I’m so excited for this Author Spotlight today!! I recently had the opportunity to interview Nicole Bailey, the author of the fabulous Faye and the Ether series. Faye and the World’s End, the third book in the series, published yesterday, and it is fantastic!! If you haven’t read the series and you like YA/NA fantasy, you should totally go check it out!
Getting to Know Nicole Bailey:
What made you want to become a writer?
When I told my mom that I wrote a book her response was, “That doesn’t surprise me, you’ve always created stories.” And that’s true, I always did, and I always wanted to write. However, the thing that made me take the leap between wishing to and actually going for it was reading Big Magic with a friend.
In that book, Elizabeth Gilbert makes the argument to create for your own joy even if nothing ever comes of it and “living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.” It gave me the push I needed to wade past the apprehension and go for it. (It’s also likely the reason one of the big themes of my first book is: bravery is being afraid but moving forward anyway. I practiced that myself writing the first book.)
Nicole Bailey is a writer and reader who loves young adult, magical realism, and the occasional romcom.
She writes YA fantasy and published her debut novel (FAYE AND THE ETHER) Fall 2020.
When she isn’t writing she loves to hike, kayak, bike, or garden. She lives with her three children and her husband in South Carolina.
Who or what inspires you?
The biggest thing that inspires me is my friends and family. I wrote in the acknowledgements of Faye and the City in the Sea that I knew many of the relationships that readers love in the series are inspired by my real-life relationships. I’m very lucky to have an amazing group of people around me.
I also grew up as the oldest in a large, close family. (I have eleven siblings!) I think the banter of my characters—and definitely Alec’s own big group of siblings—are pulled from the chaos and joy of my family.
As the oldest, I did a lot of reading aloud to younger siblings growing up. And a lot of what I read was folklore, fairy tales, and mythology. (Thank you to my parents for purchasing all those books!) Those stories continue to inspire my writing today.
Something I really love about the Faye and the Ether series is the wide variety of supernatural beings included. If you could be one, which type of supernatural being would you be?
Personality wise, I think I would mesh with the peace-making selkies. I’m an enneagram 9 and an INFJ, and I’m often the one in a group trying to see multiple sides and attempt to soothe tensions.
That said, having the ability to fly and living in the musical and art-centered City of Moonrise both appeal to me, so I think I would also be happy as a bird-type as well.
Outside of writing, how do you like to spend your time?
I love the outdoors and actually help lead a local nature group. Hiking, gardening, and going on outdoor adventures are some of my favorite things. (And doing those with friends and family makes them even better.) I, of course, love reading and chatting about books with others as well!
About the Series:
Can you tell readers a bit about the Faye and the Ether series?
Faye and the Ether is a multiple point-of-view YA/NA fantasy series that twists worldwide mythology stories into a modern retelling. Each chapter alternates between Faye’s and Daron’s perspectives. Faye has grown up in the human world always feeling a pull to the ocean she couldn’t explain. Daron is a leader of the protectors in the Ether—a parallel world filled with the different mythical creatures of human folklore. The series begins with Daron going into the human world, looking for the human-raised Ether being that will change both of their worlds. (Spoiler alert: it’s Faye.)
While this is a familiar setup for YA Fantasy, I really enjoy putting a twist on things—on the mythology, yes, but also on the tropes and what readers might expect from the stories. One of my favorite things is when people message me and tell me that the books surprised them.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
My youngest child has always adored swimming in any kind of water but especially the ocean. I’ve joked that he is drawn to the water and we have to keep an eye on him or he will go join the kelpies.
I think seeing his love of the water is the seed that formed the very first image I had of the story, which was of a teenage girl looking out at the ocean, her dark hair rippling in the wind, and an overwhelming sense of longing for what lay within the sea.
From there I kept asking myself questions and the story continued to unravel.
Faye and the Ether is told from two different and distinct perspectives – Faye and Daron’s. If you had to describe your two protagonists in three words, which words would you use to describe each?
Daron: honorable, fierce, and goodhearted.
