Hey everyone! You know we love chatting with authors and couldn't resist talking with Erica Cameron, author Island of Exiles - one of the most unique fantasies you'll read. Check out our interview below!
The world within Island of Exiles is one of the most unique worlds we've encountered. What was it like creating this world?
Thank you! That means so much.
I spent multiple hours before the sale of the sale of the series building a city carved out of a mesa and a harsh island landscape. It’s a desert island, but not in the sandy beaches, coconuts, and rum runners sense of the word. This is more like if you took Red Rock Canyon and the surrounding area in Nevada and plopped it in the middle of the ocean. And then added really dangerous animals. And warning clans. And sudden storms.
Entangled bought the series on proposal, which means they only saw nine chapters, a detailed outline, and Kate Brauning was there to help me reshape the concepts and the plot, the language. Magic, and social structure really started to develop in the kind of detail I needed for the world to feel real.
Instead of using a world I knew as a foundation for Shiara and Itagami, I created the setting and the city based on what I needed it to do. In order for the story I wanted to tell to work at all, I needed it to have a very specific impact on the people living there. It was a lot of asking “How would constant danger play out on a cultural scale?” and “What would happen to a desert city if they unexpectedly got too much rain too early?” The cause and effect relationships between the landscape and the people living in it were and are crucial.
Talk to us about Khya. What are her motivations and what are your favorite parts of her?
Loyalty and determination are key parts of Khya’s psyche. When she decides to love and trust someone, she’s in completely and for life. She’ll do anything to help or protect those people. It’s not a level of closeness she allows to many people. Her brother Yorri is definitely one of them, though. She’d do more for Yorri than pretty much anyone else in the clan—which is actually an uncommon level of connection for the clan, one over the good of many. Another thing I enjoy about Khya is the precise way she wields sarcasm and snark. It’s both sword and shield with her, but sometimes it’s also how she says nice things without actually, you know, being nice.
Do you have a favorite quote? What meaning does it have for you?
There’s a lot in this book I’m proud of, and all of it has meaning. Point of interest, I also tend to create quote art graphics and post them on the individual book’s page on my website! Here are some of my favorites (and, yes, all of these have graphics on the Island of Exiles page):
- Attraction is instinct, but action is a choice.
- All we can ever be is our own.
- If we aren’t willing to fight back—to kill if necessary—we may as well lay down our weapons now and surrender.
- Animals can be outsmarted. Enemies can be fought. Storms can only be survived.
- If you’re not willing to strike, you’ve already lost.
How was writing Island of Exiles different than your previous books?
None of my other books have changed this much. Names changed, backstorey changed, secrets changed, relationships, goals, religion, language—I mean, honestly, it’s hardly the same book except for a few key pieces. My Entangled editor Kate Brauning was instrumental in helping me reshape this world, and we poured a lot of work into making it deep, dangerous, and decidedly real. This series was where I really cemented my note-taking process, finally nailing down how to organize my OneNote notebook and exactly what was worth keeping. Now, if I export the notebook to a PDF, it’d be well over 400 pages. Possibly over 500. I haven’t checked in a while. I tried to keep track of everything I looked up and everything I could possibly need to reference again, and how well it worked changed how I kept notes for all of my other projects, too. It’s a lesson I am very glad I learned now. I’ll need it in coming years!
What's one takeaway you want your readers to take from Island of Exiles?
It’s important to put enough into a book for almost everyone to be able to find something in it, but there are a few key themes I hope readers see and remember. One of them is that few situations or people are entirely good or bad, and another is that accepting difference doesn’t weaken us or break apart our cultural unity—often it strengthens the bonds we have to each other. That’s a lesson I think a lot of people need now.
Island of Exiles (The Ryogan Chronicles, #1)
by Erica Cameron
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Published: February 14th, 2017
After a lifelong obsession with books, Erica Cameron spent her college years getting credit for reading and learning how to make stories of her own. Erica graduated with a double major in psychology and creative writing from Florida State University and began pursuing a career as an author. Erica is many things but most notably the following: writer, reader, editor, asexual, dance fan, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, Florida resident, and quasi-recluse. She loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon décor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works. Her debut novel, Sing Sweet Nightingale, released March 2014 and it was the first volume of The Dream War Saga. In May 2015, Erica and her co-author Lani Woodland launched the Laguna Tides series with Taken by Chance. Riptide’s new YA imprint Triton Books will release both books in the Assassins series, Discord and Nemesis, in 2016. The Ryogan Chronicles, a fantasy trilogy set to launch through Entangled Teen, will launch in 2017 with Island of Exiles.
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