of the story as well. I feel like you know what you’re getting into as soon as you pick them up.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2019?
Oh god there are so many! 2019 is such a great year for books. I think (hope?) we’re getting another DIVINERS book this year. That is hands down my favorite series and I’m always in awe of Libba Bray’s way with words. The way she brings every character to life—even those minor ones who are only around for a page or two—is truly incredible. I’m such a baby about horror and ghosts and things, but I put up with the nightmares her books give me because they are that good. I’m not sure her new one is coming out this year but if it isn’t until next year, that’s fine by me because her books are worth the wait.
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2018?
Again, there were so many it’s hard to choose! THE BELLES by Dhonielle Clayton blew me away. Her writing is so evocative and stunning and always serves the story. I’m so in awe of her talent. Also THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER by Emily X R Pan, THE HAZEL WOOD by Melissa Albert, and THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
The third and final book in the ASH PRINCESS series will be out next year and after that I’ve got a new exciting project that I can’t say too much about yet, but it combines my love of history with my love of magic and also stars. Also, teen princess bride spies. But that’s all I can say at thee moment!
YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
In LADY SMOKE, the physical torture scenes I mentioned earlier aren’t present, but the echo of them lingers on and there are a lot of conversations Theo has about the trauma she’s been through, sometimes with people who exploit and use that trauma. Those scenes turned out to be every bit as difficult as the scenes in ASH PRINCESS that actually showed the abuse.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
It was really difficult to get a handle on Blaise in this book. After how the last one ends, it took some time and levels of revisions to figure out what he wanted in this book. In the end, though, it was worth the trouble. I really love how his arc turned out.
YABC: Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
It’s a bit of a ‘grass is always greener’ thing for me. When I’m drafting, I wish I were in a position where I can polish and fix things instead of just getting the story down. But when I’m editing, I crave a blank page and endless possibilities.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
Uhhh when I was a kid, all my friends made me “feel” packs of Pokemon cards before they bought them because I could somehow tell if it contained a foil card. Sadly, that superpower expired in usefulness pretty quickly.
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I volunteered for Housing Works in NYC and I still donate to them whenever I can. Their mission is to end the dual crises of homelessness and HIV/AIDS. Also, I urge people to donate to RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services).
Author: Laura Sebastian
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: February 5th, 2019
Three winners will receive a copy of Lady Smoke (Laura Sebastian) ~ (US Only)
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