As many of us know, the world has been mourning the loss of the late great Kobe Bryant. Award-winning novelist, writer, and former world-ranked squash player Ivy Claire Pochoda who collaborated with Bryant on their number one New York Times bestselling series Epoca shares her perspective on his passing while working on Book 2, The River of Sand (Granity Studios, December 15, 2020). “It’s been really hard, I mean, I’m not going to lie about it,” Pochoda tells So Booking Cool. “We were equal partners in this. I did all the actual writing, but all the ideas, we talked them all through. And it was really challenging to do it without him, especially for all the reasons we were doing it without him and so close to his death.”
She continues, “…Especially because one of the things Kobe is—or was—very adamant about in his books is that these kids are not going to have it easy. And he was very clear that in the course of these novels, kids are going to have to figure out how to deal with difficult circumstances. He used the word suffering a lot, challenging things, possibly death. And then confronting that in the aftermath of his own death was really hard to go back and say…I mean, it’s too much, you know? As much as he wants to impart that to the world, he did that in a different way.”
Bryant’s wife and now president of the award-winning publisher and media company Granity Studios Vanessa Bryant stepped in to complete the book with Pochoda. The sports fantasy series is based in the alternate world Epoca, which is home to Ecrof, the land’s most prestigious (and magical) sports academy. Epoca: The River of Sand takes place three months after Epoca: The Tree of Ecrof. In The River of Sand, Pretia, the Princess of Epoca and her best friend Rovi are ready to compete at the Junior Epic Games. Pretia is tested when her mixed heritage and magic powers are used against her and must decide whether it is important for her to be the top athlete or lead her people. Rovi gets selected to compete, but will his past as a street kid interfere? “I wanted Pretia and Rovi’s paths to invert,” Pochoda informs.
Pochoda is a Harvard alum and the author of four critically acclaimed adult novels including this past May’s These Women (Ecco/HarperCollins, May 19, 2020). In 2010 she made her debut with The Art of Disappearing (St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan, September 2010); Her second novel Visitation Street (Dennis Lehane Books/Ecco/HarperCollins, July 2013) won the Prix Page America in France and was chosen as an Amazon Best Book of the Month, Amazon Best Book of 2013, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Wonder Valley (Ecco/HarperCollins, November 2017) was awarded with the 2018 Strand Critics Award for Best Novel and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and Best Book of the Year along with Refinery29 and NPR; and it was a recipient of the Le Grand Prix de Litterature Americaine. Her books have been translated into numerous languages.
Watch the interview to learn more about The River of Sand; Pochoda’s early days as a storyteller and other tidbits about her literary background; her insight on developing characters for series and standalones; how she’s been managing during the pandemic and her thoughts on the social unrest and election; what she thinks Bryant would tell young people today; her compelling insight on developing characters for standalone books and series; and more! For more information, visit Granity Studios and Pochoda’s official website.