"I loved writing Finnikin. It was the first novel I wrote where research was so important and it was also the first novel I travelled for to get the landscape right. It was also the first time I heard the words “world building”. I work very hard at world building because I know it’s my weakness, but I decided that I would not try to re-invent the wheel with Finnikin and that I would stick to what I was good at: dialogue, characterization and relationships. So when I get asked the question, ‘Do you plan the world first?’ I’ll be honest in saying, No. Much the same as my other novels, the characters come calling and I take it from there. That’s not to say that I have no idea what the land looks like, because I do. And it doesn’t look like a skull. The name ‘Skuldenore’ in my opinion was a mistake for the name of the Land. Some reviewers believe the map resembles a skull and analyse it accordingly. The map is actually an upside down, strangely reverse, version of the map of Australia.
This scene below was not published with the novel. It would have been placed after the chapter with the King’s guard in Pietrodore and before the chapter in Belegonia with Lord August. I really wanted Finnikin, Evanjain and Froi on their own, and I wanted it to be at the ocean because at least a bit of the Australian landscape could feature in the story. Except there wasn’t enough of a reason for them to be separated from the adults. Sometimes a scene may read well, but if it doesn’t fit in the story, then it has to be taken out. But I liked the chemistry between them here, especially with Froi in the mix. It was a lot more sexual in earlier drafts. All that survived of the ocean scene features on page 218 of the novel. (Take note it’s not edited)"
...When Finnikin reached the surface of the water he could see Evanjalin and Froi’s startled expressions as they stood on the sand. He shook the hair out of his face and beckoned them with a wave of a hand.
“Are you scared, Evanjalin of the Monts?” he scoffed when she refused to move.
“Taunting won’t work,” she laughed back, but she took a tentative step forward. When the water touched her toes she leapt back with a shriek.
“This hand says you’re a coward,” Finnikin grinned, holding out his left. “This one says you’re fearless.”
He waited a moment until she took his right hand, her teeth chattering. He grabbed Froi by the scruff of his neck.
A wave sprinted towards them, gathering volume as it came closer. Finnikin caught the look of alarm from them both, but there was excitement there too. “Don’t let me go, Finnikin,” he heard her cry. He felt the tremble in Froi’s body as well and clutched them both to him as the wave roared over their heads, swallowing them until they were plastered against each other, their bodies tangled.
When Evanjalin and Froi’s heads appeared again, the two were spluttering against him.
“My eyes burn,” she cried.
Froi choked. “Salt,” he grunted.
“That’s all it is,” Finnikin reassured.
Froi lost his fear quickly and threw himself at the mammoth waves over and over again, staring at crinkled fingers through bloodshot eyes. Finnikin had never seen the thief’s face soften and later they both wrestled, each with a playful viciousness. The boy was strong, but Finnikin was quick.
“You’re getting sand all over me,” Evanjalin said, her tone vexed as she carved out words in the sand with the jagged edge of a shell.
Froi mimicked her and leapt on Finnikin’s back again and they continued wrestling until Finnikin dragged him into the ocean, their trousers bogged down by the heaviness of the water.