1 Author, 7 Questions: Tara Sim

Ravage the Dark is finally here, and I am here for it! The finale to this gender-bent retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo is just what the doctor ordered. I got to chat with Tara Sim about retelling this classic tale, her writing process, and Indian representation. And, as the overzealous fangirl I am, I actually asked 9 questions! So while you anxiously await your copy of Ravage the Dark to arrive, meet Tara! 


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What was your initial inspiration for Scavenge the Stars? What was it about The Count of Monte Cristo that made you want to reimagine it?

 I really love the original Count of Monte Cristo, and I thought it would be interesting to spin the story through the lens of a teenage girl rather than an adult man. To face devastation, betrayal, and deep anger like that—to reclaim power in some way—as a teen girl really spoke to me.

Can you describe your writing process? Are you a pre-plotter or do you develop the plot as you write?

I’m what’s colloquially called a plantser, meaning I half plan my stories, and half pants them (aka “writing by the seat of my pants”). I tend to discover more about the characters/world/plot when I leave some things blank, which gives my mind more freedom to make connections as I draft. But I also need to make goalposts, or big plot points, for me to write toward. I also typically know the vague shape of the ending way before getting there.

What was it like gender-bending The Count of Monte Cristo? What were some challenges you came across when re-forging the story?

I’m not sure if I had challenges related to genderbending/reforging the story, since Scavenge the Stars was already so much it’s own thing, although I did wonder how many nods to the original I should include while making sure to keep it as it’s own story. Based on what readers who are familiar with the original had to say, I think I managed it!

The Scavenge the Stars duology is your second series while the Timekeeper trilogy was your first. What did you learn from writing the Timekeeper trilogy? Did you do anything differently when approaching this new duology?

I actually wrote several books before Timekeeper, although that was my first published novel, which came with its own trials and lessons. Publishing a trilogy is a much longer process than I initially thought it would be, especially that gap between book 2 and book 3 where readers are impatiently waiting for the conclusion! It’s also difficult to work on a second book while on deadline, which I discovered with the trilogy. With this duology, it was nice to have the shorter length, though I still encountered the dreaded “second book syndrome.” Thankfully I had some practice with writing sequels by then that I had better methods of approaching it.

 


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The Scavenge the Stars duology is your second series while the Timekeeper trilogy was your first. What did you learn from writing the Timekeeper trilogy? Did you do anything differently when approaching this new duology?

I actually wrote several books before Timekeeper, although that was my first published novel, which came with its own trials and lessons. Publishing a trilogy is a much longer process than I initially thought it would be, especially that gap between book 2 and book 3 where readers are impatiently waiting for the conclusion! It’s also difficult to work on a second book while on deadline, which I discovered with the trilogy. With this duology, it was nice to have the shorter length, though I still encountered the dreaded “second book syndrome.” Thankfully I had some practice with writing sequels by then that I had better methods of approaching it.

I loved all the nautical scenes (I’m a sucker for all things oceanic)! Did you have any experience or knowledge of sailing before writing this book?

I don’t have experience of sailing per se, although I have been on a lot of boats and ships. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I’ve lived near the ocean my entire life and feel a connection with it. I was also hugely obsessed with Pirates of the Caribbean when I was a teen, which might have played a part. 

Spoiler free, what was your favorite scene to write in the duology? What part of Ravage the Dark are you most excited for readers to experience?

One of my favorite bits to write in the first book is the chapter where Amaya and Cayo have high tea together. It’s filled with so much tension, both romantic and murder-wise, and to have that going on over delicate pastries and tea was super fun for me. There are a few scenes in Ravage I’m excited for readers to get to, mostly involving Cayo fumbling his way through first experiences as well as a short fake marriage stint.

What was your first experience reading Indian representation in a book, YA or otherwise? What would you like to see more of?

I honestly don’t remember the first, although I have a feeling it was probably done by a white author. Since then, I’ve been really happy to see more and more Indian representation in books by actual Indian authors. The country is massive and filled with so many cultures, and I hope to see even more representation across those in the future.


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What are some books you’ve been reading recently, or would recommend?

Lately I’ve loved The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown, and The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo.

What are you working on now? Any exciting ideas you can share?

I just announced my adult epic fantasy debut, The City of Dusk, which comes out next year! Be sure to check it out if you like feuding families, evil gods, opposing magic systems, and/or demons.


 


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Scavenge the Stars

by Tara Sim

When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide. Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception-and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down-the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one?

  


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tara Sim is a YA fantasy author who can typically be found wandering the wilds of the Bay Area, California. She is the author of the Timekeeper trilogy, which has been featured on Entertainment WeeklyBustle, and various media outlets. When she’s not chasing cats or lurking in bookstores, she writes books about magic, clocks, and explosives.