We could not be more proud of today’s cover reveal! Introducing The Blood Trials, the debut novel from Nia “N. E.” Davenport with fantastic cover art by Raymond Sebastien. We’ll pause here and let you marvel.
Done? Great, right?
Nia is a part of the extended FIYAH family, lending her considerable talents to the planning and development of FIYAHCON and apparently writing her tail off all while working as an educator and raising a beautiful family. But we know plenty about her. It’s time for you to get to know her and The Blood Trials coming from Harper Voyager April 5th, 2022. Pre-order here.
5 Questions with N. E. Davenport
1 What can you tell us about The Blood Trials?
Haha. Okay. That is a LOADED question. So much happens from page one until the very end, and I’m still new to this published author stuff. So I’m not sure what’s counted as a spoiler (which I’m already terrible about spilling), and what I can dish. I can tell you that The Blood Trials is full of action and peril. Ikenna Amari is the protagonist of the story, but there’s also a squad of cool secondary characters that readers will come to love too–and some of your faves might not be alive when you finish the book. There’s a murder that my protagonist, Ikenna, has to solve, and solving the murder leads her down a path of vengeance. She also discovers world-upending betrayals on multiple fronts.
Ikenna is a young Black woman who is a fighter and a survivor. She possesses outlawed blood magic, and on top of that, she lives in a racist and misogynistic society. So she’s got to be quadruple times as skilled as her male and white-coded counterparts to not only succeed, but also to stay alive in her world. This becomes even more so true when she enters deadly trials to become an elite warrior so she can solve her grandfather’s murder and make his killers bleed for it.
2 Introduce us to your world.
The Blood Trials takes place on the fictional planet of Iludu, a setting that blends science fiction and fantasy. Iludu is a world where magic and tech converge, gods once roamed and terrorized the planet, and humans have gone to war over rather to revere the magic the gods left behind or extinguish it. Iludu is also a world where loyalty is demanded, but rebellion is brewing. Several powerful nations that have a bloody history with one another exist in a tenuous peace at the start of the book.
3 Tell us a bit about your journey to publication.
Whew. It was a long and grueling road. I started querying agents with an eye toward traditional publication back around 2016. It took writing three manuscripts and querying them to agents before I received an offer of representation.
The first manuscript that my agent, the fantastic Caitie Flum at Liza Dawson Associates, and I prepared for submission to editors was a YA contemporary fantasy. The story was a Hades and Persephone retelling featuring a Black girl. Regrettably, it didn’t sell. I remain crushed about it to this day because I adore the story, but in the end everything worked out for the best.
“The Blood Trials” is the fantasy I wrote and revised while my Hades and Persephone retelling was on submission. I wrote “The Blood Trials” with an eye toward really wanting to pitch it to the adult market but also really wanting it to fit well in a crossover space. My brilliant editor at Harper Voyager, David Pomerico, ended up acquiring “The Blood Trials” after I completed a few revisions to the manuscript that he suggested. My agent called me with the offer for “The Blood Trials” a little over a year ago in April 2020. So it took me about four years from seriously querying to offer of publication. Prior to querying in 2016, I spent about three years writing novel after novel during my winter and summer breaks from teaching and just trying to get better at the craft aspects.
4 Who else is putting out work you’re really excited about?
WOW. I think there’s too many to name! Please forgive me if I forget to include anybody. I guess I’ll work off a list of what I’ve read in the last year from my mountainous TBR pile of phenomenal books. Kalynn Bayron’s This Poison Heart, Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic, R.F. Kuang’s The Burning God, C.L. Polk’s The Midnight Bargain, S.A. Chakraborty’s The Empire of Gold, C.L. Clark’s The Unbroken, and V.E. Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue are all novels I read in the last twelve months that blew me away with their incredible characters and thrilling worlds. Some books on this list made me sob my eyes out, some near gave me a heart attack, and some were downright chilling! I loved them all!
5 What’s next for you and where can people find you online?
At the moment, I’m pecking away at the sequel to “The Blood Trials.” There’s a lot that happens in the first book that I have to follow through on in book two and basically put my characters and my world through further hell. But there’s tons of good, and terrible, things that I’m cooking up while drafting the sequel! “The Blood Trials” is a book that I’m incredibly proud of and I’m working really hard to do the sequel justice.
I also have a few other secret projects in the works that I can hopefully share more on soon.
Overall, my goal is to keep writing fun SFF books with magical Black girls who are deadly, powerful, and courageous enough to stare down the biggest monsters in their worlds and scream, “Bring it!”