Odessa is one of Karthia’s master necromancers, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. Whenever a noble dies, it’s Odessa’s job to raise them by retrieving their soul from a dreamy and dangerous shadow world called the Deadlands. But there is a cost to being raised: the Dead must remain shrouded. If even a hint of flesh is exposed, a grotesque transformation begins, turning the Dead into terrifying, bloodthirsty Shades.
A dramatic uptick in Shade attacks raises suspicions and fears around the kingdom. Soon, a crushing loss of one of her closest companions leaves Odessa shattered, and reveals a disturbing conspiracy in Karthia: Someone is intentionally creating Shades by tearing shrouds from the Dead–and training them to attack. Odessa is forced to contemplate a terrifying question: What if her magic is the weapon that brings the kingdom to its knees?
Fighting alongside her fellow mages–and a powerful girl as enthralling as she is infuriating–Odessa must untangle the gruesome plot to destroy Karthia before the Shades take everything she loves.
- Tell us something about Reign of the Fallen that made it unique. Any unforgettable moments when you were writing your book?
One of the things that stands out to me about Reign is the world building– both its kingdom that I built by researching different rituals surrounding death, and its magic system.
When it came to building a magic system, I decided that each person’s eye color would allow them to see a unique aspect of the world and determine what type of magic they can learn to do. For instance, blue-eyed people see gateways into the Deadlands, the spirits’ world, and can become necromancers; green-eyed people see animals’ emotions as colors and can magically bond with a chosen creature; brown-eyed people see how the parts of things work together and can become magically gifted inventors; grey-eyed people see an aerial view of the sky, and can control the weather; hazel-eyed people see ailments beneath the skin, and can heal them.
As for unforgettable moments—probably when I was reading aloud the latest sections I’d written to my husband. There were certain plot twists or scenes that actually surprised him, and he is hard to impress! That was what made me think I should try sharing this book with some readers after all.
- I get excited when I read the word Necromancer on the plot of Reign of the Fallen, out of all the supernatural beings out there, why did you choose Necromancer? You know, it could be Magician, Mage, Warlock, Wizard, Witch, Sorcerer, or Sorceress.
I chose the term ‘necromancer’ for our magic users who raise the dead because it’s a common one in fantasy, a word I thought a lot of people would recognize; in the world of Reign, ‘mage’ is also used, but as a more generic term for anyone who can use magic. There are five main types of mages in the story: Healers, weather workers, beast masters, necromancers, and inventors! The type of mage you are in the story depends on your eye color, but in my opinion, at least, they’re all pretty cool. Based on the rules of the magic system, which I outlined in question 1, I’d be a beast master because of my green eyes—how about you? Tell me in the comments!
Side note: while the term for raising the dead in the story is officially ‘necromancer,’ I regret not going with “zombie wrangler.”
- What is the most challenging part when you were writing Reign of the Fallen? How about you share your favorite part too?
Two challenging things come to mind, so I’ll tell you briefly about both:
First, when I wrote the original draft of Reign, I didn’t have the corpse-and-spirit-eating monsters, the Shades, described much—only vaguely. But then my editor pushed me to describe them in more detail, and uh…let’s just say I went there and wound up giving myself nightmares as a result!
The second challenge was writing a certain spoiler-filled scene. It was so heart-wrenching that it actually made me cry, and I struggle to re-read it to this day!
As for a favorite part, I have many, but I’ll just share one that feels relevant to this blog: Lysander the grizzly bear! In Reign, there are mages (magic users) called beast masters, and these people see animals’ emotions as colors. They can form a powerful bond with one beast of their choice, and Lysander the bear is bonded to Meredy, a friend of our MC, Odessa. Lysander is a cool guy. He gives good hugs and also likes chewing on bones—any kind, he’s not picky. 12/10 would cuddle.
- If you are going to give your 10-year-old self an advice, what advice would you give?
Treat your dreams seriously, as if they’re possible, and you’ll be a big step closer to actually making them happen. I wish I had done this when I dreamed of being an author someday because I would have started working on telling book-length stories much sooner!
Also: don’t worry about what other people think. Worry about what *you* think, and you’ll be so much happier.
