Local author publishes first queer fantasy novel
By Srianthi Perera
Alexandra Overy’s queer fantasy debut album, “Those Feathered Flames,” was inspired by “The Firebird,” an enchanting Russian folk tale.
The firebird represents a rare and difficult treasure to own. Overy, who watched the ballet version when she was 14, relies on the special powers of this mythical creature to enhance her novel.
“I remember very well how the firebird was portrayed as a very feminine figure and how all the men in history wanted to either kill him or control him,” she said. . “I wanted to write a version where the Firebird has its own agency and its own power.”
The young adult book, characterized by vibrant, imagery-rich writing, also draws inspiration from Overy’s sistership.
“I’m very close to my own sister and sibling relationships come up a lot in my writing, and for this book, I really wanted to make that the central relationship,” Overy added.
“These Feathered Flames” follows twin heirs who were born in imaginary Tóurin with fates decided at birth. While Izaveta remains at court to learn the skills she would need as a future queen, Asya is taken in to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensures that the magic remains balanced in the realm and takes payment, often in the blood.
Before Asya’s training ends, the old power blossoms within her, which can only mean one thing: the queen is dead and a new ruler must be crowned. After this unexpected development, the sisters are pushed into their roles and must figure out how to navigate those roles, who they can trust, and find out the truth about the killer.
“These Feathered Flames” is part of a duology, and Overy plans to release the second half, “This Cursed Crown,” next year. What are his wishes for the two books?
“I wish it felt like a satisfying, complete story with strong fairytale influences and sisters at the center,” Overy said. “I also hope that it can provide an escape for teenage and young adult readers. As a teenager, reading was really my real-world escape and refuge, so I hope I can offer that to today’s teens – especially queer teens, who I hope can see themselves in. this story.
Overy grew up in England and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 21 to study history. She went on to earn a Masters of Fine Arts in Screenwriting last year at UCLA.
What does he miss from his old life?
“I miss the rain sometimes, which I never expected,” said Overy. “Other than that, I mostly miss people, especially last year because I couldn’t visit. I don’t like doing absolutes, but for now I am very settled in LA, especially since I also continue to write screenplays. But who knows what could happen!
All she can say for sure is that in 2023 she will also be releasing “The Gingerbread Witch”, a mid-level title centered on “Hansel and Gretel” that will kick off a series of fairy tale tales from Grimm.
The Gingerbread Witch is Overy’s foray into writing for readers ages 9 to 12. After Hansel and Gretel push the witch into the oven, the witch’s young apprentice must find a way to resurrect her or risk all of the witch’s creations turning into gingerbread, including the apprentice herself. .
“It was so much fun exploring this arena and writing the kind of book I loved at that age,” Overy said.
As a child, Overy was a compulsive reader and usually scoured his school library for materials. His mother allowed him to buy a book every time they went out shopping.
“Some of my favorites were Cornelia Funke (specifically ‘The Thief Lord’) and the ‘Artemis Fowl’ series,” Overy said. “I also loved ‘His Dark Materials’, especially the idea of demons. I’ve always loved books like this that take you out of the real world and let you get away from it all, as well as the morally gray characters. They certainly had a big influence on my own writing.
His favorite British authors include Enid Blyton, in particular the series ‘Malory Towers’ and the books ‘The Famous Five’. “My dad read to me a lot when I was little, so they have a very special place in my heart,” Overy said.
Overy likes to plan her stories in detail, sometimes delaying the start of writing because she is so involved in the real deal.
“I like having a map to follow when starting a new draft, it always makes it less intimidating,” Overy explained. “Although I digress sometimes, I find it really helps me put these plans in place. I would say the biggest challenge is that I can sometimes get stuck on the plot.
The writing helps satisfy Overy’s creative side.
“I’ve always had so many stories in my head and there’s something so magical about writing them down and then sharing them,” Overy said. “With the publication of a book, it’s amazing to see this book also live in the imaginations of others. “
Overy’s gripping fantasy tale has won numerous accolades, including Goodreads’ Most Anticipated YA Books in 2021 and Publisher Amazon’s Top Sci-Fi and Fantasy Pick.
“It was important for me, when writing ‘These feathered flames’, to create a world without homophobia because, historically, there was no reason for it to exist in this magical world,” said said Overy. “I wanted a story where two girls could fall in love and face evil, without having to question their own identity. Again this would have meant a lot to me as a teenager and hopefully it will be a safe haven for other queer teens today.
“Those Feathered Flames” is published by Inkyard Press / HarperCollins. The hardcover costs $ 15.57 and is available at amazon.com.