Molly grew up hearing the tales of Haviland Stout, her ancestor who discovered the dangerous magical spirits that inhabit the far corners of the world. Now, on the edge of the New World, in the British Dominion of Terra Nova, Molly and her family collect spirits aboard their airship, the Legerdemain. But when Molly captures a spirit that can speak and claims to have been Haviland’s friend, her entire life is upended. What if everything she knows about the spirits, and her own history, is a lie? In her hunt for the truth, Molly will have to challenge the most powerful company in Terra Nova and find the courage to reshape her world.
What was the hardest scene to write in your new book?
It depends on what you mean by “hard.” The first chapter was by far the trickiest. I had to balance the action, character introductions and getting in some information about the world of Dominion without dragging the whole thing down with exposition, not to mention bringing in some snippets of the characters’ backstory… Lots of moving parts. But the scene I found hardest emotionally was actually a small scene where Molly is preparing lifeboats. She’s making some hard choices at that moment, and I wrestled with that scene just as hard as she wrestled with her decisions.
What comes first for you, the plot or the characters?
Neither, actually. I start with world-building—how is it like our world, how is it different? What are the fantasy elements (because there always are always fantasy elements in my stories)? From there I start to see where the problems in this fictitious world are, the things that need fixing, and the plot comes out of that. The characters arrive last, but once they show up they inevitably bend the plot and world around themselves. I have to spend a lot of time adjusting my outlines, to accommodate the surprises my characters give me.
What’s your favorite part of a book to write?
Which author, living or dead, would you want to have coffee with?
Long walks are the best cure I’ve found. Other than that, I just keep banging at the keyboard until I find a way through.
Dominion is available now.