The ever-popular Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard debuted in 2015, taking the world by storm with a fascinating premise – a world that’s divided across genetic lines, where power and oppression stem from families that grow cushy because of their supernatural abilities, only to have their worlds turned upside down when the ‘have-nots’ realize a unique power of their own. The series is officially being adapted into a TV show, and Victoria Aveyard has taken another step into the genre of high fantasy with her newest release, Realm Breaker, which we reviewed here.
Author Victoria Aveyard sat down for an exclusive interview with The Tempest, where she talked about her latest release, her story-writing process, and her thoughts on the future of fantasy.
If you could be a member of any fantasy race, which would you choose and why? And if you could be a member of any Guild from Realm Breaker, which would you choose and why?
Obviously, I would love to be some kind of immortal, but I know in my heart I would realistically be a hobbit. Or, some townsperson who is not involved in any of the adventures at all. As for Realm Breaker, I always play as an assassin in RPG games, so I suppose I would have to go with the Amhara Guild. Even if they’re incredibly intense. I probably wouldn’t survive the training, honestly.
Are there any challenges you faced when writing this book – with regards to world-building or otherwise?
My biggest challenge with worldbuilding is when to stop and rein myself in. You only have so much motivation when starting a new story, and I don’t want to waste it all on backstory and research. At a certain point, I have to switch over to drafting and just get the story itself started. Otherwise, a big challenge with Realm Breaker was deciding which piece of the story required which point of view. Which perspective and which character will be most interesting to an audience, and which one services the story best? It’s certainly a fun challenge, to filter each plot point through a different lens.
When writing a story of this caliber, do you follow a set plan, or do you start off with characters in particular situations, and let the story tell itself?
I’m really into story structure, and I always use the 3-act, 8-sequence [structure] to outline. I usually know my Act 1 and 3 really well, with Act 2 being where I flounder, but also where the story and characters really grow.
The spindles were an interesting point, similar to the portals in Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Was his work an influence in your writing, or even in your literary tastes?
I’ve actually never read those. I was more inspired by The Elder Scrolls video game, Oblivion, which featured portals opening in a fantasy world that the player had to fight and close.
What’s your writing process look like – a typical day in your work?
I’m lucky enough that this is my full-time job and I work best when I treat it that way. I try to keep office hours from 10 am-5 pm, with a break for lunch, and I almost never work on the weekends. This helps me stay in a routine and really keep my momentum going, especially when I’m drafting.
Did you plan for the companions to come together (like a fellowship) or was that where the story took you?
I always planned for Realm Breaker to be a Lord of the Rings meets Guardians of the Galaxy kind of story, so the team element was central to the idea. I loved throwing together these misfits and criminals who don’t like each other, don’t care about doing the right thing, but have to save the world to save their own behinds.
What do you think the future of the genre will look like – whether there’ll be more works that are set in medieval eras?
I don’t think the medieval era is going away any time soon, but I think an expansion of exactly where that medieval era falls geographically is happening. There are some incredible fantasy works set in worlds inspired by that same time period, but outside the stereotypical Western European location. It’s fantastic to see!
If you could go back and edit or re-do a particular scene in something that you’ve already published, what would you change?
Oh, that’s a can of worms I don’t want to open. Every single creator can point to anything they’ve done and find the flaws. I could find something wrong on probably every page of every book I’ve written.
In Realm Breaker, what character did you create that surprised you the most for the decisions they made?
I knew Erida’s place in the plot and what her journey would be, but only when I was drafting did I realize she needed to be one of the POV characters. And that was a delightful surprise, to hear her voice and use her perspective to give a very, very different angle of the story.
Queen Erida’s lust for power reminds me of Queen Cersei, and her drive to do what she must to conquer the realm. However, (slight spoilers), her betrayal to the Companions was surprising – was that something you planned for her or was that how the story moved, something you didn’t really foresee?
Definitely planned. All my big plot twists are planned out, and I think that allows me to really dig in, and trick the audience. I know what’s coming, so I know how to lure them in a way that they are either really surprised or really pleased they figured it out.
Any favorite fantasy publications for authors with no credits looking to grow their audience? Tips to stand out with anthology/ezine/contests, for budding fantasy writers.
I’ve never had anything featured in an anthology or magazine or contest, so I’m definitely not the person to ask for advice! I am a huge fan of the Reddit forums, however, and I lurk on r/fantasy, r/imaginarymaps, r/worldbuilding, and r/fantasywriters. They have some amazing tips and tricks!
Looking for more book content? Follow our Bookstagram for international giveaways, exclusive excerpts, and more author interviews!
Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!
As The Tempest editors, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll love, too. Just so you know, The Tempest may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Heads up — prices are accurate and items in stock as of the time of publication.