by Jennifer San Filippo
Published by Clarion Books
Releasing on November 10th, 2020
In a rich fantasy world where Songs literally move heaven and earth, one sister must use magic and the other must rely on strength to reunite when pirates, greed, and war tear them away from each other.
Miren has never allowed jealousy of her sister’s magic keep her from taking care of Kesia, and Kesia has always depended on her big sister. When Kesia is kidnapped, Miren will do anything to get her back—even team up with her sister’s aristocratic and seemingly ineffectual boyfriend. Neither sister had ever left their small fishing village before, and now they are plunged into the wider world, minor players in a war between nations. Each sister faces external and internal perils, and each finds surprising allies and unexpected strengths. How will the two find each other again? And what will become of them if they don’t succeed?
Congrats on your next young adult book! What was your inspiration for Divided Fire?
Thank you! Divided Fire started as a class assignment in my undergrad fiction writing workshop (a year BEFORE Frozen came out, btw). I was fascinated by the idea of a magic system that involved singing, likely inspired by the novel that made me love fantasy as a kid, The Singer of All Songs by Kate Constable. The assignment was to write a short story, but the biggest feedback I got from the class was “This is clearly a novel.”
Did the story of Divided Fire come naturally to you?
In terms of the sisters’ dynamic, definitely. I have a younger sister who’s incredibly talented and more outgoing, while I’m more introverted and a bit pessimistic, so that aspect of the story came to me quickly. The narrative surrounding Liviya’s family took much longer to figure out.
What has been your favorite part of being a debut author so far?
The thrilling juxtaposition of feeling like I’ve both accomplished a lifelong goal (getting published) and started a journey (a writing career—hopefully!). This story has been in the works for so long that just having it out in the world is cathartic and terrifying at the same time.
What are you hoping readers take away from your story?
The importance of relationships—of all kinds. The sisters’ relationship is the core of this story, but the dynamic that really made me commit was Miren and Davri’s. [*minor spoiler incoming*] I just really liked the idea of a boy and girl, who are not related, going on a life-changing adventure and NOT falling in love. Don’t get me wrong—I love a good romance—but I feel that friendship is vastly underrated in YA.
What was your favorite part of writing Divided Fire?
Probably developing the magic system. This book doesn’t go too much into it, but I really enjoyed coming up with the lore and mythos around Singing, as well as how the different Songs sound.
Also, I was very interested in the question of how magic would affect technological innovation: would magic speed things up (you have another means of making heat, wind, etc. for production) or slow them down (who needs a refrigerator when enough people can just Sing ice?). That question was fun to explore in developing Kesia’s narrative.
If you could spend one day with Miren and Kesia, what would you do? Are there any places you all would visit?
I would probably just want to listen to them sing together all day. Kesia could Sing cool fire shapes, and Miren could add harmony. Also maybe we could go rescue some human-trafficking victims, because why not?
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
KEEP GOING. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Everything takes longer than you think it should, but that is NOT a reflection on your skill as a writer. Self-doubt is a waste. Of. Time.
Here’s how I proved it to myself: Sometimes when I’m working on a project, I will purposely add comments in brackets at the end of a passage like [ugh this is garbage but whatever] or [this is so out of character but the idea is there]. This not only buffs your word count (Nanowrimo season is upon us!), but I often find that, when I read through it later, the comments are rarely true. Usually the passage isn’t really that bad, or it’s fixable, or you’re scrapping this scene anyway because you know what will work better. That voice telling you your work is garbage is a drama queen. Just write.
Is there anything else you would like to let the readers know about Divided Fire?
This story is, perhaps unavoidably, quite personal to me. I and some lovely people at Clarion put a lot of love and effort into this book, and I’m very excited to finally share it with the world. I hope you enjoy Divided Fire!
Jennifer San Fillippo is a freelance copy editor who holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Jose State University. She enjoys cycling, music, and drawing. She lives in California with her family and a small army of pets.
BOOK BLOG TOUR
The Youngvamp’s Haven – Book Review & Favorite Quotes
Up for grabs during this book blog and bookstagram tour will be five (5) finished copies of Divided Fire by Jennifer San Filippo! To enter to win, follow along on the blog tour. This giveaway will begin on November 9th and end on November 16th at 12:00 a.m. CDT. It will be open to USA readers only. There will be 5 winners.