Evie Manieri’s first novel, Blood’s Pride, just came out last month from Tor, and she was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the book, and more! Also, we have a copy of Blood’s Pride to give away to one lucky winner, so be sure to check out the details at the end of the post!
Your first novel, Blood’s Pride, just came out last month! How did you celebrate when you found out the book would be published?
Take-out Peking Duck, which is how I usually celebrate important occasions like my birthday, or… Tuesday. It combines three of my favorite things: meat, pancakes, and watching old movies while I eat. I might have considered something more ambitious, but I was terrified of jinxing the whole deal if I made too much of a fuss.
Will you tell us a bit about Blood’s Pride and what inspired you to write it?
On one level, Blood’s Pride is about the indigenous Shadari people rising up against their Norlander oppressors, but the real story is that of the people caught in the middle – caught between assumed loyalties and tabooed desires, between the tragedies of the past and the future’s wild possibilities.
The idea started with the character of the Mongrel. I had an image of her coming out of the desert to force a reckoning with the forces that created her, and that are still pulling her apart. The setting was informed by some traveling I did a while ago in the Mediterranean. There was a glaring intensity to some of those arid, seaside landscapes that aligned perfectly with the story I wanted to tell.
Why fantasy? What do you love most about the genre?
I’ve always loved SF/F for the way it removes us from the context of our familiar surroundings and prejudices, and allows us to examine what is essentially the human condition from new and unexpected angles. I also love the drama that comes from having events and stakes that would seem far-fetched in a story set in the “real” world. From a writing standpoint, I enjoy letting my imagination flow, synthesizing everything I’ve felt and experienced into something new – something the reader hasn’t seen before, because it doesn’t exist in the world outside the book.
I have to say, the cover is awesome! Do you think it captures the spirit of the novel?
Thank you! I agree completely: I love the cover. You can’t imagine how thrilled I was when I saw it. The amazing artwork is by Kekai Kotaki.
I think it does a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of the novel, and not only because the Mongrel is portrayed so well and in such marvelous detail. The scale of the figures – the way they dominate the landscape, and not the other way around – speaks to the fact that this is an intensely character-driven story. Also, the way the Mongrel is coming right at the reader with that challenge in her eye reflects the sense of personal confrontation (both internal and external) that permeates the story.
What would you like to see readers take away from Blood’s Pride?
Of course I would love the reader to feel invested in the characters and to want to know what’s going to happen to them in FORTUNE’S BLIGHT (the next book in the series), but I also hope they come away musing about how our image of ourselves can be twisted around at the service of someone else’s agenda, and how much effort, courage, and support is needed to break free.
What do you like to see in a good book?
I’m open to different kinds of books and reading experiences, and I try not to go into any book with expectations. I’m more than willing to let the author show me something that I haven’t seen before. In general, though, my focus goes most naturally to the characters, so I’m looking for interesting people (or creatures) with agency and depth that I can relate to and that have the opportunity to grow – even if they fail.
Is there anything that would make you put a book aside, unfinished?
I almost never put down a book unfinished, but I think it’s less perseverance than it is how choosy I am about the books I pick up. Normally, if there’s a really problematic ideology at play, I’ll discover that beforehand and not pick up the book at all. Or, conversely, that might be my reason for reading the book, if I feel like I want to enter into the discussion surrounding it. Other than that, I’ll usually push through a book even if I’m not enjoying it, just to complete the experience.
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to struggling writers?
Write the book you want to write and don’t worry about what’s going on in publishing, what’s trending, what sells or doesn’t sell. There’s a lot of information out there, and most of it is just noise. Chances are, by the time you’ve finished, the landscape will have changed anyway. Write the best book you can and then be patient: the time will come for it, even if it may not be the minute you’re ready to hit the market.
When you’re not writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
I’m starting to forget what free time looks like that doesn’t involve me staggering around bleary-eyed with exhaustion, but I’m an avid knitter (crocheter, too) and I love knitting lace, the more complicated the better. I have a tendency to get a little obsessed; one of my friends once commented that I knit like someone is chasing me. I don’t have much time for reading other than before bed, but I do as much as I can. My husband and daughter are both classic film fans like me, so we watch a lot of movies together at home or in the theatres on the all-too-rare occasions we have the opportunity. (TCM has begun holding one-night events every few months where they show a classic film in the theatre. It’s wonderful, and I hope they keep it up.) Dim sum in Chinatown is another favorite destination.
What’s next for you this year and beyond?
Right now I’m working on the second book in the Shattered Kingdoms series, FORTUNE’S BLIGHT. Once that’s done, I’ll have the third book, STRIFE’S BANE to keep me busy, and then I’m sure it will be on to something else after a few weeks – that’s about as long as I can go without something to work on. Otherwise, I’m apt to get a bit ornery!
Keep up with Evie: Website | Twitter
About BLOOD’S PRIDE:
Rising from their sea-torn ships like vengeful, pale phantoms, the Norlanders laid waste to the Shadar under cover of darkness. They forced the once-peaceful fisher folk into slavery and forged an alliance with their former trading partners, the desert-dwelling Nomas tribe, cutting off any hope of salvation.
Now, two decades after the invasion, a rebellion gathers strength in the dark corridors of the city. A small faction of Shadari have hired the Mongrel, an infamous mercenary, to aid their fledgling uprising—but with her own shadowy ties to the region, she is a frighteningly volatile ally. Has she really come to lead a revolution, or for a more sinister purpose all her own?
This thrilling new epic fantasy is set in a quasi-Medieval Mediterranean region, drawing together the warrior culture of Vikings, the wanderlust of desert nomads, and the oracles of ancient Greece. Evie Manieri’s Blood’s Pride is an intricate, lush fantasy novel full of taut action, gut-wrenching betrayal, and soaring romance.
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