Friday, April 27, 2018

The End of Beautiful People

Hosted by Cait Grace
So, I admit, I didn't do a great job of keeping up with Beautiful People while it was running . . . but I do want to join in for this last hurrah of the tag. I'm sad that it's going away, but at the same time, I can kind of get why. Coming up with new questions every month must get pretty tiring. This final edition takes favorite questions from previous iterations of the tag and combines them into one, so it kind of flip-flops between general writing questions and book/character specific questions. For the latter category, I'll be answering for my current main WIP, Dust of Silver (formerly Danger in the Tower).

1. Favourite genre to write in?
Fantasy! You've got dragons, magic, epic battles, adventures, quests, griffins, fae folk, and more, just from the genre, and plenty of variety once you get into the subgenres (High, Low, steampunk, retelling, mythic, urban/contemporary, historical, so on). I get all the joys of creating characters and throwing them into stressful situations, plus the pleasure of worldbuilding and writing epic battle scenes (ok, that's not always a pleasure, but you know what I mean), and I don't have to stress too much about "Wait, is this actually how it works in the Real World?" because in many cases, it's my world, my rules.

2. What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?
Ohhhhh boy. That's a tough one. I think all of them could benefit from reading the Bible, obviously. Other books . . . I'm half-tempted to give Aster Entwined, because it would help her realize what's going on in her life, but that might also break the plot, so . . . yeah. Poppy gets the Dragons in Our Midst series, which she'd read because dragons but which would help her because she's the most independent of the sisters and I think that the Dragons in Our Midst books do a pretty good job of emphasizing that you can't do anything on your own. (Not that independence is a bad thing, but it can be taken too far.) Ivy I'm not sure about, so I'm going to give her Goldstone Wood because everyone needs to read that.

Also, bonus side-and-future-main-character books: Pansy gets Gillian Bronte Adams' Songkeeper Chronicles and the Jackaby series, since both deal with a character who can see or hear things that others can't. Hayden, like Ivy, gets the Tales of Goldstone Wood, but he also gets C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy— the former because he can learn quite a few lessons from it; the latter because he'd appreciate the blend of theology and storytelling. And Jason gets the Invisible Library series, less because he needs to learn from it than because he needs a break and it's a good series. That said, he'd probably also get the Dragons in Our Midst books because Poppy would throw them at him for being annoying.

3. Favourite piece of dialogue you’ve written?
Well, my overall favorite in this novel so far is still Poppy's rose-petal insult, but I already posted that one. So, my favorite that I've written since then . . . Hmm. I guess I'll go with this one because all the others only make sense in context:
Ivy glanced back, grinning. "Not Lily? Is she not a responsible adult tonight?"

"Not responsible for your lot." Lily laughed and slid what must've been the twentieth pin into Aster's hairdo. "Aster has given me leave to thoroughly enjoy yourself tonight."

"Just make sure that while you're thoroughly enjoying yourself and meeting new people, you keep your eyes and ears open and maybe ask some useful questions. We need you as a discoverer of secrets, not a charmer of strangers."

4. What did your character want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?
Well, I can't do the second part for most characters because either they aren't grown up yet or the answer is a spoiler. However, I will answer the first part for my major characters.
  • Aster, the oldest sister, shifted through a few different dreams, most of them very traditional little girl dreams— princess, dancer, mother, dancer again— but by the time she was eleven or twelve, she mostly just wanted a life that wasn't consumed by younger sisters and confined to the tower. 
  • Poppy also went through a phase when she wanted to be a dancer, but then she decided that staying in cities all the time sounded boring and she wanted to be an explorer instead and map the mountains where the dragons dwelt. Barring that, traveling entertainer sounded pretty good too.
  • Ivy mostly went along with whatever Poppy wanted for most of her childhood. Eventually, though, she decided that she wasn't so interested in adventure and that she'd rather just live on a farm and grow things. That said, she also ages weirdly, so she'd be happy to just grow up period.

5. Favourite character name(s)?
I am inordinately fond of the name of my main-main character, Ivy Jade. Where I got it from is a little bit stupid, but I enjoy the fact that the connotations of the name (at least in my mind, outside of the storyworld) run so counter to who the character actually is. Of course, the in-world connotations are quite different . . . I also like the name of one of my princes, Hayden. It fits him.

6. What makes your character feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way?
Ivy feels loved when people listen to her and show that they value and respect what she says and thinks. The last person to make her feel that way was probably Poppy before the main plot of the book began. Poppy most loved when people spend time with her, especially if they're doing something that those people wouldn't necessarily do otherwise, and when people seek her out for things, either fun things or I-need-help-and-you're-the-first-person-I-thought-of things. Ivy was definitely the last person to make her feel loved in the first way; in the second, Clover and Dasiy, the two youngest sisters. And Aster feels loved when people do things to make her life easier, and the last person to do that was Wisteria, the second-oldest of the sisters, who wrangled the youngest four sisters into bed and kept Aster from having to listen to their complaints.

7. Favourite character you’ve ever written?
Ever? Oooh. That's a tough one. I really enjoy writing Katelyn Stevens from Between Two Worlds because I can get in her head really easily, plus she makes a ton of fandom references. But I also like writing the trio of Jared, Jason, and Jarek; they have very similar voices (heavy on the snarky and teasing comments), they all love to get a rise out of other characters, and Jared and Jason have character arcs I really enjoy.

