Today we’re thrilled to reveal the cover for young adult fantasy Goddess Crown by Shade Lapite! The cover was designed by Maria Middleton. The book will be released in September 2023 by Walker Books US. Preorder it here, here, here, here, or here. Keep scrolling for an exclusive note from the author!
Kalothia has grown up in the shadows of her kingdom, hidden away in the forested East after her parents were outed as enemies of the king. Raised in a woodland idyll by a few kindly adult caretakers, Kalothia can hunt and fish and fend for herself but knows little of the outside world. When assassins attack her home on her sixteenth birthday, she must flee to the king’s court in the West—a beautiful but lethal nest of poison, plots, and danger, overseen by an entrenched patriarchy. Guided by the Goddess herself, can Kalothia navigate this most worldly of places to find her own role? What if she must choose between her country and her heart? Excitement, romance, and a charismatic heroine shine in this first book set in the unforgettable kingdom of Galla.
A word from the author:
When I was growing up, it seemed like men had all the fun things in popular fiction. They drove cool talking cars as in Knight Rider, rode horses across the American West and shot outlaws, saved the planet as Superman, or joined the A-Team and fought injustice. I was so grateful whenever I encountered a kick-ass heroine: Tamora Pierce’s Alanna of Trebond, Charlie’s Angels, Wonder Woman, Sarah Connor in the Terminator franchise. Their adventures called to me. Nothing was more exciting than a woman with a weapon in her hand. Well, nothing except for a woman in an awesome outfit, with great hair and a deadly weapon. My Nigerian mother and an array of fashionista aunties had led by example when it came to teaching me the importance of beautiful clothes, matching accessories, and well-styled hair, even in life-or-death situations.
I was working in TV post-production when I started writing. I’d recently graduated with a media arts degree and was obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her ill-fated love for Angel. The weekly hour of appointment TV was not enough to satisfy my craving for Sunnydale stories, so I leapt into the world of fanfiction. There I discovered the joy of playing with characters and plots. I began sharing my stories with the Buffy writing community and grew in confidence until I was able to graduate from the Buffyverse and start inventing my own worlds. I filled my creations with smart, outspoken fighting women. These heroines were always white, because rare as it was to find a strong woman in fiction, it was even rarer that she was Black. It was years before it occurred to me to make a woman who resembled me the center of the story.
Goddess Crown was a combination of all my obsessions: great fashion, outstanding fighting skills, forbidden love, a woman in a man’s world. I pounded out the first draft over a long November, encouraged by the National Novel Writing Month community. The germ of the story was a play on the life of Queen Elizabeth I. A female heir to the throne, both a threat and a hope, raised away from the royal court, her mother executed, destined to challenge the dominance of a male-centric society. Over the years the story evolved. The setting changed from a Eurocentric placement to a fictional West Africa, the fashion and culture were transformed, a goddess became the basis of the faith system, and the threats faced by the heroine grew. The unchanging center of the story was Kalothia, a girl determined to live life on her own terms. She’s courageous and inspiring and I can’t wait for readers to meet her. — Shade Lapite
Shade Lapite is British-Nigerian and has drawn on her heritage to create the world of her debut novel. She spent a significant slice of her childhood nestled in the library, inhaling books by Diana Wynne Jones, Tamora Pierce, Lois Duncan, and Mildred D. Taylor. Her love for the arts led her to a degree in media arts at Royal Holloway, University of London. She now lives in Toronto and juggles writing with her career in digital marketing. Her blog, Coffee Bookshelves, celebrates writing and promotes titles by authors of color. You can find her fangirling over Korean dramas on Twitter @TheShadyFiles or sharing her favorite books on Instagram @shadelapite.