Aurora: What was your inspiration behind Fireborne?
Rosaria: I wanted to write an air force academy story, sort of like Ender’s Game, but with dragons. In terms of political structure, I wanted it to be vaguely dystopian in the way described in Plato’s Republic, and set in the aftermath of a revolution—much of the inspiration for Fireborne came to me while living in Paris and Beijing, two cities whose legacy of revolution is very striking.
What character do you most relate to and why?
I definitely relate most to Annie. She’s a scholarship student like I was and unsure of herself in a similar way—especially her fear of public speaking. Although she is a cool cat under pressure in ways that I am not, and her dragonriding skills make her much more of a badass than I ever was!
Why do you feel books with powerful and relatable characters are so popular and have such a voice right now?
You know, I’m not sure I’d say that powerful and relatable characters are newly popular! I think it’s impossible to tell stories without making them about characters that people care about. The ways we’ve chosen to tell stories have changed over time, maybe, and the characteristics we relate to have certainly changed as well, but I think more has remained constant than has changed. That being said, I think right now there is definitely a push for character-driven stories, where people’s feelings drive the narrative rather than external factors, and I think as we become more and more literate in mental health, that kind of psychological depth has become something readers expect and appreciate.
Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.
Fireborne is about two dragonriders, one a deposed aristocrat and the other a former serf, who rise to the top of the regime that orphaned them. Readers can expect a story where the main two characters feel deeply about each other but those feelings are very complicated—there’s friendship, romantic interest, but other things like guilt and grief as well. The choices these characters make are often very difficult, and often there is no clear right answer. Readers should expect lots of dragons, and for those who care about what kind of dragon—these are more like Toothless than Smaug. They are bestial and nonverbal, but very loyal to their riders.
What’s next for you in the book world?
Right now I’m working on the sequel to Fireborne, as it is the first in a trilogy.
Who is your favorite writer right now and why?
Favorites! Such a tricky question. My favorite writer of all time is George Eliot—she’s an absolute genius. And a writer whose work I read recently and quite admired was Elana K. Arnold, who wrote Damsel, about a girl who gets rescued from a dragon by a prince…or does she? I gobbled it up.