Check out a Q&A with the author and read an excerpt... Kingdom of Sea and Stone by Mara Rutherford (Interview & Excerpt) #yalit #fantasy @InkyardPress

Welcome to my tour stop! You'll find an interview with the author and an excerpt below...

Kingdom of Sea and Stone
(Crown of Coral and Pearl #2)
By Mara Rutherford
YA Fantasy, Siblings Fiction
Hardcover & ebook, 368 Pages
October 6, 2020 by Inkyard Press


"A fabulous interweaving of fantasy, politics, and sisterhood – this unusual, tense tale will have you on the edge of your seat!" –#1 New York Times bestselling author Tamora Pierce on Crown of Coral and Pearl

The Cruel Prince meets Ash Princess in this thrilling fantasy, the much-anticipated sequel to Crown of Coral and Pearl.

Ever since Nor was forced to go to a nearby kingdom in her sister's place, she's wanted nothing more than to return to the place and people she loves. But when her wish comes true, she soon finds herself cast out from both worlds, with a war on the horizon.

As an old enemy resurfaces more powerful than ever, Nor will have to keep the kingdom from falling apart with the help of Prince Talin and Nor's twin sister, Zadie. There are forces within the world more mysterious than any of them ever guessed—and they'll need to stay alive long enough to conquer them...

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Q&A with Mara Rutherford

Q: What was your favorite thing about revisiting the world you’ve built and continuing Nor’s story?

A: I loved having the opportunity to return to a world I first created in 2015, especially exploring new parts of it, like Galeth. Nor, of all the characters I’ve written, is one I particularly relate to, and I think the ways she grows in this book reflect some of the ways I have changed in the past five years.

Q: What are some of your favorite literary female relationships?

A: I have always loved literary sister relationships (probably because I have four sisters myself!). From reading Little Women when I was young, to reading and rereading one of my all-time favorite books, The Poisonwood Bible, I am always fascinated by how authors portray sisters. I’m just now finishing up the Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake, and I really admire the dynamic relationships between all her female characters, not just the triplets.

Q: What inspires you to write every day?

A: First of all, let me be clear that I don’t write every day! I know this is really important for many writers, but for me, it’s just not possible (or necessary). Maybe because I never really feel burnt out by writing, I don’t need much to get inspired - just having time and mental space (particularly in 2020 when my kids have been home constantly) is the main hurdle for me. Escaping into words is something I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of. I particularly love drafting, when I get to create without worrying if what I’m writing is “good.”

Q: How do you like social media interactions with your fans?

A: I LOVE interacting with readers online! Instagram is by far my favorite platform, and I am always so excited when readers take the time to message me or comment on my photos. I am genuinely still amazed that people have a) read something I wrote b) like it and c) want to talk to me! My biggest fear is that I’ll let down the readers who loved Crown of Coral and Pearl. But I’m also learning that I can’t please everyone, so I hope the vast majority of you like Kingdom of Sea and Stone!

Q: How did you choose the title?

Originally, when I considered the possibility of a sequel, I was envisioning something like “Sisters of Sea and Sky.” But a lot of “Sisters of” books cropped up in that time, and my publisher also wanted to have a symbol on the cover that would match the crown from Book One. My good friends and critique partners Elly Blake and Nikki Roberti Miller helped me with tagline and title brainstorming. Nikki has a particular knack for it, and I give her credit for both for Book Two!

Q: What was your inspiration for writing this book?

I always envisioned this as a duology, so from the very beginning, I knew I wanted to continue Nor’s story. Once I finally got the go-ahead, I’d had plenty of time to think about where the story would go.

Q: Which character/s do you relate to the most?

I relate to Nor the most, particularly her desire to support and protect the people she loves while still being true to herself, although I also share Zadie’s sense of duty and a fear of being alone. All of my characters come from some part of my personality, though. Even Ceren!

Q: What scene, in the book, are you most proud of?

This is a difficult question for me to answer! I can’t really think of a particular scene that stands out to me - so much of the book changed from draft one to the final draft. I think I’m mostly proud of writing a sequel. It’s a totally different experience from writing a standalone or a book one, especially under the circumstances I did it (not selling it until the first book was already going to print, switching editors twice, writing under a fairly tight deadline). I think I did the best job I could, and I stayed true to the characters and story. I hope readers agree!

Q: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably when I finished writing my first book (it sucked, but hey, I did it!). I had written as a journalist prior to that, but finishing something really long, and something fictional, felt like a significant accomplishment for me.

Q: What would you like to say to aspiring/beginning writers in the community?

Persist, persist, persist! You can’t control how talented you are, or how lucky you get. All you can do is keep writing, keep reading, keep going. It took me fifteen years and nine books to become a published author. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you!


