Interview with Kate Golden (A DAWN OF ONYX)
Kate Golden is the bestselling author of viral sensation and debut novel A Dawn of Onyx. She lives in Los Angeles where she works in the film industry developing movies with screenwriters and filmmakers. When she isn’t telling stories, Kate is an avid book reader, movie fanatic, and functioning puzzle addict. She and her husband can be found hosting cozy game nights and taking hikes with their sweet pup, Milo. You can find her on Instagram at @KateGoldenAuthor and on TikTok at @Kate_Golden_Author, where she is known to post both spicy and heartbreaking teasers for her upcoming books.
Welcome to the Hive, Kate. Congratulations on your debut! Let’s start with the basics: tell us about A DAWN OF ONYX – what can readers expect?
Hi! Thank you so much for having me. A Dawn of Onyx is a New Adult enemies to lovers fantasy romance novel in the vein of A Court of Thorns and Roses, the Plated Prisoner series, or Kingdom of the Wicked. It’s definitely a bit spicy, but the first book is focused more on the toe-curling slow burn, while the rest of the trilogy will kick that spice up a notch (or three.)
The book follows a young woman who offers herself up to a wicked king in order to save her family. She’s stolen away from the only world she’s ever known, and finds herself locked in the king’s gothic keep as his castle healer. While imprisoned, she finds an unexpected ally in a fellow prisoner, but not everything about the stranger is exactly as it seems…
As far as what readers can expect, I’d say if they have ever googled “fantasy romance, enemies to lovers, with both spice and plot,” this might be the book for them. It’s for fans of Fourth Wing, ACOTAR, or Serpents & The Wings of Night who are currently suffering from terrible book-hangovers, or fans of the following tropes: heroines coming into their powers, caretaker scenes, morally grey men, found family, forced proximity, and our favorite, “Who did this to you?”
Give us an insight into your main character Arwen Valondale? What kind of character is she? And who else can we expect to meet?
Arwen has a lot going for her: she’s kind, thoughtful, and bright. Warm and loving. She loves her younger siblings fiercely. Arwen doesn’t have much conflict in her life. But she’s also suffering in a lot of ways that she hasn’t shared with anyone: Arwen’s never left her tiny autumnal village of Abbington, she’s got a secret healing power she keeps hidden from the world, and she suffers from terrible panic attacks.
I was really excited to write a character like Arwen, because so often I read fantasy novels and find the heroines are such bad asses right from the get. I love that too, and love Katniss and Aelin and Hermione, but I wanted to tell a story about a woman who has to grow into that. It definitely takes her some time.
You can also expect to meet Arwen’s new (and soon to be best) friend Mari, a book-smart, high-energy, fast talking witch and Kane Ravenwood, the king of Onyx Kingdom a wicked, brooding, painfully handsome one at that.
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!
Oh, man. Okay nobody take any tips from me because I have no idea if I’m doing this right, but I like to write in big long chunks. Sometimes I’ll wake up at six am and write until one or two in the morning. Part of that is probably because I still have a day job so I do a lot of weekend writing and have to make the most of just a few days. I am definitely an outliner, and a checklist-er, and a post-it note-er. I don’t think I have a spontaneous bone in my body. I like to write to soundtracks that fit the mood of the scene or book. Some favorites are the soundtrack to Game of Thrones, Miyazaki films, or The Witcher video games.
Speaking of worlds, what inspires your worldbuilding? Do you have a magic system/s? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
I was really inspired by the gemstones that I named each kingdom after. I tried to research how the stones were used and thought of by different cultures and apply that to everything from the climates and wildlife, to the people and professions that populated each land. I prefer to start my fantasy worlds as close to reality as possible, and expand from there. So in this trilogy, I’ve tried to mirror the Stones that serve as the religious deities in Evendell to modern day religion. Each Kingdom has a slightly different approach, and none are wrong or right. Same with mortals and witches and Fae. The farther the hero travels, the more different the terminology.
