Feature: Interview with Sarah Henning, Author of 'The Queen Will Betray You (The Kingdom of Sand & Sky Trilogy, Book 2'
About the Author:
SARAH HENNING is the author of Sea Witch, Sea Witch Rising, Throw Like A Girl, and The Princess Will Save You.
She is a recovering journalist who has worked for Palm Beach Post, Kansas City Star, and Associated Press, among others.
When not writing, she runs ultramarathons, hits the playground with her two kids and hangs out with her husband Justin, who doubles as her long-suffering IT department.
The Queen Will Betray You - Synopsis
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE CROWN…
After a thousand years of political stability, the realm of The Sand and Sky is up for grabs. Four kingdoms, four rulers vying for the ultimate prize, sovereignty over the entire continent: A ruthless old king spinning webs, whose schemes encompass generations. A widowed queen whose only credo is all kings must die. A runaway queen whose unexpected return upends everyone’s plans. And a prince-in-waiting determined to wait no more.
Standing against them are a dispossessed princess and her stableboy love with a surprising claim of his own. Their only hope in the face of unspeakable betrayals, enemies hidden in the shadows, and insurmountable odds is the power of true love...
The Kingdoms of Sand & Sky Trilogy
Book 1: The Princess Will Save You
Book 2: The Queen Will Betray You
Book 3: The King Will Kill You (forthcoming)
Of the three series you're in the midst of, which character is most challenging to write and why?
While writing The Queen Will Betray You, I actually found Luca’s point-of-view scenes the most difficult. It’s funny because in the first book I identified with him most (we’re both non-confrontational morning people!) but in the second book most of his journey is really him learning to grow into who he is. It’s very personal to him, yet means very much to those with him that he steps up to all the expectations he faces. I found it much easier to write those changes in him externally, through other character points of view. I rewrote his scenes over and over again during the course of writing this book. At once point, I even pulled his whole arc of chapters out of the main manuscript so I could interface with them without the rest of the story around. Even though it took so long to get him right, it was worth it in the end!
What would you say is Amarande's greatest motivator?
Love is definitely her motivation. For Luca, for her people, for the other women in the continent held down by the extreme patriarchy that rules the Sand and Sky.
If you had to describe Amarande and Luca's journey so far with three images, what would they be and why?
This is a hard one because their journey isn’t over! (The King Will Kill You is out in summer 2022). I would say:
1. Clasped hands — because true love!
2. Horses in sand — because of their journey!
3. Artfully spilled blood — because, well, yeah.
Can you share something about Amarande and Luca that isn't in the books?
Luca very much enjoys making errands at the market and knows nearly every vendor by name. And though she tries to act annoyed with having to dress up and wear jewelry and get her hair done, Amarande actually really likes being pampered, especially after hours of training.
Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what might be on the soundtrack for The Queen Will Betray You?
I don’t listen to music while I write but I listen to music around my writing sessions, like when I go running or when I’m in the car. I create a playlist for each book, and in the case of The Queen Will Betray You, I simply added to the playlist I already had for The Princess Will Save You because even though the story is different, the characters and their feelings are still pretty solidly the same. Taylor Swift’s last three albums each had music I added to the playlist I had going for these characters. In particular, “The Man,” “The Archer,” “Mad Woman” and “Epiphany” were all really songs that were big for me with Queen!
I read that you were a sports journalist before becoming a novelist, but if you weren't writing or running competitively, what do you think you'd be doing?
I was a sports journalist—I’m a sucker for a good athlete narrative of someone who puts in the hard work, survives everything that’s thrown at them, and then wins! Honestly, many of my journalism school friends became lawyers, so perhaps I would’ve gone on to do that. But for me writing was always it!
What was the first book you read that made you want to be an author?
I feel like I always wanted to be an author, so this is a little bit of a tough question. But the book I remember reading and then forcing into the hands of others was The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.
I know you've said you have written adult crime fiction, as well as your young adult fantasy and contemporary novels. Do you have a genre preference?
I actually don’t have a preference—I just want to tell a good story! I’ve been very fortunate that the industry has allowed me to write broadly so far. I haven’t been pigeonholed into one area or another, and I appreciate that. I want to write broadly and challenge myself. It makes me a little more difficult to market, I suppose, but I definitely appreciate variety. I see it sort of like being an actor—I’m someone who doesn’t want to always play the same type of part if I can help it.