The Princess Will Save You was one of my favorite books of 2020 and I knew immediately that The Queen Will Betray You was going to be on my most anticipated list for this year. I’m so excited to share my interview with Sarah Henning today!
Welcome Sarah! Thank you for allowing me to interview you! Can you start off by introducing yourself?
Thanks so much for having me, Felicia! I’m a former sports journalist who can’t quite seem to stop writing about royalty, swordfighting, and true love. My latest young adult fantasy, The Queen Will Betray You, is the sequel to last summer’s The Princess Will Save You, which was a gender-swapped take on the damsel-in-distress trope inspired by The Princess Bride. My other books include my debut Sea Witch, its sequel Sea Witch Rising, and a stand-alone sports rom-com called Throw Like a Girl.
How has the publication experience been for you?
I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with teams at three different publishing houses—HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Little, Brown. And they’ve all been wonderful! The Princess Will Save You and The Queen Will Betray You are my pandemic babies and the folks at Macmillan and Tor Teen have taken such good care of them despite these weird and stressful times.
How would you describe The Queen Will Betray You in one sentence?
This is exactly how I pitched it to my editor:
To stay together forever, a princess and her true love must part: him to find his destiny, and her to warn her kingdom of the revenge headed its way. But both find nothing how they expect it to be, and the limits of blood, power, and truth are tested in ways they didn’t see coming.
That’s technically two sentences but you get what I mean!
Can you introduce us to the main character(s) of The Queen Will Betray You?
The main characters are Amarande, princess and heir to the Kingdom of Ardenia, and Luca, her stableboy true love with a past he’s still unraveling.
For anyone who is unfamiliar with The Princess Bride, what elements from it did you bring into this series?
When you are writing a retelling or a story that is inspired by another, something you learn to accept as a writer is that no matter what you do you will engage with the readers’ experience with the original text—even if they haven’t read it!
Also, I would like the chance to say that, yes, I’m never going to be as funny as William Goldman, ever. Like, if you open these books because you love the humor in The Princess Bride, there’s no way on earth I could touch that, so I didn’t even try. There are some funny moments and characters but it is not overtly funny and I didn’t intend it to be.
Do you know from the beginning how your books will end or do you let your characters decide their journey?
In the case of The Princess Will Save You, I knew from the first day how the last act and epilogue would play out. Those twists at the end? Yep, I wrote toward them with my eye on the prize the whole time! But usually I do let my characters tell me, in a way. I’m sort of a hybrid plotter/pantser by nature. I often have the first act of my books really clear in my mind before I write, and everything at the end is sort of flashes—like when you walk in a room for a second and a movie is playing. Usually, as I write, the journey starts to solidify the further into it I get, and then there’s always a tipping point where I’m rumbling toward the end and knowing exactly where I’m going. When I do have to outline books completely before starting, I also go through these same steps, and then again as I’m writing if I’ve deviated from my original plan. And I do like deviating because I think sometimes your first idea isn’t your best!
Do you have a favorite scene, moment, or quote from the book?
With this book? Oh, so many. And they’re all so spoilery! I will say, there’s a moment where Amarande and Luca cross paths in a way where only one of them is aware of it, and it was so much fun to write that whole sequence.
Was there any differences in how you approached writing The Queen Will Betray You compared to the first book, The Princess Will Save You?
Yes and no. The Princess Will Save You set the table, and I had to make sure everything was accounted for before picking it all up in The Queen Will Betray You. The Queen Will Betray You was definitely much more difficult to write because of what was set in stone and the way the story and cast grew while I was writing Princess. Then the pandemic hit and that made it so hard creatively. Therefore, Queen has been the book that I’ve rewritten the most in my career. I’m so happy with the way it turned out but it took me forever to get there!
Kingdoms of Sky & Sand was originally stated to be a duology. How did you know it needed to be a trilogy instead?
See my previous answer about the cast and story growing! LOL. I did plan it as a duology and we weren’t sure there would be a third book until literally the last second in the editing process. There were so many more threads and pieces to the story that I wanted to explore and I’m lucky that my readers and Tor Teen allowed for one more time into the Torrent!
What are three books you would recommend if someone enjoyed The Queen Will Betray You?
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown; The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen; Seafire by Natalie C. Parker.
What’s next for you? Anything you can share?
I have two books out in 2022! The third and final book in this series, The King Will Kill You, is out in August 2022, while a YA contemporary sports rom-com called It’s All In How You Fall is out in May 2022.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The breathtaking sequel to The Princess Will Save You in the Kingdoms of Sand and Sky duology — a brilliantly-executed YA fantasy homage to The Princess Bride
To stay together forever, Princess Amarande and her stableboy love, Luca, must part: Amarande to reclaim her kingdom from usurpers, and Luca to raise a rebellion and find his destiny. Arrayed against them are all the players in the game of thrones for control over the continent of The Sand and Sky. Facing unspeakable betrayals, enemies hidden in the shadows, and insurmountable odds, their only hope is the power of true love…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Henning is a recovering journalist who has worked for the Palm Beach Post, Kansas City Star and Associated Press, among others. While in South Florida, Sarah lived and worked through five hurricanes, which gave her an extreme respect for the ocean. When not writing, she runs ultramarathons, hits the playground with her two kids and hangs out with her husband Justin, who doubles as her long-suffering IT department. Sarah lives in Lawrence, Kansas, which, despite being extremely far from the beach, happens to be pretty cool.