As far as the magic system, I try to use the same mentality. Without giving too much away, the way magical beings harness their power is not too dissimilar from how humans gain energy (how it dissipates when we’re tired, how it grows when we’re nourished.) And for witches, their magic is really tied to lineage and ancestry.
If you were transported into your own fictional world, how do you think you would fare?
It would depend on which kingdom! I like to think I’d fare well in Onyx, but all the frightening creatures and spooky, gothic towns… I might be more of a Kingdom of Citrine kind of girl. I love the ocean and olives and seafood.
We see such varying opinions from authors when it comes to the time of editing their books. How have you found the editing process? Enjoyable, stressful or satisfying?
Am I a huge dork if I say I love it? I am just so thrilled to be writing, I still love every single aspect of it. I think it’s really satisfying to read a draft and fix what I know is broken, rather than to stare at a blank page (though, of course, I love that part too!) The only stressful part of editing are the first pass pages, when you’re just looking for typos but you know you can’t change anything major. I always find fifteen things I want to change and then I have to talk myself down.
We always appreciate a beautiful book cover! How involved in the process were you? Was there a particular aesthetic you hoped the artist would portray?
I actually got so lucky with this one because my husband, who is a graphic designer, designed the first book cover. The Penguin Random House team worked off of that and their final product was perfection. The aesthetic I think we were all going for was magical, and whimsical, but still a little gothic and haunting, like Onyx Kingdom.
How do you feel your job in the film industry has helped shape your novel and/or writing style?
I’m not sure how much it’s affected my writing style, but it has absolutely helped my writing process. My day job is quite similar to what my editor does: I help screenwriters and filmmakers develop their work. So when I get notes from my editor, I like being able to see them from a perspective I’m pretty familiar with. Of course, it’s also helped shape my understanding of crafting characters, plot devices, act structure, foreshadowing, etc. Sometimes a work call about a script can actually solve a novel issue I’m having. I love when that happens.
Are there any particular authors who have shaped and influenced your work?
I think all my favorite authors have found their way into my books a little bit. I love the world building and creativity of Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J Maas. I love the character driven romance and humor in Ali Hazlewood, Sally Thorne, and Emily Henry’s work. I always read a few chapters of Tana French when I want a bit of inspiration on atmosphere and setting. She’s a master at that. Sally Rooney and Taylor Jenkins Reid both just have such deep, poignant understandings of the human condition—I study them all the time. This list could continue forever, so I think I’ll end it there to spare everyone the time!
Can you tell us anything about any upcoming projects? Or can you tell us a few teasers for your sequel?
Yes! I am done with book two, A Promise of Peridot, which comes out on April 9th 2024, and am currently writing book 3, which will be released fall of 2024.
Book two has some new kingdoms, each with their own unique landscape and culture, which were so much fun to explore. Of course lots and lots of tension, some necessary grovelling, jealousy, pining—all the good stuff. I love Arwen and Mari’s friendship, and watching that grow. There’s definitely more spice, and more danger… The best way to put it is: A raising of the stakes across the board.
Tell us a book you’ve recently read which you think we should all read?
I absolutely loved People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. I loved it so much in fact, that when I finished the book, (I was really jet lagged, as I had read it on vacation myself) I turned to my husband and cried because I missed Poppy and Alex so much. He made me take a nap.
Finally, what is the one thing you hope readers take away from your writing?
It’s a bit cheesy, but I hope readers really feel like they can escape into my books. That’s what I love so much about both writing, and my job in the film industry. Storytelling is like a superpower—the way we can all just jump right into anybody’s head, or love story, or heist, or heart-wrenching tragedy. Any world or time or era… That is so special. It’s why I love finding a great books or tv show and just devouring it for days on end. If I can give that experience to even one reader, who pops their head up after five hours of reading and feels like they just stepped out of an enchanted forest—then I have done my job!
Thank you so much for joining us!
Thank you for having me!