‘A Song of Wraiths and Ruin‘ debuted on June 2, 2020 and exploded into the YA scene landing on the NYT Best Seller’s list. This extraordinary fantasy continues to capture the minds of readers, and we caught up with the book’s author Roseanne A. Brown.
‘A Song of Wraiths and Ruin’ is set in the mythical folklore of West Africa drawing from Ghana, Benin, and Togo. This debut is first in a gripping fantasy duology, where we meet a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee. Karina and Malik are not your typical heroes, we follow them on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.
PPLA: How did the idea for Wraiths and Ruin come about?
RAB: The idea for A Song of Wraiths and Ruin came about in early 2016 when I realized I had never read a fantasy novel where mental illness wasn’t used as a metaphor or villainized in some way but was just a reality that the characters dealt with alongside the magic and the supernatural. Plus, there was and still is an alarming lack of fantasy that focuses on Blakc characters and Black cultures. As an immigrant from Ghana who grew up on oral folktales, I knew I wanted to write a novel that felt as epic as any traditional fantasy, but set it in the cultures and traditions I had grown up with.
PPLA: Did you always know you would incorporate the tradition of the days of the week and life paths in association with your characters and the lives they lead?
RAB: The use of the day of the week system was introduced in the 4th draft or so when I realized I needed something to ground the magic. Among the Akan people of Ghana, we have a tradition where one of the names an infant is given is decided by the day of the week on which they’re born. It’s thought that the day of the week has a lot of influence over a person’s life, so using that as inspiration, I incorporated a similar system into the magic of the world.
PPLA: What is your day of the week?
RAB: I was born on Saturday, so in the world of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, I’d be Fire-Aligned and my patron deity would be Ɔsebɔ the Leopard. I actually did a deep dive into the ASOWAR astrology system over on Epic Reads, and anyone can read the post to find their Alignment and also their ASOWAR horoscope! The post is here: https://www.epicreads.com/blog/a-song-of-wraiths-ruin-astrology/
PPLA: What was your favorite chapter to write?
RAB: It’s a tie between Malik’s story during the Second Challenge and Karina’s final confrontation with the council. For the Second Challenge, I really got to stretch my knowledge of storytelling structure and come up with some super fun imagery. And for Karina, it was tricky figuring out how she outsmarts these people who have been ahead of her every step of the way, but I think the solution I found ended up being one of the strongest scenes in the book.
PPLA: Do you have a favorite line from the book?
RAB: My favorite line is definitely “This is my mind. I’m the strongest person here.” It really shows how far the character who says it has come, and it is a reminder to myself that even on my worst anxiety days, I’m always in control.
PPLA: What supporting character should readers keep an eye on?
RAB: I think Malik’s little sister Nadia is going to surprise a lot of people in Book 2. In a lot of ways, she’s the character who has most been affected by the events of the book, and she is no longer the cheerful little girl we met in the beginning.
PPLA: Will we learn more about Malik’s home?
RAB: Yes, we will! Anything more is a spoiler. 😉
PPLA: Will we learn more about the mysterious goddess aiding our heroes?
RAB: Yes, we will, though I should note she isn’t a goddess! She’s a trickster figure who exists beyond the realm of human, spirit, and god. She isn’t worshipped, but she is respected and feared.
PPLA: Is she a real fixture in West African folklore? Or was she a deity you created as a completely new idea, singular to the world of Wraiths and Ruin.
RAB: Hyena is completely fictional, though I drew heavy inspiration from tales of Anansi and his role in Ghanaian culture.
PPLA: We saw on twitter you mentioned you’d like to do a book on the folklore stories of Wraiths and Ruin. There were a few stories already mentioned in the first book, do you have a favorite you came up with?
RAB: I think the tale of Bahia Alahari and the Faceless King is my favorite as it is the heart of the entire saga, and the romance of tragedy of it really fits the tone of ASOWAR as a whole.
SPOILERS IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE BOOK
PPLA: As we race towards the release of the second book, can you give us a little hint about what the new world holds in store for Karina?
RAB: Karina is one her way to Arkwasi, one of the great powers mentioned in Book 1. However, when she arrives there she finds it very different from what she expected…
PPLA: Is the country she is visiting also based on West Africa or will we be traveling to North African lore or perhaps another area inspired by Africa, or country all together?
RAB: The nation Karina is going to draws inspiration from the southern and central regions of Ghana, where my family is from.