Interview with Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass)
I’m so excited to have Sarah J. Maas stop by as part of the Throne of Glass blog tour! Please make her feel at home by leaving a comment!
THRONE OF GLASS has been quite a journey for you! How does it feel to finally have it in
print after all these years?
Honestly? I still don’t believe it actually happened. I still feel like it was all just some
amazing, wild dream and that I’m going to wake up and none of this will have occurred. I am
overwhelmed and humbled and just so full of gratitude that it’s hard for me to even write this
without tearing up.
We haven’t seen too much high fantasy in YA until just recently. What drove you to write
fantasy? Do you think it’s the next big thing?
I started writing fantasy because that was how my imagination worked. I’d always daydreamed
of worlds and people that didn’t exist—of faraway and magical places. I never really thought to
myself: “I’m going to write fantasy.” I just thought: “Hey, I’ve got this idea and I’m going to
write it down or else my brain is going to explode.”
I think our cultural obsession with high fantasy comes in waves. We’ve seen it rise and fall in
popularity countless times over the past century (the past decade, even). I think the recent trend
of high fantasy is partially due to the success of Game of Thrones—and I think it’ll continue to
be a big thing when The Hobbit releases this December. But even when we’re NOT in the middle
of a high fantasy explosion, I think there’s something about fantasy that we keep coming back to
again and again. But I could write a whole book about that, so…I’ll just finish by saying that yes,
I think we’ll see a rise in high fantasy over the next few months/years—and I can’t wait.
Your characters have such unique names. Can you tell us a little bit about how you thought
them up? (And also, can you teach us how to pronounce the main characters’ names?)
So, you are totally not the first person to ask about pronunciation. I actually have a pronunciation
guide on my website, which you can see here . In short, though, Celaena’s name is pronounced “Sell-lay-nah.”
As for how I came up with Celaena’s name… Well, there’s a sort of funny story behind that:
Originally, I wanted my heroine to have a name that embodied her kick-ass assassin skills. I
finished reading Peter S. Beagle’s THE LAST UNICORN (for the 2000th time) just around
the time I started ToG, and remembered a really awesome name from the novel—Celaeno, the
I did some research—this was in the dark days before Wikipedia, too—and learned that Celaeno
meant “Dark One.” Pretty fitting for an assassin’s name, right? But Celaeno sounded a little
burly-manly, so I went REALLY creative and swapped the O for an A, and thus Celaena’s name
was born (clever, I know).
Now, here’s where things get freaky. Five years after I began writing the THRONE OF GLASS
series, I decided to Google Celaena’s name to see if there was anything fun I could do to
incorporate her mythological origins into the novels. When I went to the Wikipedia page for
Celaeno, my heart stopped. For those of you who have read THRONE OF GLASS, you’ll know
that Celaena’s faithful dog is named Fleetfoot, whom I named because I was being lazy and had
no other ideas for naming a super-fast racing hound. So when I read THIS on the Wikipedia
page, I SCREAMED:
“[Celaeno's]….name means ‘darkness’ or ‘blackness’. …*She was also sometimes known as
Podarge (“Fleet Foot”).”
So crazy, right? Anyway, each character name has their own story behind it, but this is the best
example of how crazy the naming process sometimes was. :)
Celaena is an assassin through and through–she formulates plans for how to escape any
situation she’s in. Was this an easy mentality to adopt? Do you find yourself thinking like
Celaena after writing her character?
I feel like I’ll sound like a crazy person if I say yes, but…yes. I totally found myself walking into
rooms and looking at the exits, at all the possibilities for escape or an attack or how I’d fight my
way out. I still do it every now and then—especially when I’m drafting anything TOG-related.
Getting into her head is fairly easy for me, but then again, I’ve also been writing about Celaena
for over ten years (though I’ll admit that she still surprises me from time to time).
What’s one thing readers would be surprised to find out about THRONE OF GLASS?
Hmmm. Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but… I know in YA these days, there are tons of
overnight mega-deals that are shouted all over the internet. THRONE OF GLASS wasn’t one of
those deals—it took several months to sell, involved an outline for a proposed major rewrite in
order to get that offer, and certainly didn’t catapult me into millionaire status. Until about a year
ago, I was operating under the assumption that I’d pretty much be lucky to get my book stocked
So, all of this—this blog tour, going to conferences, doing signings, etc.—has felt like such a
dream, such an overwhelming surprise that I can’t believe it’s happening. In all honesty, I think
it was my wonderful and brilliant FictionPress fans that got people to do a double-take—and I
owe everything that’s happening right now to their support and enthusiasm.