I am so excited for Havenfall! Having loved Everless, Holland’s unique world building and creativity impress me. Keep reading to gain insights into Holland’s world building process for Havenfall.
A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it–at any cost. New York Times bestselling author Sara Holland crafts a breathtaking new contemporary fantasy perfect for fans of Melissa Albert and Holly Black.
Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds–each with their own magic–together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.
For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.
But this summer, the impossible happens–a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie–no one can be trusted, and no one is safe . . .
How do you become inspired to write and immerse yourself in this dangerous mountain landscape?
Setting isn’t always at the top of my mind as a writer. For my first two books, EVERLESS and EVERMORE, and the other manuscripts that never got published, what came to me first was character or plot; I’d then go back and fill in a setting around what was there. I find it difficult to describe physical places—it always strikes me as kind of boring. A room has four walls and a floor and ceiling. A castle—well, everyone’s seen castles in movies; surely readers will just fill in the blanks.
However, HAVENFALL was different. The setting is crucial to the story—in fact, the first seed of an idea that came to me, before the plot or Maddie’s character or anything, was the thought of a magical hotel. And the second was the idea to place it in the Rocky Mountains, a place that has always felt mysterious and magical to me. So it felt important to make sure that readers could see (and hear, and smell, and touch) this landscape as vividly as I could.
So rather than inventing landscapes and surroundings from scratch, I tried to visualize places I’d been and write them into my story (making adaptations as necessary). For instance, I grew up driving into Colorado with my family to visit my grandparents. I remember those road trips very well: the heart-pounding excitement paired with a touch of anxiety as the road started to angle up and suddenly we were in the mountains. How my stomach would lurch as we took a sharp curve in the highway, or the exhilaration when we’d round a bend and see a gorgeous valley laid out before us out the car window. I tried to pour all those memories into my descriptions of the mountains through Maddie’s eyes.
And when it came to the Inn itself, I visualized it as an expanded version of my grandparents’ house, which always seemed massive to me as a kid, full of grand staircases and mysterious doorways. Looking back on it now, it was just a normal-sized house; and those mysterious doorways probably led to pantries or linen closets. But that doesn’t matter; what matters is the feelings. If I can convey with words the feeling that a character has upon entering any given place, the reader can fill in the rest.
About the Author
Sara Holland grew up in small-town Minnesota among hundreds of books. She graduated from Wesleyan University and worked in a tea shop, a dentist’s office, and a state capitol building before heading to New York to work in publishing. These days, she can be found exploring the city’s bookstores or finding new ways to put caffeine in her bloodstream. EVERLESS is her debut novel.
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