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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Deborah Falaye Talks Her Debut Blood Scion, Yoruba-Nigerian Mythology, Her Research Process, And More!

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Deborah Falaye Talks Her Debut Blood Scion, Yoruba-Nigerian Mythology, Her Research Process, And More!

We had the pleasure to talk to Deborah Falaye all about her debut book, Blood Scion! From her inspiration to character development, we talk about it all! Blood Scion releases on March 8th, you can order your copy here!

Cover of Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye.
Image Source: Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers

Summary: This is what they deserve. They wanted me to be a monster. I will be the worst monster they ever created.

Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods.

Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within.

Sloane rises through the ranks and gains strength but, in doing so, risks something greater: losing herself entirely, and becoming the very monster that she ahbors.

Following one girl’s journey of magic, injustice, power, and revenge, this deeply felt and emotionally charged debut from Deborah Falaye, inspired by Yoruba-Nigerian mythology, is a magnetic combination of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and Daughter of Smoke and Bone that will utterly thrill and capture readers.

Content Warnings: death, murder, violence, child soldiers, attempted sexual assault, self-harm, war, torture

Welcome to The Honey POP! We’re so excited to talk to you today. To get things started we’d love to get to know you a little better. Could you give us 3 fun facts about yourself?
Thank you so much for having me! 3 fun facts about myself are:

  • I’m obsessed with reality TV, and I’ve probably seen every single show on Bravo.
  • I absolutely love Bob Marley, and I wrote so many scenes in Blood Scion to Redemption Song.
  • Finally, some of my favorite movies include the Fast & Furious franchise, the Rocky series, and Creed!
A gif of a car speeding on a city street.
Image Source: GIPHY

Congratulations on your book Blood Scion! What was your experience publishing your debut novel? Was it how you had imagined?
Thank you! Publishing Blood Scion has been a dream come true. I started working on the story in 2012 after getting this idea about a young girl descended from the Orisha gods who was grappling with the loss of her identity and culture. I knew immediately this was the story I wanted to write, the story I wanted to have published. So, I spent the next ten years drafting and rewriting every inch of the book. Then in 2017, I participated in Pitch Wars, and was lucky enough to be chosen by two mentors whose editorial notes really helped strengthen the manuscript. A year later, I queried it and got an agent, and we sold the book shortly after. It’s definitely not your typical path to publication, but I’m so grateful for this journey, and more importantly, that Blood Scion will be out in the world soon.

Blood Scion is a story of violence and grief but also of strength and determination. What is the main message that you want readers to take away from it?
Well, one of the messages I really wanted to hone in on was hope. In doing my research for Blood Scion, I read several stories about child soldiers, but even though there was so much tragedy in every story, my biggest takeaway from the research was the journey many child soldiers took toward finding hope after years of war and conflict, and how that hope became a key part of their recovery. It’s exactly the lesson I want to convey with Blood Scion—that despite all of the brutality and pain, there’s still a thread of hope that’s woven through Sloane’s journey as she takes on this fight to reclaim her identity, her humanity, and her culture.

What was your research experience like? Do you have any advice for aspiring authors when it comes to starting the process?
Blood Scion deals with some really important and heavy topics such as child soldiers and the war on children, so a lot of my research was focused on that subject matter. I read books and memoirs written by former child soldiers detailing what their lives were like before and after recruitment, as well as their journey toward rehabilitation. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, and They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children by Roméo Dallaire were two of my most profound readings, and I would always go back to those books while drafting Blood Scion. When it comes to starting the process, the advice I found the most helpful was to be passionate about the story you want to tell. Having that passion for your work not only inspires your writing, it also greatly informs how committed you will be to the research process.

We loved how Yoruba-Nigerian mythology was a central aspect of the story. Are there any specific myths you love that didn’t make the cut?
The mythology is one of my favorite aspects of Blood Scion too. I absolutely loved pulling elements from my Yoruba culture and incorporating as much of those cultural details into the story. As far as specific myths and legends, I’ve always found the relationships between the Orishas fascinating because they’re all so intricate and the backstories are really juicy. It’s like a soap opera with these powerful gods and goddesses, but I couldn’t add any of it into Blood Scion since the story more so focuses on their descendants.

We really enjoyed your descriptive fight scenes and saw on your Instagram that you use MMA fights to help you choreograph them. Do you have a favorite fighter that inspires you?
I don’t actually have a favorite fighter as much as I just love watching MMA. I remember one of the fights I kept going back to because I loved it so much was the one between Derek Campos and Brandon Girtz. There was so much intensity to that fight, I was literally on edge throughout the whole thing.

All of the characters in Blood Scion felt so lifelike. How do you come up with your characters’ personalities and is there any character you feel the most connected to?
I spend a lot of time brainstorming all of my characters’ goals, motivations, and whatever conflicts they’re dealing with, and I find that doing this really helps me understand a lot of their backstories and personalities. I do feel the most connected to my main character, Sloane, because she’s a representation of the Black girl I’ve always wanted to see in books growing up, and I identify so much with the anger she has toward the many injustices happening around her.

We love seeing pictures of Major, your Yorkie, on Instagram, he’s adorable! Has he been a helpful writing partner?
LOL he’s the best writing partner to have around. He mostly just sleeps while I draft, but having him next to me is all the serotonin I need to get through my writing sessions.

We found Sloane’s powers so intriguing! If you could have the power of any Scion what would you choose?
Oh, that’s a great question! Shango is my favorite Orisha, which is why I gave Sloane his ability to control fire. But if I could only have one power, it would have to be the ability to control the mind and body. Scions with this power are descended from the Orisha god, Obatala, and I think they’re just so terrifying, I’m excited for readers to meet some of them in the sequel.

We know you can’t reveal too much, but what are you most excited about for book 2?
I’m looking forward to readers learning more about the Orishas, the fall of the Ancient Kingdoms, and the mystery behind the ancestral forest! We also get to meet a lot of new characters in the sequel, but there’s one in particular who already has my whole heart, and I can’t wait for everyone to get to know them.

Along with Blood Scion, so many amazing books are releasing this year! Do you have any other 2022 debuts that you recommend?
2022 is packed with too many incredible debuts I’m excited to read! A few of my recent favorites include: Only a Monster by Vanessa Len, This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede, The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman, and Some Mistakes Were Made by Kristin Dwyer.

Thank you so much for your time, and congratulations again on Blood Scion! For our last question, we’re dying to know how you’re planning on celebrating its publication?
Thank you! This has been great, and I really appreciate you taking the time to interview me. As far as plans, I’ll be having two virtual launch events with some of my favorite authors and I’m really looking forward to that. I’ll also be celebrating with family and friends, and I already plan to visit my nearest Chapters store to see the book on shelf for the first time!

We had such a great time chatting about Blood Scion with Deborah Falaye! If you could control any element what would it be? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP!

Looking for more bookish interviews? We got you!


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