Poured Over: Sarah J. Maas on House of Sky and Breath

“…It means the world to me to witness any kind of massive scale love of books.” Sarah J. Maas knows how to build worlds that readers never want to leave. The second installment of her fiery (and spicy) Crescent City series, House of Sky and Breath, is just out and Sarah joins us on the show to riff on #booktok, fandom, the screen adaptation she’s working on with Ron Moore, her love of Lord of the Rings and Jane Austen, her playlists, and more. Featured Books: House of Sky and Breath and House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas, Twin Crowns by Catherine Doyle and Katherine Webber, and Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

This episode of Poured Over was produced by Miwa Messer, hosted by Kat Sarfas and mixed by Harry Liang. New episodes land Tuesdays and Thursdays (with occasional bonus episodes Saturdays) here and on your favorite podcast app.

B&N: There’s no doubt that #booktok loves you. We love #booktok. And I have to say that I am. I am insanely jealous that #booktok was not around when I was younger, I feel like I did those same things. I threw books across the room and cried and just devoured stories and had love affairs with authors, and not many people to voice those feelings towards except my other weirdo friends, and we loved it. And now seeing this sort of explosion through social media for books–which is just amazing. It’s just really exciting. So many new readers have come to your series through #booktok, what has this sort of explosion of heartfelt fandom meant to you,

Sarah J. Maas: it’s insane in the best possible way. Like I was literally just like you like in high school, like, I went to high school in the early 2000s. And like, we had the internet, but like, there was no Twitter, no #booktok, like none of that. So I was actually the only one out of my whole group of friends that was reading fantasy writing fantasy. I felt like a freak of nature. Like all the time … I felt like I had no one to talk to about any of these things, things that like made me feel like I was alive and excited. And like these characters that felt real. And then I’d like go into school and like everyone would be like, quote, unquote, normal. And I’d be like, how can you guys be functioning like when this huge thing just happened?

B&N: So how did how did [House of] Earth and Blood start for you? Was it the world…was it Bryce? What was that spark where you were like, Huh, I’m gonna just start all overI’m gonna embark on a whole new world, a whole new set of characters.

Sarah J. Maas: Well, I have been a reader and like, mega fan girl, of paranormal romance/urban fantasy, for so many years and I had never thought that I could write a story like that…I was so used to high fantasy being like my default dream state, like, you know, creative vibe that in the back of my mind, like I would love to write a story like that one day, but like I had no ideas for it. And then I was on tour for one of my books years and years ago, I feel like it might have been Queen of Shadows, or one of the Throne of Glass books and I was on an airplane, listening to a piece of music from the Gravity soundtrack, the film with Sandra Bullock, which is amazing. And out of the blue, I saw this whole scene play, like I can’t explain like where the ideas come from. I don’t know, it’s like whatever thing’s going on in my brain started firing listening to this music, and all of a sudden I saw this scene emerge where this redheaded young woman was in like the middle of like a bombed out city in front of this like glowing pillar with these like weird looking dial things in front of her calling out for help. And like her dead best friend answers. It was just this random blip and I was so moved by it, I started crying in the middle of an airplane, which is like super embarrassing but I was like okay, I’m like having a massive reaction and so for that whole flight listened to that same piece of music again and again and again. And as I did like more and more of the world kind of like opened up where I more clearly saw Bryce…