Author Spotlight: Brianna da Silva (CITY OF RECKONING)
Brianna is a proud geek who loves real-life adventure just as much as the imaginary kind. She keeps a busy schedule as a novelist, indie filmmaker, and freelance graphic designer. When she’s not working, she spends her time devouring books, practicing Krav Maga, and hiking in the pine-covered mountains of Colorado. City of Reckoning is her first novel.
Welcome to the Hive, Brianna. Let’s start with the basics: dazzle us with an elevator pitch! Why should readers check out your work?
My first novel is City of Reckoning, an epic fantasy about a group of young people who get caught up in a war, only to wonder if they are fighting for the wrong side. Featuring winged people, wolf companions, and epic journeys, it’s a dark, violent story that deals with trauma, revolution, and revenge.
Tell us a little something about your writing process – do you have a certain method? Do you find music helps? Give us a glimpse into your world!
For me, it’s important that I’m able to be totally focused on the task of writing. Usually this means I’m writing in the quiet hours of the morning. Sometimes it means music, too. I will create specialized playlists for whatever story I’m writing (or even for individual characters!) that help me get in the right emotional headspace.
If I’m feeling extra fancy, I’ll set the mood for creative writing with dim lights, a candle, or even incense! I make a whole thing out of it. This signals to my brain that it’s story-creation time, and I’ll be that much more focused. It also makes the transition out of writing, and into the rest of my day, smoother. I stop the music and turn on the lights, and my brain (usually) accepts that story-creation time is over!
Speaking of worlds, what inspires your worldbuilding? Do you have a magic system/s? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
Much of the worldbuilding of City of Reckoning is inspired by my obsession with ancient and classical history, especially the civilizations of Mesopotamia, North Africa, and Europe, up through the fall of Rome.
As for magic, the book is low fantasy, in the sense that magic plays a small part in the world. The magic that does exist centers around a set number of objects or devices that give their bearers incredible powers. These devices have ancient, mysterious origins. Some legends say they came from a long-ago time when gods walked upon the earth.
There is an implication, though, that maybe these devices are leftover bits of technology from a highly advanced, forgotten age. I plan to explore this question more in future stories set in this world.
For now, the characters of City of Reckoning must deal with the power of these objects and how they can change the course of a war, or history itself, if one of them lands in the wrong hands.
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy influences?
My most significant influences as a storyteller come from a number of genres, actually. There is, of course, the cliché answer that I fell in love with epic fantasy — and the idea of creating detailed, original worlds — because of The Lord of the Rings.
I would also say I have strong influences from The Red Rising trilogy (sci-fi) and The Raven Cycle (urban fantasy), both of which set the standard in my mind for how to craft memorable characters.
I was also inspired by how The Red Rising trilogy and The Hunger Games trilogy (dystopian) dealt realistically with violence and its psychological effects on people. So few novels dealing with violence, whether they be fantasy or another genre, take the time to make their characters react like people. I decided that was something I really wanted to accomplish in my own stories.
As a self-published author, you have to encompass many roles yourself: what aspect of self-publishing do you find the most difficult? Alternatively, which have you enjoyed the most?
I think the hardest thing comes from the fact that I’m one person, and not a team. All the tasks involved in launching a book can feel pretty overwhelming. At the same time, I enjoy the fact that I can make all the executive decisions!
Are there any fellow self-published creators whom you’d love to collaborate with?
I feel kind of shy answering this one! But I will say that I would love to write a comic series one day… and given I’m no comic artist, I’m eying a lot of indie illustrators that I might want to work with one day. We’ll see!
What is your process for choosing a cover for your book? Do you have a clear idea of how you want it to look, or do you give your cover artist full creative license?
So far, the process has been a combination of both. I’ll have some ideas in my head, but I also want to give cover artists and designers the space to lean into their expertise.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
Oof. This is a funny question for me to answer, because I think I’m still learning how to motivate myself on those days. Usually some sort of self-reward is in order. I’ll think of something I really do feel like doing, and promise myself that I’ll get to it after I’ve accomplished a certain writing goal for that day. The important part is to keep those promises, or else next time it won’t work!
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
Depends on how I’m feeling! If I’m really tired and burnt out, I’ll go for some quiet at-home activities: Reading, watching films or a show, or listening to an audiobook while I do chores around the house. Otherwise, I’m likely to find some hiking buddies and get out into nature. I live in Colorado, close to the mountains, so I have countless trails to choose from!
One of our favourite questions here on the Fantasy Hive: which fantastical creature would you ride into battle and why?
DRAGON. Is it even a question? Dragons are beautiful, powerful, and most importantly, cool! If I’m going to ride into battle, I want to do so in style.
Tell us about a book you love. Any hidden gems?
My favorite book I’ve read this year, and one of my new favorite fantasy books of all time, is Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett. If you’re sleeping on this book, stop whatever you’re doing and get yourself a copy right now! It has one of the most original magic systems I’ve ever encountered, with characters who will capture your whole heart and a heart-racing plot to rival the best thrillers. It positively ruined my bedtime for like, a week. Putting it down is painful, verging on impossible. I highly recommend it!
Can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
City of Reckoning is first in a duology, so I’m working on the sequel right now, which will have lots more epic journeys, monsters, detestable villains, and complicated heroes making… what shall we call them… decisions of questionable morality!
After that, I have more stories to tell in that same world. I’m planning several duologies, each of which will stand on their own, but will also tell an even greater, more epic story when read together.
Finally, what is the one thing you hope readers take away from your writing?
Friedrich Nietzche said it best: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” Or more directly, don’t let a struggle for justice become a thirst for revenge. The results are never pretty.
Thank you so much!
Thank you! This has been a blast!
City of Reckoning is available now from: