October 20, 2015

Voices in Fantasy: Sherry Thomas

I'm a big fantasy reader, if you couldn't tell from some of the incredible fantasy series I've reviewed on the blog over the years. Heck, I'm even co-hosting the Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge (which you should totally sign up for). I thought it would be a fun idea to find a creative way to talk about my love of fantasy even more when I realized: What if I asked my favorite fantasy writers some questions about the genre? Without further ado, let me present the first edition of Voices in Fantasy!

Today, we have the wonderful Sherry Thomas answering some questions! Sherry has written some of the best adult historical romances I've ever read (Delicious is a particular favorite), but she's also the author of The Elemental Trilogy (The Burning Sky, The Perilous Sea + The Immortal Heights), a young adult fantasy series that I absolutely adore. Sherry's super adorable, and she's such a fun gal to chat with on Twitter.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe book coverAlexa: What's the first fantasy novel you remember reading and loving?

Sherry: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In Chinese, no less. I was probably quite young, eight or nine or so. I found the book at my friend’s place and proceeded to borrow and devour it. Pretty good formal introduction to the genre, no? I was able to read, if I recall correctly, at least one more book in that series in Chinese, though not necessarily the immediate following volume. And after I came to the States at age thirteen, one of the two full-length books in English I plowed through was the last book in The Chronicles of Narnia—though I had to ask someone years later to explain to me exactly what happened at the end.

(The other of the first two books I managed in English was A Wrinkle in Time. My reading experience in the English language totally got off to a roaring start.)

Alexa: Why do you love fantasy?

Sherry: The world building, definitely. Although I don’t think I quite got into appreciating good world building until a later age. As a younger kid, I just loved the adventure aspect of fantasy, of the forces of good and evil battling it out.

By the time I read The Hobbit as a teenager, I remember being reluctant to get into all the goblin fights and whatnot because I so enjoyed the book as a travelogue! I wanted Bilbo and the dwarves to ride all day, describe the lovely scenery to me, and have a roaring fire at night and sing about distant events and long-fallen heroes.

The Hobbit book cover
The Hobbit was a fast read, but it took me a good five years to finish Lord of the Rings. I remember hurrying myself through the last book because I was about to become a mother and thought I wouldn’t have time to read anymore. (Which is totally not true—you can do a lot of childrearing with a book in one hand!) But around the times the movies were about to come out, I read the trilogy again and completely fell in love this time, with the vast, intricate world that Tolkien built. All the songs and poems and long background descriptions I skimmed the previous time were now my favorite parts, because they hinted at the tremendous history, geography, and languages that the author had taken a lifetime to construct.

And of course, Hogwarts, which is a master class in world buidling all by itself.

Alexa: What are the easiest/hardest aspects of writing fantasy?

Sherry: For me the most difficult part was not world building, curiously enough, but doing everything else that a good book needs while making sure my world has enough depth and variety and logical consistency. My agent kept sending The Burning Sky back to me for revision not because she felt it lacked world building, but because she didn’t think the second half had enough narrative drive. And the bulk of my editor’s comments was actually on the romance, which she felt wasn’t as fleshed out as it should be—and me being a professional writer of romance before I started writing fantasy!

Easiest? There is no easiest part to writing anything.

Alexa: What would you like to see more of in fantasy novels?

Sherry: I don’t know what I’d like to see more of—I prefer to leave it to authors to surprise me and give me what I never knew I had to have. But sometimes I do wonder how fantasy and wuxia (Chinese martial arts epics, which are really superhero stories) can be better integrated.

Northern Lights book cover
Alexa: What are your top five fantasy recommendations?

Sherry: With the understanding that a lot of folks have probably read The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, I would recommend the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, and The Silmarillon by J. R. R. Tolkien. (I first tried to read the Silmarillon in high school, and thought it was the most boring bleep ever. I had a go at it again recently, and well, it’s still a bit dry in parts, but boy there is some seriously wacked out bleep in there too!)

Thank you, Sherry! It was such a pleasure having you on the blog and talking about fantasy reads. I'm guilty of not having read The Silmarillon ever (though I now want to), and I haven't finished the Queen's Thief series. Looks like I've got my reading cut out for me! And dear readers, if you haven't checked out Sherry's YA trilogy yet, I suggest you do because it's amazing. (The last book was out last Tuesday, so you can totally binge read. It doesn't get better than that!)

Come back tomorrow to catch more Voices in Fantasy!


  1. Lovely interview, ladies! I adore The Thief series SO much. I've been waiting for that 5th book for years. >.<
    I think I will always be drawn to the "battle between good and evil" in fantasy - it's such an epic feeling for me! And while good worldbuilding is appreciated, I like to see how authors make me fall in love with characters who lead very different lives than I do.

  2. Yaaay :D Gorgeous interview. <3 I adore Sherry. She's the best. Love all of her answers :) And yay for His Dark Materials ;) Those books are aaamazing. I do love fantasy books the very most. <3 Thank you both for sharing :) Stunning post Alexa. <3

  3. This is such a great interview and it's very interesting to see what elements other people focus on in fantasy. I love world building and I definitely didn't appreciate Tolkien's writing when I was younger but now I love it. As important as I find world building to be in fantasy, I do think the characters play an equally important role and I love the character growth.


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