Chosen for the honour of bonding with a frostsliver – a fragment of the sentient glacier that crests her icy home – Sabira embarks on the dangerous pilgrimage to the top of the mountain. But when a huge avalanche traps her on the glacier and destroys the pass, Sabira is determined to find another way home. In order to survive, she must face up to the merciless mountain – but there are dark and fiery secrets hiding in its depths …
Memorable, original world-building and an icy, Tibetan-themed setting combine in a truly stand-out middle-grade adventure.
Why did you want to write FROSTFIRE?
I’ve spent the past twenty years (at least) thinking up stories, and more and more I’ve wanted to share them with the world. I’ve been working on a handful of loosely connected fantasy books for a while now, and I was fortunate enough that Chicken House decided one was worthy of being put in front of a few more eyeballs! I’m really pleased with the way the book came together, from the icy imagery to the bonds the characters form, and as always, I hope that the world is something that readers will not have seen before. I always want to be trying new things in fantasy – there’s so much potential for creativity!
Do you have any interesting research tidbits you can share from when you were writing FROSTFIRE?
Learning about how best to survive an avalanche was interesting – though the main advice was to be elsewhere! Inflate your chest to make as much space as possible if you’re going to be buried, and keep your arms up for easier rescue were more practical suggestions. I also learned how people used to (and in some places still do) rappel down mountainsides without modern climbing harnesses or belay devices. You should be able to spot that one in the book!
What do you want your readers to take away from Sabira’s story?
That life’s problems don’t have to be insurmountable, but there’s not always a perfect way through them. That blaming yourself for other’s decisions never goes anywhere good and that if a cause is right, it’s worth fighting for.
Can you tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I can see several alpacas from my window.
I feel like it’s pertinent to ask about cats – do share:
We have two – one that particularly likes to ‘help’ writing by sitting on pages or walking on keyboards. She’s in the room noisily playing with cat toys right now. Didn’t quite get any regular cats into this book, but I swear they’re coming in future! I did tease some more fantastical ones in Frostfire, and maybe they will get their day too, eventually…
Tea or coffee?
Hot drinks aren’t my thing, but I do like a good cold brew coffee!
I’m giving you a free platform to talk about anything – GO:
I’ll take it! Fantasy writers, I urge you to avoid the usual dragons and orcs, and reach for something different. We’ve all seen medieval Europe reflected in magical worlds – it’s time for other parts of the world to shine! It doesn’t have to all be farm boys with swords, or dark lords destined to destroy the world.
Unless you’re really, really good at writing it, that is. Then I’ll probably dive in regardless.
Finally, what is the question you wish people would ask and never do?
It’s a double-edged sword here, because I’d love to get asked about the Infinite Sea, the world Frostfire and all my fantasy stories are set in – but since every word would be spoilers for all the many, many mysteries I’ve got planned, it’s probably for the best that I leave it there for now! Expect much more on this in future though…
The mountain had murder in mind.
That was the only explanation for the howling wind, the savage pinpricks of hail and the shifting snow underfoot. Sabira held a gloved hand in front of her face and pushed on up the sheer steps cut into the rock, her leg muscles screaming. It felt like they’d been climbing for ever.
The steps had no handrail, and the drop churned her stomach. Rather than risk staring into it, Sabira kept her focus on Uncle Mihnir’s broad back. Further ahead, Frost-Cleric Tserah walked through the gale as if the harsh climb was no more than a stroll through the lowlands in summer.
She couldn’t be afraid. Not here, not now. She’d been chosen because Tserah thought she was smart and strong; only one in every hundred who came of age were judged worthy of a visit to the glacier. She should be proud.
Jamie Smith is the debut author of FROSTFIRE, shortlisted for the 2016 Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition.
Between working as a retail software developer and dealing with the whims of cats, he has written more books than he should have and is always working on more. He lives near Stafford.