Welcome to Strupag’s stop on the Sky In The Deep blog tour!
I’m delighted to be joined by Adrienne Young, the author of Sky In The Deep today. Adrienne has kindly shared some of her character-building tips in her guest post below.
Before we join Adrienne, let me give you some details about Sky In The Deep. You can find my own review at the end of this post.
About Sky In The Deep
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young
Series: Sky In The Deep
Published by Titan on 26th March 2019 (UK)
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, YA Fantasy
Seventeen-year-old Eelyn’s world is war. Raised to fight alongside her Aska clansmen in a generations-old blood feud against the Riki, her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.
Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki if she wants to make it back to the fjord after the thaw. But when she begins to see herself in the people she's been taught to hate, the world Eelyn once knew begins to crumble. And after the village is raided by a ruthless clan many believe to be a myth, Eelyn is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend who has tried more than once to kill her. Together, they must end the blood feud between their clans or watch their people be slaughtered.
Now, onto Adrienne’s post!
Guest Post with Adrienne Young
Characters: Light and Dark
Character building is by far one of my very favorite aspects of writing. Story ideas usually come to me in the form of an inciting incident: the moment that sets the book into motion. But I rarely have an idea of who the main character is until I start writing. It’s a really cool process of discovery, putting little pieces together until I have unearthed the person who’s story I’m telling.
One thing that’s true about all my favorite characters in books as a reader is that they are a combination of both light and dark. When a character has had everything go right up until the point the story begins, they fall flat on the page. The best ways to get a reader to connect to a character is through the things that make us human. Pain or weakness is a great tool to explore the more dimensional sides of a character that goes beyond the cookie cutter formula.
I’ve compiled a few of the questions I ask myself when developing a new character.
1. Where did they come from?
This goes far beyond the basic information of where a character was born or how many siblings they have. It goes to the very heart of what built them brick by brick. It’s the sum of the scars they carry, the wounds that shaped them, and the things they’ve seen. It’s so important to explore the darkness of a character, even from the beginning of a book. We need to see the hint of a shadow even in that first chapter. We have to wonder what lays beneath the surface.
2. What is their deepest, darkest secret?
Everyone has one, and it often colors in the farthest edges of the picture we see. It doesn’t have to be something the character has done and doesn’t want anyone to know about. It can be a thought or a dream. It can be a belief they have about the world or the people around them. The important thing here is that it’s hidden, maybe even from themselves.
3. What do they want more than anything?
Every character has to have a clear goal. Not just the main character, but anyone who plays a role in the plot or has a story thread must want something more than they want anything else. This is a great “north star” as you’re writing, because it’s the yard stick by which the writer can measure their words, actions and thoughts. If they aren’t moving toward that one thing, they are probably acting out of character.
4. What were their bedtime stories as children?
This is something I heard Kelly Barnhill say in a workshop once and it has stayed with me. I’m really intrigued by this idea, that all people grew up hearing fables and fairy tales of some kind, even if they weren’t traditional. Those stories inform the paradigm we hold of reality and build our foundational, core beliefs. Especially in fantasy, you can have a lot of fun with this. And by the time you’re finished, you’ll have not only begun to understand your character better, but you’ll have stumbled upon an incredible world building tool as well.
Thank you so much, Adrienne. I found that so interesting! Number 4, in particular, is something I’ve never thought of before but I can see how it could help to form not only a character, but also a world.
A Viking-inspired fantasy, Sky In The Deep is action-packed, brutal, bloody – and yet full of heart.
Adrienne Young draws upon history and Norse mythology, to create a captivating story set in a rich, immersive world.
I loved Young’s world-building – she seamlessly blends the world, the Clans, their histories and their beliefs into the narrative.
Where I find some titles can be overwhelming with fact and information about their worlds, Young avoids this. In fact, in my opinion, she shows how it should be done.
From the outset, we are given action with the Aska and Riki meeting on the battlefield. The scenes might be action-filled, but among the fighting Young weaves in the histories and customs of the Clans. We learn why they are fighting as they are fighting, and I really enjoyed this style of story-telling.
Young writes a story that scoops you up from the very first page and doesn’t let you go. Her descriptions and scene-setting are wonderful. I felt transported, as though I could reach out and touch the cold, or feel the dried blood on my face.
The story is told from the perspective of Eelyn, who I found to be a wonderful protagonist. Her feelings leapt off the page, and I loved seeing those feelings soften and change throughout her journey. She’s a strong character that I found really interesting.
A book with Viking warriors is always going to contain some bloody scenes (there are some brilliant fight scenes), but it’s not all blood – there’s friendship, love and families! I think Young strikes a great balance between the two.
My only gripe is that I found the ending a bit too rushed. I really enjoyed it but I would have liked a few more pages. Perhaps though, I just wasn’t ready to leave these Viking warriors.
All in all, I found Sky In The Deep to be a wonderful YA novel. Young’s world-building, characters, writing, and descriptions are fantastic. I did not want it to end.
Rumour has it that Young has more Viking-inspired stories to share and I’ll be front and centre waiting to read them!