Monday 30 April 2018


Interview With 'Everless' Author Sara Holland

At the end of last year I read incredibly gripping YA fantasy novel Everless, which is set in a dark world where time is a currency drawn from people's blood. Not only was it a highly original concept, but it was also incredibly well put together and I've been extensively recommending this book on- and offline ever since. So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit publisher Hachette to interview none other than author Sara Holland herself about the inspiration behind her novel, the upcoming sequel and so much more!

Hi Sara, thank you for being on Page to Stage today, I loved Everless so so much! For anyone who hasn't read the book yet, can you describe in a single sentence what it's about?

Everless takes place in a world where time is literally money and it can be bought and sold and stolen and ordered, and in the midst of this the main character Jules to save her dying father goes to this Downton Abbey-esque estate to earn money – or time – and she discovers some dark secrets, makes new friends, there's a little bit of romance, and she learns a secret about herself.

Blood containing the power of time and using it as a currency is a very unique concept for a novel, what sparked the idea? 

We already have our concept of time as money, which is a pretty common saying, and I feel like this is abstractly true in a lot of ways.

When I started writing Everless I was actually working at a Starbucks, as with any wage job you're told your time is worth $10 or $12 an hour. And I was like, 'what if that is literally true? What would that world look like? How would it be different from our world? And how would it be the same?'

It was interesting to take that abstract truth and make it the concrete, literal truth.

"Everless takes place in a world where time is literally money."

And make it a very, very dark world at the same time!

Yeah, I figured it would have to come out of your body somehow. A violent concept in a violent world made sense, so time out of blood made sense.

You have a story within a story with the myth of the Alchemist and the Sorcerer running throughout as well, adding another layer of depth. Where did this idea come from?

I really love stories within a story – everything from Frankenstein, where the whole thing is supposed to be a letter, and in Harry Potter you have the textbooks they read and the myths they have – and so I definitely wanted to have that element in there.

The central myth is that of the Alchemist and the Sorcerer and I wanted echoes of that story to have real implications in Jules' world – and you know how that turns out. I was also interested in exploring how the passage of time can warp and twist the story so it can mean something totally different.

In Sempera, the Alchemist and Sorcerer are enemies and one has chased the other through hundreds and hundreds of years. I was interested in exploring whether that was the real story or if there is more to it that people don't know about. What's true and what's not?

With a strong good vs evil power struggle at its core, Sempera doesn't seem a very safe environment to live in but is there anything from your fictional setting you'd love to see become a reality in our world? 

I wouldn't want most of it in our world because it is scary, but one thing I would want to see is how the Queen chooses her heir; she adopts an orphan. As you know, this mostly didn't work out until Ina came along, but I think that would be a really cool thin,g to choose the next powerful class from orphans. So the least empowered has a chance to rise to the top.

"I was also interested in exploring how the passage of time can warp and twist the story so it can mean something totally different."

And do you think it's right for the Queen to choose the next heir or should it be a more democratic process but still from a pool of people that deserve to rise to the top rather than what privileges they're born into?

In the world of Sempera it's babies that are chosen so they haven't had a chance to do anything deserving or not. Meritocracy would be great if we can implement it – that's what we tell ourselves we're doing in the States – but I'd have to think about it some more. Ina was an orphan abandoned on the beach and now she's going to be the Queen.

Can you tell me something about the next book that you've not shared before?

We get to see the Academy and the city where Liam grew up and studied, which is really exciting because I love school stories.

Oh cool! Is this in present time, or are they flashbacks?

We get to see it in the present time; meet some of Liam's friends and explore his backstory more.

Everless is the first in a duology. And while Evermore will not be published for a while, looking beyond the world of Sempera what genres or themes would you be keen to explore in future books? 

A lot of my favourite books, like The Shadow Hunters, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, or even Harry Potter, take place in our modern world and it's a sense of 'magic can be just around the corner'. I really love that idea. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I want to think I can find magic. So I would love to write something like that someday, where it's set in our real world but there is an underworld of fantasy.

Speaking of Harry Potter, what Hogwarts Houses would you sort the main characters of Everless in?

I think Jules would be in Gryffindor, Ina would be in Hufflepuff, Liam would be Ravenclaw and Caro would be Slytherin. I didn't mean it to slide out so neatly, but it worked out.

"I would love to write something like that someday, where it's set in our real world but there is an underworld of fantasy."

What is the best book you've read this year so far that everyone else should read right now?

It's so hard to pick favourites, but I recently finished The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. It's set in a world where everyone's born with gray skin and red eyes and there is a group of girls, the Belles, who have the magical power to make people beautiful; people have to pay for their services.

Main character Camellia goes to the palace to be the Belle to the royal family – and it's amazing. It's set in this really lush Paris, New Orleans and Japan inspired world. And there are food descriptions, dress descriptions and architecture, and everything is so vivid and beautiful but there is a dark centre once you get farther in.

I think people who liked Everless would also like that because it has that similar magical, glittering world with a dark core.

And, finally, if someone is still undecided on whether they should pick up Everless as their next read, what three words would you use to describe the book to persuade them?

My friend Mark Oshiro, who wrote Anger Is a Gift, described it as "super messed up", which I actually think is a huge compliment – although he didn't say 'messed up'! But other than that I'd say: dark, glamour, secrets.

Sounds intriguing! Awesome, well thanks so much it was lovely talking to you!

Everless is published by Hachette Children's Group and you can get your copy now from Foyles or your own preferred retailer.

🎵 Listening to: Fall Out Boy – My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark

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