We all know and love Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds series. Silver in the Bone is the first book in her new series that is inspired by the Arthurian legend and other mythology, which leads to an incredible magic system. Following Tamsin Lark who is after a powerful ring that could free her brother from a curse, readers will be drawn to her forced alliance with her rival Emrys as they dive headfirst into a vipers’ nest of dark magic. We had the honour of chatting with Alexandra Bracken about how she was inspired by all the mythology she read as a kid:
Silver in the Bone is inspired by the Arthurian legend. Do you still remember the first time you learned about King Arthur?
I wish I did! Isn’t it amazing how certain stories just creep into your cultural awareness and take root? It must have been the first time I saw Disney’s The Sword in the Stone. I remember reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court in school, though, and I ended up taking a course on Arthurian literature during my senior year of college. What amazed me most was the evolution of storytelling about Arthur over the centuries, and I ended up being really drawn to the stories that didn’t feature Arthur all that prominently—for example, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
There are many folklores in Silver in the Bone, from a Hand of Glory, to Cunningfolks to, of course, King Arthur. Where did you learn about all of these and what inspired you to include them in your novel?
I feel like I’ve been collecting interesting (and occasionally creepy!) tales from the time I was a kid pouring over books about mythology and fairytales. They’re endlessly fascinating to me because they provide a real window in the past, and how people thought about the world and navigated it.
Silver in the Bone was inspired by the black dog/Wild Hunt folklore of the British Isles—more specifically, by an ancestor who was believed to be so wicked that legend has it he was either chased to death by the Wild Hunt across the moors, or the hounds came howling beneath his window as he lay dying. I wanted to honor that origin by including some of my favorite bits of folklore from that region.
Overall, the magic system you created in Silver in the Bone is very fascinating and unique. When you first came up with the idea for Silver in the Bone, which came first – the storyline or the system?
I actually love talking to authors about this, because everyone tends to have such a different approach! But, for me, the story and characters always come first. The magic system and worldbuilding grew organically out of where the story needed to go, and how the characters needed to be tested.
And of course, we have to chat about the map. How did you decide where things are located in Avalon?
I wish I could say that I had the map all laid out before I wrote a single word about Avalon, but the truth is, I had a general sense of the layout of the isle in my head as I was writing and really just dove right in, knowing I could figure out the details later, during revisions and copyediting (when we really pay close attention to things like narrative consistency).
I looooove book maps and was so excited that the amazing Virginia Allyn was hired to work on this one—her work is just so unbelievably gorgeous! Knowing her past work, I really wanted her to depict Avalon as it once was, really at the height of its glory. While Tamsin doesn’t necessarily know what a river, or particular patch of woods, I wanted to include those names somewhere, and the map was the exact right place.
Aside from the intriguing world, the characters in Silver in the Bone are also intriguing and very different from each other. Is there a character you think you are most similar to, or do you see a bit of yourself in each of them?
I think every character inherits a little piece of their creator, some in bigger ways than others! I see myself as being most similar to Tamsin, though she really takes cynicism to a whole new level. I wish I were more like Neve, though! She’s so brave—someone who isn’t afraid to hope for the best and share her heart with others despite the possibility of being hurt.
Tamsin is fiercely protective of her brother Cabell and, because of her past, she can be very strong headed. What do you hope readers learn from her character?
The journey that Tamsin goes on is one of healing a very deep childhood wound, one that crafted the near-impenetrable armor of cynicism she wears. The one thing I hope readers take away from her journey is that while it can be incredibly scary to be vulnerable with others, closing yourself off might mean missing out on love, and life changing friendships.
And after THAT cliffhanger, everyone is looking forward to Book 2. What can you tell us – what stage is the book in now, how many more books in this series etc.?
I know, I know! It was such a mean cliffhanger, I’m sorry! Right now, I’m in the middle of revising the sequel, and if I do my job right, it should wrap up all of the questions you have and serve as a satisfying conclusion to Tamsin’s story.