Please welcome Andrea Stewart to The Qwillery as part of the
2020 Debut Author Challenge
The Bone Shard Daughter
was published on September 8, 2020 by Orbit.
Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember
Andrea: The first fiction piece I remember writing was in response to a
creative writing prompt in fifth grade. The prompt was to choose an item
made of clay and to write about it coming to life. I wrote about the statue
of a peregrine falcon coming to life and flying me away to a magical land
where I got to meet other clay creatures that had come to life. My teacher
loved it and encouraged me to continue writing, and that's how I started
down this whole road!
TQ: Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?
Andrea: I'm definitely a plotter. I like to have a road map of where I'm
going, and it feels like I get there faster when I have one. I start with a
pitch that outlines the main conflict, then I write a couple chapters to get
a feel for the world and the voices, then I do a chapter-by-chapter outline.
Once I have that nailed down to my satisfaction, I start drafting from
beginning to end. That said, things often change a little while I
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Andrea: my writing. I really want people to feel like they have that sense of
place when they're reading. The news, history, my personal experiences—all are
things that end up coloring my work.
TQ: Describe The Bone Shard Daughter using only 5 words.
Andrea: Revolution, identity, magic, islands, and keys.
TQ: Tell us something about The Bone Shard Daughter that is not found
in the book description.
Andrea: I know this has surprised some people, so even though the
description focuses on Lin's point of view, there are actually several
point-of-view characters in the book. It follows Lin, Jovis, Ranami and
Phalue, and Sand. Each character has their part to play in the overall
TQ: What inspired you to write The Bone Shard Daughter? What appeals
to you about writing Epic Fantasy?
Andrea: The seed of inspiration started for me at the San Antonio WorldCon,
when I went to lunch at the food court with my friends. My friend Marina
Lostetter (who has since had a SF trilogy out and has a fantasy trilogy from
Tor on the way) nearly choked on a piece of bone in her lunch. It started me
thinking about using shards of bone as a source of magic. Of course, the
idea evolved and grew a lot from there, and I added a lot of elements I
enjoy seeing in books. It stewed in my brain for a while as I was working on
other things. Once the ideas felt ready to me, I sat down and wrote the
There's a lot that appeals to me about writing epic fantasy. I love the high
stakes of it all—the clash of power and influence, the magic, the
world-changing revelations. The scope allows for grand storytelling as well
as allowing you to tie events to smaller, more intimate moments. And there's
that sense of wonder that always seems to accompany epic fantasy. You can
transport a reader to an utterly strange and new landscape, plus give them a
sense of sweeping history, all from the comfort of their couch.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for The Bone Shard Daughter?
Andrea: I checked out a lot of books from the library and read a lot of
Wikipedia articles. I don't take a lot of notes when I research. I'm
generally not trying to capture a particular time period or a particular
place, but reading about historical events and specific places does help me
pick out threads and patterns of what I want to see in my world. I also like
to read travel guides and sometimes to watch some travel videos. The little
details are important to me, and just looking at the photos and the things
in the background can sometimes provide me with inspiration on what things I
should include when writing.
TQ: Please tell us about the cover for The Bone Shard Daughter.
Andrea: The art was done by Sasha Vinogradova and the design by Lauren
Panepinto. The cover is less a direct representation of a scene in the novel
and more representative of the elements in the novel as a whole. I love it
so much! It pulls together so many important elements—the city buildings,
the waves, the ships, and the key. And if you look closely, you'll notice a
little creature in the bow of the key...
TQ: In The Bone Shard Daughter who was the easiest character to write
and why? The hardest and why?
Andrea: I think in some ways Jovis was the easiest to write. He's got my
silly sense of humor, and often feels exasperated with himself—something I
deeply relate to. He's a fair bit grumpier than I am, but I also found it
fun to write in that aspect of his personality. Sand was probably the most
difficult to write. She starts, in some ways, much like a blank slate. Her
circumstances are the most mysterious of all the characters, and she's
figuring out what they mean as the story progresses. It's difficult to write
a character like that in an engaging way, I think!
TQ: Does The Bone Shard Daughter touch on any social issues?
Andrea: I definitely tried to touch on some social issues. Ranami and
Phalue's storyline is centered around their differences of privilege—they
both love one another but are coming from two very different places in
society. If they can't find a way to bridge that gap between them, their
relationship falls apart and their whole island suffers for it. Lin is the
daughter of the Emperor, trying to reclaim her place as heir. Although she
focuses on this, she eventually has to decide if she wants to be the sort of
leader her father has been or if she wants to take a different, less
oppressive path. And Jovis is on a personal mission, one that ends up
clashing with the greater purpose of the brewing revolution. He has to
decide how much responsibility he has to others and to society, and whether
that takes precedence over his personal needs.
TQ: Which question about The Bone Shard Daughter do you wish someone
would ask? Ask it and answer it!
Andrea: “Did you think The Bone Shard Daughter would be published
when you were writing it?”
I did not! When it went out on submission, I immediately started working on
a new, completely different book so I wouldn't feel as bad if no one wanted
to buy it. I'd had two prior books go out on submission to publishers that
didn't sell, so the realistic part of me thought I'd just keep on to the
next thing—I hadn't the best track record! I did feel like it was the best
thing I'd written so far, but I always felt that way. I do try to improve
with each book.
TQ: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from
The Bone Shard Daughter.
Andrea: I think my favorite is: "I was Lin. I was the Emperor's daughter.
And I would show him that even broken daughters could wield power." It just
marks a big turning point for her and ties back to the very beginning.
TQ: What's next?
Andrea: Next up are the next two books in The Drowning Empire trilogy,
probably a sci-fi with time bubbles I've been fiddling with, and more epic
fantasy in strange new worlds! I've got so many ideas and so many places I
want to show people!
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery!
The Bone Shard Daughter
The Drowning Empire 1
Orbit, September 8, 2020
Hardcover and eBook, 448 pages
Introducing a major new voice in epic fantasy: in an empire controlled
by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor, will fight to
reclaim her magic and her place on the throne.
The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard
magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But
now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s
Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of
locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as
heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden
art of bone shard magic.
Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the
gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim
her birthright – and save her people.
Andrea Stewart is the daughter of immigrants, and was raised in a
number of places across the United States. Her parents always emphasized
science and education, so she spent her childhood immersed in Star Trek
and odd-smelling library books. When her (admittedly ambitious) dreams of
becoming a dragon slayer didn’t pan out, she instead turned to writing
books. She now lives in sunny California, and in addition to writing, can
be found herding cats, looking at birds, and falling down research rabbit