Today, I’m hugely excited to have Ruth Lauren, who wrote one of my favourite reads of this year, here for an interview.
Let’s get started!
Hi Ruth! Thank you so much for agreeing to an interview; welcome to Golden Books Girl
It’s my pleasure, thanks so much for having me!
1. Can you please describe Prisoner of Ice and Snow in 5 words for anyone who hasn`t read it?
Prison Break meets Frozen
2. What inspired you to write the book? Had you always envisaged it as a series, or did you originally plan for just one book?
The idea began when I was watching Prison Break with my son. I wondered what that kind of story would be like if it was about two young sisters instead (and then if it were set in a fantasy land where I could add all sorts of interesting challenges and twists).
I actually only planned a standalone, but every publishing house interested in the story wanted a sequel, and once I started thinking about what might happen to Valor and Sasha next, I knew they were right.
3. The world of Demidova is so vivid and layered. How did you go about your worldbuilding? Were there any high points or challenges during this process?
You’re so kind, thank you!
I wanted a very cold, snowy, frozen world where the elements themselves could cause problems for the characters and bleed through into every part of the planning Valor has to do to try to break her sister out of prison.
Once the setting was fixed in my mind, the details had to reflect the landscape—the animals that inhabit it, the clothes the people need to wear, the food they might be able to access. My editor was brilliant at helping me think about other aspects that add to making the world feel real—like special celebration days in the city, the history of the prison and the geography involved with surrounding lands and how they might impact on the story.
I drew on elements of the Russian landscape and traditional clothing but I also wanted to create a matriarchal world where only women can rule and where they often have positions of power. I wanted the sisters to inhabit a world where they don’t have to struggle or overcome (at least not in this aspect) and it would never occur to them that those positions weren’t open or available to them. They see women in every role in the book—from ruler to doctor to prison guard to hunter. That was a really important part of the world to me.
The whole experience was actually one big high point (or at least it feels like it in retrospect). Prisoner is very different from anything I’d written before and it was a lot of fun to write.
4. Your heroine Valor, is so brave and I really sympathised with her throughout the book, even if I didn`t agree with her decisions. Who would you say your top three heroines are?
Ok, I’m cheating a little bit here.
TV: Buffy, Jessica Jones, Lisa Simpson
Books: Katsa (Graceling), Feo (The Wolf Wilder) and Katniss Everdeen
5. Alongside Valor is a variety of other prisoners who form a fabulous ensemble cast. Which character of these is your favourite?
I have a soft spot for little Feliks, but Katia is my girl.
6. What`s your writing process like? Do you have any unusual habits or quirks?
I really don’t! Just outlining, trying to write 1k a day when I’m drafting, and wondering how people who listen to music when they write can possibly concentrate.
7. If you could have written any book by another author, what would it be and why?
I would love to steal The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern for my own. Or anything by Laini Taylor or Kristin Cashore or Katherine Rundell. Their imaginations feel so much bigger than my own and I know I could never write anything on the scale that the first three do or with the inimitable style that Katherine Rundell does.
8. Finally, before our quickfire round, can you let anything slip about the sequel to Prisoner of Ice and Snow, Seeker to the Crown?
Seeker picks up right where Prisoner left off and with Princess Anastasia now missing, Valor is plunged straight into another exciting mission. More crossbow, more icy danger, and I don’t want to say too much, but a certain monarch may vanish leaving Demidova in chaos . . .
Hogwarts house- I have no idea!
Favourite flavour of ice cream– Salted Caramel
Animal you`d most want to turn into?- Cheetah
City/country you most want to go on holiday to that you haven`t yet? Florence, Italy
Favourite season of the year?- Spring
Thank you so much to Ruth for answering my questions, and Emily at Bloomsbury for setting the interview up!
Hope you’ve enjoyed this post everyone! I’d love to hear what you thought if this book if you’ve read it!