Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Deborah Falaye Interview - Blood Scion

Photo Content from Deborah Falaye

Deborah Falaye is a Nigerian Canadian young adult author. She grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, where she spent her time devouring African literature, pestering her grandma for folktales, and tricking her grandfather into watching Passions every night. When she’s not writing about fierce black girls with badass magic, she can be found obsessing over all things reality TV. Deborah currently lives in Toronto with her husband and their partner-in-crime Yorkie, Major. Blood Scion is her first novel.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Getting to interact with readers! 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 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.

Greatest thing you learned in school?
The greatest advice I learned in school came from one of my creative writing teachers, and that is to: keep your eyes on your own paper. Comparing yourself to others can be very damaging to your goals, so I was always taught to focus more on my own journey and less on other people’s successes. After all, life isn’t a competition.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
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.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
I think storytelling is so important because it allows us to see and understand other realities and experiences beyond our own. As readers, when we encounter the characters in a story, we immediately feel a sense of kinship toward them. We witness their journeys, empathize with their struggles, and ultimately come to understand them because of their experiences. As a result, I think storytelling bridges that bond between ourselves, our world, and others.

Can you tell us when you started BLOOD SCION, how that came about?
I started working on Blood Scion in 2012 when I was still in university. I had just completed my very first manuscript, and was trying to figure out how to revise it when I got this shiny new idea about a young girl descended from the Orisha gods who was grappling with the loss of her identity and culture. Growing up, I’ve always been so fascinated with the Orisha pantheon because I remember my grandmother telling me these myths and legends as a child. So when I had that first spark of inspiration, I knew immediately this was the story I wanted to write, the story I wanted to have published, and I spent the next ten years drafting and rewriting every inch of the book.

  • 1. “I am a descendant of Shango, the god of heat and fire. I am a living inferno. I am a dead girl walking.”
  • 2. “I am Yoruba but I am not. This is Nagea, but it is not. My world is only half of what it should be, and I am only half of what I really am. I cannot afford to be whole.”
  • 3. “You are more than what they say you are, Sloane. You are a gift from the gods, a light born of Shango’s divine fire. And no weapon can wipe that away.”
  • 4. “How is it that even though they are the ones with their hands to the guns, somehow we are the objects of their fear, the symbol of so much hatred that they must kill us in order to feel safe, in order to feel peace?”
  • 5. “When I was a child, Mama always taught me to fight for those too weak to raise their fists. Scream for those too afraid to find their voice. And stand for those too tired to rise on their feet.”
  • 6. “They think because we are girls, that we are something to be preyed upon. They are wrong. We are not helpless; we are not broken. Despite what scars they leave behind, our bodies are our own. Everything we feel, everything we are, belongs to us and us alone. Yes, we are girls, but we are not prey.”
  • 7. “Trust not the one who killed their mother. The warrior they chained, the elder freed. The child they spawned, the father saved. Thus, by your hand shall the Blood Scion rise. When the pale viper dies, and foe turns to Blood.”
  • 8. “When you reach King’s Isle, do what infernos do. Spread the flame, Folashadé. Let them burn.”
  • 9. “When the legends of heroes are told, they won’t just remember you, Sloane Folashadé. They will fear your name.”
  • 10. “This is what they deserve. They wanted me to be a monster. I will be the worst monster they ever created.”
What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I went into Blood Scion wanting every Black, African, Nigerian kid to see a true representation of themselves in the story. It was very important for me to have a Nigerian girl who looked like me front and center stage, to have her go on this incredibly powerful journey of self-discovery and growth, and for her to be the hero of her own story. Representation matters, and as a creator, I want to make sure that if any reader picks up my book, they would always leave the story feeling seen and celebrated.

