“Let me tell you a story that happened so long ago that only the hills and rivers can remember the time . . . .”
All her life, thirteen-year-old Maki has heard tales of the legendary city of gold, buried deep in the northern frontier. But when her village is burned and her brother captured by cruel invaders, the legend becomes desperately real.
Armed with a wolf-dog and a heart of courage, Maki sets out on a journey that will demand all her strength and cunning. She is determined to bring her brother home at all costs. Yet as her quest leads her deep into a wilderness of ancient dangers, Maki realizes that even for her, some prices are too high to pay.
A few months ago, my friend Verity (author of The Journey; you can read that book review and author interview here) was telling me about this book she started reading. It was a book that we both had seen recommended by the author of Oath and the Outcast (you can read that book review and author interview here as well) and my friend bought it. A week or so later, she started sending me quotes of it and telling me how good it was. Though out of spending money at the time, I put it on my Christmas list and was as pleased as punch to get it Christmas Day. As you may have already guessed, I read it in four hours. And laughed and cried throughout the whole thing.
I am not a huge fantasy fan. Honestly. LOTR is great; and The Binding of the Blade series is always my favorite, but I don’t really read much of it. Especially stuff outside the typical high fantasy genre. This was an exception. Those snippets had piqued my curiosity and I had to read more.
I was not, as I said above, disappointed.
Good books are the ones that bring you into the story, that make you one with the characters and their journeys, that make you feel their joys and sorrows as if they were your own; the best are the ones that help the real world have more meaning. “Let me tell you a story that happened so long ago that only the hills and rivers can remember the time…”
With an almost lost art of poetic and masterful story-telling, Emily Hayse has brought this Alaskan fantasy to life in a way that almost makes it seem to have really happened. The characters are so real and alive that you feel as though you were among them even as Maki was. Maki is a fireball of courage who isn’t afraid to abandon her home in order to watch over her last remaining family member; her steadfastness in refusing to abandon her brother was very powerfully written. Tsanu is the affectionate and supportive older brother that all brothers should strive to be. And Willow—he was such a beautiful character as well! They all were, honestly. The scenery and settings are portrayed very beautifully and I have gained an appreciation for this new type of fantasy. The storyline was amazing. And so many good quotes!!! I had a hard time choosing which ones to put in calligraphy. All in all, I love this book so much. It’s probably my favorite read of 2019. Definitely one of my top 10 books of all time.
Also, thanks so much to Emily for letting me interview her for this blog post! My questions are in bold and her answers in italics.
1. How long have you been writing?
I have been writing for about fifteen years. About five years ago and eight novels in, I decided that I wanted to do it professionally.
Wow, that’s amazing that you’ve been writing for so long.
2. What inspired you to write Seventh City?
It was, like most books, a hash of many things, old and new: I was going through my annual Iditarod withdrawals when I got the idea, I was listening to King and Lionheart by Of Monsters and Men (more on that later), and had had a couple decisions come up in life that were forcing me to be brave with each tiny step. I’ve had a lifelong love of Alaska and the north; I grew up with Alaskan books (my aunt lived there for a time) and so sled dogs and seal oil and ravens and mukluks were just a part of my young memory. I also experienced loss at a young age which left me wanting to control life and protect the people I loved and wanting to be strong and brave when I was little and fearful. So it was many things.
3. What were some favorite moments when writing Seventh City?
I loved the moments with the horses, just about anything with Rutter, and the very end. I was writing the very last scene and I didn’t know how it was going to end or what exactly was going to happen, so I was just as surprised and immersed in that ending as the characters were. And then, suddenly I wrote the last words and there were no more. And so I knew it was the end.
All the horse scene were very realistic and that ending scene… T_T It is one of my favorite ending scenes ever.
4. If you could take only one character to live with you on a deserted island, who would it be and why?
If it’s a matter of survival, I would actually bring Captain Innes, or maybe Drucker. If it’s a matter of companionship, I would probably take Iki or Willow.
5. What are some of your favorite lines from Seventh City?
Here are some of my favorite not-so-spoilery lines.
Rutter is holding his long gun, pointed at the stars, his finger on the trigger. “I said the captain an’ the boys, they ain’t going to hear of it.”
“You know I only did it because it was right.”
“Yes. And that is why I admire you. You did not know him, but you did it anyway. It makes you different.”
He shakes his head. “No. No different from any other man with honor.”
I shift my feet stubbornly in the sand, let the warm air shoot out of my nose like a horse’s. It is different.
“I was born here, bub. They mined every last ounce of silver out of here five years ago. You’ve got the look of a starry-eyed foreigner. I’ve got a piece of advice for you—forget it.”
Captain Innes breathes deeply. He straightens to his full height and stands on his dignity, putting the entire weight of his distant country behind his words. “I am a captain in the great Army of the Northern Frontier. We have conquered this land.”
“Conquered it, have you? What’s that sick bunch of lads out there? An army? No, bub. We don’t use that word out here. Just doesn’t suit.”
“Did it ever occur to you, Maki, that the world wasn’t made to be carried by you?”
I stop. The snowflakes continue their slow, gentle falling. It is really, suddenly, a new thought.
The last one is one of my favorites too, and not just because of the character that says it. ^_^
6. Are there any songs that inspired Seventh City?
Yes, as a matter of fact! Off the top of my head: King and Lionheart (Of Monsters and Men), Hayom Kadosh (Christopher Tin, Calling All Dawns), Never Enough (The Greatest Showman), and Six (Sleeping At Last). I actually have an official playlist which you can find here. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7aLn9pe3l78QjWMWn7BBbT]
I love it when authors make their own playlists! Speaking of which, I have a surprise for some of you… But more on that later. 😉
7. Last but not least, if there was one thing you could tell your younger writing self, what would it be?
That reading good books and writing constantly wouldn’t let me down. That I would, and could make it. My younger writing self would also have been shocked that I ever got published in the first place. I did not expect to publish at all.
It’s amazing that you did start publishing. Your work deserves more recognition.
Thanks again for letting me interview you!
Now, before I post links to everything…
Some of you were already aware of this, but for those who weren’t, I composed a melody and then a thematic improvisation for Willow’s song from Seventh City. It released the day I wrote this blog post and I am posting the Youtube link for the lyric video and then the Soundcloud link for the higher quality audio for those interested in listening. I hope I did it justice.
Now, for those links…
Follow the author on the following sites:
Buy Seventh City here on Amazon
Last two links, I promise. 😀 I hope you enjoy!