Monday, July 20, 2009

Interview with Sarah Prineas!

Today, we have an interview with author Sarah Prineas, author of the acclaimed THE MAGIC THIEF books. If you haven't read them, you should!

Tell us about THE MAGIC THIEF: LOST.
LOST is the sequel to THE MAGIC THIEF, which is the story of how a gutterboy named Conn becomes the apprentice of a grumpy wizard named Nevery and saves his city from the machinations of the city's evil Underlord, Crowe. At the end of THE MAGIC THIEF, Conn realizes that he has to find a new way to do magic. In LOST he decides that new way is going to be through pyrotechnics--blowing things up. Conn is very good at getting himself into trouble, so inevitably his pyrotechnic experiments result in his exile from the city of Wellmet. He goes with his friend Rowan, the duchess's daughter, to the desert city of Desh, where he has an encounter with a sorcerer king and discovers a new, dreadful kind of magic, and realizes that some of the things that happened in the first book were part of a larger, more evil plan.

What was the inspiration behind your idea?
In LOST I wanted to get Conn out of his comfort zone, his own city of Wellmet, and out into the world a little bit. I also wanted to add some more of my favorite fantasy elements into this book, swordfighting and pyrotechnics.

How did you get to know the characters in this story?
My characters grow as I write them. Because I knew them from the first book, I pretty much knew what they would do in any given situation.

How many edits did you do with your editor? Did you do any edits with your agent first?
I had kind of a weird situation with this book. First I did one round of edits with my awesome agent, and then a round with my editor, and the book went into production. Then my editor was, sadly, laid off and I was assigned to a new editor. I suggested to her that we might do another round of edits, and she took me up on that, so we did. The final version of the book ended up being quite different from the ARC's because of this added editing pass. It ended up working out very well; I think the book is stronger for the extra attention it got from my excellent new editor.

Did you always plan on writing this sequel to THE MAGIC THIEF, or did it come later?
When I wrote the first book I didn't have any plot ideas about what might happen next, but I suggested to my agent that it might be the first book in a series, and that's how she pitched the book when she sent it out to editors. When HarperCollins bought three books, I was excited to realize that I'd get to write more about Conn's adventures.

What was your favorite part of writing this book? Least favorite?
My favorite part was writing the swordfighting scenes. Least favorite? I struggled with one scene, where Conn and Nevery are at odds with each other, because I wanted to get the emotional balance of the scene right. I didn't want it to get too angsty, and that took a lot of tweaking.

How often do you write, and how much do you write in one sitting?
I write pretty much every weekday, but how much varies enormously. Sometimes I'm just tweaking things I wrote earlier, sometimes I'm zooming along, getting 1K or 2K words at one sitting.

How did you get started writing for kids?
When I started THE MAGIC THIEF I'd been writing fantasy stories (and one failed novel) for adults. I had no idea I was a children's writer. I started writing THE MAGIC THIEF as a short story for Cricket Magazine, and I just found my voice. The story grew into a novel, and then the novel grew into a series.

I’ve been seeing lots of book deals announced for you (congrats on that!). How is your career different now from when you landed your contract for THE MAGIC THIEF?
Thanks for the congrats! My career is different now because back then I really didn't think of it as a career. I mean, I had a career that I loved, in university administration, and I wasn't planning on becoming a full-time writer. It was all sort-of "what if?" I just wrote for fun, really. Once I had the book deal, I worried that writing wouldn't be fun and full of possibilities any more, or that I'd be blocked at having to write toward a strict deadline, but that totally didn't happen. Now I'm a full-time writer, which means lots of time for writing, but also for authoring, which I didn't expect to take so much time.

What are you working on now?
Right now I'm doing research for my next novel for HarperCollins, the one after the third MAGIC THIEF book. It's called The Crow King's Daughter, and it's notorious for its Publisher's Weekly announcement that called it a fairy lore book without any sex, drugs, or angst. Well, it's a middle-grade book, so of course it doesn't have that stuff in it! I am very psyched to write this book because it's got a fierce, wild girl protagonist. I want to make it my best one yet.

How much do you read, and what are you reading now?
I read a fair amount, but I'm a very picky reader and abandon things ruthlessly. Right now I'm reading Hannah Tinti's The Good Thief, Kenneth Oppel's Starclimber, and an ARC of Janice Hardy's The Shifter. I just finished reading Caroline Stevermer's Magic Below Stairs, which is coming in 2010 from Dial. Anybody who's read the Sorcery and Cecilia books that she wrote with Patricia Wrede (as I did) is going to love that one.

Thanks for taking the time to share with us!
Thank you, Tabitha!

To see more of what Sarah is up to, check out her website, Or, visit her at her blog, For a chance to win a copy of either of THE MAGIC THIEF books, go here and follow the instructions for leaving comments.


Julia said...

Wonderful interview! I love Sarah Prineas' books! Can't wait to read Lost and now a new series - woot!

Christina Farley said...

Oh this books sounds like it's a great one! I can't wait to read it.

Danyelle L. said...

I can't wait for the new book. It sounds wonderful. :D

Kelly H-Y said...

How cool ... great interview, as usual!