Last week I shared with you an excerpt from Bright We Burn (seen here) as a placeholder for the interview I’d done with Kiersten. I’m happy to report that today I can share with you the completed questions and answers from Lada’s creator!
Once again, I’d like to extend a big thank you to Rockstar Book Tours for making this happen and for organizing such a fantastic tour. There’s still a lot of the tour to check out and a giveaway going on. Check out the full tour schedule and the Rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post.
Title: BRIGHT WE BURN
Author: Kiersten White
Pub. Date: July 10, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it?
Lada’s rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won’t rest until everyone knows that her country’s borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed’s peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.
But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister’s indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before–including her relationships–can Lada truly build the country she wants.
Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.
Interview with Kiersten White
The Hermit Librarian (THL): Lada’s had to rely a lot on herself because even when the men around her promised things, there were always conditions, hooks that tried to bind her to things that she didn’t want. Can you tell me a little bit about why was it important for you to highlight her independence from these trappings as she strove to give her people a better country than the one her forefathers had?
Kiersten White (KW): Lada has seen time and again that promises are always contingent on what the other person gets out of them. Men are never going to give her power—they’re going to leverage her to get more for themselves. There is something to be said for those with access changing the system from within, but there is also a lot to be said for dismantling the system and doing it a new way. I wanted to explore the cost of both.
THL: Lada does some terrible things in the course of building Wallachia up, but all in the name of making it into something great. She also does a lot of good, but some focus only on the bad because they might think that a girl can’t achieve what Lada has. What would you (or Lada even) say to those people?
KW: I don’t think Lada would say anything to them that didn’t involve a sharp blade, ha! I am fascinated by power, what it takes to get it and what it takes to keep it. So often we see history as it has been packaged for us by others; the joy of historical fiction is it allows us to take the journey alongside the characters and see the entire process rather than just the results.
THL: Lada admits that Mara is a clever woman for making of her situation what she can and in an advantageous way in a time when women were sold in marriage for the benefit of men while Lada herself has become a Prince. Who are some other women in history that Lada might have admired for their cleverness?
KW: Definitely Theodora of Byzantium, who is talked about in the books. She went from being a child bride to a prostitute to co-Emperor and the most powerful woman in Byzantium—even saving her husband’s reign from an attempted coup. If Lada could have seen into the future, she would be over the moon with Ching Shih, who also went from a prostitute to the most powerful woman on the sea, running a pirate fleet so vast and well-organized that eventually the government hired her rather than keep failing to defeat her.
THL: While the situations that Mehmed, Radu, and Lada find themselves in are quite different than ones that people their age find themselves in today, there are some parallels, such as when Radu is reunited with Mehmed and realizes that their relationship has changed. Was this an intentional choice, making their growth as people have particularly relatable connections to people of a similar age?
KW: Oh, absolutely. There are some themes that are universal despite time period differences. Growing up often means growing out of relationships—whether those are friendships, romances, or somewhere in between. There are few things more bittersweet than realizing the intensity of a relationship—something that felt like it was so powerful it could never change—has been extinguished or shifted over time. Teens in particular feel things on a grand and volatile scale because everything is being experienced for the first time. One of the perks of writing such a long trilogy is getting to trace those feelings from start to finish.
THL: There are lines throughout the book that, to me, point to Lada and Radu having a lot more in common that the casual observer or reader might think, such as how they shape themselves based on their environments. What is the one thing you’d want to make sure to point out to someone that might have missed it in their initial read through of the series?
KW: One of the most fascinating things about the actual Vlad and Radu was that they were brothers raised in exactly the same circumstances, experiencing the exact same things, and yet they had polar opposite reactions. One went on to fight the Ottomans for the rest of his life, and the other loved them and stayed loyal to them for the rest of his. Lada and Radu are both survivors, both ruthless, both determined. They just have different goals and different ways of obtaining them.
THL: Which came first, the idea of Lada as a character idea or an interpretation of Vlad Dracul? Did you ever see Lada having her story take place at a different time in history?
KW: The idea came to me as I was thinking about the history of Vlad Dracul, so to me they were always the same person. It was a way for me to explore and retell the history from a lens I found captivating. So no, there was never a moment where Lada was independent of Vlad. (Which makes it confusing for me when talking about the actual history, since they’re so enmeshed in my brain!)
THL: For a fun question: have you ever seen Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure? What do you think Lada’s reaction would’ve been to their appearing and attempting to whisk her for their history report?
KW: Oh, the movie would have ended very abruptly and definitely not in a PG manner.
About the Author
Kiersten White is the NYT bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy, the Mind Games series, Illusions of Fate, The Chaos of Stars, In the Shadows with artist Jim Di Bartolo, and the upcoming historical reimagining, And I Darken. She has one tall husband and three small children and lives near the ocean, where her life is perfectly normal. Visit her at www.kierstenwhite.com.
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