PaperBound caught up with author Stephanie Burgis to chat all about her new middle grade fantasy novel, The Raven Heir. Read on to discover more …
Can you tell us more about The Raven Heir? How would you describe it to anyone who hasn’t read it before?
The Raven Heir is an epic adventure about three triplets, brought up in a secluded, magical forest, who discover that almost everything they thought they knew about themselves is untrue … and the only way to save their family now is for one of them to become the next king or queen of a kingdom wracked by war.
You’ve written so many fantastic looking books. What’s unique about this one?
I’ve written lots of different kinds of fantasy novels before (from funny historical fantasy adventures to dragons drinking hot chocolate and arguing with fairies), but this is my first foray into really epic fantasy adventure, and it was so much fun!
Did you have to do a lot of research when it came to the magical elements of this book, or did most of it come from your own imagination?
I actually did a LOT of research for the magical elements in this book, because the heroine of The Raven Heir is a shapeshifter who can transform herself into any animal she chooses – which meant that I had to research hundreds of new-to-me details about how those different animals (from moths to bears, wolves, swallows, and more) all experience the world around them.
The magical world you’ve created in The Raven Heir is so vivid. How important do you think setting is in fantasy writing and world building?
I love how immersive good fantasy is, and how it lets us escape into different worlds from our own – which has been even more of a gift than usual during lockdown! Personally, I live in Wales, where I frequently visit local castles that were involved in some of the real-life battles of the British Wars of the Roses. Although The Raven Heir is set in an imaginary kingdom (named Corvenne), I absolutely drew on the history I’m surrounded by in my own life as I was creating that imaginary world and its history … with lots of magical twists!
Are there any books in particular you’ve been influenced by in your own life and writing?
So many! As a kid, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit first turned me into a fantasy fan, supplemented when I was a teen by other fabulous fantasy novels by Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip, and Nalo Hopkinson. As an adult, Hilary McKay’s Casson Family series was what first convinced me to try writing middle grade fiction. Some of the MG books I’ve loved recently include Sophie Kirtley’s The Wild Way Home, Clare Weze’s The Lightning Catcher, and Maria Kuzniar’s The Ship of Shadows.
What do you love most about middle grade fiction?
I love the true sense of wonder in middle grade fantasy. When I’m writing it, I get to really luxuriate in the sheer coolness and beauty of what real magic might feel like!
Do you see anything of yourself in Cordelia, your protagonist?
We both love nature, and we’re both deeply loyal to our families. She is far wilder and more fun than I am, though!
If you could turn into any animal with magic, what would it be?
I’d love to be a cat, prowling around gracefully, making impossibly high leaps, and basking in the sunshine.
How would you sum up your novel in three words?
Magic, family, danger!
Stephanie Burgis lives in Wales with her husband, their two sons, and their tabby cat, surrounded by mountains and castles. She writes fun MG fantasy adventures, most recently The Raven Heir and the Dragon with a Chocolate Heart trilogy. She has also had over forty short stories for adults and teens published in various magazines and anthologies. To find out more (and read excerpts from her books), please visit her website: www.stephanieburgis.com
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