We Are the Fire
Sam Taylor
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: February 16th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

As electrifying as it is heartbreaking, Sam Taylor’s explosive fantasy debut We Are the Fire is perfect for fans of An Ember in the Ashes and the legend of Spartacus.

In the cold, treacherous land of Vesimaa, children are stolen from their families by a cruel emperor, forced to undergo a horrific transformative procedure, and serve in the army as magical fire-wielding soldiers. Pran and Oksana―both taken from their homeland at a young age―only have each other to hold onto in this heartless place.

Pran dreams of one day rebelling against their oppressors and destroying the empire; Oksana only dreams of returning home and creating a peaceful life for them both.

When they discover the emperor has a new, more terrible mission than ever for their kind, Pran and Oksana vow to escape his tyranny once and for all. But their methods and ideals differ drastically, driving a wedge between them. Worse still, they both soon find that the only way to defeat the monsters that subjugated them may be to become monsters themselves.

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Author Interview
1. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
There’s always another story in you. It may take time to come around, or time to understand and love.
But there’s always another story worth sharing. So if a project isn’t working out… don’t be afraid to move on. New projects challenge and expand your skillset. Don’t be afraid to try something different for a while, and see how it shapes who you are as a writer.

 2. What book do you feel is under-appreciated?
More people should read and talk about Forward Me Back to You by Mitali Perkins. I loved that book! Mitali Perkins presents beautifully written, thoughtful, and powerful stories for teens and this was yet another masterpiece. I especially appreciated the depiction of teens finding peace and strength through their different faiths.

 3. Favorite childhood memory involving books?
In my third-grade class, we wrote “books”—stories stapled together with construction paper covers. Each student had a manila folder to keep their books in. I wrote so many that my folder was overflowing and I had to wrap both my arms around it while carrying it back to my desk to keep all the books from falling onto the floor.

4. If you could dine with any literary character, who would it be and why?
Silas from Sorcery of Thorns. Aside from being the platonic love interest of my ace heart, he’d also cook up a fabulous meal and offer fascinating conversation.

 5. What fantastical fictional world would you want to live in (if any) given the chance?
Again going back to Sorcery of Thorns, someone take me to Austermeer! Librarians with swords, magical libraries, sentient books with personality and attitude, and prickly demons with feather-soft hearts? Yes please!

 6. Did you want to be an author when you grew up?
I knew from when I was around fourteen years old that I wanted to become an author. I took a creative writing class in high school, wrote lots of stories, and studied creative writing in college. But for a long, long time, I didn’t really know how to become an author. It wasn’t until I joined SCBWI and became active in the online writing community that I connected with critique partners and people who could help guide me through prepping a manuscript for agents and taking it through the query trenches.

 7. How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
This is a tricky question because I work on more than one book at a time. Generally not all at once—I’ll focus on a single project while I’m drafting or revising, then while it’s with critique partners, my agent, or editor, I’ll turn to a new project. That helps me keep my mind completely off the first project and gives me enough distance so I can return to it with fresh eyes and better evaluate it for revisions. With We Are the Fire, there was a little over three years from the time I started brainstorming it to when I received the offer to publish it, but I was also working on three other manuscripts during that time.

 8. What book do you wish you had written?
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I wish I were smart enough to write such a mind-bending story! And I aspire to write a story some day with such emotional force.

 9. What are your top five favorite movies?
Inception, Life of Pie, Knives Out, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, Spirited Away

10. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t write to trends—not only will the trend have passed by the time by the time your manuscript is finished, but your best and most powerful work comes from your heart. But do read as many recent releases in your genre and category as you can! Know what is being published and what conversations are taking place, so you can know what you have to add to those discussions.

Author Bio:

Sam Taylor grew up in Arizona’s deserts and now lives among Connecticut’s trees. She spends her days writing, being mom to the world’s cutest boys, whirling through dance workouts, and baking too many cakes. She does not possess fire magic, but does have one fire-colored cat. We Are the Fire is her debut novel.

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