Have you ever felt guilty about spending time pursuing your craft? Have you ever assigned your self worth to rejection letters? What are some ways for you to discover the writing process that works best for you? We explore all of this and so much more with S.A. Chakraborty.
S.A. is a speculative fiction writer and history buff. She is most recognized for her debut novel, The City of Brass, and her newly released sequel, The Kingdom of Copper.
In our conversation, Shannon tells the story of how she fell in love with writing and how she became a full-time author. She gives us a snapshot of the vivid world she’s crafted in her novels The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper and the inspiration behind it. We talk about her querying process, character-building in fantasy worlds, and giving yourself permission to take time for your creative pursuits. She also dives into her own research process, shares incredible tips on finding your writing style, and the importance of self-care as an author.
Books and resources:
- Eyewitness Book Series published by DK Children
- When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of Islam’s Greatest Dynasty by Hugh Kennedy
- On Writing by Stephen King
- The Moor’s Account by
- The Watermelon Boys by Ruqaya Izzidien
- Check out Shannon’s reading list here!
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Check out these highlights:
- Shannon tells the story of how her love for storytelling gave her the bravery to turn it into a career (4:30)
- How starting a story in an already established world can help give you the courage to start your novel (10:15)
- She shares her inspiration for crafting vivid fantasy worlds grounded in the Muslim traditions (14:20)
- How best to cope with rejections during your querying process (17:00)
- Tips on pushing away guilt and giving yourself permission to enjoy your creative pursuits (20:00)
- Shannon gives a snapshot of the world she’s built in her newly released Daevabad Trilogy books The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper (28:20)
- How Shannon goes about writing on political themes in her fantasy worlds (42:30)
- She shares her experience with the “book two blues” and ways to get through it (44:40)
- Advice on discovering a writing process that works best for you (47:50)
- The importance of self-care, especially as a debut author (49:15)
- How reading historical fiction will help you craft real characters in fantasy worlds (56:00)
- She also answers one of our listener questions:
- “I loved The City of Brass! I was wondering about how Shannon went about the publishing marketing plan? Diverse, female-led, quick-paced fantasies are often automatically sent to YA. So was it hard to get introduced from an adult publisher with a young fantasy heroine? How does she feel about the cross over between upper YA and adult markets?”
“Writing should be fun, and it should be enjoyable because it’s hard enough.”
“If you are down about querying and feel like it’s you, it’s your work, a lot of the times it’s not. It’s worth sticking through, and it’s worth not assigning your self worth to it because so much of it is luck, it’s timing, and connecting those things has nothing to do with you.”
“Do it when you feel like you have this story pouring out of you and you have to write it out.”
“I love my readers. My readers are the reason that I am here and I am still putting a book out. They are the best.”
“A lot of fantasy is getting your characters to feel real when the world is just fantastical.”
Say ‘Hi!’ to Shannon
Learn more about “The Kingdom of Copper”
Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad—and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.
Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of a devastating battle, Nahri must forge a new path for herself. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family—and one misstep will doom her tribe.
Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid—the unpredictable water spirits—have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.
And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.
Learn more about Shannon Chakraborty
Shannon/S. A. Chakraborty is a NY-based speculative fiction writer and history buff. Her debut, The City of Brass, is out now with Harper Voyager. Short-listed for the Locus, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy Awards, The City of Brass is the first book in THE DAEVABAD TRILOGY, an epic fantasy set in the 18th century Middle East. She is an organizer with the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers’ Group, about which more information – including membership – can be found here.
Originally (and proudly!) from New Jersey, S. A. currently resides in Queens with her husband and daughter. When not buried in books about Mughal miniatures and Abbasid political intrigue, she enjoys hiking, knitting, and recreating unnecessarily complicated, medieval meals for her family. You can find her online most frequently at Twitter (@SAChakrabooks) where she likes to ramble about history, politics, and Islamic art.
She is represented by Jennifer Azantian at Azantian Literary Agency.