I’m so excited to be a part of the book tour for The Firebird Song by Arnée Flores that is hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours. I was really excited to also be able to interview the author for this book!
Congratulations on the publication of The Firebird Song! How has the publication experience been for you?
Thank you so much! It has been a DREAM so far! Bloomsbury is the perfect publisher for my debut. Everyone I’ve worked with has been super kind and supportive of the number of exclamation points I use in emails. Other Bloomsbury authors have reached out and loved on me while I’ve been navigating all this newness and it’s been one of the most wonderful periods of my life. I will say that I have been a bit shocked by how much there is to do on top of actually writing. There’s a big difference between being a writer and being an author. It’s such an adventure, though! —Especially during covid!
How would you describe The Firebird Song in one sentence?
A fast-paced, fantasy adventure set in a hopeless kingdom without warmth, full of monsters, magic, myth, and heart.
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of The Firebird Song?
Absolutely! Calliope is twelve years old. She has spent her entire life living aboard a gilded barge on an underground lake. Her only friends are the animals she folds from paper. She has only ever had one visitor, a man named Meredith. One day, when Meredith tells her that she is the Lost Princess of Lyrica and that she has been hidden away to keep her safe from the monsters above, Calliope determines that she must DO SOMETHING. She leaves the cavern and heads out into the world where there are more dangers than she ever expected.
Prewitt is also twelve. He has grown up in the shadow of the evil Spectress’s rule. He has been beaten by the fear of the Spectress’s men and her monsters, and he has learned to keep his head down. But when his Granny Arila is killed, he knows he can’t do nothing anymore. He is determined to find the Lost Princess and fix everything.
The two team up but they struggle to see eye-to-eye. Eventually, they become friends—so much so, that they are each willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to keep the other safe.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
I do like to have a general idea of where I’m going, but I don’t always know exactly what will happen. I map things out a bit, but I’ve found that it’s hard for me to stick to the map. I feel the tug of my characters too strongly, and it takes the joy out of it if I have a rigid plan that I have to follow. I like to see where things end up. Sometimes that works out. . . sometimes it’s a hot mess. Either way, it’s a fun surprise.
Was there anything that was cut from the book that you were sad to see go?
YES! When I queried this book, it was 100k words! When I sent it out on submission, it was 50k! In the original version, I had tucked fairy tales between the chapters. In the end, my agent and I decided the fairy tales needed to be taken out, and it was so, so sad. I had so much fun writing them, but it is a better, more concise book without them.
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
I love the ending. I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a general feeling that I get every time I read it that makes me so happy. I think, this is why I write. I love how Calliope comes into her own, and I especially love the way that Prewitt sees her in the end. It shows how much their characters have changed and how much the world itself has changed. I think it works really well, and I am still a little shocked that I wrote it.
If you were going on this journey with Prewitt and Calliope, what role do you think you would play?
Oh goodness, I would be SUCH a downer on a trip like this. I would be trying to keep them inside and keep them safe. I would absolutely be just like all the other adults in this story telling them to stay hidden and let the grown-ups handle it. Ha! But, if I could go back in time to when I was a child, I would be right there with them. I imagine that I would be in the Glade with the Glade Girls, and I hope that when Calliope and Prewitt ask for help, I would jump at the chance.
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed The Firebird Song?
- MAGYK by Angie Sage
- THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON by Kelly Barnhill
- PRINCESS ACADEMY by Shannon Hale
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
I’m working on the sequel to THE FIREBIRD SONG! I’m having so much fun writing it and imagining where these characters will go next!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Debut author Arnée Flores spins an exciting and original tale about hope in even the darkest of places, perfect for fans of Shannon Hale.
The Kingdom of Lyrica was once warm and thriving, kept safe by the Firebird, whose feather and song was a blessing of peace and prosperity. But the Firebird disappeared, and Lyrica is now terrorized by the evil Spectress who wields her powers from within a volcano. All that remains is a mysterious message scrawled on the castle wall in the Queen’s own hand: Wind. Woman. Thief.
Young Prewitt has only known time without the Firebird, a life of constant cold, as his village is afraid to tempt the volcano monsters with even the feeblest fire. But he has heard whispers that the kingdom’s princess survived the attack . . . and he is certain that if he can find her, together they can save Lyrica.
Princess Calliope has no memories beyond living on her barge on the underground lake. But as she nears her twelfth birthday, she is certain there is more to life than the walls of a cave. When Prewitt finds her, he realizes that she is the missing princess: the only hope for Lyrica. Determined to decipher the meaning of her mother’s strange message and find the Firebird, Calliope and Prewitt set off on a quest that puts them in more danger than either of them ever anticipated.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Arnée Flores spent her childhood shifting across rural Washington towns, lugging along boxes of books, and switching schools nine times before her family finally settled down on a wheat farm in the tiny town of Reardan, Washington.
Arnée identifies as Vietnamese American, but as a transracial adoptee raised by a Caucasian family in small-town America, she grew up feeling displaced.
It took a long while and a winding path for her to find herself. She spent a few nomadic years exploring, working odd jobs, and studying subjects from Piano Performance at Washington State University to Pre-Law and Political Science at Gonzaga before she finally understood that all she really wanted was to stay in one place and write the kinds of stories that had helped her feel safe during her chaotic childhood.
Today, she can be found collecting rocks, shells, and other curiosities on the beach near her Seattle apartment, all the while dreaming up wild and magical tales, her little white dog splashing along behind her through the tide pools.