The first book in an epic, heart-pounding fantasy duology about two royal heirs betrothed to be married, but whose loyalties are torn, and a ruthless enemy who threatens their world, perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Hafsah Faizal, and Renée Ahdieh.
Adraa is the royal heir of Belwar, a talented witch on the cusp of taking her royal ceremony test, and a girl who just wants to prove her worth to her people.
Jatin is the royal heir to Naupure, a competitive wizard who’s mastered all nine colors of magic, and a boy anxious to return home for the first time since he was a child.
Together, their arranged marriage will unite two of Wickery’s most powerful kingdoms. But after years of rivalry from afar, Adraa and Jatin only agree on one thing: their reunion will be anything but sweet.
Only, destiny has other plans and with the criminal underbelly of Belwar suddenly making a move for control, their paths cross…and neither realizes who the other is, adopting separate secret identities instead.
Between dodging deathly spells and keeping their true selves hidden, the pair must learn to put their trust in the other if either is to uncover the real threat. Now Wickery’s fate is in the hands of rivals..? Fiancées..? Partners..? Whatever they are, it’s complicated and bound for greatness or destruction.
1. My sincere congratulations on your debut! Did you always know you wanted to be an author? How does it feel to have your book going out into the world?
The answer is yes! From a very young age I wanted to be a traditionally published author. In fourth grade I stuck a pencil in my hair and carried a notepad and declared the profession when we were supposed to dress up for our dream job. For many years it felt like only that – a dream. One I became less and less vocal about in high school and college. Only in querying, submitting my work, and joining writing groups did I publicly verbalize how much I wanted this.
Thus, to have my book coming out in the world is indescribable in many ways. I can’t believe it is finally happening and truthfully, excitement takes over the nerves. I’m so happy to hear people are reading my debut in e-ARC form. I just can’t wait to hold the book in my hands and see it’s a real thing that nine-year-old me fantasized about. Half the dedication is even to my younger self, telling her we did it. We finally did it.
2. What advice would you give to future debut authors?
The best advice and probably hardest to take is to not compare yourself to others. No one’s publishing journey is the same and the only thing you can control is the writing. I do hope no one in the future has a debut year like the debuts of 2020, but it’s taught me a lot about perseverance, patience and how to realign your expectations. But no matter the circumstances of debuting, I think we all have to figure out how to not move new goal posts for ourselves every single step of the way.
3. Where did the idea for Cast in Firelight come from?
From various places like most books I presume. While the idea came while I was doing sit-ups in a gym, for me book ideas never come fully formed. All the detail and decisions happened while writing since I’m a pantser. And many of those decisions were formed in what I love most about stories and what I wanted to see on the shelf for myself and my future children.
I mixed together my favorite tropes like mistaken identities, secret identities, and rivals-to-lovers that came from favorite childhood movies and favorite fantasy books. I started this book and everything very much with the mantra of ‘write what I would love to read.’
4. I love Adraa! She is fierce, yet flawed, and I love that about her. What more can you tell future readers about her?
She’s a red forte witch, meaning she’s most skilled in fire magic. In the book she’s invented a thing called Firelight, which is like a magical lightbulb. When she discovers the criminal underground are stealing her invention, she dons a mask to stop them.
She’s also caring, determined and desperate to be the ruler of her country. I can tell you her voice was always infused with spunk and sass. Many of her internal and external struggles stem from the same thing – the fear of failure and the fear she will not measure up to society’s expectations. I wanted her just as you described. Fierce yet flawed is a perfect descriptor. I hope she inspires and is relatable at the same time.
5. Jatin is another strong character. What can you tell readers about him?
Jatin is a white forte wizard, which means he’s most skilled in ice magic. He’s traveling back home after studying aboard and once he meets Adraa (though he doesn’t know she’s his fiancé) he joins the quest to find the missing Firelight and figure out why it is being stolen.
Jatin was always a little harder for me to write and grasp his voice. While Adraa is fierce yet flawed Jatin is arrogant, but loveable (at least to me). He’s more layered of a character in that he doesn’t worry about his competence, but whether he can find friendship, love and his place in the world.
6. I loved the rivalry to lovers trope in Cast in Firelight. What are some of your favorite tropes?
I love rivals-to-lovers and why I included it in Cast in Firelight. Other tropes in the book I love are mistaken identities, secret identities, one character heals other characters all while feelings are happening.
Other tropes I love in books and movies and may write one day include: enemies-to-lovers, there’s only one bed scenes, girl disguises herself as a boy for reasons, and fake dating. In terms of fantasy tropes I love: “Here comes the cavalry” scenes, training montages, girl proves herself or just strong women in general, and tournament plots.
7. This book has a fascinating mythology and magic system. How did you come up with the idea and have it all play out?
Again, I’d say it wasn’t inspiration as much as me wanting a few things out of the magic system and its rules and using that to create it in a way that made sense and fit together. The most important aspect I wanted was for the magic to be visual as I saw many of the scenes, especially fight scenes, playing out in my head. Two, I wanted a pantheon of Gods, so I connected colors with abilities and the deities. These two things founded the backbone of the magic system. Much of the details again came from puzzling it out, writing as I went, and then good old-fashioned revision.
8. Anything that you’d like readers to take away from your book?
Yes, I would love readers to have fun and escape. Underneath all the fun is a message about understanding you are more than one thing. I love writing about identity and finding yourself as a teen, but I wanted to showcase how finding yourself can mean embracing different sides of yourself.
9. Who would your dream cast be for Adraa and Jatin if the story were to become a movie?
This is hard because my true dream cast would be actors and actresses who are completely unknown, want to play the part, and are actual teens. But if I had to choose right now for Adraa I’d love either Amita Suman or Simone Ashley. And for Jatin I’d love Suraj Sharma.
10. Where can readers buy signed and personalized copies of your book? Are there preorder goodies?
Yes, I have partnered with a wonderful local indie Bookstore, Books & Books, and will be signing and personalizing all preordered copies.
In regard to a preorder campaign there is one! If you preorder you will receive a bookmark, signed bookplate, two character cards (Adraa and Jatin), an art print, and the chance to win a Cast in Firelight candle. Those that order from Books & Books will also get an exclusive Cast in Firelight sticker.
Preorder link is here: https://shop.booksandbooks.com/book/9780593124215
All the information is on my website here: http://www.danaswiftbooks.com/?page_id=312
And the google form to claim the gifts is here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSelM2ZVAR78K3UaTNpiD3_10wKbit0TeZ8NOg3pKKBR2ThDMQ/viewform