In time for summer reading season, fantasy writer Sarah J. Maas is introducing a new series of novels starring a strong teen heroine, the first in a planned trilogy — not to be confused with her other series of novels starring a strong teen heroine.
“It’s nice to have two very different heroines. If I get sick of one of them I can write the other. They balance each other out,” said Maas when reached by phone at her home in Pennsylvania.
The 29-year-old Maas is quite prolific, with at least six books published to date and more on the horizon. Maas will be signing copies of her latest, “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” as part of a Wisconsin Book Festival event at Sequoya Library on Tuesday.
“A Court of Thorns and Roses” is the first in a series starring Feyre, a 19-year-old huntress who learned to kill for food when her family fell into poverty.
“She is someone who, at the beginning of the book, is very emotionally closed off and cold, in part because she’s had to shut out her interests and her passions to make sure that her family survives,” Maas said.
The first chapter of the book includes a bloody description of one of Feyre’s kills, which Maas said was painful for her to write.
“I’m a huge animal person, so I literally can’t even kill a bug in my house without getting upset,” she said.
Despite writing a protagonist who hunts to survive, “I have not done any hunting myself,” Maas said. “I would never actually do that unless the apocalypse came, but even then it would probably break my soul.”
Even with her predatory ways, Feyre is a little quieter than Maas’ other heroine, Celaena, the star of the “Throne of Glass” series. Feyre has her own artistic spark, while Celaena is “a very sassy assassin,” Maas said.
The next entry in the “Throne of Glass” series will publish in September. Maas has timed her releases so there will be two per year, one in spring and fall. Not bad for a writer who sold her first book at age 24, only five years ago.
“Being a published author was all I ever wanted to do with my life,” Maas said. Her parents encouraged her to work summer jobs when she was a teen, but eventually they allowed her to follow her passion and write to her heart’s content.
“I think they were shocked when I was 17 and 18 and spent my summer days and nights literally holed up in my room, writing nonstop,” she said. “I treated it as a job, but not in the soul-sucking sense.”
Her workaholic tendencies have kept her afloat as a full-time writer for the past few years, but she realized that one series of fantasy novels wasn’t going to cut it for her.
“Once ‘Throne of Glass’ published (in 2012), I decided that I still wanted more to do,” Maas said. “I wanted to have two books out per year, because I want my readers to get more from me than having to wait a year between releases,” she said.
Like her heroine Feyre, Maas has her own spark.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do was write, write, write. I have no skills in anything else.”
She said her favorite part of going out on tour to support her books is getting to interact with her teenage fans, especially the aspiring fantasy writers.
“I feel like I’ve come full circle,” she said. Because she got her start writing as a teen, she sees her young fans and thinks, “I was you not so long ago. It’s just so surreal.”