We’re so excited to be featuring a friend of the blog on our Author Spotlight series: Tara Sim! Happy release day to you, Tara and your newest book Ravage the Dark the sequel to Scavenge the Stars, your dark, gender-bent retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo.
KAT: Tara! So excited to be talking with you about the epic finale to your fantasy duology. You created a very intricate city in Scavenge the Stars, but you also hinted at other lands that had their fingers in the politics that ran the city. What was it like exploring those new lands in Ravage as well as new aspects of the city from Scavenge?
TARA: I really like throwing my characters into new landscapes in sequels, so it was fun to have them visit a place they’d never gone before–a place that has political ties to their home that run deeper than they initially suspected. Since it ties into the central mystery surrounding their city and the sickness ravaging it (hah), it was fun to interweave the political drama and mystery through their eyes as they explored this new place.
KAT: Love how the world so organically expands in Ravage alongside the actual mystery! We get to see Cayo out of his element a lot in Ravage, what was the funnest part of exploring this side of him? What was the most difficult about writing this journey for Cayo?
TARA: Scavenge is very much Amaya’s book and Ravage is very much Cayo’s, since he had the most growth to do. It was really fun to delve deeper into what makes him tick, what lines he draws for himself and others, and how far he’s willing to go for those he loves. He gets thrown into a lot of uncomfortable situations in this book that made me either cackle or cry. The most difficult parts were the stuff that made me (and him) cry.
KAT: Oh no! My sweet baby angel, Cayo! I’m sad whenever he’s sad, but the emotional arc definitely works for him! Amaya is also placed into a brand new situation. Her motivation from the first book was revenge, but now, without that to guide her, how does she decide what to fight for? And who?
TARA: The more Amaya learns about the overall situation–the counterfeit, the sickness, the way other countries want to take control of her home–the more she realizes that her self-centered revenge is meaningless. In this book, she turns her sights more on bringing down the root cause of all of it, which means she needs to learn to trust in others and accept their help. Just as she took care of the kids on the ship, she wants to help the helpless, the citizens who have no power with which to fight back.
KAT: Yes! Love that for Amaya! Count of Monte Cristo was a very big inspiration for Scavenge. What were some of your inspirations while you were writing Ravage?
TARA: I still had the general atmosphere of Count of Monte Cristo in my head as I was writing Ravage, but I also wanted to invoke something that was a little bit Pirates of the Caribbean meets European period drama/mystery (sans white people).
KAT: I am here for this comp all day long! So, moving more to a craft question. Having written both a trilogy and a duology now, what do you see as the pros and cons of each? How are they similar? How are they different? And do you think you have a preference?
TARA: The biggest and most obvious difference between writing a trilogy and duology is length, not just in terms of the number of books but also the number of plot points/story beats. Both types of series have very similar ebbs and flows–rising action, midpoints, climaxes, etc. But in a trilogy, the midpoint is so large that it encompasses the entire second book, whereas in a duology, that point is usually at the end of book one. The shorter length of a duology is nice, but I feel that in a trilogy you have more time to fully explore the world and your characters. I like writing both an equal amount, although there is something very satisfying about a trilogy.
KAT: That makes total sense! Finally, we were all so excited to hear that you have new projects on the horizon! Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on next?
TARA: I can’t go into specifics yet, but if you’re a fan of dark, gothy fantasy, be sure to keep an eye out!
KAT: Ah! Can’t wait! Thank you for doing this interview, Tara!