11 March 2016

Phoenix Burning by Bryony Pearce | Blog Tour and Author Interview

Title: Phoenix Burning
Author: Byrony Pearce
Pages: 409
Genre: Dystopian, Science-Fiction, Young Adult
Book Description:
Toby and Ayla have to infiltrate a sect of sun worshippers to steal the equipment their ships need. They enter a trial to be chosen as the Sun and the Moon, a position of great honour for the sect. As the trial commences, Toby and Ayla discover the true cost of failure. But there are other young couples who are equally desperate to win...Can Toby and Ayla survive days without sleep, hours sitting in the blistering sun and a deadly maze? They'll need to work together to win - their mission depends on it...
Perfect for fans of Veronica Roth, Anthony Horowitz, Philip Reeve and Suzanne Collins.

I received a physical copy of this novel from the author and the wonderful people at Little Tiger Press (Stripes publishing) in return for an honest review! This has in no way affected my opinion of the novel. I'd like to say a special thanks to them for allowing me to be a part of the tour!

My Opinion:
After receiving the first novel in this series, Phoenix Rising (you can read my review here), I jumped at the chance to join the journey again! This time, we follow Toby and Ayla as they join forces to try and find the missing piece that will get them to the island. Encountering hardships, deepening feelings and plenty of heat, this novel overall was a fantastic sequel!

Sometimes with series, the following novels can lose the spark the first one held. This one didn't! It was just as intriguing and gripping as the first, maybe even more so. I loved the twists and turns, not quite knowing what was going to happen next and who could be trusted on either ships!

The ending was my favourite part because it just leaves so many  possibilities, hopefully for a third novel! I really enjoyed the revelation on the final pages, which tied up all the loose ends and brought the novel closure, whilst at the same time leaving it open for more possible adventures.

Similarly to Phoenix Rising, there was wonderful character development. It was so good to see the introduction of many new characters as well as the same crew. I liked discovering the back stories of each ship causing them to be the way they that are. And of course, the intensification of the romance was a lovely feature to involve, because even that included unexpected twists in itself!

Overall, this was a fabulous sequel to the series, with Phoenix Rising and Phoenix Burning being a must read series for young adults. I really hope there's a third novel as I'd love to find out whether they reach their destination or not, and join these two love birds on another epic journey!

Rating ★
5 out of 5 stars 

Author Interview!

After being offered the chance for an interview on the blog tour of her first novel, and declining, I'm glad to say that I've finally come out of my shell and accepted this one! They've always seemed a little daunting to me but I'm prepared to give it my best shot.

So today I'm joined with the wonderful Bryony Pearce and I'm going to be talking to her about her latest novel, Phoenix Burning, which is out now!

To start things off, how would you describe yourself as a writer?

I am a writer who is very character driven, I often come up with characters before their stories. Sometimes I write supernatural, sometimes dystopia, sometimes science fiction, but my writing is always dark, thrilling and aimed at young adults.

What inspired this series? Any books or films?

Not directly. All writers are influenced by everything they’ve ever read or seen. Sometimes you think you’ve had an original idea and someone will point out that it’s similar to a book or film that you don’t even remember reading or seeing! The Phoenix series will have elements of all my literary influences and there are obvious touches of Mad Max on the ocean, but nothing deliberate.

How did you come up with the names for the characters, especially the other competitors who have quite unusual names?

In Phoenix Burning Toby and Ayla meet a number of other young people, who are part of a particular religious order who worship the sun. I have talked before about previous novels I have written about how important naming is to me, so often you can get a sense about who a person is from the name I have given them.
These teens come from all around the world, so the first important thing about their names is that they show where they come from.

  • Moira and Brody are from Glasgow
  • Arthur and Summer are from Cornwall
  • Uzuri and Zahir are from Cape Town
  • Celeste and Aldo from a village near Pompeii
  • Adele and Adrien from Brittany
  • Noah and Layla were originally American, but their families fled to Morocco after the US was all but destroyed
  • Lenka and Matus are from Zagreb
  • Bianca and Cezar from Budapest

