Interview: N.E. Davenport. On Her Debut Novel The Blood Trials.

By Wyatt Bandt

NE Davenport feat

You have a pretty rich background! A biological sciences and theatre degree, a masters in secondary education, and now you’re a science and english teacher – and you’re writer on the side! What’s it like wearing so many hats?

ND: Honestly, it’s challenging, but also fulfilling! I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to take a hiatus from teaching the last two years and write full-time. However, when I was juggling both it was all about time management for me, carving out the time to write, and then guarding it fiercely.

A simple question I always like to ask is when did you begin writing and what kept you with the hobby?

ND: I’ve been writing seriously near as long as I’ve been alive! I remember as early as four, I’d sit at a table with my grandmother scribbling on paper and tell her a dramatic fantasy story as I scribbled. In childhood, my teen years, and then adulthood writing remained a hobby because it’s just so much fun to create worlds and characters and plots. At some point, it became a passion and something I can’t ever not do.

Where did the inspiration for the blood trials come from?

ND: The Blood Trials was inspired by a lot of things but primarily Star Wars. I wanted to tell a story that was a space fantasy with sweeping magic, mythology, gods, and technology advancement existing side-by-side while clashing.

Did you start with a goal to tell a story about a strong female protagonist fighting against the odds, against discrimination, or did it develop into that?

ND: I absolutely started with the goal to tell a story about a fierce female warrior fighting against discrimination and her own grief. So much of Ikenna’s story took shape from my real-life experiences as a Black woman in America.

Once you put pen to paper, what led you to pursue publication?

ND: The dream I’ve held since a teenager of one day walking into a bookstore and seeing a book written by me on the shelves. I also wanted to contribute to the body of science fiction / fantasy literature that features heroes who look like me.

What was, well I suppose, what is it like working with Harper Voyager?

ND: It’s been really amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better editorial team!

The world in the blood trials is very unique. It’s futuristic, has several clear cultures, cool monsters with lore behind their existence such as the cat-like sabine, magic, and that’s just a few of the things. What influences did you draw upon while fleshing out the world?

ND: I grew up loving stories about magic and mythological gods and heroes. I drew on that love when creating the fantastical elements of The Blood Trials. I’m also super into stories about political clashes, powerful nations clashing, and powerful people vying for more of it. It’s another thing I used when creating the planet of Iludu.

To add to that, what’s one of your favorite parts about The Blood Trials world?

ND: Wow, I have so many. I definitely love the romance subplot. I don’t read much SFF without one. Another favorite part is literally anything Ikenna gets to use her blood magic.

When can we expect book two of The Blood Gift duology? Avoiding spoilers for potential readers, it feels like a lot that needs to happen yet for the story to come to a conclusion.

ND: Soon! I think that might be all I can say at the moment. Sorry! A lot does need to happen, and it will in book two!

Finally, I’d like to leave space for you to say anything you want to talk about. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

ND: Thank you so much for inviting me to speak with you! I am thrilled that you enjoyed The Blood Trials so much, and I hope other readers do too.

The Blood Trials book cover

“Davenport debuts with an ambitious epic that blurs genre lines, setting futuristic technology against a historical fantasy backdrop. This invigorating debut marks Davenport as a writer to watch.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Davenport’s ambitious debut is gritty and bloody, and balances emotional arcs with fast action. Fans of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising and Evan Winter’s The Rage of Dragons will find similarities in Ikenna’s journey.”—LIBRARY JOURNAL

Synopsis: The Blood Trials

Blending fantasy and science fiction, N. E. Davenport’s fast-paced, action-packed debut kicks off a duology of loyalty and rebellion, in which a young Black woman must survive deadly trials in a racist and misogynistic society to become an elite warrior.

It’s all about blood.

The blood spilled between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor long ago. The blood gifts of Mareen’s deadliest enemies. The blood that runs through the elite War Houses of Mareen, the rulers of the Tribunal dedicated to keeping the republic alive.

The blood of the former Legatus, Verne Amari, murdered.

For his granddaughter, Ikenna, the only thing steady in her life was the man who had saved Mareen. The man who had trained her in secret, not just in martial skills, but in harnessing the blood gift that coursed through her.

Who trained her to keep that a secret.

But now there are too many secrets, and with her grandfather assassinated, Ikenna knows two things: that only someone on the Tribunal could have ordered his death, and that only a Praetorian Guard could have carried out that order.

Bent on revenge as much as discovering the truth, Ikenna pledges herself to the Praetorian Trials—a brutal initiation that only a quarter of the aspirants survive. She subjects herself to the racism directed against her half-Khanaian heritage and the misogyny of a society that cherishes progeny over prodigy, all while hiding a power that—if found out—would subject her to execution…or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all because she needs to find out who murdered her grandfather…and then she needs to kill them.

Mareen has been at peace for a long time…

Ikenna joining the Praetorians is about to change all that.

Magic and technology converge in the first part of this stunning debut duology, where loyalty to oneself—and one’s blood—is more important than anything.

About the Author

N.E. Davenport

Nia “N.E.” Davenport is the Science Fiction/Fantasy author of “The Blood Trials” and a forthcoming sequel. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys vacationing with her family, skiing, and being a huge foodie. She’s an advocate for diverse, reflective perspectives and protagonists in literature.

You can find her online at, on Twitter @nia_ davenport, or on Instagram @nia.davenport, where she talks about bingeworthy TV, fun movies, killer books, and a variety of other shenanigans.

Indie Debuts AugSept2022

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Article originally Published in the August / September 2022 Issue: Indie Debuts.

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