Faye: self-sacrificing, impulsive, and compassionate
I love how you twine Greek mythology and characters into the series. What kind of research did you have to do when writing your books?
Mythology has always fascinated me! I studied it some in college and loved reading about it growing up. So I’m familiar with a lot, and most of the research around the mythology is just brushing up on details.
However, there are a lot of things I have to research in depth, such as how to wield a sword. (I didn’t know how intricate swordwork really is! Every muscle in your body is engaged, balance and coordination are so important, and even the position of each finger counts!)
I’ve spent hours researching things I never would have thought about before (how to climb Mt. Everest, how long seals can hold their breath underwater, where in the human body is a fatal hit with a weapon, and the list goes on.)
When I bring in less familiar myths and get to research them, I really enjoy it! In the last book in the series, much of the book takes place with a character from Dutch mythology and I had a lot of fun learning the folklore behind her character. (And a huge thank you to one of my ARC readers, Kirsten, who also helped me a ton with this as well!)
I also appreciate the strong messages about the power of love in your books – familial love, romantic love, friendships, and more. What other messages do you hope to convey?
One message that seems to come up repeatedly throughout the series is: there is a place in the world for all of us. A lot of the characters deal with feeling displaced or not quite fitting in, but carve out or find their spot along the way. I think it’s common to feel “lost in the crowd” or “unsure of where you fit.” But I truly believe that everyone has somewhere they belong.
Another message is acceptance. Marshall Rosenberg, creator of Nonviolent Communication, said that you cannot actively try to change someone and be in a space of love for that person at the same time. We all need to feel accepted just as we are. The characters throughout the series face moments of acceptance and lack of acceptance, as well as moments where they exercise that themselves or not.
Ultimately, I hope all the messages from the books are ones of hope, kindness, and empathy for others.
Do you have a favorite character or scene from the series?
Alec is definitely my favorite character! (And he tends to be my reader’s favorite as well!) He’s such a joy to write, and he brings a lot of levity and humor into the book.
It’s so difficult to choose a favorite scene because I love so many of them. But if I had to pick, I think two of my favorite scenes are actually moments between the main couples of the series during different battles.
In book 2, Faye and the City in the Sea, Daron has a minute to pause during the battle where he watches his partner fighting and is torn between horror and awe. And I think that is such a fun scene.
In book 3, Faye and the World’s End, Faye’s partner says something to her during the battle scene that still warms my heart. I actually didn’t know he was going to say what he did until I typed it. It really highlights the love and devotion between them, even amid all the chaos of that scene. I love it.
Aside from those emotionally intense scenes, any moment where the characters are bantering back-and-forth are favorites. (It’s obvious that I’m a character-driven writer, isn’t it?)
I just finished Faye and the World’s end and loved it! Is this the end for Faye and the rest of the characters, or are there any other books in the works?
No, this is not the end! There are actually two more books in the series (and they are my favorites, actually!) In fact, one of my favorite characters from the series doesn’t arrive until book 4! I’ve finished the last two books already (in the first draft) and they will be out later this year.
I’ve also written a prequel that tells Alec’s story. I initially wrote it just for the background information for the series. But it ended up being such a fun adventure and my readers are eager to have it, so I hope to publish that one possibly first of next year.
Are you working on any projects in addition to Faye and the Ether?
Actually, I am! I’ve already started my next series. It’s a New Adult fantasy series that is, once again, rooted in mythology. This one is different in that it’s based on a specific myth (from Greek mythology). The main trope in the first book is enemies to lovers. And, like Faye and the Ether, it’s full of twists on the myths, some amazing characters, and a bit of magic.
My brain keeps wanting to jump to this story because I love it so much! But I’m staying focused on finishing the Faye series first!
Where can readers learn more about you and your writings (i.e., website, Twitter, Facebook page, Goodreads, etc.)?
Some places to follow me are:
I’m so excited for this exclusive giveaway!! Nicole was so generous to offer the winner signed copies of all three books in the Faye and the Ether series. This giveaway is exclusive to One Book More and ends on May 9th, so be sure to enter today!!