Book Title: The Firebird Song
Author: Arnée Flores
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Release Date: June 8, 2021
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
The Kingdom of Lyrica was once warm and thriving, kept safe by the Firebird, whose feather and song was a blessing of peace and prosperity. But the Firebird disappeared, and Lyrica is now terrorized by the evil Spectress who wields her powers from within a volcano. All that remains is a mysterious message scrawled on the castle wall in the Queen’s own hand: Wind. Woman. Thief.
Young Prewitt has only known time without the Firebird, a life of constant cold, as his village is afraid to tempt the volcano monsters with even the feeblest fire. But he has heard whispers that the kingdom’s princess survived the attack . . . and he is certain that if he can find her, together they can save Lyrica.
Princess Calliope has no memories beyond living on her barge on the underground lake. But as she nears her twelfth birthday, she is certain there is more to life than the walls of a cave. When Prewitt finds her, he realizes that she is the missing princess: the only hope for Lyrica. Determined to decipher the meaning of her mother’s strange message and find the Firebird, Calliope and Prewitt set off on a quest that puts them in more danger than either of them ever anticipated.
Arnée Flores spent her childhood shifting across rural Washington towns, lugging along boxes of books, and switching schools nine times before her family finally settled down on a wheat farm in the tiny town of Reardan, Washington.
Arnée identifies as Vietnamese American, but as a transracial adoptee raised by a Caucasian family in small-town America, she grew up feeling displaced.
It took a long while and a winding path for her to find herself. She spent a few nomadic years exploring, working odd jobs, and studying subjects from Piano Performance at Washington State University to Pre-Law and Political Science at Gonzaga before she finally understood that all she really wanted was to stay in one place and write the kinds of stories that had helped her feel safe during her chaotic childhood.
Today, she can be found collecting rocks, shells, and other curiosities on the beach near her Seattle apartment, all the while dreaming up wild and magical tales, her little white dog splashing along behind her through the tide pools.
I am so excited to host Arnée Flores on A Court of Coffee and Books today! Thank you so much, Arnée, for stopping by and don’t forget to preorder a copy of The Firebird Song!
Congratulations on your debut! What was your inspiration for The Firebird Song?
Thank you so much! I am so excited! THE FIREBIRD SONG was inspired by many different things—as books often are! But the spark for a kingdom that survives without warmth because of its fear of fire probably began when my family home burnt down. Walking through the ruins of a place that I’d loved so dearly made an indelible impact on me, and I think I worked through some of that in drafting FIREBIRD. The world building was really inspired by the Pacific Northwest. Nearly everything in Lyrica translates to something in Washington State.
What has been your favorite part of being a debut author so far?
This year has been so incredibly magical—even if it’s a bit different than I expected. The most exciting part has been getting to know other authors. The kidlit world is so incredible welcoming, and authors that I have admired for a long time have reached out to say hello and offer encouragement. It’s amazing. I can’t believe it’s real! Now, when I go book shopping, I am surrounded by books written by people I actually think of as friends… What?!
What are you hoping readers take away from your story?
I want people to be encouraged and inspired by Calliope and Prewitt and their journey through adversity to find the true magic of hope. If a reader begins to think more deeply about hope, about what it means to them and about where it can be found in the darkest times, then I feel like I’ve done my job!
What was your favorite part of writing The Firebird Song?
There were so many beautiful moments, but one of my favorites was when I was actually horribly stuck. I was struggling with what would eventually become the Moon Memory scene, and I had no idea how I was going to make it work. My husband brought home a couple of bottles of wine and we drank on the living room floor with taped-together pieces of computer paper in front of us. We stayed up late into the night drawing out ideas until FINALLY it clicked. Anyone who has ever broken through a block knows how amazing that feeling of relief and elation can be. The Aha! moment is magical, and it was really great to share it with someone I love.
If you could spend one day with Prewitt and Calliope, what would you all do? Are there any places you would visit?
I would absolutely take them to the Seattle Public Library. Calliope and Prewitt would love to browse through all those books! I’d show Prewitt the Martiz Map Room. He’s a sucker for maps and I know he could spend all day there, but eventually Calliope would pull him away so we could go explore someplace else. We would go down to Pike Place Market and sample all sorts of different yummy things. Calliope would try EVERYTHING, and want to collect all the post cards and little trinkets. Prewitt would refuse to try anything with seafood in it of any kind, but when we got to part of the market where they throw fish, I know he’d think it was hilarious. He would definitely think that throwing fish was more fun that eating it.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I will share the best advice that I have been given. It came from my amazing mentor Martha Brockenbrough. She said that the most important thing you can do is just be a good person. Be kind, remember people’s names, and care about the people around you. Publishing is small, so basically, don’t be a jerk. 😉 Make it your goal to form relationships. Build friendships, and do what you can to help others succeed.
That’s probably just good advice for life in general.
Is there anything else you would like to let the readers know about The Firebird Song?
This story is a fast-paced modern fairy-tale quest, full of symbolism, magic, and myth. It doesn’t hold back on the scary or the gruesome, but I think that is what makes the heart-warming bits matter even more. I hope you will enjoy it, and if you do, I’d love to hear from you!
Check out the amazing bloggers on this book tour!
Thank you, TBR and Beyond Tours, for having us on this wonderful blog tour!