Monday, November 9, 2020

Shannon Price Interview - A Thousand Fires

Photo Content from Shannon Price

SHANNON PRICE is a proud Filipina-American and Bay Area native. She once led an a cappella group for three years despite not knowing how to read music, and she carries that same level of confidence in every area of her life. When not writing, she can be found watching baking shows, exploring old bookstores, and going to the beach as often as she can. 

Her debut novel A Thousand Fires is a YA reimagining of the Iliad set in modern day San Francisco. She is represented by Elana Roth Parker of Laura Dail Literary Agency and thanks her lucky stars that she is.


Paperback : 304 pages
ISBN-10 : 1250219426
ISBN-13 : 978-1250219428
Publisher : Tor Teen (October 27, 2020)
Language: : English


"A Thousand Fires pulls you in close and shows you the essence of what it means to keep fighting. Shannon Price is one to watch." ―Gwenda Bond, New York Times bestselling author of Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds

"Brutal and beautiful, A THOUSAND FIRES broke my heart. A fast-paced tragedy of love, betrayal, and vengeance." ―Heidi Heilig, author of FOR A MUSE OF FIRE

"Modern, unflinching and filled with haunting, lingering imagery, A Thousand Fires gives the story of the Iliad the bare-knuckled update it deserves." ―Colleen Oakes, author of The Black Coats

"Fast-paced... Vivid descriptions and intricate details bring San Francisco to life ... A promising debut." ―Kirkus

"A heart-wrenching tale... action-packed and intense... A fantastic read." ―School Library Journal

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I’ve always been a creative person, but for most of my life I was the artsy kid—drawing, painting, etc. As I got older, I started dreaming up stories and characters, often drawing them out before they even had names. It wasn’t until college that I started taking creative writing courses, and that’s when I started to really invest my time into learning about publishing and how the industry works. I spent a whole summer reading every single book that my local library had about publishing. From there, I wrote, edited, and queried my first books, the third of which ended up being A Thousand Fires.
I feel vey lucky to have known what I wanted to do with my life from a young age. Now that I’m here and have “broken in” to the industry, so to speak, I feel a great responsibility to keep telling stories that help readers feel seen, and to keep finding ways to pay it forward for the next writer.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Too many to count! But it usually comes back to hearing from readers who really understood the story and saw themselves in it. I know A Thousand Fires isn’t perfect, nor is it the book for everyone. Still, every now and then I am tagged in a review or mention of someone just loving the book, and it makes all the criticism fade away.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I just turned in my final draft of my next book, The Endless Skies! It’s a race-against-time fantasy adventure, so very different from A Thousand Fires, but I had so much fun writing it. My heroine, Rowan, is a total badass who takes matters into her own hands, and she owns the mistakes that she makes along the way. She’s the kind of character I would have loved as a teen, and I hope that she resonates with readers.

Can you tell us when you started A THOUSAND FIRES, how that came about?
The book started as a dream I had—in it, I was what became Val’s point of view during the scene where she’s recruited by the Stags. I woke up and wrote down everything I remembered from the dream…then completely forgot about it for years. I eventually found the scribbled note during college. By that time, I’d read the Iliad for the first time and the first inklings of a story were born. Still, I didn’t set out to write the first draft until years later (I wrote and queried two others manuscripts, first!). It took me about 8 months to write and edit, then I spent about 3 months querying before I landed my agent.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from A THOUSAND FIRES
My favorite scene is the interaction between Val and Micah right after she gets her tattoo. Micah is the Patroclus figure (from the Iliad) and one of the most emphasized characteristics of Patroclus is that he’s gentle. It’s stated several times in the Greek epic—and how strange, too, that a veteran warrior would be described as such!

Patroclus’ gentleness was the building block I needed for Micah—everything comes back to him being a little more vulnerable than the others, especially Jax. He’s kind to Valerie from day one, whereas the others make her earn their trust. The scene of them in the rain and him touching the back of her neck captures his true self so perfectly.

