The Illuminator’s Gift: Meet Fantasy Author Alina Sayre!

The Illuminator's Gift, by Alina Sayre

The Illuminator’s Gift, by Alina Sayre


I’m thrilled to introduce fantasy author, Alina Sayre, to you. She’s just published her novel, The Illuminator’s Gift, and let me tell you, it’s a fabulous read that had me turning the pages. You may have heard about her first from me, but I predict you’ll soon be hearing a lot more about this talented author. With further ado, meet Alina Sayre!


Alina Sayre: Thank you so much for hosting me! It’s an honor to be on your blog.


Silverberry: Tell us a little about yourself.


Alina Sayre: Well…let’s see. I’ll eat almost anything that doesn’t include eyeballs or wasabi. My favorite color is purple. I’ve taken fencing lessons and galloped on the back of an out-of-control horse (your life really does flash before your eyes). I realized I wanted to be a writer when I was fourteen, but I’ve loved books since I was old enough to chew on them.


Silverberry: What inspired you to write The Illuminator’s Gift?


Alina Sayre: I can’t say it was any one thing by itself. I write like a magpie, pulling in shiny ideas from wherever I find them. Over a number of years, I’d been developing a fascination with the idea of two worlds: a visible one everybody thinks they know, and a true yet invisible world behind that. A character who could see through to the invisible world began to form in my mind, and she eventually became my main character, Ellie. That core idea became a magnet, pulling in interesting things I learned about in college: Wordsworth, Milton, the Bible, scraps of Latin and Greek languages, and a study-abroad trip to the British Isles, including a visit to the magnificent, illuminated Book of Kells. Life experiences were also an integral part of this book’s development, pulling in themes like loss, courage, family, and art.


Silverberry: What does your heroine, Ellie, yearn for?


Alina Sayre: Ellie’s deepest longing is to belong to a family. As an orphan, she’s been adopted and abandoned three different times, and she’s begun to see herself as an unwanted and undesirable person. She constantly struggles with fear and an assumption that she can’t succeed. Her ongoing journey is to stand up to her fears, trust the people around her, and see herself as she really is.


Silverberry: What’s the novel about and who would enjoy it?


Alina Sayre: The Illuminator’s Gift follows twelve-year-old Ellie from the orphanage where she’s been abandoned to an adventure aboard the flying ship the Legend. There she meets loyal friends, battles fearsome enemies, and discovers that she has a strange and wonderful gift that the world desperately needs. It’s geared toward ages 9-14, but since that’s how old I am on the inside, I hope it appeals to the young at heart as well. J


Silverberry: What do you think makes for great fantasy fiction?


Alina Sayre: Some people love fantasy worlds for their own sake—lots of swordfighting and dragons—and though it embarrasses me a little, I’m not one of those people. I really love fantasy because it has the power to tell truths about real life with power and clarity. Over the years, the bright, bold colors of different fantasy worlds have helped teach me how to navigate the sometimes-dangerous real world with courage, integrity, and a sense of adventure. In order to accomplish that, great fantasy has to tackle and explore real-life struggles and experiences with realism and sensitivity. That sense of exploration is what keeps writing exciting for me—I’m always learning and growing alongside my characters. Sure, I like the quests, magic, and fantastical creatures as well. But what really attracts me is the fantasy’s ability to portray “truth dressed in story,” and I like to read (and hopefully write) fantasy books that help me understand and live life better.


Silverberry: Who are some of your biggest influences as a writer?


Alina Sayre: I have so many literary role models that walking into a bookstore can move me to tears. I had The Lord of the Rings trilogy read aloud to me when I was eight, and Tolkien is still my literary idol. Aside from him, many people have inspired my writing: my dad, C.S. Lewis, a wide range of poets, L.M. Montgomery, Robert Jordan, Victor Hugo, William Shakespeare, etc. etc. etc. Collecting and reading books is my unstoppable obsession.


Silverberry: How do you approach crafting a novel?


Alina Sayre: Well…the answer to that might have been different if you’d asked me at different points of time. The Illuminator’s Gift took me five years to write, and in a lot of ways the book and I grew up together. I used an approach some people call “pantsing”—flying by the seat of my pants and seeing where the characters took me, rather than plotting out the whole story ahead of time. In some ways this method is exciting, because it gives characters freedom to be dynamic, realistic people who do unplanned things. But for The Illuminator’s Gift, it also left me with some big plot holes that took many grueling edits to fix. I learned a lot from the process, and for the sequel I’m trying to combine free-spirited pantsing with a general outline to help me stay on track.


Silverberry: What’s ahead for you?


Alina Sayre: Um…great question. I’m hard at work on a sequel to The Illuminator’s Gift, and I’m also incubating a nonfiction project. I love all the opportunities this book has given me to meet people, especially young writers, and I hope to have more of these opportunities in the future. I’ll be at Village House of Books in Los Gatos on July 10th! Mostly, I hope to keep developing new stories and learning how to balance writing with health, sanity, and all the adventures life brings.


Thanks so much for stopping by today, Alina. Consider me a fan; I’d read any of your books in a heartbeat!


Synopsis of The Illuminator’s Gift:


Ellie is a twelve-year-old orphan who desperately wants a family. She just doesn’t expect to find one when she joins the crew of the Legend, a flying ship in a secret rescue fleet. On board, she meets a boy with a pet tarantula, a bully with eyes like mirrors, and a librarian who can read eighteen languages. Unexpectedly, Ellie also discovers a powerful gift that only she can wield. But when the Legend is called to a dangerous rescue mission, Ellie risks losing everyone she loves. Will her mysterious gift be enough to save her and her friends from a deadly enemy bent on destroying their world?


Purchase The Illuminator’s Gift Here!


Kindle Edition


Amazon Print Edition


About Alina Sayre:


Alina Sayre cut her teeth chewing on board books and has been in love with words ever since. Her favorite stories are the ones that blend adventure, faith, and big words. She also enjoys hiking, photography, crazy socks, and the smell of old books. She does not enjoy algebra or wasabi. When she grows up, she would like to live in a castle with a large library.


Follow Alina here!




Twitter: @AlinaSayre

Alina Sayre, Author of THE ILLUMINATOR'S GIFT

Alina Sayre, Author of THE ILLUMINATOR’S GIFT

Alina Sayre and A. R. Silverberry. Photo by Amalia Hillmann

Alina Sayre and A. R. Silverberry. Photo by Amalia Hillmann

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