May 17, 2016

Congrats to Evelyn Skye: THE CROWN'S GAME drops today!

Excited to read Evelyn Skye's debut! The Crown's Game is a fantasy novel set in 19th century Russia that's been drawing rave reviews for its tense pacing and intriguing premise.

The Story

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love... or be killed himself.

The Reviews
“Wildly romantic, wholly immersive, and gloriously over-the-top.”
--Kirkus, starred review

“[S]himmers with pulse-pounding romance, astonishing wand-touched wonders, startling long-buried secrets, and a climax at once tragic and heart-soaring.” 
--School Library Journal

“The Crown’s Game is a captivating tale that deftly transports readers to a mysterious and fascinating fantasy world, one teeming with hidden magic and fiery romance.” 
--Sabaa Tahir, New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes

“Utterly enchanting. The true wizardry is in the atmosphere—Skye crafts a Russia of magic and elegance, depicting St. Petersburg in such a breath-taking way that you’ll swear you’re standing on the banks of the Neva and dancing through the halls of the Winter Palace.” 
--Sara Raasch, author of the Snow Like Ashes trilogy

“Gorgeous and richly imagined, The Crown’s Game is a dazzling exploration of the choices we make when faced with impossible situations and our darker selves. Readers will fall unabashedly in love with this novel.” 
--Sara Grochowski, Brilliant Books

“The Night Circus meets Cinderella in an alternate Russia. This extraordinary world has everything from insanely creative acts of magic, political intrigue, hope against all odds, romance, and oh-such-high-stakes-non-stop action. It is hands-down honest-to-goodness brilliant. Bravo.” 
--Angela Mann, Keplers Books

The Interview

Q: Where did you get the inspiration for your book? 

I have my Bachelor's degree in Russian literature and history, so I've always wanted to write a story set in 19th century Imperial Russia. In fact, the very first manuscript I wrote was a time travel YA that was set half in present day USA, and half in 19th century Russia. (Then I wrote a bunch of other manuscripts--eight in total--before I came back to the idea of a story set in this time and place).

Q: Describe your writing process, from idea to final draft.
I wrote the first draft of The Crown's Game in 36 feverish days, which is the fastest a story has ever tumbled out of me. Next was getting my most trusted critique partners to read (including 2k16 member Emily Martin).

In the meantime, I went to a small writing conference, where I met a senior editor who loved my opening chapters and wanted to read the rest of The Crown's Game. But I had just left my previous agent and was about to query new ones, so I had to ask that editor to wait since I knew I'd be revising with whomever I signed with next.

Happily, the query process went quickly, and my new agent and I did a couple rounds of small revisions before we sent The Crown's Game on submission. We ended up with three big publishers interested and were about to go to auction, when HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray swooped in with a pre-empt offer.

I love my editor, Kristin Rens, so much. She really understands my characters and my story and the feeling of Imperial Russia. She's an intense editor, which is just fantastic, because I love revising. We went through four rounds of revisions before sending The Crown's Game to copyedits, and the book is infinitely better because of Kristin's guidance.

Q: Tell us about your journey, from finding an agent to publication.
I'm a big dork and like lists and timelines, so I'm going to give you one:

Christmas Eve, 2009: Decided to write a YA novel about a time traveling Russian boy and a lost princess.

- Finished that manuscript and thought it was the greatest thing ever.
- Queried that manuscript and discovered it was not, in fact, the greatest thing ever. - Wrote another manuscript (MS #2).

-Wrote MS #3, after honing my craft on the first two. Had three agents offer rep. Signed with a wonderful agent.
- Agent tried to sell MS #3. It did not sell. In the meantime, I wrote MSs #4 and #5.

-Decided I did not like MSs #4 and #5. Set it aside and wrote MS #6.
-Agent tried to sell MS #6. It did not sell. In the meantime, I wrote MSs #7 and #8.

-Decided I did not like MS #7. Set it aside.
-Agent tried to sell MS #8. It did not sell.

- In the pit of despair, I thought about quitting. But then I thought I'd give it one more shot and write the batshit crazy idea I had in my head about star-crossed enchanters who have to battle it out in a magical version of Imperial Russia... So I wrote MS #9. This was The Crown's Game!
- I made the difficult decision to leave my agent.
- I queried agents. There was a lot of interest in my batshit crazy story. I signed with my dream agent, Brianne Johnson at Writers House.
- We did two quick rounds of revisions and sent The Crown's Game out on submission at the end of the year.

- Right after New Year's, I was out at lunch celebrating my mom's birthday when my agent received an offer from HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray. They were in love with The Crown's Game!
- While I was out at lunch celebrating my mom's birthday, my agent received an offer from HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray. They were in love with The Crown's Game!
- But... other major publishing houses also wanted it!
- So we were about to go to auction.
- But HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray wanted it badly and made a preempt offer we could not (and did not) refuse. YAY! Book deal!!

As you can see, it wasn't an easy road. There was a lot of rejection and a lot of perseverance, and a lot of ups and downs. But being a published author is my dream, and now it's really happening!

Q: Why would someone want to buy your book?
Bittersweet, impossible romance.
Big magic and high stakes.
Lush, imperial Russia.
Friendship. Family. Betrayal.

Q: What are your favorite books? What are you reading now?
So hard to choose favorites! My shelves are overflowing with them.... Let's see. I love The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh; I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson; The Winner's Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski; and Anna/Lola/Isla by Stephanie Perkins, to name just a few!

Right now I'm reading The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. I love the Raven Cycle series and can't believe this is the last book. I'm going to read it slowly and savor it!

To lean more, check out The Crown's Game on Amazon and on Goodreads, or follow Evelyn Skye on Twitter.