Q&A with New York Times bestselling author Tui T. Sutherland

Stephanie Smith  //  Oct 7, 2014

Q&A with New York Times bestselling author Tui T. Sutherland

Welcome Dragonets! Today OOM got the chance to chat with Tui T. Sutherland, New York Times bestselling author of the Wings of Fire series and the fifth book in the popular multiplatform Spirit Animals series Against the Tide.

Tui Sutherland is going on tour this month and we’re super excited to catch up with her! In 2012 Tui introduced middle-grade readers to the Wings of Fire series and the five dragonets (Clay, Tsunami, Glory, Starflight and Sunny) who have been chosen to fulfill a dangerous prophecy that will end the dragon war in Pyrrhia. 

This fall, Tui would like to welcome those same readers to join her on a new journey in the Spirit Animal series.

Here’s what Tui had to say about how readers of Wings of Fire can connect to the new world in Spirit Animals: Against the Tide:

I think (I hope!) that Wings of Fire readers would easily connect to the Spirit Animals world, which was so much fun to write in! There aren’t any dragons, but there are plenty of powerful, awesome, and dangerous animals (I can totally imagine my evil queens Blister and Burn conspiring with Great Beasts Gerathon and Kovo). In Spirit Animals, there are four young people on a quest to save the world, and they’re definitely “chosen” for this destiny by the Four Fallen—like my dragonets, they don’t have a lot of choice about it, and it’s a pretty scary war they have to stop.

Also, writing the sparring, snarky, funny dialogue between they-totally-love-each-other-but-can’t-admit-it Meilin and Rollan was so much fun, much like writing my own they-totally-love-each-other-but-might-have-to-kill-each-other dragons Glory and Deathbringer. Plus there’s a lot of action and some exciting twists all through Spirit Animals: Against the Tide (well, I hope it’s exciting!), so I do believe readers of each series will like the other!

Many readers are eager for Wings of Fire Book Six: Moon Rising (coming January 2015) and are wondering what they can expect next in the series. Any hints, Tui?

The next five books will feature a new set of dragonets, and you’ll meet them all in book 6 (well, actually you’ve met two of them already!). There will also be a new prophecy and new villains to deal with—although there’s at least one old villain still out there (plotting her revenge), and we’ll definitely get to spend time with the original prophecy dragonets, too. But once again, each book will focus on one particular dragon, and that perspective will switch from book to book. 

What inspired Wings of Fire? Are any of the characters based on anyone you know?

Wings of Fire was inspired by a lot of things (like most books!), but it all started in a conversation I had with my marvelous agent, who asked if I had any ideas about dragons. I absolutely love dragons, so that was an easy yes!

I knew I wanted to tell the dragons’ story from their point of view, instead of seeing them through the eyes of humans who ride them or fight them or try to tame them. I kept thinking about a world where dragons and humans co-exist but can’t communicate with each other, and how the dragons would clearly totally rule that world. I imagined they would probably think of the humans as just more prey to be eaten.

I was also thinking a lot about fate vs. free will and whether it’s possible to write an epic fantasy with a big ominous prophecy where the subjects of the prophecy still get to choose their own future. And I was interested in what happens when you take someone out of their natural environment, away from their home and family, and what they’ll end up like—what comes from their nature and how they are changed by the way they are raised.

None of the characters are specifically anyone I know, although I thought a lot about my older son as I was writing Clay. He’s only four now, and he was even younger then, so I wasn’t exactly basing Clay’s personality on him—but I kept thinking about what kind of big brother I’d want him to be, and how I hope he’ll grow up to be kind and protective and sweet-natured, just like Clay (he really seems that way already—although it turns out there’s a fair amount of bossy Tsunami in him, too!).  :)

I think we all want to know, have you taken the dragon quiz? If so, what kind of dragon are you?

Of course, absolutely I have! Not surprisingly (to me or to anyone who knows me!) I was Sunny. I actually think there’s a little bit of me in all of them (and in every character I write), but I really love writing characters like Sunny who are optimistic and totally up for saving the world. I mean, I also understand a character who’d say, “Who, me? I have to save the world? Oh, no, that sounds like a lot of pressure!” But I really enjoy the idea of someone who instead is all: “YES, I knew it, I’ve been waiting for someone to tell me I have a destiny! Point me at the world; I’ll save it right now! YAY!” ;-)