Book: Threats of Sky and Sea
Author: Jennifer Ellison
Synopsis: Sixteen year-old Breena Perdit has spent her life as a barmaid, innocent to her father’s past and happily free from the Elemental gifts that would condemn her to a life in the Egrian King’s army. Until the day that three Elemental soldiers recognize her father as a traitor to the throne and Bree’s father is thrown in jail—along with the secrets from his last mission as the King’s assassin. Secrets that could help the King win a war. Secrets he refuses to share.
Desperate to escape before the King’s capricious whims prove her and her father’s downfall, Bree bargains with him: information for their lives. It’s a good trade. And she has faith she’ll get them both out of the King’s grasp with time.
But that was before the discovery that she’s the weapon the King’s been waiting for in his war.
Now, time is running out. To save her father’s life and understand her own, Bree must unravel the knot of her father’s past before the King takes his life– and uses her to bring a nation to its knees.
I confess to being a bit of an assassin.
I’ve slain “darlings” left and right in my books. Scenes that I truly loved perished, but I had to face the facts—they needed to bite the dust.
As writers, we’re very often told to kill our darlings. Told not to become overly attached to particular lines, scenes, or characters. And I do think that there is a certain amount of wisdom to that. We have to be ruthless in our writing and editing.
When I wrote the first novel in my YA fantasy series, Threats of Sky and Sea, I had to cut a great many scenes. Including the first one to ever jump into my head—the one that inspired the entire series. The novel was stronger for it.
But there’s also an argument to be made for those lines that we love. There’s things to be said in favor of scenes that make our little writer hearts fill with glee. Those are, after all, the emotions we want to spark in our readers.
One of my favorite parts of Threats of Sky and Sea is one that I almost cut. It stood out to me and I found myself biting my lips over it. Would it stand out to readers, too—but in a bad way? Did it flow with the rest of the novel?
I kept it. And I’ve found that it’s a passage that readers remark upon rather often. And yes, in a good way.
I think the truly important thing is not to kill all of our darlings. I think it’s more important to be able to have the necessary distance and perspective in editing your work so that we can isolate what, in our writing, just isn’t working.
And it’s extra rewarding, when you have that distance, to have those golden moments when you realize what is working. And which darlings can survive.
About the Author
Jennifer Ellision spent a great deal of her childhood staying up past her bedtime with a book and a flashlight. When she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read, she started writing them, majoring in Creative Writing at the University of Central Florida. She loves words, has a soft spot for fanfiction, and is a master of the fangirl flail. She resides in South Florida with her family, where she lives in fear of temperatures below 60 Fahrenheit.
Jennifer is the author of the YA fantasy series, Threats of Sky and Sea, as well as the New Adult contemporary novel, Now and Again.