Spotlight on: Victoria Aveyard

VICTORIA AVEYARD is an author and screenwriter, born and raised in a small town in Western Massachusetts. She has a BFA in Writing for Film & Television from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. She is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling and USA Today bestselling series, Red Queen, and #1 New York Times bestsellers Realm Breaker and Blade Breaker.

For readers who haven’t had a chance to dive into the series, can you give us a quick elevator pitch for your new book, Blade Breaker? 

I like to say the REALM BREAKER series is Lord of the Rings meets Guardians of the Galaxy, and Blade Breaker is the natural escalation of book 1. We now know what our heroes are up against, and somehow things only seem to be getting worse. But our not-so-heroes continue to fight, both to save the world, and to save their own skins.


You’ve said that the Realm Breaker series is both a love-letter and loathe-letter, inspired by and in spite of Tolkien. Can you tell us what you mean by this? 

When I was first brainstorming a new series, I felt a little overwhelmed by the pressure of following up a series like RED QUEEN, which had monumental support and success. So I tried to shut down any kind of internal anxiety and asked myself, what did I want to read when I was 15 years old? What was I loving and looking for? The answer was The Lord of the Rings. I deeply love that story, and have since I was 11 years old, but I’ve also never quite felt loved back by it. There was no room for teenage girls in the Fellowship of the Ring. Or any other person who wasn’t a straight white man. So I approached my new ideas with that in mind – I wanted to feed that appetite for a classic fantasy adventure, and add a little more space in it. Realm Breaker is shamelessly born of my love of LOTR, and also fueled by the hunger it left in me, for stories like it with more room for me.


You’re a leading voice on BookTok and have amassed a great following by sharing the behind the scenes glimpses of the series and bits of your life. What is it about TikTok that you enjoy connecting to your readers? 

While Twitter runs on rage, TikTok seems to run on joy. Specifically, the BookTok community, which is held up by reading reviews and recommendations of what people love. In my experience, it’s a much more positive space, with books people love getting much more traction. It’s also an incredibly genuine space, in that no amount of author or publisher force can make a book HIT the way a true groundswell of TikTok users can. Every single TikTok/BookTok “hit” became so because readers loved it.


This is your second series–were there any surprises in the writing process that differed from your first?

The compounding factors of the job really affect my drafting time, but the drafting itself stays the same. I worldbuild and outline, I write chronologically, I get my first draft in by deadline, and then we go through edits. That’s all usually very straightforward. It’s the extras that change, especially learning more about the publishing industry and knowing what I do now versus how little I was aware of when Red Queen first published. So I guess the surprises now are that I’m not surprised on the murkier business aspects? Which is.a double-edged sword. Now I know how much more there is to deal with, and I have to find ways to cope with that while also being present creatively.


When you were younger, you spent time creating maps of imaginary worlds, paving the way for the gorgeous map you created of Allward in Realm Breaker and Blade Breaker. Can you tell us about what went into creating that map? Did you draw inspiration from any other maps or books? 

Obviously, worldbuilding for me starts with a map (once I have the general concept and idea of a story). I go in with my parameters of what story I’m trying to tell, usually with some characters and plot in mind, and draft a map for that story to take place in. At first, I started too far back in mapmaking – with tectonic plates. But I quickly realized that wasn’t going to work out and skipped ahead to landmass formations. For Realm Breaker, the realm of Allward was very obviously taken from the geography of the Mediterranean Sea, with Europe, North Africa, and the Middle-East. Allward is its mirror image, with some liberties taken, which helped me easily figure out biomes, weather patterns, and climate. Once you have your mountain ranges, rivers, climate, wind patterns, and currents set, you can really start breaking down culture and politics. Geography informs the evolution of civilization at the molecular level, which will also help inform pieces of your story and character. My challenge isn’t how to worldbuild, but how to stop. Eventually I have to pull myself out and start actually writing, and allow myself to figure some things out along the way. Or else the book itself will never get written.


For new readers, how would you describe a signature Victoria Aveyard book? 

To me, storytelling is manipulation. We are manipulating an audience into caring about something or someone that isn’t real. So I would say my books are very much created with manipulation in mind, to elicit the response I want from my audience. If that means lying to them about a character, or introducing a twist to keep the audience off balance, that’s what I do. Everything is about creating that suspension of disbelief that will let an audience follow me anywhere. So I like to think my books are high intensity, and maybe a bit stressful. 🙂


When you’re not writing, what brings you joy?

I’m really working on keeping a steady balance between work and life. I do not write on weekends, I don’t work after 5pm if I can help it, and I’m doing everything I can to keep the social media requirements of my job from feeling omnipresent. This way I can compartmentalize and when work is done, work is DONE and out of my brain. This allows me to really enjoy the other aspects of my life, like being with the people I love, my dog, and traveling. I live at the beach, which is a literal breath of fresh air after hours of staring at a screen. And while I wouldn’t say I have particular hobbies, I do try to find joy in my every day life. It isn’t hard, I’m so lucky and blessed by the life I live, largely because of the people in it! So my joy can be as mundane as making myself a really nice coffee, meeting friends for dinner, or taking my dog on the beach walk.

Enter for the chance to win a copy of Realm Breaker and Blade Breaker by Victoria Aveyard


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