29 Sept 2021

Interview: BY THE BLOOD OF ROWANS by Xan van Rooyen

BY THE BLOOD OF ROWANS

Author: Xan van Rooyen
Series: N/A
Publisher: Skolion
Publication Date: September 28, 2021

Summary:
The Sheehy witches are the most feared and detested family on the island of Inisliath, and none more so than Rowan.

As a deathwalker, Rowan ferries island souls to the Otherworld, experiencing their deaths and carrying their memories like ghosts within him. It's a fated role he accepts even as it inexorably destroys him.

When the magic on the island starts to seep away from the other founding families, everyone blames the Sheehys—especially when islanders start dying.

Ash is sick of their father's fists and constantly having to apologize for who they are. Life on Inisliath might be the fresh start Ash and their mum need, and meeting soft-spoken, curly-haired Rowan feels like the ray of sunshine Ash has desperately needed—but everything goes sideways when Ash's mum becomes lead detective on a series of ritualistic murders allegedly tied to island magic, and Ash's family history.

The islanders are convinced Rowan is guilty, but Ash refuses to believe it. When Ash does some investigating of their own, they discover Rowan is far more likely to be the next victim. With time running out to save Rowan, Ash will have to choose between a life free of their father or the boy they’re starting to love. Meanwhile Rowan will have to decide just how much he's willing to sacrifice to save his family from the darkness about to be unleashed on the island.
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD | Barnes & Noble

Describe BY THE BLOOD OF  ROWANS in 10 words or less.

Xan: A dark story about complicated family, ancient magic, and new love.

What was your favourite scene to write in BY THE BLOOD OF ROWANS?

Xan: Pretty much every scene where Rowan and Ash were together. Also the scenes where Rowan travels to the Otherworld because I could be really imaginative with the description and sensory details there.

What is the most interesting part of writing new magic systems?

Xan: I love coming up with magic systems that are based in extant systems or that borrow  from traditional  folklore. One of the interesting parts of developing my own fictional system is always what the toll will be, how the price of that power will affect my characters, and how much they’re willing to sacrifice for their magic.

Who is your favourite character in this story?

Xan: That’s like asking a parent who their favourite child is!! But honestly, aside from the obvious Rowan and Ash, I have a really soft spot for Deidre. She was inspired, in part, by my favourite character—Delirium—from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series and I really enjoyed writing her wild and carefree character. 

How do you hope people will react to the abuse that Ash faces?

Xan: I know this will be a difficult aspect of the story for some readers, but I made sure to never have too many explicit details on the page, never have any violence happen in real time (in the story) and to center Ash’s feelings  and experiences about what they’ve been through. I also made it explicitly clear that Ash’s gender identity was never what provoked the abuse. I’m hoping that my story won’t be triggering (although it comes with that warning  for a reason) and that people are able to understand Ash’s trauma without it causing any more for them as readers. Sadly, what Ash lives with is a reality for far too many young people, but I never wanted to make my story a book about the abuse Ash lives with because I believe that we are so much more than the hurt we carry.

Both Rowan and Ash have to make difficult decisions. How did you differentiate their thought process as they were making those decisions?

Xan: They are two very different people. Rowan is self-less to a fault, self-sacrificing actually. He always puts his family first so he constantly makes decisions based on what he believes is best for others with very little care for his own well-being. Ash is in a very different place. They have started the journey to claim their space in the world and stop apologizing for who they are, no longer wanting to be made to feel small or not enough, so their decision making process takes their own well-being into consideration a lot more. But ultimately, both my characters are trying to be good people and do the right thing.

What can we expect from you next?

Xan: Hopefully an adult arcano-punk novel set in a futuristic Finland and an adult science-fantasy novella in my Fray-verse story-world. I’ve already had short stories connected to both of these longer works published, so I’m really looking forward to getting these bigger stories out into the world. And who knows… maybe a sequel to Rowans if readers like the book ;)

Climber, tattoo-enthusiast, peanut-butter addict and loyal shibe-minion, Xan van Rooyen is a genderqueer, non-binary storyteller from South Africa, currently living in Finland where the heavy metal is soothing and the cold, dark forests inspiring. Xan has a Master’s degree in music, and–when not teaching–enjoys conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. You can find Xan’s short stories in the likes of Three-Lobed Burning Eye, Daily Science Fiction, Apparition Lit, and The Colored Lens. Xan hangs out on instagram, twitter, and facebook so feel free to say hi over there.


Connect with the Author:

https://linktr.ee/xanvanrooyen

Have you read this book? Are you going to pick this up?

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