I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off the tour for THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER by Melinda Salisbury. This book is amazing – my review – and I can’t wait for everyone to read it and fall in love with the characters and the world. It has all the best of high fantasy and fairytale, it has forbidden love, secrets, deception, betrayal. And… it’s just the first book in a series. Yes, there will be more of this incredible story.
If you’d like to know a little bit more about THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER, the description is below, and my interview with the author follows below that in which she talks about the world, the next book in the series, who she’d choose, her favorite viewing of The Grand Budapest Hotel, and more.
The tour runs for two weeks, so be sure to visit all the stops to learn what other bloggers thought about the book and to check out a few interviews with and guest posts by the author.
About THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER
Title: THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER
Author: Melinda Salisbury
Release date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio, eBook
Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.
She’s the executioner.
As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.
But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.
However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?
Q&A with Melinda Salisbury
Q. First let me say that THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER was amazing and that everyone should read it like NOW. But for those who haven’t yet had the chance to read it, how would you describe it in 25 words or less?
Twylla is, and has always been, an agent of death. Both feted and hated, she’s painfully lonely. Until her new guard tries to befriend her…
Q. The story blends together fairytale elements, realism in how the royalty historically ruled, and pagan and more mainstream belief systems. And it did so quite brilliantly. What made you decide to combine these (and other) components into your story? Were there other elements you wish you could have added? And were there any other elements you decided to set aside?
Yes! There is still a lot of world building stuff, such as the origins of the religion, and Sin Eating, that I wanted to include but there was just no need for it in TSED. Thankfully, it’s the first in a series and a lot of it becomes very relevant later on, so it will be revealed. It’s tricky, when you’re building an entire world from scratch to figure out how much needs to be said and what is really necessary, but I’d like to think what’s in there is what’s needed to bring the world to life, and help it make sense.
Everything really came from my mild obsession with European medieval life – especially in Britain. I’m talking about events like the War of the Roses, with the terrifying Margaret of Anjou ruling the country when her husband went mad, like Richard III rumoured to be courting his own niece with the intent of marrying her, later Henry VIII breaking with Catholicism and founding his own church. In those times you could marry someone very closely related to you, a papal dispensation was all that was needed. The most important thing was keeping the bloodline as pure as possible, and if you had a way to ok it with God… Why not? Charles II of Spain’s mother was the niece of his father, first cousin marriages, uncle-niece marriages happened, to keep the royal bloodline as unpolluted as possible. I decided to take a leaf from the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt and marry brothers to sisters. And religion had to be a huge part of it, because kings and queens are the gods representative on earth. No matter what religion is followed, the countries rulers are always doing so in the name of the gods. Gods and Kings (or queens) are inextricably linked, and it’s something I was very keen to include when I was building the world of The Sin Eater’s Daughter.
Q. Twylla is an interesting, sympathetic and multifaceted character. What would you say her greatest strengths and weaknesses are? And do you think they harmed or helped her?
Her greatest strength is that she is strong. She weathers every storm, keeping her head down and her shoulders straight, and she endures. It doesn’t sound much like a strength at first, but when you consider how long she’s survived in a place where life is cheap, it becomes a lot more admirable. Twylla is a very quick study – she only makes mistakes once and she learns from them and doesn’t let them happen again. She watches what is happening around her and adjusts her behavior to fit it, never letting on what’s happening inside her. She’s the perfect courtier, in that respect. I worried for a while that people might see her as passive, because she’s not like the sassy, warrior-women characters that are so well loved – and were absolutely needed to show young women they can and should fight. I don’t worry now though, because there are different ways to fight, and that’s what Twylla learns over the course of the book. There are lots of ways to be strong.
One of her weaknesses is definitely her naivety. Despite everything she’s seen, she can’t quite extinguish the hope inside her that one day things will be better. She tries to be patient, and keep her head down in the name of that very hope. She won’t quite give up, and whilst it’s admirable, it’s also foolish, because a royal court is no place to be trusting.
But her biggest weakness is her craving for love and acceptance. She wants so much for a friend, or for someone to be kind to her. For years she looked past the queen’s obvious cruelty because she wanted the queen to love her. Her whole life, she has been more asset than person, more role than girl. She’s crying out for affection but again, love has no place at court. Marriage and friendship is for alliance and power. She’s a girl in a world that will not allow her to make her choices about her own life. Like so many women during medieval times, she’s a chess piece to be moved at the right time, not a person in her own right.