In terms of their name meanings, Moira can mean bitter and Brody, brother. Brody is Moira’s cousin, but their relationship is very much a sibling one and their lives have been hard. Moira’s bitterness informs her whole personality.
I named Summer because she is from Cornwall, with its associations of surfing and blue skies. Arthur is so named because of its associations with heroism. Arthur means ‘strong as a bear’ and Arthur’s physical strength is a key part of his persona. Toby is attracted to Arthur’s apparent goodness.
Uzuri means beauty and Zahir shining or bright. I named them for their association with the sun, as they were marked for the festival from the moment of their birth.
The name Celeste was also chosen to indicate her religious fervour. Her name means from the heavens. (Aldo is so called because I have an Italian friend and I like the name – sometimes this happens too).
Noah, of course is named for the biblical Noah who escaped the flood with his family. It was, of course, a supervolcano that this Noah fled from, but it was a similarly apocalyptic event.
Lenka (Illumination) and Matus (gift of God) were named for their religion.
Dahon and Hesper, the heads of the order, were so called for the poetry of their names. Hesper – the sibilance in her name gives her a sinister feel before we even get to know how awful she is. Dahon is a harsher word, his name has plosives and is also a warning.

Who was your favourite character to write about?

Always Ayla. Although I love Toby, I have a real place in my heart for a strong female character who gives zero f***s. And I enjoyed writing her even more this time because of the fall-out from Phoenix Rising. This is a character who is dealing with a lot of confusing emotions, whose dedication and loyalty to her own ship, is at odds with her feelings for Toby, who has experienced weakness and failure for the first time and who has discovered some terrible things about her own history. This time when we see her, she has fears and weaknesses that she never had before. She has to find a way to make Toby trust her, when he knows he shouldn’t. And her usual way of dealing with situations – fighting her way out – may, for the first time, be a disadvantage here.

What has drawn you to the YA genre? 

There are lots of fantastic reasons for writing YA.
Young people are the most enthusiastic readers, if they love your work, they let you know it. Writing for teens also offers the potential to really make a difference in someone’s life. The fiction I write often hides messages or has issues for readers to think about – Bullying (The Weight of Souls), Forgiveness and Redemption (Angel’s Fury), Trust (Phoenix Rising), Religion (Phoenix Burning), Freedom (Wavefunction) and Feminism (Windrunner’s Daughter) are all key themes in my books.

Are you currently working on anything, a third book in the series perhaps?

I have a couple more books out this year, the science fiction novels Windrunner’s Daughter and Wavefunction. I have a new stand-alone book that I have recently finished planning and which I am about to start writing, I’m really excited about it.

If any of the characters were a representation of you, who would it be and why?

I think they’re all representations of me in some way – all came from me. Every character I write has elements that I admire – even my antagonists, who I refuse to make one-dimensional, and every character has their flaws, which I understand well, because I often give them my own.

Are there any authors that inspire you?

Loads. I’m often inspired by whoever I’m reading in a particular week!  However my particular writing heroes are Anne Macaffrey, Stephen King, David Gemmell and Terry Pratchett.

Have you got any tips for getting rid of writers block?

I can only suggest what works for me – everyone is different, but here are my tips for avoiding the dreaded block:
  • Plot what you are writing out carefully. If you know where a particular scene or chapter has to get to, even when you aren’t feeling it, you can keep writing.
  •  If you really aren’t feeling it, just keep writing. Keep writing until you do. Eventually you’ll reach a scene that fires you up again. You can always go back and fix the less than sparkling bit later on.
  •   If that really hasn’t worked, there’s only one thing for it. Give up. Stop trying to write. Leave the computer alone. Walk away.  Give yourself some time off – a week, a month, whatever it takes. Do another hobby, go for walks, watch television, spend some time with your family, go to work, drink wine. Sometimes, like every battery, your creative spark needs to recharge. Let it. One day you’ll go to bed feeling as if you’ll never write again and the next morning you’ll leap out of bed fired up and ready to.
And lastly, have you got any advice for aspiring writers?

The best way to learn to write is to read and write. Read everything you can get your hands on, check out different styles and voices, stories and genres. See what appeals to you, what gives you inspiration. Then write. The best way to learn to write is to do it.

On a practical note, look for critique groups in your area (check your local library), join an organisation such as SCBWI (Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators) or SOA (Society of Authors), enter competitions and once you feel you have something you want to send to an agent, use a consultancy like Cornerstones – they can tell you what you’re doing right and wrong.

Thanks again to Byrony Pearce for allowing me to interview her! If you're interested in her latest novel then I'd definitely recommend checking out the series, as well as her other equally acclaimed titles!

Next book I'm going to review: 
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

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