Victoria Aveyard, author of The Red Queen series, has a new series coming out on May 4th. Realm Breaker is action-packed and full of lethal surprises. This stunning new fantasy series begins where hope is lost and asks: When the heroes have fallen, who will take up the sword?
To celebrate her new series, we sat down with Aveyard for a Q&A covering everything from the book to what her writing process is like.
What is this book about?
Realm Breaker is a story about what happens when the heroes fail, but the world still needs saving. A teenage girl is thrust into the classic hero spot, forced to become the de facto leader of a ragtag band of misfits and criminals trying to fight the coming apocalypse—without fighting each other.
Was it difficult to write a new series?
Absolutely. The challenge wasn’t in the writing itself, but the pressure of trying to up a series like Red Queen. I got so lucky with that series and its reception, and of course, I want to keep my readers happy and entertained with whatever I do next. As a creative, you’re always in competition with yourself and trying to improve. That’s a heavy weight to carry. But the success of Red Queen also gave me a lot of opportunity to do what I wanted next, and I wanted to take my big swing at a high fantasy adventure.
Who is your favorite character?
It really depends on the scene. I have favorite pieces with certain characters, that’s for sure, and I truly love all the little character moments. I think, at the end of the day, I obviously love Corayne, who I put a lot of myself in. And I also adore Sorasa, the swaggering, cynical, cool, and lethal assassin. Of course, I see none of myself in her, but that’s part of the favoritism.
What was the hardest part of writing the book?
The pressure of repeating a once-in-a-career hit like Red Queen is definitely difficult to contend with. And while drafting is always the longest and most difficult part, you also enjoy it. I’m cycling into the worst part of the publishing process, when you’re launching one book while also writing another. Suddenly I have two jobs, essentially, where I’m promoting, marketing, touring, signing copies, and otherwise doing everything you have to do to give Realm Breaker the best chance to find an audience—on top of writing the next book in the series. It’s really hard for me to balance both sides of this.
Do you have any idea how many books will be in the series?
Realm Breaker is and always has been a trilogy. I’ve had the big pieces of the story mapped out from the very beginning, and I’m excited to get through it!
How did this writing process differ from Red Queen?
The compounding factors of the job really affect my drafting time, but the drafting itself stays the same. I world-build and outline, I write chronologically, I get my first draft in by deadline, and then we go through edits. That’s all usually very straightforward. It’s the extras that change, especially learning more about the publishing industry and knowing what I do now versus how little I was aware of when Red Queen first published.
How did your inspiration differ from Red Queen?
Red Queen grew out of an image and a desire to write a certain type of story, namely a young adult dystopian/fantasy. Realm Breaker was very much enabled by the success of Red Queen, and I started by asking myself what I wanted to write and more importantly, what story was I searching for as a teenager? From there, Realm Breaker grew from the question "What happens when heroes fail?" and my love for Lord of the Rings, but its inability to love me back.
How did you end up in the YA genre?
I love the YA genre because it is so without limits. You can mix and match pieces of what you love without feeling caged in by a certain genre boundary. It’s also much more fast-paced and immediate, which speaks to me and my screenwriting background. Both are such fast-paced, visual mediums, so YA has been a natural fit for my taste and strength.
Is there anything else you can tell us? Any spoilers? We’re all dying to know more!
I can say Realm Breaker is a third-person, multi-POV novel, whereas Red Queen was first-person and limited to one character for half of the series. Realm Breaker also feels much bigger in terms of world and scope, with tremendous escalation throughout the trilogy. And in regards to characters themselves, I got to explore a relationship I flirted with in Red Queen, but couldn’t really write because it didn’t make sense for the characters themselves. Namely, a villain romance.