Of Sea and Smoke Author Interview & Giveaway!

About the Book

Book: Of Sea and Smoke

Author: Gillian Bronte Adams

Genre: YA Epic Fantasy

Release Date: November 21, 2023

He rides a seablood, a steed of salt and spray, born to challenge the tides.

Six years ago, the wrong brother survived, and nothing will ever convince Rafi Tetrani otherwise. But he is done running from his past, and from the truth. As civil war threatens Ceridwen’s tenuous rule in Soldonia, Rafi vows to fight the usurper sitting on the imperial throne of Nadaar, even if it means shouldering his brother’s responsibilities as the empire’s lost heir.

The stolen shipload of magical warhorses offers just the edge he needs. But the steeds have been demanded in ransom by the emperor’s ruthless assassin, and if Rafi hopes to raise a band of riders, he must first outwit his brother’s murderer.

Yet when his best efforts end in disaster, and an audacious raid sparks an empire-wide manhunt, even forging an unexpected alliance might not be enough to help Rafi turn the tides, let alone outrace the wave of destruction intent on sweeping them all away.


Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Gillian Bronte Adams writes epic fantasy novels, including the award- winning Of Fire and Ash and The Songkeeper Chronicles. She loves strong coffee, desert hikes, and trying out new soup recipes on crisp fall nights. Her favorite books are the ones that make your heart ache and soar in turn. When she’s not creating vibrant new worlds or dreaming up stories that ring with the echoes of eternity, she can be found off chasing sunsets with her horse, or her dog, Took.

More from Gillian

One of my favorite things about writing epic fantasy is not actually what you might expect. It’s not the fantastical elements, although I absolutely love creating worlds filled with magical warhorses, sosswyrm tangles, and stone-eye tigers who can paralyze their prey with a glance. It’s not the intensity of the action or the world altering stakes, although there’s nothing quite so thrilling as throwing your characters into a do-or-die situation, and the pulse-pounding, breathtaking, heart-aching battle sequences that follow.

Instead, one of my favorite things about writing such wild and epic stories is the opportunity to ground them in very real, very human characters, with very real, very human emotions, and in the complexity of those characters’ relationships with others. Mentor relationships, deeply loyal friendships, and especially sibling relationships.

I am the second-born of five siblings, and I love and admire each of my siblings. Each one encourages and inspires and awes me in his or her own unique way. But growing up, if you had told me that my older sister had hung the moon, I would have believed you. She was two and a half years older than me—and yes, that half year mattered to both of us, though for opposite reasons; she because it meant she was that much older, me because it meant we were that much closer. Somehow, everything she touched seemed golden, and I wanted to be a part of it too.

She was a force of nature—a foaming ocean tide—and I was caught up in her wake.

She took up horseback riding, and so did I. She picked up books, and I had to read them too, even if it meant sitting beside her in the car with my own book open on my lap, surreptitiously reading hers over her shoulder. (Needless to say, that drove her crazy, and older siblings everywhere can probably commiserate.)

She dove into creative writing, and out of nowhere, I developed a passion for the written word. But always, within her, there was this spark of imagination and creativity that I felt I could only ever aspire to. Whatever I did, she had done first and better.

And I could only hope to one day achieve her level of greatness.

Rafi, one of the main characters in Of Sea and Smoke, also has an older sibling, a brother he has always looked up to. While Rafi and his relationship with his brother is not based on my relationship with my older sister—we’re all four of us wildly different people—there were some aspects of my experience as a second-born that I was able to draw upon. Rafi admires his brother’s strength and confidence. His assurance and rightness. His nobility and leadership. By the time we enter the story, his older brother is no longer around, but Rafi has spent his whole life setting his brother up on a pedestal and then trying to measure up to that ideal.

Is it any wonder, then, that he has always found himself wanting?

Now, Rafi finds himself having to step into the role that should have been his brother’s, and the only way he can contemplate facing that challenge is by stamping out the things he looks down upon in himself—many of them, the things that make him himself—and trying to be his brother instead.

Growing up, I can’t tell you how many times I looked at my older sister and wished that I could be more like her and less like myself. More confident. More brilliant. More vibrant. More her. But it wasn’t until my older sister’s interests began to drift into new additional avenues, while mine stayed mostly the same (horses, books, writing), that I finally began to grow into myself. To recognize my strengths, my unique skills, the things that only I bring to the table, and to acknowledge that even when they are different from hers, they are still good.

These days, my older sister and I are best friends. She was the first person I trusted to read Of Sea and Smoke before it went out into the world. I still look up to her in so many ways, and yes, I think I’ll always feel a bit like she hung the moon. But I have grown to appreciate the beauty of what I can learn from my sister’s strengths, while also recognizing the value of my own. And without revealing any spoilers, I think I can safely say that part of Rafi’s journey in Of Sea and Smoke wraps around learning that too, all while he’s raising a band of rebel fighters, trying to outwit an infamous assassin, and plotting to overthrow the empire’s oppressive rule.

Wild, epic stories, grounded in real, human experiences, and honestly, can reading get any more fun than that?

I hope you enjoy the ride!

