The Raven Heir has a gorgeous medieval fantasy setting inspired by the Welsh landscape and the War of the Roses. What’s the most unexpected thing you learnt while writing and researching your book?
The most unexpected thing I learnt was just how many of the “rightful heirs to the throne” in the Wars of the Roses were just kids at the time, used as pawns by their powerful families – and thrown into deadly peril.
How did you go about planning and building the world of Corvenne?
Corvenne was inspired by medieval Wales during the time of the Wars of the Roses – but the fact that magic exists in this fantasy kingdom and its land is infused with power from ancient spirits obviously changed everything in some very big ways! So, I based the society very loosely on our medieval era, but then I plotted out the magical history of the world and felt free to make plenty of social changes because of it.
Each triplet has a magical power that beautifully captures each of their personalities. What would your magical power be?
I would love to have Cordelia’s power and be able to shapeshift into different animal forms! It would be so much fun.
I adored the triplet’s relationship and their special bond with one another. How did your own sibling relationships inspire this and what’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received from your siblings?
I have two younger brothers whom I love very much, and we’re still very close now as adults even though we live scattered around the world. Even now, living in different countries, they’re always the first ones I reach out to (online or by phone) when I’m upset or scared, and that knowledge that they will always have my back (no matter how much we might bicker from time to time!) inspired the rock-solid foundation of the triplets’ relationships in my novel. As far as life advice, I can’t think of a single line to repeat, but they’ve both always encouraged me to stand up for myself and for what feels right even in difficult situations.
You also touch on the importance of power and conflict, bravery and freedom. What originally drew you to explore these themes and what do you hope readers take away from The Raven Heir?
In The Raven Heir, my heroine and her siblings are faced with a kingdom that seems irretrievably broken, and many adults tell them that there’s nothing that can be done to fix it, so they ought to just run away and hide. They choose instead to fight to make things better – and I hope readers will take that sense of empowerment with them as they face our own real world challenges.
What gravitates you to writing fantasy adventures? And what do you enjoy most about writing for a middle grade audience?
I love the sense of wonder in fantasy! It expands my imagination and gives me hope. I love writing for a middle grade audience not only because I enjoy the genre so much (as a reader as well as a writer!) but also because it’s such a glorious opportunity to write some of the first fantasy adventures kids will ever read. That is a gift I truly cherish.
Who are your go-to magical, fantasy authors for children?
Of the authors working now, my absolute go-tos for really magical fantasy are Amy Wilson, Maria Kuzniar, Zetta Elliott, Tracey Baptiste, Jenn Reese, and Aisha Bushby!
As an award-winning author for both adult and children’s books, do you have any advice/tips for aspiring writers?
Read voraciously in every genre that interests you, trade critiques with other writers whenever possible, and write books you truly love rather than trying to chase after what “the market” might seem to want at any given moment.
What’s next for your writing journey? Will we be seeing more of Cordelia, Giles and Rosalind?
Yes! The Raven Throne will continue their journey.
This question is about your favourite children’s/YA books! What’s a book you loved as a child, a book you love now, and a book you can’t wait to read?
I loved The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper as a child, I love Lamar Giles’s The Last Last-Day-of-Summer now, and I can’t wait to read Maria Kuzniar’s next Ship of Shadows book!
If you could invite any five people – past and present, real and fictional – to a dinner party, who would you invite and why?
Honestly, after being separated for so long from my birth family (all of whom still live in the U.S.) by the covid-19 pandemic, I’d gather my parents, brothers, and sisters-in-law around the table in a heartbeat, without a second thought! There’s a reason why I focus on families in so many of my novels, and it has everything to do with how much I cherish my own family relationships.
The Raven Heir (Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2021) is out now! Shop via bookshop.org here.
You can read my review of the book here.
Stephanie Burgis grew up in America but now lives in Wales with her husband (fellow writer Patrick Samphire), their two young sons, and their extremely vocal tabby cat. In between those two points, she spent time playing in orchestras, studying music history in Vienna, and editing the website of an opera company in Leeds.
She writes fun, funny MG fantasy adventures for kids and wildly romantic historical fantasy novels for adults. You can keep up with her new releases, read exclusive short stories and get sneak peeks at upcoming works by signing up to her website stephanieburgis.com.