Frequently Asked Questions
How did you become an author? What did your publication journey look like?
I ran out of books at my local library when I was about 11, and started writing my own. I finished my first full-length novel as a preteen, and queried literary agents for the first time at 15. After this I quit writing, and didn't start again until my early twenties.
At 25, I decided to give becoming an author another try, and in the next three years, I wrote 5 novels. I pitched a few of them to agents with a total of around 90 queries sent, but Hall of Smoke was the one that led me to sign with the wonderful Naomi Davis.
Hall of Smoke and Temple of No God quickly sold to Titan Books, with the rest of the Hall of Smoke series following soon after, along with the Winter Sea series.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors who want to traditionally publish?
1. Always be writing something new. The chances of your first book being traditionally published are second to none, so focus on your craft and arming yourself with many, many options.
2. Cultivate relationships with other writers and exchange editing (beta reading, critique partners). Having an idea in your head is completely different than putting it down on a page in a way that another person can read and understand. Having other writers edit your work will show you areas you need to work on craft-wise and help you tell your stories in the most effective way. In editing other writers' books in return, your own skills will be sharpened and you'll be better able to self-diagnose your own work as time goes on.
3. Figure out why you write and why you want to be published (if you do), then hold on to those reasons. Getting traditionally published is a hellish journey for most, and being published has its own set of challenges - not least of which is the reality that publishing is a business in which authors make very little money and still face constant rejection, criticism, and delays.
Identify your reasons, assess their long-term viability, and fiercely guard the aspects of writing that bring you joy.
4. Trust no agent or publisher that requires you to put out your own money, unless you are planning on working with a hybrid publisher and have done thorough research on their credibility. With agents, remember an agent is a business partner - they only make money when you make money. If you are paying them up front in any way, you are being scammed.
5. Be professional and keep your cards close. Being too open about your projects and querying journey on public social media platforms can be a red flag for agents and publishers. Treat your socials as something of a resume (with room for personality and individuality, of course, depending on your comfort level).
Agents will likely look at your socials before offering representation, to see if you're the kind of person who they personally would want to partner with - so show them that you are, and be respectful.
Publishers want your ideas for themselves, so keep your cards close. This way, you can play them at the right time to capitalize in contract negotiation, and in marketing. Also, bear in mind that any large chunks of your work that have been posted online may raise complications for publishers in terms of privacy and copyright, and lower your chances of being able to sell that project.
If you are eventually signed, you will be contractually obligated to keep certain details under wraps for, perhaps, years at a time. Showing discretion in what you post and how you present yourself can go a long way in assuring agents and publishers that you are professional, mature, and able to handle the upcoming pressures of publishing life.
6. Understand that publishing is a high-mortality business and be realistic in your goals and expectations. Most writers will never be published. Most published authors will not publish more than 1-3 books before leaving the industry. Almost no one makes decent money.
But if writing brings you joy and you want to get your stories out in the world, it can be worth the struggle.
What is the relationship between the Hall of Smoke World books?
All books in the Hall of Smoke world technically stand alone. You do not have to read the series in order, or read the next book to find out what happens - each story is contained and wrapped up within themselves. However, the events of each installment naturally impact the world in which subsequent books take place, so readers may prefer to read the books in publication order.
There is also a stronger connection between Hall of Smoke and Temple of No God than any of the other installments. Hall of Smoke and Temple of No God both follow Hessa, and can be considered a duology within the broader world.
Barrow of Winter follows a new main character and is set, again, over a decade after the previous installment (but there will be cameos from many of your favourite characters!) The same will apply to Pillar of Ash.
Who do you recommend the Hall of Smoke series to?
Hall of Smoke and series are epic fantasy with a Viking flavour, packed with action, meddling gods, and an atmospheric world of pines and mountains and creatures that want to eat you.
Hall of Smoke reads a little like a solo survival quest (Skyrim vibes), and contains no romance. The rest of the series follows a broader cast.
Does Hall of Smoke have romance? Does the Hall of Smoke series have romance?
Does Dark Water Daughter have romance?
Hall of Smoke itself has no romance, and the series overall focuses on other avenues of character relationships - siblings, friends, parent-child, and found family.
Temple of No God and Barrow of Winter both have relationships between the main character and a partner, but I would not title them romances.
Pillar of Ash has a more direct and emotionally involved romance, though it is still not prominent.
Overall, I do not recommend readers come to the Hall of Smoke world looking for romantic relationships, and certainly not spice. Readers looking for books with no/minimal romance will find much to love!
Dark Water Daughter has a light thread of very slow-burn romance, which will be built upon in the rest of the Winter Sea Series.
Are the Hall of Smoke books adult or YA? Are the Winter Sea books adult or YA?
All my books are written for adult audiences (style, pacing) but a mature YA reader would enjoy them as well.
Can you list some content warnings for your books? What are the trigger warnings for Hall of Smoke? What are the trigger warnings for Dark Water Daughter?
All Hall of Smoke Series books contain violence and gore, animal sacrifice, and self-harm in the form of blood sacrifice. Pregnancy (not the main character), motherhood, and the loss of a spouse are prominent themes in Hall of Smoke. In Temple of No God, infertility is an explored theme.
All Winter Sea Series books contain violence and gore, profanity, sexuality, and references to slavery.
Special warning for Dark Water Daughter: Sexual harassment and threat are referenced and there is one on-page non-consensual encounter (second-base interaction).
Are your books spicy?
All Hall of Smoke Series books are no spice.
There is no spice in Dark Water Daughter.
Where can I access advanced reader copies of your books?
Prior to release, my books will usually be made available on Edelweiss+ and Netgalley. Please follow my socials and those of my publisher, Titan Books, for the latest updates on this front.
Are there hardcover editions of your books?
Not at this time.
Can you sign my copy of your book? Are there signed copies available?
There are limited signed copies occasionally available in the Greater Toronto Area. You can find these locations listed under News and Events. Follow me on my socials for bookplate giveaways.
Under no circumstances do I accept mailed copies of my books from readers, to be signed and mailed back. Please respect my privacy and that of my family.