In the Hive interview: Sarah J. Maas, bestselling author of the A Court of Thorns & Roses and Throne of Glass series

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Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series (Queen of Shadows, the fourth book, will release globally on September 1st, 2015) and the A Court of Thorns and Roses series (out starting May 5th, 2015). She currently resides with her husband and loyal canine companion in Pennsylvania. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in 2008 with a degree in Creative Writing, and a minor in Religious Studies.

Who or what were your main influences when you were devising your new series, A Court of Thorns and Roses?

Well, the book was actually inspired by a piece of music from the Princess Mononoke soundtrack. I heard the piece, and instantly imagined a huntress stalking through a snowy wood, in search of game to feed her near-starving family. I quickly realized that the idea would actually work perfectly as a partial retelling of three fairy-tales: Beauty and the Beast, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, and Tam Lin. So I wove elements of all three stories into it, relying on some for inspiration, but I really still think of ACOTAR as an original fantasy novel – with hints of the fairytales throughout.

One of the key themes which has proven to be popular in YA fiction is having a very strong, resourceful and independent heroine. How do you personally develop your lead female characters to be someone that your readers can invest in?

Honestly? I just write them as people. I write them as people with passions and interests and flaws and fears. We’re all such a mixture of those things, such a mixture of contradictions, too, and I try to bring those little details and quirks to all of my characters. I don’t think of them as boxes that need to be checked off—I think of them as people with lives already fully lived until the story begins, with joys and traumas; I think of them as people who are also a product of their worlds, their families. Just like us.

You’re keen to see your books adapted into films so surely you fantasise over who you’d like to see cast as your characters, or who the films might be directed by – care to share your ideal castings with us?

Oh jeez. This is the hardest question. I feel like if a film ever gets made, all the actors I list will be too old, but… For Feyre, I could see someone unknown playing her, actually. For Tamlin… Ugh, this is so hard! Maybe Scott Eastwood. He’s delicious. For Rhys…Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders has the attitude/swagger. Agh! This such a difficult question!

Can you tell us which writers you’re enjoying reading at the moment?

So hard to list just a few, but some of my favorites are: Sharon Shinn, Anne Bishop, Megan Whalen Turner, Nalini Singh, J. R. Ward, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Christina Lauren, Alex Bracken, Karen Marie Moning, and Susan Dennard (do not miss out on her upcoming fantasy novel, Truthwitch—fans of Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses will love it!).

You utilise a lot of different social media channels to help publicise yourself and your books – how important is social media to you and how you use it?

Oh, hugely, hugely important. It’s so wonderful to be able to connect to readers from all over the world at the click of a button! And receiving their fan-mail, artwork, music, and photos is just…the coolest. Interacting with my readers is one of my favourite parts of not just being online, but a writer, too.

And lastly… What can we expect from books two and three in the ACOTAR trilogy that you’re willing to reveal?

So, so hard to even talk about these upcoming books without spoiling the ending of Book 1, but… The upcoming books get a bit darker, a bit more sensual. We’ll get to see a lot more of the world of Prythian—and face even bigger threats than the one in the first book. Spring 2016 already feels so far off!

Photo of Sarah J. Maas credit to Josh Wasserman

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