Rebecca Kim Wells: Shatter the Sky
It's July! When you're hot and don't feel like doing anything, grab a book instead! There are a lot of really great new ones out!
Shatter the Sky
by Rebecca Kim Wells
Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.
If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…
With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?
July 30th, 2019
Introduce yourself and your debut novel!
I’m Rebecca Kim Wells and my book SHATTER THE SKY is a YA fantasy novel about a girl named Maren whose girlfriend is abducted by an evil empire…so she decides to steal a dragon from them to get her back. (More affectionately known as the angry bisexual dragon novel.) It will be published on July 30 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
What’s the most surprising part about your debut journey so far?
Honestly, how excited everyone in my life is. Publishing is a long slog sometimes, and it’s easy to get lost in all the hurdles that stand between starting to write a book and getting that book published. I’ve been so grateful for the enthusiasm that my friends, family, and colleagues have shown me and SHATTER THE SKY.
Give a shout-out to a fellow debut!
I am embarrassingly behind on my reading but am so excited about digging into London Shah’s THE LIGHT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD, Keena Roberts’s WILD LIFE, and Nina Varela’s CRIER’S WAR (among so many others!).
How long did it take you to write this book?
I spent about two years writing and revising the book before it went on submission. After it sold, my editor and I worked on the book for close to another year before it was officially done.
What’s a cool thing about your book that isn’t in the blurb?
I have a small perfume obsession, and that area of interest heavily informed a subplot of the book. (I’ll refrain from spoilers!) If you’re interested in scent but don’t know where to start, I recommend checking out Alyssa Harad’s memoir COMING TO MY SENSES: A STORY OF PERFUME, PLEASURE, AND AN UNLIKELY BRIDE. It’s beautifully written and entirely to blame for starting me down the path. I also subscribe to the Substack newsletter The Dry Down, which is all gorgeous writing about different scents and perfumes and (be warned) will make you want to buy everything.
What inspired you to write this book?
The most important inspiration for this book was the desire to write a queer protagonist in a world that completely accepts her. My main character Maren faces a lot of obstacles, but none of them is a society that challenges the legitimacy of her relationship with her girlfriend Kaia. I also wanted to interrogate the trope of “the chosen one,” and to argue that change can be sparked by the determination and actions of a single ordinary person.
What advice would you give to a new writer?
This is a cliché, but… Eyes on your own paper. I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life being envious of other people’s success, and the urge to compare yourself to others does not end once you have a book deal. Publishing is such a weird industry, and it’s not a meritocracy—and for the most part, almost everything on the business side of publishing is out of your control. But the one thing that is completely yours is your writing. My perspective and overall wellbeing improved dramatically once I was able to stop overthinking the business side, take myself off of social media (for the most part, anyway), and concentrate on what I was working toward next.
Describe your writing space.
I live in a small apartment space with not a lot of room, so I write at a desk in my bedroom. While I wrote the entirety of SHATTER THE SKY on my laptop, I finally got an external monitor and mechanical keyboard this year and it has done wonders for my physical health. I was skeptical about whether this would make much of a difference before I switched, but I was proved 1000% wrong. I used to get bad hand/wrist/arm pain after too many intense writing sessions at my laptop, but since the switch, the pain is almost completely gone. I would not have been able to write the first draft of my second book nearly as fast as I did if I hadn’t been using the external keyboard.
What are two of your favorite covers of all time?
I adore the covers of the Arc of a Scythe series by Neal Shusterman. They’re brilliant books, but the covers are also perfect. And this might be more nostalgia than objectivity, but I really loved the original cover of ELLA ENCHANTED, by Gail Carson Levine. Ella just looks so relatable, determined, kind, and generally interesting. Who wouldn’t want to spend time with her?
Share a favorite recipe!
I have been obsessed with this lentil soup since I discovered it earlier this year. The recipe is perfect and needs no modifications. It is probably the only lentil soup I will ever cook. (Link: https://www.recipetineats.com/lentil-soup/)
Share a favorite song!
If you need atmospheric writing music, you cannot go wrong with Zoe Keating. She’s one of only three auto-buy musicians for me. All of her songs are great, but “Escape Artist” is probably the one I would play for a new listener. (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wc6kTT7w0g8)
Eyes on your own paper!! Such good advice. Thanks for interviewing, Rebecca! Everyone, go check out her book on 7/30/19!