Q. Twylla has some difficult decisions to make, one of which is between her duty and her heart/freedom. If you were in her shoes, how would you decide: The Prince and all that comes with or the guard?
I think… I would choose the guard. I would choose heart over duty. I think choosing duty would require a strength I don’t have, I’d worry that over the years it would eat away at me, eventually eroding everything good about me. I think I’d become bitter about losing the chance to love freely, and it’d turn me cruel. That’s not to say I wouldn’t find it easy to walk away from Merek and my people if I were in Twylla’s shoes, but I think I’d rather he was then able to find someone who could love – or at least appreciate – him, than building a flimsy life with someone who would likely eventually hate him.
Q. THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER could be read as a standalone, but it seems that there will be more books to come. What can readers expect from future books in the series? Action, adventure, treachery, betrayal, romance, danger, mystery, intrigue – in other words, more of what we got in book one?
Yes. A lot more of what you got in book one. There are some new characters who are trying to figure out their own way in a world that’s changing rapidly around them, some characters return. Book two moves the action over to Tregellan, so we get to see how Tregellan works – it’s a wider setting than what we saw in Lormere, there’s more cultural differences and new people to puzzle over. There’s a lot more about alchemy, some more spooky fairytale stuff. And there is action. One of the new characters very much lacks Twylla’s quietness…
Q. You threw in quite a twist there at the end. Without revealing what that was, can you say whether it was always planned or if it was something you decided to add as the story took shape?
Planned from the start. It was in the very first draft, in a slightly different way, but it was there.
Q. I have a favorite scene which involves a certain Queen. What was your favorite scene to write in THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER – and why was it a favorite?
I really like the scene between Lief and Twylla in the herb garden. It’s a quiet scene, comparatively, but it’s one of the few that isn’t tainted by the queen or the Gods and it was lovely to be able to write a scene that gave Twylla a moment’s peace and allowed her to just be a girl.
But I also love the scene where Lief compares Twylla’s desire for freedom like the desire to fly.
Q. And I just have to know… Your site and Twitter mention you’ve seen The Grand Budapest Hotel 11 times in the cinema. Of all the times you’ve seen it, which was your favorite and why?
My favourite time was in Amsterdam, because I saw it at the amazing Pathe Tuschinski there. It’s this incredible building blending all of these artistic styles, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Amsterdam school, and more a really gorgeous place, inside and out. And you can buy special fancy tickets to sit high on the balcony and you get free drinks and snacks. So I did that and the setting absolutely enhanced the film, they complemented each other so well that I forgot what year it was and then drifted back to my hotel in this dreamy haze of beauty. Amsterdam is gorgeous anyway, which helped.
About Melinda Salisbury
Melinda Salisbury lives by the sea, somewhere in the south of England. As a child she genuinely thought Roald Dahl’s Matilda was her biography, in part helped by her grandfather often mistakenly calling her Matilda, and the local library having a pretty cavalier attitude to the books she borrowed. Sadly she never manifested telekinetic powers. She likes to travel, and have adventures. She also likes medieval castles, non-medieval aquariums, Richard III, and all things Scandinavian. The Sin Eater’s Daughter is her first novel, and will be published by Scholastic in 2015. She is represented by the amazing Claire Wilson at Rogers, Coleridge and White.
She tweets. A lot.
There is a tour-wide giveaway for…
5 copies of THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER – US only
Enter in the Rafflecopter below…
The Tour Schedule
Feb. 16th – Fiktshun – Interview
Feb. 17th – Katie’s Book Blog – Review
Feb. 18th – Magical Urban Fantasy Reads – Guest Post
Feb. 19th – Beauty and the Bookshelf – Review
Feb. 20th – Novel Novice – Interview
Feb. 23rd – Fiction Fare – Review
Feb. 24th – Supernatural Snark – Guest Post
Feb. 25th – YA Bibliophile – Review
Feb. 26th – Dark Faerie Tales – Interview
Feb. 27th – Two Chicks on Books – Guest Post