Saturday, February 13, 2021

"We Are the Fire"

Sam Taylor grew up in Arizona's desert and now lives among Connecticut's trees. She writes fantasy novels for teenagers, and magic is always at the heart of her stories. (What world isn't better with a bit of magic?)

For her writing, Taylor has won the Tassy Walden Award for New Voices in Children's Literature and twice received the Young Adult Romance Writers of America Rosemary Award. She's worked as a proofreader, copywriter, and instructor of university writing courses before deciding to write her own books.

Taylor applied the Page 69 Test to We Are the Fire, her debut novel, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“I need to see there’s a real chance we can win. I won’t risk everything for nothing, like the Scarlet Embers.”

“The Embers weren’t organized,” Pran said. “They didn’t have the strength or skills to win. But we don’t have to fail like them. There are plenty of Tuliis among us capable of this fight, if they’ll only commit to the cause.”

“I know what you’re trying to say—” Yalku began.

“Do you? Because an effort like this needs fighters like you. That’s what will make the difference between freedom and the half-life in this fort.”

Yalku crumpled a card in his fist. “All we’ll have is a half life, no matter where we stand. We’re half human, half monster, pulling fire from a crackle of light. No one can change that.”

“No, we can’t.” Pran didn’t know if the strange weight settling in his chest was resignation or relief. “But if we’re stuck with these powers ... wouldn’t you rather use them to protect your own people? We can lead these troops to fight for our own homes, rather than die for an emperor who only sees us as tools. You’d do anything for your people. Won’t you help me free them from Vesimaa’s rule? You can help me make a difference for all.”
This comes from the scene where Pran is trying to convince his closest friends to rise up in rebellion against their Commanders and the Emperor, and free themselves from the fiery army they’ve been forced into. The Scarlet Embers mentioned are a new troop of soldiers who appeared to launch a rebellion of their own in the first chapter… one that failed miserably and ended with all of those soldiers obliterated by the Commanders.

While this page doesn’t have Pran in conversation with Oksana—his girlfriend and the book’s other point-of-view character—it still presents some of Pran’s key struggles and goals for the whole book. Up to this point he’d been searching for a way to free them from the army, and has finally landed on a plan that he believes will work.

But convincing others to support his cause is a constant struggle for Pran when the young soldiers are pitted against powerful and relentless Commanders, as well as their own compromised humanity: transformed by the army’s alchemist into demon-like beings who can breathe sparks into flames. Even some of the most important people in Pran’s life—like his best friend Yalku, as seen here—constantly question Pran’s plans and his ability to succeed. But Pran knows what he wants and keeps after it, always spinning his words to persuade the people he needs to his side.
Visit Sam Taylor's website.

--Marshal Zeringue