Excerpted from Kingdom of Sea and Stone by Mara Rutherford © 2020 by Mara Rutherford, used with permission by Inkyard Press.

On the day Zadie and I turned thirteen, Father surprised us with a trip to the floating market—our first glimpse of the world beyond Varenia.

I spent the journey perched on the bow of our family’s boat, welcoming the cold ocean spray on my face and the wind in my tightly plaited hair. Zadie sat between Mother and Father, her knuckles white on the edge of the bench, her golden-brown eyes wide with anticipation.

As we approached, I eagerly took in the sight of the intricately carved wooden boats, with their colorful wares and raucous merchants. While Father traded our precious Varnian pearls for drinking water and food, Mother made Zadie and me sit next to each other near the front of the boat where everyone could see us. She had shown us off to every villager in Varenia a hundred times, but today an entirely new audience was at her disposal.

Men and women smiled at us as we floated past, likely because identical twins were a novelty.

“Lovely girls,” one of the merchants said, and I watched as Mother swelled with pride like a pufferfish.

She thanked him and urged us to do the same. But just as I started to speak, the man craned his neck to get a look at the right side of my face.

“Pity about the scar, though.”

I could feel Mother wilt behind me like a seaf lower left out in the sun.

Zadie, embarrassed, settled into the bottom of the boat where no one could stare at us, but I stayed where I was, watching as Father looked over a basket. I was used to these kinds of comments by now, but it felt as though Mother would never accept that one of her daughters was a damaged good, just like the basket Father handed back to the merchant, gesturing to a hole in the bottom.


I turned to see a young man—the son of the trader, presumably—motioning for Zadie and me to come closer.

Zadie eyed him suspiciously. Mother had warned us that Ilarean boys were beneath our notice. We were the most beautiful women in the world, after all; that was why we were considered worthy of marrying royalty.

But with my scar, I wasn’t going to marry royalty, and I was curious to see what the boy wanted. I scooted to the edge of the boat. He looked like any boy in Varenia, though his clothing was finer and his hands were as smooth as Zadie’s.

He glanced around to make sure no one was watching, then handed me a small glass bottle. “For you,” he said.

I held it aloft for a better look. The contents were disappointing: sand, salt water, and a tiny yellow shell. All things I could find in Varenia, I thought glumly. But it was the only gift I’d ever received from a boy, and I politely thanked him.

When we returned home with our food and fresh water, I placed the bottle on a shelf.

“What’s this?” Mother asked, immediately recognizing that there was a foreign object cluttering her kitchen.

“It’s a wandering crab,” Father replied, reaching into the bottle. For the first time, I noticed the tiny legs poking out from the shell. “They usually live closer to shore, but I’ve seen a few in my time. They find a discarded shell and make it their home, and when that one grows too small, they choose another, larger shell and move in.”

I held out my hand, fascinated. Father passed the crab to me and it scuttled across my palm, tickling my skin. “It carries its home on its back?”

“That’s right.” Father gently took the crab from me before it could plummet to the floor. “It has everything it needs, right here.”

I smiled, pleased with the idea of such an untethered, independent existence. “It can go anywhere it wants to.” I glanced around our little house, which already felt too small for my imagination, and sighed wistfully. “Lucky.”

“Nonsense.” Mother plucked the crab deftly from Father’s hand. Without ceremony, she f lung it over the balcony, where it immediately sank below the surface of the water.

She ignored my startled cry. “You have everything you need right here in Varenia. Do you think they’d actually accept you out there, with your…” She trailed off, gesturing vaguely to my cheek. “Now hurry up and help me. This food isn’t going to put itself away.”

For a moment I thought Father might protest, but he simply retreated to the boat. Zadie frowned sympathetically.

I watched the spot where the crab had disappeared, knowing it was probably well on its way to somewhere new. It was only a crab, yet already it had seen more of the world than I ever would. I wondered if that was why the young man had given it to me, more of a cruel joke than a gift.

“Lucky,” I whispered again, thinking not just of the crab but also the trader, his son, the ocean, and everything that had more freedom than a girl born in Varenia. Then I did as I was told. 

About the Author

Mara Rutherford began her writing career as a journalist but quickly discovered she far preferred fantasy to reality. Originally from California, Mara has since lived all over the world with her marine-turned-diplomat husband. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara holds a master's degree in cultural studies from the University of London. When she's not writing or chasing after her two sons, she can usually be found pushing the boundaries of her comfort zone, whether at a traditional Russian banya or an Incan archaeological site. Mara is a former Pitch Wars mentee and three-time mentor

Both books in this series are on my tbr. Have you read the first book in this series? Will you be reading this one?

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