Rebecca Roanhorse is the New York Times bestselling author of Trail of Lightning, Storm of Locusts, Black Sun, and Star Wars: Resistance Reborn. She has won the Nebula, Hugo, and Locus Awards for her fiction, and was the recipient of the 2018 Astounding Award for Best New Writer. The next book in her Between Earth and Sky series, Fevered Star, is out in April 2022. She lives in New Mexico with her family.
Your latest book, Fevered Star, is the second title in the Between Earth and Sky series you began with Black Sun. Tell us a bit about world where the series takes place, and the characters who inhabit that world.
The world of the book is called The Meridian, and it is a place inspired by some of the various cultures of the Pre-Columbian Americas. The Meridian consists of four very different cultures and city-states held together by a three hundred-year-old treaty, and as Fevered Star opens, the events of the previous book, Black Sun, have blown the treaty to bits and now anything goes. There are merchant-lords who have resurrected old forbidden magics in order to start a war, freshly made avatars of dark gods exacting age-old vengeance while struggling to keep their humanity, long-denied shield maidens, power-hungry clan matrons, and a secretive society of sea-faring women who may also possess a special kind of magic – and one particular sailor who, is she can find her out from the bottom of a bottle – will turn the tides of history in ways unimagined.
Can you give us any hints about the future of the series?
This is a trilogy, so while this second book was a deep dive into the lore and history of how we even got to the explosive moment at the end of Black Sun, I expect Book 3 will be a reckoning between cultures and characters who right now seem poised to slide headlong into war.
Fevered Star is set in a world inspired by the Pre-Columbian Americas. What kind of research did you do to create Meridian?
I’ve long been a fan of Per-Columbian history and culture, so I’ve been learning about the Maya, for example, for decades. I think I’ve been wanting to write a Fantasy novel inspired by those worlds for about as long. So the foundation of knowledge has been there for a long time. I did do some specific research, for example, on the Maritime Maya’s trade routes and shipbuilding, and Polynesian navigational techniques, because I didn’t want to mimic European methods. And then I took some liberties, because this is a fantasy not a history, and created systems, myths, and cultures that are fantastical where the story required.
Are there more Sixth World books coming?
Publishing is fickle, and while I would never say never, I will say not in the foreseeable future.
You have a standalone novella scheduled to appear this Fall, Tread of Angels. Tell us about it.
Tread is a dark fantasy world of Western noir about how far one will go to hold onto their illusions and at what cost. It’s my take on a murder mystery in an Old West world populated by the descendants of fallen angels, demon lords, and self-proclaimed righteous men.
What writers, inside and outside the genre, influenced you? Have you always been a reader of speculative fiction?
I grew up on Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising and went on to The Belgariad and The Dragonlance Chronicles. In sixth grade I discovered Dune, and there was no turning back. In college, I fell in love with Urban Fantasy, and am blown away by all the incredible work coming out now from the likes of P. Djeli Clark, Tamsyn Muir, and R.F. Kuang, among others. It’s an exciting time to be a speculative fiction reader.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know? Upcoming work or other projects of note?
I’ve had the pleasure of writing for TV the past few years, and this fall you’ll be able to watch the Marvel series Echo on Disney+. I also wrote a 5-issue comic of Echo for Marvel comics that is on shelves now. And in another TV turn, I’ve adapted Black Sun for AMC studios so hopefully it will make it to the small screen in the next few years. And, looking far into the future, there’s a novel of climate change, crime families, and weather magic brewing, likely out sometime in 2024.