What part of Sloane did you enjoy writing the most?
I absolutely loved writing Sloane’s range of emotions. She’s a character who has been through a lot, and at only fifteen, she’s had to learn some really brutal truths about her world and how to survive in it. So there’s definitely a vulnerability to her that I loved digging into. She’s also very angry at the injustices happening around her, and justifiably so. So to emphasize her anger and her rage, that was my way of confronting this racial stereotype and misperception most Black women face whenever they are dehumanized as these overly aggressive, incredibly temperamental characters without any justification as to where that anger and pain come from. That’s why I really loved writing those moments where Sloane was able to express her emotions because you get to see and understand that anger, and know that yes, it is real and it is valid.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Playing the comparison game was definitely my worst distraction when it came to writing Blood Scion in the beginning. Publishing is hard, and as writers, it can be so easy to get lost in what another author is doing or accomplishing, and wondering if you’re capable to doing the same. In the end, I learned that the only thing you can do is run your own race because every author’s experience can be very different.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would introduce Sloane to Iraya Adair, one of the two main characters in Ciannon Smart’s YA Fantasy, Witches Steeped in Gold. Both girls have endured so much at the hands of the ruling power in their respective worlds, and are now on a path of vengeance, so I think they would definitely make the perfect duo. Plus, they’re both badass females with terrifying powers who would absolutely destroy anyone and anything standing in their way.

  • 1. Blood Scion is set in a fictional, futuristic world inspired by Nigeria, my country of origin.
  • 2. My biggest inspiration for writing Blood Scion is my Yoruba culture, specifically the myths and legends surrounding the Orisha pantheon.
  • 3. Sloane gets her last name, Folashadé, from my favorite smooth jazz artist, Sadé Adu.
  • 4. The love interest in Blood Scion is named after the dog breed, the Great Dane, and I made reference to this in my earlier drafts.
  • 5. I like to refer to Blood Scion as the sequel to 2012, since the movie ended with the world’s elite arriving in Africa, the last surviving continent—which also happens to be the premise of Blood Scion.
  • 6. I drafted most of Blood Scion on the notes app on my phone. Weirdly enough, I find it less intimidating to write this way.
  • 7. Every fight sequence in Blood Scion was choreographed to actual MMA fights. It’s the only method that helps me visualize the scenes better.
  • 8. The Lucis bloodlines are named after stars and constellations. I thought it would be a fun addition to the story since the word Lucis also means ‘Light.’
  • 9. Initially, my main character, Sloane had two magical powers: divination and the ability to control fire. But ultimately, her character felt more authentic with only her fire power, so that became the focus. 
  • 10. Blood Scion originally started out as a sci-fi, and Avalon (where the Lucis lived) was this luxurious space station that was orbiting Earth. I ended up falling into this rabbit hole trying to figure out how space stations work and had to scrap the whole thing. I’m glad I did because I couldn’t imagine Blood Scion as anything other than an epic fantasy
What was the last text message you received?
“Your food order has been delivered.” LOL this just came in from my Ubereats delivery driver.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Travel to Greece. I might be biased because I got married there, but Santorini is the most magical place on earth and I think everyone should visit!

Best date you've ever had?
My partner surprised me with a sunset dinner on a private sandbank in Maldives. That was definitely a dream vacation and date that I’ll always cherish.

What was the first job you had?
I was a cashier at McDonalds for almost a year.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
Taking my first Black literature course in University definitely shaped my understanding of Blackness and Black history. It was also a pivotal point in my journey as both a Black woman and a Black author because it gave me the toolset I needed to navigate experiences and realities that were very much unique to me.

First Heartbreak?
Getting turned down by the boy I liked when I was eleven. Lol that one hurt a lot back then.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
Oh absolutely true love with a guarantee of a heart break. I love love despite all the madness that comes with it, and the heart can always heal.

This is what they deserve. They wanted me to be a monster. I will be the worst monster they ever created.

Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods.

Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within.

Sloane rises through the ranks and gains strength but, in doing so, risks something greater: losing herself entirely, and becoming the very monster that she ahbors.

Following one girl’s journey of magic, injustice, power, and revenge, this deeply felt and emotionally charged debut from Deborah Falaye, inspired by Yoruba-Nigerian mythology, is a magnetic combination of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and Daughter of Smoke and Bone that will utterly thrill and capture readers.

You can purchase Blood Scion at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you DEBORAH FALAYE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye.