Book Review: A Memory of Fire, by R.L. Stedman

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_a_memory_of_fireThe spell-binding conclusion to the trilogy, A Memory of Fire is as memorising and eloquently written as its predecessors. Even without reading book two, it had me engrossed, although I would definitely recommend reading the trilogy in order (and a re-read will be in order for me!).

R.L Stedman is a New Zealand author, living in Otago. The first book in the trilogy, Necklace of Souls, received the Tessa Duder award in 2012 and has gone on to receive several more. It begins with Dana, a princess with a haunting destiny, bearing the burden of true dreaming. An orphaned boy, Will, takes up residence in the castle, first baking bread, then training as a warrior. He and Dana become drawn to one another, and romance blossoms.

A Memory of Fire begins with Will and Dana separated. Dana has sacrificed herself to save those she loves, and is now held captive in a strange city, her mind kept harnessed with drugs. She will have to entrust an unlikely ally to escape. Half a world away, Will is learning a new discipline in fighting – being trained by an enemy-turned-friend. But for all that he is learning, he wishes for nothing more than to be reunited with Dana, and with the help of his companions, an enchantress and a warrior, he will set out across an earthquake-ravaged landscape to be with her. However, many obstacles stand in their way, including betrayal.

With strong characters, especially in Dana, I would recommend this series to young adults (and adult adults!) who enjoy the likes of Sarah J Maas. They are engrossing, well-written, and evocative, compelling enough to draw you thoroughly into their worlds and hold you captive until the conclusion. Best read together, in close succession.

Reviewed by Angela Oliver

A Memory of Fire
by R.L. Stedman
Published by Waverley Productions
ISBN 9780473399573

Finalist Interviews: the origin of A Necklace of Souls, by R L Stedman

If you have ever wondered where authors get their ideas, this is your chance to find out.rachel stedman

We have asked our fantastic finalists for the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children
and Young Adults all about their work, and they have been very generous in their responses.

A Necklace of Souls, by R L Stedman (HarperCollins NZ) is a finalist in the Young Adult Fiction category of the Book Awards

Thank you to Rachel Stedman for her generous responses:

1. As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write this book?
You’re right, I have so many ideas that sometimes I can’t sleep – it’s kind of like hearing voices, all the time.

The idea for A Necklace of Souls developed from a dream of a girl fighting in a forest. She fought so beautifully that when I woke, I wanted to write her story. So the entire book is really leading up to that one scene.

2. Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?

Finding time! What people don’t realize – what I didn’t realize, anyway – is the manuscript accepted by the publisher is only the first step in the publishing process.

COV_Necklace.inddAfter acceptance, the manuscript goes to an editor for a style edit. The style edit looks at structure. I was really lucky, because I had a wonderful editor, Helen Chamberlain, who lives in Melbourne, and we emailed each other, usually late at night, about the changes that were needed. The first email I got from Helen said ‘I loved A Necklace of Souls but…’ and she went on to say that it needed another seven chapters. Which was a little overwhelming. But the extra chapters weren’t too hard, and Helen was right, they did improve the story.

It took about three drafts with Helen to get Necklace to the point where we were happy with it, and then the manuscript went back to HarperCollins. Anna, my editor at HarperCollins, did a copy edit, looking for things like spelling errors and consistency. I had to check this edit again.

And then it went to an external proof reader for a final check. And then, finally, it was ready to be printed.

And the whole time I was doing this, I was also writing the sequel and working and other things, too.

3. Did you tailor this book to a particular audience – or did you find it found its own audience as it was written?
I always thought it would appeal to older teenage readers, about sixteen to twenty-three years old. A Necklace of Souls is similar in some ways to books I read at that age, so maybe that’s why I had that age group in mind.

4. Can you recommend any books that you love, that inspired or informed your book in any way?
I am like a walking library. I read lots and lots of books so I really couldn’t name any particular one. But I enjoy fantasy fiction, so probably some fantasy novels crept into the story. If you enjoyed A Necklace of Souls, you may also enjoy The Belgariad by David Eddings, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, or any novel by Patricia McKilip or Robin McKinley.

I also read a lot of books about things like knife fighting and breadmaking when researching A Necklace of Souls. I have some of these (as well as short videos and other material I used) pinned to my research board on pinterest.

5. Tell us about a time you’ve enjoyed relaxing and reading a book – at the bach, on holiday, what was the book?
My dream bach would be stocked with Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer (I am a total Georgette Heyer nutcase) – preferably in the Pan editions because their covers are so bright they look like graphic novels.

Because I’m a very fast reader, I like to take lots and lots of books on holiday. So in my dream bach I’d also like to see James Herriott, Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, Lee Child, Neil Gaiman, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, William Gibson, Isaac Asimov, Asterix, Tintin, Ben Aaronovitch, Neal Stephenson… anything, really. I’m not too fussy, as long as it’s funny and well written.

6. What is your favourite thing to do, when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?
Baking (and eating) chocolate brownies. I have a special recipe for a microwave brownie, it’s super easy, takes about ten minutes. Here’s the link.

And I love taking photos. I’m totally addicted to instagram. You can find me on @rlstedman

You can find RL Stedman’s social media networks below: