This week instead of just posting about all the new books next week, I got a chance to interview another author with a book coming out next month that I’m looking forward to reading, and I hope you are as well, or will be after I tell you all about it! Thanks to Simon & Schuster, I’ve been lucky to get this interview with Liselle Sambury, author of the soon to be released, Blood Like Magic.
A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.
After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.
Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?
With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.
- How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?
It depends on the story. Sometimes I’ll come up with an idea out of the blue, or I’ll have a concept that I’m interested in exploring. Like in the case of Blood Like Magic, I had really wanted to write a book about Black witches, and so that was my starting point. I’ll also watch movies, tv shows, and read books, and in some cases there’s something unexplored in those stories that I would like to write about, or there’s something that I felt was missing, and I want to create my own version of that concept.
- How important are names in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds, or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
Sometimes I’m meticulous with my names and will choose them for a specific story-related reason, in which case I spend a lot of time thinking about them. In other cases, the name matters very little to the story and so then I just pick names that sound good to me. It’s not uncommon either that halfway through a draft I’ll decide that I hate a name and will change it. I almost always use babynames.com but sometimes I’ll use other resources if I need a Canadian origin last name, or if a character needs a name that’s common in another country—I’ll search for resources in that case. It usually ends up being a lot of Googling.
- What does your writing process look like? Do you know the whole story when you start? Or do you just start writing and go with it (seat of the pants writing)? If you plan it out, how do you do that? Outline, notecards, post-it-notes, etc.?
I use a combination of the Save the Cat and Story Genius plotting style. I use Save the Cat for my plot beats, and I use a lot of the things I learned from Story Genius by Lisa Cron to help me plan arcs for my characters. I do have a pretty tried and true method for how I work on my books now. I use Scrivener to plan out my beats more generally and do a simple character sheet for the protagonist, antagonist, and key characters, then I plan out roughly what the chapters in each beat will look like, and then I go in and add a significant amount of detail around what will happen in each chapter. I’m not a fan of paper because I always lose it, so I keep everything organized digitally. I also prefer to fast draft my projects, so I’ll often plan to write the entire thing in 30-50 days. After that it’s just revising over and over until it’s ready.
- Do you edit as you go, or wait till you’re finished before you edit? How many times would you say you go over it yourself before having another set of eyes look it over?
I always wait until I’m finished to start editing unless it’s something that I feel I must edit in order to keep going, which doesn’t happen often. I’m one of those writers who supports the idea that first drafts are messy, and it’s better to just get the whole story out as it is, and then revise later to make it better. I do one self-edit of my work after finishing my first draft before sending it to beta readers and critique partners.
- Are you part of a writers group that gets together and helps each other with their writing?
I’m part of different friend groups of writers, but not any groups in which we critique each other’s work as the purpose of the group. Though sometimes I will have one or two friends in those groups who I exchange manuscripts with or who will read my work.
- What are your favorite:
Books/authors/genres: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, The Silence of Bones by June Hur, Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko, and Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare are some of my recent favorites. I’m also a fan of authors Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Leigh Bardugo, and Junji Ito.
Movies/TV Shows: I loved The Haunting of Hill House, Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Us, and I’m always on board with the Marvel movies, especially Black Panther. I’m a huge fan of horror movies and TV shows in general. I also enjoy a lot of anime like Attack on Titan, Yuri on Ice, Haikyu!!, and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
Music: I listen to a lot of different music, I love indie pop and rock, hip-hop and rap, kpop, and top 40 things. Some of my favorite artists are Hozier, Daniel Cesar, Sza, Cardi B, BTS, and EXO.
Food/Writing snack: I’m a big fan of the classic tea and cookies/dessert combo.
Thank you so much Liselle! As an aspiring writer myself, it is something I’m working on to get my first draft out before I start editing, so it’s great to see that works for you! I’m also a big fan of horror movies and tv shows myself! I can’t wait to start this one!
Liselle Sambury is a Trinidadian-Canadian author who grew up in Toronto, and her brand of writing can be described as “messy Black girls in fantasy situations.” In her free time, she shares helpful tips for upcoming writers and details of her publishing journey through a YouTube channel dedicated to helping demystify the sometimes complicated business of being an author. She is represented by Kristy Hunter at The Knight Agency.
You can find her at any of these sites and social media:
Thanks again to Simon Teen for letting me ask Liselle these questions and getting me an early copy of this to read. Look for my review in a week or two!
You can add this one to your Goodreads TBR (if you didn’t already have it) HERE.
If you’re ready to pre-order, here are some links for that: