Sarah J Maas: An Exclusive Interview on Empire of Storms

Sarah J Maas: An Exclusive Interview on Empire of Storms

Hi Sarah! Thanks for speaking to us. The title for your fifth Throne of Glass book – Empire of Storms – screams vengeance, action, danger and we suspect a fair amount of badassery. Why did you choose this title?

The title process is totally different for each of my books. Sometimes, my editor and I will brainstorm for weeks about possible title options. Sometimes I’ll just hear the title and my editor will love it, too, and that will be that.

Empire of Storms was a combination of those two — I had Storms from the get-go, because it embodied the absolute hell breaking loose in their world (and the inner turmoil of some of the characters). But finding the right regal-sounding word took a few rounds of brainstorming, mostly because the terms have been advancing/growing with each book, and topping Queen presented only a few options. But Empire kept calling to me, and upon taking a step back to look at the book as a whole, I realized it fit really well, especially in terms of how much more of the world readers get to see (and the political powers vying for control of it).

You’ve recently announced two more books to come in the Throne of Glass series. Will the story end there?

So, the new books in the TOG series aren’t continuations after Book 6 (the final novel). There will be one Chaol novella (which I can’t talk about without spoiling some things), and a TOG compendium with all kinds of information on the world and characters. Right now, I don’t have any plans to write additional full-length books after the sixth and final installment (which should be out a year after Empire of Storms), but I don’t think I’ll ever truly close the door to that world and characters.

Do you know how things will end or are you finding that out as you write?

Yep! I’ve got an ending in mind that I’ve been working toward for a while now. It’ll be such a bittersweet feeling to finish the series — I’ve been writing about these characters since I was 16, so saying goodbye will be… really overwhelming, I think. But that said, I really love the ending I have in mind — and I hope readers will, too. 🙂

How would you sum up Empire of Storms in five words?

Epic. Brutal. Romantic. Fun. Bloody.

Your fans are incredibly dedicated online; sharing theories and ideas and fanart and fanfiction. What’s it like to see your world shared in this way? What’s your favourite thing that you’ve seen a fan do?

Oh, it’s absolutely amazing to see all of this. I’m sure every author feels this way, but I honestly believe I have the best readers in the entire world. Their passion, enthusiasm, kindness… It blows me away. There are so many talented readers out there, and I am just beyond honored any time they create art or music or fanfic or anything related to the series. It inspires and motivates me more than I can possibly say.

I have so many favorite things that readers have done/created over the years, though I do hold a special spot for the babies that have been named after my characters. I don’t have words to describe how much that means to me, and how cool I think that is. But whenever any reader takes time out of their lives to create something or just write me a message… It always makes the hard work worth it. I save all of it, too — every letter, every piece of artwork… My readers are the loveliest people, and I’m blessed to have them.

Readers know and love you for your strong female characters. Was it a conscious decision to write powerful females?

Yes and no. Growing up, I always gravitated toward fantasy novels with interesting, dynamic, flawed female protagonists, and always wanted more novels like that (and I now get to do what I love for a living because authors like Robin McKinley and Tamora Pierce paved the way decades ago).

The books I loved most had young women saving the world and kicking ass and experiencing these epic romances and adventures, so when I started writing my own novels, those were the kind of stories I wanted to tell as well, not just because I wanted to see more of them in a bookstore, but also because they were the stories that called to my soul — and still do. It means so much to me to now be able to walk into a store and see so many female-driven YA fantasy novels on display — I actually get a little weepy over it sometimes!

Which fantasy authors (if any) would you say have influenced your writing?

So many! Growing up, Robin McKinley, Garth Nix, Tamora Pierce, Lloyd Alexander, Terry Brooks, Tolkien, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Peter S. Beagle, J. K. Rowling, and Mercedes Lackey were some of my favorites and inspired my earliest writing. In recent years, I’ve become obsessed with Sharon Shinn, Melina Marchetta, C. S. Pacat, Patricia A. McKillip, N. K. Jemisin, and Megan Whalen Turner — they’re all absolutely brilliant and have really done wonders for the genre.