The Big Idea: Victoria Aveyard
Posted on June 30, 2022 Posted by Athena Scalzi 1 Comment
Fantasy is a world of your making, and for New York Times bestselling author Victoria Aveyard, she wanted her world to be inclusive. Read all about how she wanted Blade Breaker to take place in the world that teenage her dreamed of.
I like to say that all writers share three things. Hard work, talent, and luck. I feel that I’ve had far more than my fair share of the third, with my debut series Red Queen reaching a stratosphere of success I never dreamed of. And now I have the particularly strange and gluttonous experience of trying to do it all again. To make lightning strike twice, if not strike somewhere nearby or at least in the same neighborhood. It feels ludicrous to ask readers to follow me into another sand box, but here I am. Here we all are, telling stories and hoping people continue to listen.
Realm Breaker started with questions. What did I want to write next? With Red Queen behind me, I was in the driver’s seat, and my publisher a willing passenger. That’s both liberating and terrifying, to know I could tell whatever story I wanted. So what was it?
Well, what did I want to read when I was fifteen years old? What did the awkward, bespectacled, spotty dork want to spend her time with? That’s an easy answer. I read The Lord of the Rings more than a dozen times through middle school and high school, screened the films more than I care to count, devoured and wrote endless pages of Tolkien fanfiction. All to feel some measure of connection to Middle-Earth, to somewhere as far from my small town and my misfit self as possible. But that connection never really formed. Because Middle-Earth, as wonderful as it is, was never built for me, a teenage girl, as it was not built for many, many people. And while I dearly love the world Tolkien gave us, I also loathe it for being so wonderful – and so excluding at the same time.
But the world is changed. And I’m not that weirdo teen anymore. I’m a weirdo published author with four bestsellers under my belt. Maybe that’s enough to take some steps of my own, down a path Tolkien half-blazed for me?
Another question took form – one of my favorites. What happens when the heroes fail? What happens when the Fellowship of the Ring, the best and most noble warriors, set out on their quest – and they die? Where do we go from there? Who steps up? Who’s the JV team of saving the world?
From this, Realm Breaker spiraled together from all the collected dust in my brain, like a planet forming out of black space. I knew what tale I wanted to tell. A rollicking adventure, a daring quest, gigantic set piece battles and the most delicate personal moments. Bravery, betrayal, slow burning romance, comedy, and tragedy. Not a disembodied dark lord in a distant fortress, but flesh and blood villains with real evil and real emotion in their hearts. Not classic heroes, but the misfits and idiots and criminals who just want to save their own skin, and unfortunately have to save the world to do it.
The world of Realm Breaker was a joy to build. I grew up making imaginary maps and only started writing so I could jot down what was happening in those scribbled rivers and shaky mountains. The land of Allward was a little more precise, built to reflect Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East in the 12th century. I approached with an eye to making the world feel as wide and lived in as possible, and to me, that means diverse. The medieval world was far more diverse than classic storytelling would lead us to believe, with crossroads of trade and culture all over the map. Allward is the same, a realm with many nations in constant states of flux and connection. A place where all kinds of people exist, with the space for readers to see themselves. More than anything, I wanted to make the world feel bigger than the story, existing beyond the characters in one room.
Those characters, of course, are the beating heart of Realm Breaker. I do my best to both honor and break tropes, with each character doing both. The main heroine, Corayne, is very much the wide-eyed Chosen One called to adventure, but also whipsmart and practical, the bastard daughter of a deadbeat hero. Her companions range from an immortal warrior with zero social skills to a painfully realistic assassin, despairing of heroism at every turn. And the villains threatening the world? Try to hate them. I dare you.
It is terrifying to publish a book, and that fear never gets easier, at least for me. It might even be scarier now, knowing the pressure of doing this as a career, with the whims of a publisher and many readers in the balance. But it also feels more rewarding, especially now that Realm Breaker is out in the world. This series in particular was written so entirely for myself, for who I am today and who I was at fifteen. It’s a delightful surprise to find readers who connect to this book in the same way I do. Almost like looking in a mirror, and finding a different reflection, that is still somehow your own.
I hope the same can be said of the sequel, Blade Breaker. Somehow, even more than Realm Breaker, this book feels written for me. I can’t wait to get it into the hands of readers, even while I dig into the third and final installment.
The Realm Breaker series is both love-letter and loathe-letter, inspired by and in spite of Tolkien. I am indebted to The Lord of the Rings for too many things. My personality, to stay the least. But also the want I carry inside myself. The hunger. Tolkien gave me a gift, but pushed it just out of reach. And with every book I write, I feel my fingertips inching a little closer, padding the edges of wrapping paper and ribbon. And maybe there’s a little bit of Elvish writing on the tag, revealed only by flame.
Blade Breaker: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Bookshop
Visit the author’s website. Follow Victoria on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
I, too, spent countless hours reading and writing LOTR fanfiction. If this book stems partly from that, I am there for it!
Congrats on the new series.
daw the minstrel