Gillian Bronte Adams

Author Interview

  • Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I do get to hear from readers, and it is honestly one of my favorite parts of the job. Writing can be isolating work. While I have been blessed with incredible author friends who encourage and support (and occasionally brainstorm), the work itself happens between me and the page (and a lot of prayer!). So getting to hear from readers who have fallen in love with my storyworlds is such a gift. Sometimes, it’s readers who picked up one of my books at just the right time and connected with the characters and themes in a way that left them feeling encouraged and strengthened. Like one reader who shared how the strong friendships in The Fireborn Epic gave her hope in the midst of a season of broken relationships and loss. Other times, it’s from readers who are young aspiring writers who want to write epic fantasy with powerful themes and strong characters and are looking for advice or encouragement.

When I’m focused on drafting a new story, my inbox is sadly one of the first things to fall by the wayside, but I do try to reply whenever I can. Because I was once that same young aspiring writer reaching out to authors who wrote what I dreamed of writing, and the ones who took the time to respond and encourage, even if they didn’t say much, made all the difference in the world to me! I received that encouragement, and I want to give it back to others as much as I can!


  • How do you overcome writer’s block? Do you have any advice for others in finding their process to overcome it?

For me, overcoming writer’s block starts with identifying what’s causing it. Sometimes, it’s because I don’t know what’s going to happen next in the story, and the most productive thing I can do is stop writing and brainstorm. Sometimes, it’s because I’ve written myself into a bind, and again, I need to backtrack and figure out where I went wrong and how to move forward. Sometimes, it’s because I’ve been pushing myself too hard and constantly pouring out creatively without taking time to refresh and refuel, so I’ll take some time off writing to do things that creatively inspire me—getting outside, being in nature, stepping away from technology and the never-ending to-do lists, rereading favorite stories or revisiting favorite films. Sometimes, I just need to stop actively thinking and just let the story simmer for a bit while I do something else. And sometimes, I just need to push forward and write anyway, moving toward the next part of the story that I can see.


There are so many reasons writers can feel blocked, so I think it’s really important to pause to diagnose why before choosing how to treat it. Because if you’re feeling blocked because you’re burned out, pushing on and writing anyway will eventually just make it worse. Or if you’re feeling blocked because you haven’t fleshed out your character enough, you probably need a good old brainstorming session to hash it out more than a long break to refuel.

  • Do you read the genre you write? Why or why not?

Epic fantasy has been my genre of choice, both to read and write, ever since I as a kid. My dad introduced me to The Hobbit as a read aloud when I was five years old, and I have been hooked ever since. As a genre, epic fantasy tends to tell these wild, sweeping tales about complex heroes and heroines who fight on, undaunted, until the bitter end. That resonates with me, and so I read and work to write stories that make your heart ache and soar in turn, that make you want to rise up and be brave too. These days, my shelves are overflowing with both epic fantasy books and YA fantasy books, but honestly, I’ll read a book from any genre if it is telling that kind of a story, so you’ll find science fiction, historical fiction, and more on my shelves as well. Reading a variety of genres also helps me to grow my craft as a writer, since it introduces me to different ways of telling stories.

  • What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

There’s a quote from Louis L’Amour that I absolutely love, because I’ve found it to be true over and over again. “Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” I am a combination of a plotter and a discovery writer. I like to have a roadmap for my writing, but I also enjoy discovering the details and the “how” along the way. But every now and then, I do get hung up on planning out the intricate workings of how the pieces of the story need to fit together. Planning is not a bad thing, but getting stuck is. And inevitably, I find that once I actually start writing, even if I don’t have all the pieces in place, the process of writing reveals those missing pieces and helps clarify where they need to fall. Sometimes, what I’ve written turns out to be wrong, and that’s okay, because through writing, I discovered what I couldn’t figure out by brainstorming alone. Sometimes, you just need to start and get it wrong, so you can figure out how to do it write.

  • Is your writing space pristine or organized chaos?

I wish I could say that my writing space is pristine, but it’s usually more than a little chaotic. For a while there, I was trying to build the habit of cleaning up my desk at the end of every day and using that as a way to transition my brain from writing mode to resting mode, but I hit a period where I was working very late on deadlines, and cleaning my desk fell by the wayside. It’s typically covered in stacks of books that I’m reading for fun or research, piles of brainstorming notebooks, scattered pens, all the sticky notes everywhere, and because I love to do at least one edit on paper, copies of pieces I’ve written and need to review. Half the time though, I end up using my desk more for “author business work” and take my writing outside, where I’m less likely to be distracted by everything I could be doing and can focus solely on translating the story from my head to the page.

Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 2

Through the Fire Blogs, December 3 (Author Interview)

Labor Not in Vain, December 3

Texas Book-aholic, December 4

Artistic Nobody, December 5 (Author Interview)

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 6

Guild Master, December 7 (Author Interview)

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 8

Blossoms and Blessings, December 9 (Author Interview)

Blogging With Carol, December 10

Tell Tale Book Reviews, December 11 (Author Interview)

Simple Harvest Reads, December 12 (Guest Review from Mindy)

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, December 13 (Author Interview)

By The Book, December 14 (Author Interview)

The Lofty Pages, December 14

Fiction Book Lover, December 15 (Author Interview)


To celebrate her tour, Gillian is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card and hardcover copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.