interview · young adult

An interview with L. E. Sterling, author of True Born

Hello everyone! Today I have something special to feature on the blog because L. E. Sterling, author of True Born (the first in the True Born trilogy) agreed to answer a few questions about herself and her newest novel.


What initially inspired you to write True Born?

Writing novels is such a messy business. I really think that for me, a novel is a collage of all of my experiences, emotions and impressions. But in True Born I’d have to say there are two main threads that led to the novel.

I’ve been using my novels as vehicles to explore the environmental crisis that’s upon us. Our environmental crisis is more than just about garbage or pollution – I’d call that a ‘skin deep’ approach. Instead, I believe this crisis affects our very DNA. It affects our hormone levels, our biological stress levels and so on, and in a very real way that results in disease. We’ve really segmented our society so that “medicine” supposedly fixes a problem – but does it? True Born doesn’t really answer this question – yet! But it does state the problem, I think, in what I hope are some really clear and articulate ways.

The other inspiration was my family. I’ve been quite obsessed by the incredible story of my great-grandmother, who was born in England and sent to the U.S. to be an indentured servant circa 1900. As the story goes, she was very young when she was shipped over, and I imagine the whole voyage was traumatic, because apparently my great-grandmother forgot who she was through the crossing.

When she finally arrived in the U.S. she gave everyone her twin’s name instead of her own. She ended up living her entire life, up until she was a middle-aged adult, by her twin’s name. It’s such a fascinating tale – I really wanted to explore the idea of having a bond with someone that was so close that it took over your own, so I explored this in a fictional world.

Tell us about Lucy. Why do you think people will connect to her as a main character?

Well, I think people will make up their own minds as to how they will connect to Lucy. But from my perspective, Lucy is the greatest character! She’s got spunk and depths that she’s only just beginning to explore. But at the same time she’s really trapped by the thought paradigms she’s grown up with. I think that strange duality leads to some of the best tension in the book, because she’s always fighting with her desire and inclination to play it safe, play by the rules of her parents and her upper class world. In the end, she just can’t. She just isn’t that person, no matter how much she wants to be. She’s far bigger, and the events unfolding around her just won’t let her be.

True Born was originally published on Wattpad. How was the experience of transitioning from that to a more traditional publishing route?

This is a good question. The answer is: it isn’t!

To unpack that: I really only meant for True Born to exist on Wattpad as a novella. It was, to my mind, “fully formed” and never meant for publication. It was meant to be a back story for another set of novels I was planning but then… the story seemed to get very popular and I ended up pursuing it as first a novel, and then a trilogy!

Other writers have used Wattpad to land their first publishing deals (happens rarely, folks) but I already had two published novels under my belt, and a literary agent, so this wasn’t my main goal! What I needed was some inspiration and encouragement – even with an agent, the publishing industry can be crushing! – and honestly, Wattpad’s amazing community of creators gave that to me in spades.

What writers have inspired you?

There are so many!! Among many others, I have spent the last few years obsessed with Ilona Andrews, Cassandra Clare, Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Karen Chance, Maria V. Snyder, and Tanya Huff. Before that, I was really taken by Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

What I really love was how these writers are able to fully immerse you in these alternate realities. It’s quite something – and I learn so much from reading (and rereading, and rereading) their work. I really aspire to some of the intense world-building that these writers are so good at. I want readers to feel as though they are citizens of Dominion (the city True Born is set in) – not voyeurs.

If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be?

Honestly? I would want to make friends with Kate Daniels from the Kate Daniels series (Ilona Andrews). She is one scary awesome lady. Kick ass assassin and marshmallow softy. I love that combination.

What is the last book that you read?

I’ve just finished Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs. It was as amazing as all the others in the Mercy Thompson series – perfect!

— — —

If you’re interested in learning more about True Born, which will be available May 3rd, read on:


Welcome to Dominion City.

After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated…and their genetics damaged beyond repair.

The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…

And then there’s Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.

When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?

As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood.

For more about the author:

Twitter: @le_sterling
Facebook (this is brand new):

I read, love, and respond to each and every one of your comments! Thank you for reading!

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