Cast in Firelight released yesterday in the US, and author Dana Swift is here on the blog today to celebrate and answer all my burning questions! I’m so excited for Dana, and I’m excited to finish off reading Cast in Firelight because the reviews for it have been overwhelmingly positive so far. Scroll on for the interview, and a surprise giveaway at the end of the post!
About Cast in Firelight
Adraa is the royal heir of Belwar, a talented witch on the cusp of taking her royal ceremony test, and a girl who just wants to prove her worth to her people.
Jatin is the royal heir to Naupure, a competitive wizard who’s mastered all nine colors of magic, and a boy anxious to return home for the first time since he was a child.
Together, their arranged marriage will unite two of Wickery’s most powerful kingdoms. But after years of rivalry from afar, Adraa and Jatin only agree on one thing: their reunion will be anything but sweet.
Only, destiny has other plans and with the criminal underbelly of Belwar suddenly making a move for control, their paths cross…and neither realizes who the other is, adopting separate secret identities instead.
Between dodging deathly spells and keeping their true selves hidden, the pair must learn to put their trust in the other if either is to uncover the real threat. Now Wickery’s fate is in the hands of rivals..? Fiancées..? Partners..? Whatever they are, it’s complicated and bound for greatness or destruction. – Goodreads
About the Author
Dana Swift started making up fantasy worlds when she was eleven years old and hasn’t stopped since. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned degrees in English and Advertising. While in college, Dana competed as a saber fencer and learned a thing or two about fighting, parrying and how it feels to fall in love with your sparring partner. She currently lives with said husband in Miami, Florida. –danaswiftbooks.com
1. Describe Cast in Firelight in three words
Fun, Romantic, Action-packed
2. What is your must have item for writing, aside from the obvious laptop?
I like to listen to music while I’m writing especially if it’s in a public place, so I’d have to go with my headphones as number one essential.
3. Cast in Firelight is your first novel to be published but is it the first novel you wrote?
It’s my second completed manuscript. My first I wrote in high school and then edited and submitted in college. It had a big plot structure problem with no cohesive premise, but it still took querying and getting rejected for me to see its faults. I started CAST IN FIRELIGHT right after I graduated college. I wrote it in about a year and then queried for year before getting an agent and the book deal at the end of 2018.
4. What is a book you wish was around when you were a teenager?
This is a great question. I almost want to say mine since these are the tropes I adored as a teenager and still do today. It would be interesting going back in time and handing my teenage self, CAST IN FIRELIGHT and seeing what she would say, haha.
But in seriousness I love the diversity and plethora of young adult that is
happening presently. I’m overjoyed with the surge of rom-coms and romance that aren’t completely angsty as well. As for specifics I wish I had anything written by Brigid Kemmerer when I was a teen because I think her books talk about emotion in such real and raw ways and would have helped me express myself more.
5. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a panster and always have been. I get an idea for the beginning and inciting incident and then have a vague sense of an interesting climax and start writing with that. Many details, worldbuilding elements, and character intricacies come while writing. When I hit a wall where I don’t know what I want to happen next, which seems to happen around 20% and 60% through the book I write out of order to keep the writing pace and enthusiasm going. It causes me to have to edit more, but I like the editing process more than drafting and fixing a story thread or inconsistency brings me joy.
I can say I’m a panster not because it’s the easier way to write for sure. In fact, I think it’s the opposite. But I love to be free to take the story in unexpected ways and discovery write. It’s brought me some great twists, especially in my most recently finished novel, Book 2 of the Wickery series!
6. What are your writing plans for 2021?
Well, first I’m going to write the proposal for a third book in the Wickery series and pitch it to my publishers. Then I hope to get edits for Book 2 finished and ready for ARCs to come out. After that I want to work on a whole new fantasy project. I’ve already started something and have a few thousand words, but I hope to finish it if not in 2021, then in early 2022.
7. How different is the final version of Cast in Firelight to the first draft?
The biggest difference was actually an edit my agent suggested right when she took me on as a client and it involved rewriting the last 10,000 words of the book. I was setting up the series with too many unresolved plot points and creating new problems in the resolution chapters of the early draft. Her advice helped me change the last couple chapters and it’s so much better for it.
Other big differences include: some scenes in the middle were added because of suggestions from my editor, in the very first draft Adraa didn’t have a sister, and the spells were modified with the help of an amazing friend and beta reader.
8. What was the most difficult part of the writing process for you? And the easiest?
I’d say most books the hardest part is the drafting stage. Now that CAST IN
FIRELIGHT has been completed for quite some time I kind of forget the turmoil of drafting it. But I can easily say it’s my most difficult stage (probably because I don’t outline).
The easiest part for me is probably the editing after getting notes from my
talented editor. It’s easier because I can use their feedback and think up ways to fix the problems they have pointed out and it’s really fun and satisfying to make the story better. When I first started writing and editing, I doubted myself and didn’t know if I was changing the story in the right ways. That’s why I love traditional publishing where you have a team of people helping make the book the best it can be.
9. Which part of the book came to you first? The plot, characters, themes, etc?
I’d say the basic premise came first. I had the idea of two royal teen rivals stuck in my head for quite some time, but I didn’t rush to write it until the idea for the ending came to me and soon after the voice of the characters, Adraa in particular.
So, I guess plot came first, quickly followed by characters who made me interested in their story enough to write and think about the book more. Themes come at the end of drafting and sometimes even in edits after I’ve had time to think about the book and enhance what it’s already saying.
10. Have you managed to incorporate fencing into your books yet, or do you plan to?
This is such a great question and you are the first to ask me it! For those that don’t know I fenced saber all through in college and went to many school tournaments. I’d say fencing helped me write many of the fight scenes. It is also some of inspiration for the tournament of colors and cage-casting in the book. Even if not directly alike the emotions of how Adraa feels being in a competition or heated battle were drawn from how I felt under the mask fencing with people who were much better than me.
I think I will use the sport in any book I write that has sword fighting. And maybe one day I’ll write a character that fences.
Cast in Firelight Giveaway
Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter for a chance to win a hardback of Cast in Firelight! The giveaway is open internationally via Book Depository. You must be over 18 to enter.
Interested in more 2021 Debuts? Check out my Debut Showcase feature, in which I talk about a tonne of authors with debut books coming out in 2021. While you’re here, perhaps consider taking part in the Debut Author Challenge? There are giveaways, readathons, read-ins, and more!