The Price of Immortality in Sara Holland's 'Evermore'

Posted by Goodreads on December 2, 2018
Sara  Holland
In Sara Holland's YA fantasy, the phrase "buying more time" takes on a literal meaning. Here the denizens of Sempera can extend their own lives by consuming the life force of others. This is done by extracting that life force from blood, which is then bound to iron. It’s a grim alchemy that benefits the aristocracy at the expense of the poor masses.

At the heart of Everless and its sequel, Evermore, is Jules Ember whose mysterious past and connections with the royal family, the Gerlings, plunge her into a dark world of conspiracy, intrigue, and coldhearted princes who are more than they seem.

Holland spoke to Goodreads by email to share the inspiration behind her debut series, what readers can expect in the latest installment, and what challenges Jules faces in the next phase of her journey. Readers take note: If you haven't finishing reading Everless, there are a few spoilers ahead.


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Goodreads: Your last book, Everless, ended on quite the cliffhanger! What can readers expect from the sequel?

Sara Holland: The end of Everless saw Jules heading away from the Gerling estate, off into the great unknown. She’ll take readers to some new locations in Sempera in search of the missing pieces of the story of the Alchemist and the Sorceress, trying to figure out how to end their centuries-long battle.

Along the way, she'll meet some new characters who I really love, and get closer to a certain mysterious, brooding boy…I had fun writing it and really hope everyone enjoys it!

GR: In Sempera, time is (quite literally) money. You mentioned that this magic system came very naturally to you. What inspired it?

SH: I think the best fantasy concepts are those that have some basis in the real world. While time isn't literally money in our society, the two things are strongly correlated. We have wage jobs that assign a dollar value to our hours and days. We have a society where the affluent have access to resources and health care that allow them to live longer.

Personally, while I've lived an overall very privileged life, there have been times where money was tight—especially when I was on my own for the first time in a new city. It was hard not knowing if I would be able to do what I loved or if I'd have to go home and figure out a plan B. So the concept of "time is money" felt real to me, and I think it does to readers, too.

GR: On that note, how does this magic system affect your main character, Jules?

SH: It takes money, anxiety, mixes in some light body horror, and blows it up times ten. There's never a time when Jules isn’t thinking about time: how much time she has, how much her father has, how much everyone around her has, and the unfairness of it. Time, or lack thereof, is always there in the back of her head, and it informs every decision she makes. Everything she does is aimed toward earning more time for her father.

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GR: Speaking of Jules, she’s got some pretty big challenges ahead of her in Evermore. How has she evolved since the first book?

SH: When (SPOILERS) Jules' father dies in Everless, she not only loses the person she loves most, but the goal that's been driving her all along dissolves in front of her eyes. Then, just as she's starting to regroup, another revelation—that she’s the Alchemist—comes along and rearranges everything she thought she knew about herself.

So in Evermore, she’s going to have to figure out what makes her her with her family and identity stripped away while on the run from enemy soldiers. She's stronger than when she started, but she’s also had to learn to trust. She doesn't quite know who she is, but she has hope and a new sense of purpose.

GR: Your series has a very unique mythology. The tale of the Sorceress and the Alchemist comes to mind. Can you walk us through how you created their story?

SH: I'm always gripped by stories where, as Professor Trelawney puts it in Harry Potter, "Neither can live while the other survives." Especially if the two people involved start out caring about each other.

But the story usually centers around either two men or a man and a woman, and I was curious what the dynamic would be between two girls. I wanted to explore how you could love someone and hate them at the same time, how you could strike against them when the blow would hurt you just as much.

So the legend of the Sorceress and the Alchemist came out of me trying to answer the question: How could two dear friends come to oppose each other with everything they have?

GR: The journey of writing a book can be full of the unexpected. What delighted or surprised you the most while writing Everless and Evermore?

SH: It never ceases to be amazing to me that people are actually reading my book, sometimes even liking it! I'm always a little stunned—in a good way—whenever I meet a fan.

I think my favorite encounter took place in an airport bookstore. There was a ten-year-old girl ahead of me in line with her family, holding a copy of Everless! I think I said something along the lines of, "I, um, I wrote that." We talked a little about writing and her favorite books, and I signed her copy. I've heard similar stories from other authors but never thought something like that would happen to me!

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GR: We know that you’re a big YA fan! What do you love most about the YA world?

SH: I love the support and enthusiasm that exists between authors, bloggers, fan artists, publishing people, and of course readers. I love that YA centers the perspectives of girls, young people, and more and more, marginalized people (though we still have a long way to go)!

And I appreciate that as a community, YA folks largely value progressiveness and earnestness. They aren’t afraid to shout about what they love, and they’re also working hard to make the community more inclusive and welcoming on all fronts.

GR: Our YA readers can never have too much to read. What YA books would you recommend to them?

SH: Oh gosh, so many! For fantasy, I recently read and loved The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton, Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, and the upcoming Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith. Fans of Everless should definitely check all these out! On the contemporary side, I’ve been obsessed with Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson and One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus. I was late to the party on this one, but it’s as excellent as everyone says!

GR: What books are currently on your Want to Read shelf?

SH: At this point, if you stacked up all the books in my TBR pile, it would tower over me. I can’t wait to dive into The Wicked King by Holly Black, Circe by Madeline Miller, What if It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, Mirage by Somaiya Daud, and of course King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo!



Sara Holland's Evermore will be available December 31. Don't forget to add it to your Want to Read shelf! Be sure to also read more of our exclusive author interviews and get more great book recommendations.

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