  • 1. Jax was my favorite character to write, but Micah is my favorite character overall.
  • 2. We went through 50 title ideas before deciding on A Thousand Fires
  • 3. The title is a direct line from the Iliad, which my book is a retelling of
  • 4. I got the idea for the story from a dream
  • 5. It took me 8 months to write and edit the MS before I queried
  • 6. My favorite side character is Aure
  • 7. Theresa was inspired by Achilles’ mother Thetis, and she was the hardest character to write. She had to formidable but also realistic enough to be believable in the this version of the story.
  • 8. The pupuseria mentioned in the book is a real place, and one of my favorites! You could follow the description in Google Maps to find the restaurant that I reference.
  • 9. Green Apple Books, mentioned in the book, is also a real place.
  • 10. My MC’s love interest, Matthew, had a last-minute name change in the second to last draft. It was originally “Matt”, but my mom suggested making it sound more formal, so we switched to Matthew.
All in all, my journey was very quick. Between 2012 and 2015 I wrote my first MS, queried it to mixed success. I then wrote and queried a second, brand new MS. When neither got anywhere, I wrote A Thousand Fires, which took 8 months to draft, revise, and polish. I had my querying routine down by then, and spent about 3 months querying before I got an offer of representation. I got the email while I was at work and just said, out loud, “Holy sh*t. An agent wants to speak with me about my book.” Everyone in the office knew what that meant, and it was a really exciting moment.

After I got my agent, we spent about a year on submission. I got the offer while on the bus home from work, and after a week or so of giving other editors time to offer, I went with Tor Teen. I happened to be really busy at work the day that my agent accepted the offer, so I didn’t let myself celebrate until I got home that day. I remember just pulling into my apartment’s parking garage, and bursting into tears. It was the most validating moment of my career at that time.

Writing: Behind the Scenes
When I write, I tend to listen to one song over and over on repeat for hours on end. It sounds a little ridiculous, but it helps me to tune things out. The song doesn’t always match the scene I’m writing, either. For instance, I recently wrote a dramatic confession of love to “Rain on Me” by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande just because that’s the song I wanted to listen to that day.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning?
Usually “what time is it/can I sleep more?” I’m a light sleeper and now that it’s fall, I can’t tell by just the light through the window if it’s time for me to get up. I don’t keep my phone by my bed so I never know if it’s 2AM or 6AM, or somewhere in between.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
I traveled solo to Iceland after college and saw the Northern Lights for the first time. They are just as magical as I had always dreamed they’d be.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
I lost a friend of mine in a horrible and totally random accident. Losing him made me re-evaluate so many aspects of my life, including how I spend my time and how/when I speak up for the things I believe in. He was a bright, loving, and gregarious person, and I try to live every day in a way that would make him proud.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
True love. You learn and grow so much about yourself when you love another person. It could only change you for the better, even if the heartbreak were always on the horizon.

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
“My hair is so long!” I usually keep it short, but with COVID, I have not felt comfortable going back to a hair salon. Now it’s longer than it’s been in years and it’s really strange.

Most horrifying dream you have ever had?
I don’t know about the most horrifying, but I have recurring dreams about my teeth falling out. When I wake up, I always have to do a quick check to make sure everything is intact.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
I once went on a date where my date dropped his whole plate of whole in his lap at the start of the meal. We were both embarrassed, but rather than go order a new plate he just kind of re-assembled his food best he could and we went from there. It was awkward then, but I think it’d be a pretty good fit for a light-hearted rom-com.

Shannon Price's A Thousand Fires is a breakout contemporary debut―think The Outsiders meets The Iliad―that's perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Veronica Roth.

10 Years. 3 Gangs. 1 Girl’s Epic Quest…

Valerie Simons knows the city's gang wars are dangerous—her own brother was killed by the Boars two years ago. But nothing will sway her from joining the elite and beautiful Herons to avenge his death—a death she feels responsible for.

But when Valerie is recruited by the mysterious Stags, their charismatic and volatile leader Jax promises to help her get revenge. Torn between old love and new loyalty, Valerie fights to stay alive as she races across the streets of San Francisco to finish the mission that got her into the gangs.

You can purchase A Thousand Fires at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you SHANNON PRICE for making this giveaway possible.
5 Winners will receive a Copy of A THOUSAND FIRES by Shannon Price.

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