#LoveOzYA Q&A with Lynette Noni about THE BLOOD TRAITOR
After studying journalism, academic writing and human behaviour at university, Lynette Noni finally ventured into the world of fiction. She is now a full-time writer and the bestselling author of the six-book young adult fantasy series, The Medoran Chronicles, as well as a second bestselling and award-winning series called Whisper.
Lynette won the 2019 ABIA Award for Small Publishers’ Children’s Book of the Year, along with the 2019 Gold Inky Award (Australia’s only teen choice book award). She is currently collaborating on a project with #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas.
Her new release, THE BLOOD TRAITOR, is the third and final book in The Prison Healer series!
You can read Lynette's chat with #LoveOzYA's Bianca Breen below, our check out clips via our YouTube channel.
Congratulations on finishing the series! Can you tell us what THE BLOOD TRAITOR is about?
Without going into any spoilers, we know from the end of the second book that The Blood Traitor will open in quite a dark place. It’s not a good place for Kiva mentally, emotionally, physically. She has to deal with the consequences of the actions that she’s made, and wade through those and try to fix things or not fix things. There’s a lot of emotional development for a lot of characters, and there’s also a lot of action and adventure – and a quest! The kingdoms are at war now and there are multiple enemies on multiple fronts; in every direction you go, there’s a problem. The first two books have a balanced pace, but The Blood Traitor is like go, go, go! So take a breath at the beginning and then dive straight in.
The action, plot, and the quest were amazing, but it’s your characters that really shine. What’s your process for creating characters?
I just fall in love with these little people living in my brain. Especially because it’s the third book, I’ve spent so much time with them and gotten to know their strengths and weaknesses and what drives them. There’s also a number of new characters, or people we might have met previously who play a much larger role, and I had so much fun getting to know them. And as I got to know them, hopefully I lead readers on a journey of getting to know them as well. It was like meeting up with a friend – or an enemy! – for coffee and you try to draw out little bits of their personality. One of my favourite things about writing this series was the characters because so many of them stole their way into my heart.
All the characters went on this huge emotional journey, and in the acknowledgemetns you mentioned you were also going through a hard time while writing it – did your own experiences influence the writing process?
Early on, there was a lot of things that hit me all at once. I suddenly had a significantly less amount of time to write this book than I thought I would have – I’m talking 4-6 weeks! It was on an accelerated release schedule, but I thought I had a few months. I was overwhelmed, and the pandemic was still happening, and all this other stuff in my life. But where we start with Kiva and her emotional state, it was awful for me to be going through personal stuff and have my writing, which is my escape, also be in an awful place. It was really difficult. Everything was going wrong in my world and it was also going wrong in Kiva’s world. I needed to get out of it somehow, have some kind of break or reprieve, some kind of fighting spirit, both for Kiva and for me. Early on, another character says to Kiva, “Get up.” And that was the moment where I could keep going. It was a pivotal moment in the book but also for me, too.
What was the hardest part to get right?
I think the reconciliation between certain characters – there’s a lot of very angry people at Kiva. Part of me wanted them to happy straight away and have everyone be fine and forgive each other and ride off into the sunset. But that wouldn’t have done justice to the story or to the characters. So I had to draw out certain relationship threads, people had to stay angry for certain amounts of time. I had to find the perfect timing for that so that it wasn’t too short or too long. So that was tricky to navigate while also juggling a quest and everything in the background. And on that quest is ten characters – that’s a lot of main characters to juggle while giving them enough development and page-time. The ending was also hard – finding an ending that is satisfying and fulfilling.
The last time we spoke, I asked what you hoped readers would leave The Gilded Cage with, and while your answer was beautiful, you thought all three books had to be read as one. Now that the series is finished, what are you hoping people take away from the entire series?
The survivor mentality and fighter spirit, and knowing that today might be awful but tomorrow always has the potential to be a better day. So don’t give up, don’t give in, just keep surviving. Also the theme of hope – that there will always be darkness and challenges in our lives and we will always make mistakes, but there will always be hope and light. Keep trying, keep hoping, and keep going forward.
What’s next for you?
Because these books came out so quickly, I haven’t really stopped to celebrate or appreciate them. I’m trying to be a bit more deliberate coming into this release, to celebrate it and stay in moment, and give myself the space to recognise that I now have another series out in the world. I’m going to take a bit of break and then it’s back into the writing cave for me.