8. If your character were permanently leaving town, what would they easily throw out? What would they refuse to part with? (Why?)
Ivy and Poppy probably wouldn't take much of anything except the basic necessities and maybe a picture of all the sisters together, or some other small token to remember their sisters by. They aren't interested in mementos of the tower, just of their family. Aster would take the basic necessities, plus a few cuttings from her favorite lilac bush outside and mementos of each of her sisters. Pansy, on the other hand, would take as much of the tower library as she can, plus her entire collection of diaries and notebooks.

9. Favourite tropes to write!
Ooooh. I love big, messed-up families, big families in general, sibling teams, sibling rivalries, dramatic family reveals, characters' family members showing up to haunt them . . . basically, family tropes in general. I also love rogue-and-regal love stories (I have two so far, though one is less obvious than the other), lovable rogues, and battle couples. Aaaand all my favorite tropes are relationship ones . . . oh well.

10. Which story has your heart and won’t let go?
Um. All of them? That's the whole point of why I'm rewriting Dust of Silver and hoping to rewrite the Berstru Tales and Monster in the Castle, and why I want to write more in the Between Two Worlds and Way of the Pen universes as soon as I come up with plots.

11. Favourite relationship between characters you’ve written?
In Dust of Silver: I love all the sister relationships, but my favorite is the one between Poppy and Ivy. They're super close, and they tease each other but in a nice way, and if you mess with one you're messing with both (and you really don't want to mess with either, especially Poppy, because she's scary when she's mad). And there's a little bit of a disconnect at some points, but Poppy will trust Ivy a lot more than she'll trust others, even some of her sisters.

A few other favorites from my projects in general:
  • All the Alyron sister relationships (so! much! drama! Also sweetness when they actually manage to get along).
  • Poppy and Jason (loads of snark because they're both stubborn but have to work together quite often; would actually get along if they decided they didn't hate each other).
  • Jason and Hayden (because polar opposites who, again, have to work together; Jason is the only one who can get Hayden to make even slightly snarky comments).
  • Hayden and the Princess du Karel (less original than I thought, but still fun to write and I like where it's going).
  • Jared and Bianca (one of the rogue-and-royal pairings I mentioned earlier, with bonus snark and chess).
  • Katelyn and Aedon (the cutest couple I've written in my life) and Katelyn and Jarek (snarky magic best buddies).
  • The Baili-Chouko-Gan friendship triangle (in which Baili is idealistic, Gan is mysterious, and Chouko is just grumpy at everyone).
  • Rinna and the Taleweaver (because characters interacting with authors).
I might or might not have a lot of favorites. I regret nothing.

12. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?
I've done a few posts on this topic already, but a quick rundown:
  • More awesome fantasy families.
  • More female heroes who can be fierce and awesome but still like traditionally feminine things without shame.
  • More female heroes who do awesome stuff without being warriors.
  • More time travel and time-based superheroes.
  • Fewer books where miscommunication causes 90% of the plot.
  • More unusual fantasy creatures.
  • More historical fantasy.
  • More fantasy-mystery.
  • More clean urban fantasy.
  • Odyssey retelling in space.
Will I actually write any or all of these? I'm already working on some of them. The rest, we'll see.

13. Favourite Pinterest board/aesthetic for a book?
I'm bad at aesthetic, but my Berstru Tales Pinterest board is one of my favorites, with Between Two Worlds a close second. Y'all get both of them. (I'd post my Fairy Tale Retellings board too, but it's mostly stuff about Jason Silver, so . . . yeah.)

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14. Favourite time periods & settings to work with?
Since I'm a fantasy author, I'm just going to talk about settings. I think my favorite world I've created is a three-way tie between Udarean (The Way of the Pen; the inhabitants know they're characters in a series of novels), Berstru (Berstru Tales, the first world I created, and the most developed of my worlds), and the world of Once Upon a Dream (because I get to mess around with a dream world in which anything can happen).

15. When people are done reading your book, what feeling do you want them to come away with?
Happiness, satisfaction, desire to visit the world and meet the characters in person, and eagerness to read the next book.

And there you have it: the last Beautiful People. Thanks for reading, y'all!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)


  1. Ooh, I love books all about sisters, and your sisters sound awesome. And so do your novels actually! And YES, YES, YES to the women who like feminine things but are still fierce, or at least well rounded characters. There are so few of them nowadays (YA books basically have the "Damsel-in-distress" character, or the "Strong female" and there's nothing in between).
    Anyway, I really loved reading your post!

    1. Thank you very much! And yeah, I agree that books are super all-or-nothing, but I'm trying to change that! At least with mine!
      Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading!

  2. Thanks for joining in for the last time!! is a lot of fun but we're both just super busy this year.😭😭

    And ohhh I love your list of family-tropes. YES and YES. I just want to read more sibling/family books in general?! They always hit at my heartstrings the most tbh. And I do love a lot of the same tropes you do! I looove badass epic girls + who love feminine things. The whole scorning of feminine things is so super sexist and makes me roll my eyes because it's like authors are trying NOT to be but end up being 1000 x more sexist?! Let people like pretty things!

    Also love your answer for #15!!

  3. @Cait: (Blogger is being weird and won't let me reply directly; sorry.)

    You're welcome! And yeah, I get it. :)

    Thank you! And YES, exactly. By making warrior females not like feminine things, they're saying you can only be a strong female if you dislike everything feminine, which is stupid. (Random: this is actually something really nice about the anime I'm watching, because you have girls who definitely like feminine things and actually put effort into doing them but who are also scary awesome in a fight.)

    Danke again! And thanks for commenting!


I'd love to hear your thoughts! But remember: it pays to be polite to dragons.