Young adult fantasy has a new face, thanks to Blood Scion, the debut novel by Deborah Falaye.
Tell me about your latest book.
Hi. Thank you so much for having me! Blood Scion is a YA fantasy inspired by both Yoruba-Nigerian mythology and the war on children. The story follows Sloane, a young girl descended from the Orisha gods, who, on her 15th birthday, gets drafted into the very military that has hunted her kind for centuries. She will do anything to survive her training and destroy the army from within—even if it means becoming the very monster she hates. It’s very much Hunger Games meets Black Panther meets Beasts of No Nation, with a healthy dose of magic.
What inspired you to write it?
My Yoruba culture was definitely the first spark of inspiration. Growing up in Nigeria, my grandmother would always tell stories about the Orisha gods and goddesses. There’s just so much history behind the pantheon, the legends and traditions, that I’ve always been fascinated with. So when I started working on Blood Scion, I knew immediately that I wanted to ground the story in that same mythology while also showcasing the magic of this beautiful culture we don’t get to see enough of.
The second inspiration came in 2014, when hundreds of young girls were abducted from a school in Nigeria, which sparked the global hashtag campaign known as #BringBackOurGirls. It was heartbreaking for me to learn about the horrors these girls endured. And for months after that, I went into this spiral of research on child soldiers, child brides and the war on children—which then inspired the main conflict in Blood Scion.
When did you fall in love with the written word?
Back when we lived in Nigeria, my mom was a teacher, so we always had piles of books around the house. I grew up devouring stories by Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, and any other African literature I could get my hands on, and I think that was when I first fell in love with the written word. These books not only offered me the kind of escape I craved as a child, they also inspired me to want to create stories of my own.
What’s the best part of being an author?
The readers, definitely. It’s the most incredible feeling whenever I receive messages from readers telling me how much they love Blood Scion. I’m constantly asking my partner, “Is this real? Did they actually really love it?”—mainly because I still can’t believe that I wrote and published a book, and there are people out there who enjoy it. It’s crazy.
What’s the hardest part of being an author?
I think this is common for a lot of writers, but I suffer from impostor syndrome and that fear that your work isn’t good enough. And I actually think impostor syndrome hits you even harder as an author. Because now, you’re writing this book with the knowledge that your agent, your editor, and readers everywhere will be reading it, so the fear is escalated. I’m also my own worst critic, and I’m a perfectionist, so the pressure for me is always on. Luckily, I have the most supportive partner and the best community of friends and writers around me, and they’re always so quick to help get rid of that doubt whenever it starts to creep in.
What books have you read lately and loved?
I haven’t really gotten a chance to dig into my 2022 TBR list yet, but I recently finished my re-read of Louisa Onomé’s upcoming contemporary novel, Twice as Perfect, and the story is absolutely beautiful. The Nigerian in me is so excited to see this book out in the world, and I can’t wait for everyone to meet the main character, Ada.
Another book I haven’t stopped thinking about is Roseanne A. Brown’s A Psalm of Storms and Silence. It’s the perfect sequel to her debut novel, the romance and worldbuilding are top-tier, and I will never get over that ending for Malik and Karina. If you haven’t read this duology yet, do yourselves a favor and pick up both books.
What book(s) are you most excited to read next?
I read mostly YA Fantasy, so I’m excited to read Ciannon Smart’s upcoming sequel, Empress Crowned in Red. I loved the first book so much, and I can definitely say that readers are not prepared for the epic ending that Ciannon is going to deliver.
Another one I’m excited about is J. Elle’s sequel, Ashes of Gold. The first book was everything I needed in a contemporary fantasy, and J. Elle is just such a powerhouse, I’m dying to find out what happens next.
I also have to shout out these 2022 debut books. Some of them are out already, and others will be coming out in the next few months: Only a Monster by Vanessa Len, This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede, The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman, One For All by Lillie Lainoff, and Some Mistakes Were Made by Kristin Dwyer. I’m so excited to get my hands on these!
Who would you cast in a movie to play your main characters?
First of all, a movie would be a dream come true! I have a few names in mind, but one of the biggest ones is Morgan Freeman. I’ve always thought that he would make the perfect Baba. Every time I’m writing a scene with Baba, I imagine him in that role and I can just see it. I think he would totally capture that quiet essence and deep familial devotion that Baba is known for.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on the sequel to Blood Scion, and I’m excited about the direction the story is headed. We pick up right where book one ended, and Sloane is once again forced to stand up against a bigger, more sinister threat in an effort to save her people. I will say that she goes through a lot because the stakes are even more personal this time around, and the overall conflicts are far more brutal and unforgiving. We also dive deeper into the history of the world, so we get to learn about the Orishas, the fall of the Ancient Kingdoms, and the mystery behind the ancestral forest. Book two is definitely my most ambitious project yet, but I’m really excited for readers to find out what’s next for Sloane.
Do you have anything you would like to add?
No, this has been great! Thank you so much for these wonderful questions, and I really appreciate you taking the time to interview me.
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To learn more about Deborah Falaye, find her on social media.