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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Exclusive Cover Reveal: A Hollow Mountain + Q&A with Sarah Lin (by Mihir Wanchoo)

Pre-order A  Hollow Mountain over HERE

Today we have the distinct pleasure of revealing the cover for Sarah Lin's A Hollow Mountain (The Brightest Shadow #2). Sarah was also kind enough to talk about the book and the Brightest Shadow series. So read on and checkout the fascinating cover below...

Q] Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic Sarah and thank you for your time. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a self-published writer? 

SL: Hi, thanks for having me! I'm Sarah Lin and I've been writing different types of fiction for many years, but currently I'm following my passions in various subgenres of fantasy.

Q] The cover art for A Hollow Mountain by Miha Brumec is very eye-catching. Can you reveal how you worked with him to create it? Did you give them an outline to work off on or did you leave them to their own choices after revealing your thoughts?

SL: Miha had previously drawn the cover that won the contest for the first book in the series, so I was glad he was available when I approached him again. I had a clear vision in mind for the themes of the book: Tani looking back, mist off the sides of the path, the tower in the distance. I provided some details and a reference picture of a particular type of mountain pass. But the composition of the piece, how those pieces fit together, I left to his discretion. He sent a few rough sketches and we figured out the one we liked best, then it was a matter of color balance and detailing. There were actually quite a large number of alternate coloring schemes bandied about before we settled on final polish, such as versions where the lone mountain was much whiter or golder.

Q] What was your first reaction when you saw it? How does it hold up (in your opinion) to what the main story is about?

SL: Though my reactions were spread out over many drafts, overall I felt like it captured multiple sentiments appropriate to the book. Tani is looking backward toward her home as she ventures into the mountains, and the concept of leaving home is central to the whole book. My idea with the misty path was to give a sense of lonely mystery, while the mountain is obviously central to the book (if not necessarily the eponymous mountain).

Q] What was the inspiration for The Brightest Shadow? Where did the idea come from and what compelled you to see it through to the end?

SL: This series has many points of inspiration. I wanted to merge my loves for classical wuxia and western fantasy, for one. I wanted to do a deconstruction of tropes of heroism that doesn't critique specific models of heroes as much as what the core desire for heroism means. It's the most multi-threaded and multi-layered of my books, so I'm committed to showing my complete vision, as many elements have purposes that won't be clear until the core themes progress over the series.

Q] Let’s talk about The Brightest Shadow series, a lot of authors have different
experiences writing a new series after their debut sagas? How was the experience for you considering you had two completed series under your belt? What were some of the differences you noticed during its writing?

SL: I've tried to do something different with each series I've written, and this was especially true for TBS. I was aiming for an entirely different sort of pacing and structure than some of my previous work. Though I hope I've worked my way up to being able to pull this off, it honestly isn't a good idea to change brand so much, since your audience doesn't necessary follow through the different shifts.

Q] Let’s talk about the sequel A Hollow Mountain, how was your writing experience with it considering the world and characters were already developed. Book 1 was a big volume, how does the sequel compare to it?

SL: It actually wasn't so different, because the characters are encountering new cultures that didn't appear in the first book. The difference is that I've already established their own cultures, so hopefully the unreliable lenses through which they view the new introductions are clearer. As for length, this one is about 10% shorter than the first. I'm plotting for huge doorstoppers, but ultimately I try to edit down to the right length.

Q] Can you tell us more about the world that The Brightest Shadow series is set in and some of the story’s major characters? What are the curiosities of this world?

SL: I've been toying with ideas for this world for over a decade. It's my grand attempt to create a world that draws heavily from Asian inspirations without feeling like reskinned cultures or a monolithic world. Of course the characters are the window through which the world matters, from Tani's warm-hearted idealism to Slaten's open-minded cynicism.

As for mysteries of the world... there are some obvious ones central to the premise, such as the existence of two sentient species or all of the ancient ruins giving alternates takes on the Hero. One curiosity that hasn't received as much attention, from the text or from readers, is that the world is filled with strange deposits of dark stone. Like the kopjes of the Serengeti, they're remnants that have endured from a past age. What they mean is an entirely different question...

Q] How many books are you planning to write in this series?

SL: Definitely nine. This is my big swing at an epic, with a cast of hundreds over decades. It's divided into three trilogies, each of which has a separate theme and follows the characters through a different stage in their lives.

Q] What are you reading currently? Are there any current authors or books that you would like to give a shout out to!

SL: Rebecca Roanhorse has done a good job with broad worldbuilding not drawing from European inspirations in Black Sun. I've been reading some Silvia Moreno-Garcia lately. For self-published books, John Bierce has been consistently improving and his most recent Mage Errant book really stands out. For those interested in the Chinese elements in my work but wanting something more traditionally accurate, JC Kang and Tao Wong have written some recent books that draw deeper on those concepts.

Q] In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

SL: I'm immensely grateful to be able to write these stories that have been in my mind for so long. As much as this is a passion project, it's a pleasure to reveal my plans to others. Please take a look if you're interested!


Preorder A Hollow Mountain over HERE

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: The arrival of the Hero was worse than anyone could have imagined.

The Hero's mad quest to purge the world continues beyond death, but a journey to the far north promises that knowledge might succeed where power could not. Allegedly there are wise sages who understand the Legend, though Tani fears that they have also been consumed by its light. As the group travels into fearsome mountains, they can only hope to prevent the Hero from destroying new lands.

Though the sage's mountain promises a simple destiny for everyone, it will test the earthly commitments of each individual. Tani will have her moral ideals challenged, Slaten will encounter a strange young woman among barbaric raiders, and Celivia will struggle with the demands of her military superiors. All will need to change as they meet the steel-clad errants of the far north, and their war that has been simmering for generations...


thewriterfriends said...

Thank you for sharing this.
VK Krishna Menon was one such personality, who could not be confined to one place, community or one nation. Although a staunch nationalist, who fought for Indian Independence in his own right and ways, he had taken a wider canvas to prove his near indispensability in global affairs during his time.
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Anonymous said...

It's really neat to see an interview with Sarah here! I've been looking forward to this release for a long time.


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