- How did you create the world-building and the concept of magic in your book? Do you have any notes that you could share with us?
I talked about the magic system in an earlier answer, so here I’ll talk about the rest of the world building—the parts that center around death!
I started building my necromancer mythology by looking at the Greek myth of Orpheus—where a man trying to bring his wife’s spirit back from the underworld is told he can do so only if he doesn’t look at her, but he does and loses her forever. This gave me the idea to have my raised Dead people wear shrouds, and if someone catches a glimpse of the flesh beneath, they turn into vicious monsters. From there, I researched different rituals and myths concerning death from around the world.
From my studies emerged a fictional kingdom, Karthia, which throws lavish feasts because the Dead are always hungry; a kingdom whose poorest citizens craft dolls of dead loved ones because they can’t afford a necromancer; a kingdom where death is almost tangible; a kingdom whose rulers host parties every other day of the week to keep people utterly distracted from the problems facing them. Problems caused by—you guessed it—death. The Dead rule in Karthia, and since death is a stagnant, final state in our world, the Dead in my fictional world are terrified of change—the opposite of their existence. As a result, they forbid brown-eyed mages from working their magic of inventing and outlaw all forms of change: no travel, no trade, no new fashions, or even new recipes.
- Who is the hardest character to write? What or Who inspires the names of the characters on your book?
The hardest characters to write for me are always the villains, especially when they have legit reasons behind what they’re doing, but they’re going about it in such a harmful way. I can’t say who the villains in this story are because of spoilers, though, so I’ll have to leave this answer vague!
As for character names: when it came to Reign, I actually did a bunch of searches for “unusual names” and picked my favorites; I wanted names that were new and different, yet sounded vaguely familiar. One example of this would be “Meredy,” the name of one of Odessa’s friends in the book. Her name sounds almost like Meredith or Melody, but not quite.
- Given the chance to teach one lesson to the world, what lesson would you give?
Kindness counts. Sounds simple, but if you think about it, there’s a lot to it: kindness can mean not judging others, not imposing your will on others, and seeking to help someone even when it’s not convenient for you. The world needs a lot more kindness, always has, so to me it seems like a valuable lesson.
- What is your favorite animal? You can’t say all of them. There should be one. *Don’t hate me for asking this question.* Also, why is this your favorite animal? Let me see a picture of your greyhounds!
I can’t say all of them? What?! Okay, okay, since I can’t say all, I’ll pick a very specific animal: Ninita, the world’s only known deaf pygmy marmoset, who takes time to appreciate the beauty around her and who loves being brushed with a toothbrush! Ninita lives in Florida, at the Rare Species Conservatory, and I wrote a book about her inspiring life story that you can check out in 2019 from Clarion! I mean just look at this sweet baby:
As for my greyhounds—ask, and you shall receive! Here are Grimm, Khaleesi, Romeo, and Juliet:
- What books or authors influenced you as a reader and a writer today?
One of my biggest influences is, without a doubt, Patricia McKillip. Her writing is so beautiful that reading her stories feels like you’re peering into someone else’s dream—gorgeous, but also mysterious, and vivid. Some of my favorite books by her include The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, Ombria in Shadow, and Winter Rose. Do yourself a favor and check out her work if you haven’t already!
- Favorite Question! What is your favorite quote in Reign of the Fallen and why is this your favorite?
This is tough since I don’t want to give anything away! I’ll share the opening line, though, as it actually is one of my favorites. I’d been trying to start drafting the story for a while when the perfect first line popped into my head. “Today, for the second time in my life, I killed King Wylding.” I love it because it creates an instant sense of intrigue and tension.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog today! I had a great time. 🙂
The Royal Polar Bear: I love your answers, Sarah! I was smiling when I was reading them and I read them all over again. I couldn’t stop smiling whenever I’m reading your answers. Thank you for being such a positive light.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Glenn Marsh has been an avid fantasy reader from the day her dad handed her a copy of The Hobbit and promised it would change her life; she’s been making up words and worlds ever since. When she’s not writing, Sarah enjoys painting, ghost hunting, traveling, and all things nerdy.
She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband and their menagerie: four rescued greyhounds, a bird, and many fish. She is the author of Fear the Drowning Deepand Reign of the Fallen.