Interview: Katherine Barger, Author of The Exiles

Earlier this year, I got the chance to read Fortune’s Fall by Katherine Barger. I didn’t really know what to expect when I began reading this YA dystopian novel, but after a few pages, I was absolutely hooked! (My review is here if you’d like to hear more detail.)

Fortunately, Fortune’s Fall is the first in a series, and the second book just came out yesterday! I am so excited to dig into The Exiles and see what happens to Nyssa and her friends. I can only hope this one isn’t quite as heart-wrenching …

If you’re into YA fiction at all, I highly recommend checking out this series. (You might want to start with the first one, though, just to get up to speed.) But even if you’re not into YA fiction, you should check these books out!

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To top it all off, I was honored to be able to interview Katie here on the blog. It was great to hear about her desire to write clean YA – such a desperately-needed genre these days.

VH: Hi, Katie, and welcome to the blog! I’m so excited to have you join me today. A big congratulations on the release of the second book in The Exiled Trilogy. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book!

Tell me a little bit about your writing journey. When did you first start writing?

KB: I started writing as soon as I knew how to spell. I wrote poetry and short stories as a kid, then transitioned to medical writing after college and legal briefs after law school. Now, I’m back where I want to be: writing creatively.

VH: What’s the hardest part about writing for you?

KB: Everything except the editing, haha! Nailing down a firm plot with strong scenes that flow from one to the next is always the trickiest for me. But that’s not a bad thing—I usually enjoy the challenge. To me, it’s like searching for puzzle pieces that have been really well hidden and then fitting them together in a way that makes sense.

VH: What are your favorite genres to write in?

KB: YA for sure. I was a bookworm as a teen (and still am) but it was so tricky to find books that were clean, and one could argue that’s become an even more prominent problem today. Now, I have two little girls who are already avid readers, and I love that I’m doing my part as a Christian mom and Christian author to create stories that teens can read today and my girls can read when they’re older. Plus, I love writing adventure stories that are fantastical and exciting. YA is a great genre in which to do that.

VH: What’s one of your best pieces of advice for an aspiring author?

KB: Don’t give up. If you hit a writing wall, come back to it later. There’s usually a way to solve the puzzle.

VH: At what point did you realize you wanted to publish? How did you decide to go with your current publisher?

KB: I knew I wanted to find a publisher once I began writing Fortune’s Fall, the first book in The Exiled Trilogy. As far as how I decided to go with my current publisher, Anaiah Press, I clicked with my editor there (Kara) the moment she responded to my query. I had a few other offers from small publishers, but my connection with Kara was instantaneous, and I knew I wanted to work with her.

VH: Tell me a little bit about this book. I’m so excited to read it!

KB: Nyssa Ardelone has successfully made it to Fortune’s Fall, but she quickly realizes it’s not the peaceful place she expected it to be. Blamed for all that’s gone wrong outside its walls, she finds herself flailing, unwelcome, and still grief-stricken over everyone she’s lost.

When she learns that President Omri has arrested the exiles and plans to send them to the most notorious prison in America, she’s convinced Omri’s punishing them for her sins. But there might be a way to save them, and Nyssa jumps at the chance to make right what she feels is her fault, especially when she learns of the arrest of one exile in particular. It’s a dangerous task. If she fails, it will cost the exiles everything, but if she succeeds, the people in Fortune’s Fall might finally embrace her. In the midst of so many unknowns, she must reckon with her doubts about her newfound faith. Is that faith enough to sustain her?

VH: What are your main inspirations behind this series?

KB: This series was loosely inspired by the lives of Daniel and Nehemiah and the Jews’ ultimate return to Jerusalem after a long exile in Babylon. I love the supernatural elements in the books of Daniel and Nehemiah—how God speaks to his people through dreams, and those bits became the foundation for the story.

VH: How was the writing of this second book compared to the first? Were there any surprises along the way?

KB: Writing the second book was SO HARD. It took me about two years to write Fortune’s Fall (Book 1), and I wrote The Exiles in about nine months in the middle of a cross-country move and COVID. It was pretty challenging. It took me a really long time to settle on a main plot (and a lot of help from beta readers), and I think that was largely because of all the distractions happening at the time.

VH: I love that you’re committed to writing God-honoring books for teens. Thank you so much for putting great books out there! Is there a specific reason you chose to focus on YA fiction?

KB: I have no explanation for it other than that God led me here. He’s an inherent part of my life, and He’s the reason I ended up writing YA.

VH: What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

KB: That God wants to be in our adventures, and it’s okay for His name to be part of the conversation.

VH: What do your upcoming projects look like?

KB: I’m working on Book 3 in The Exiled Trilogy! I can’t believe it’s almost over. Next up after that is a YA historical fantasy. At least I think that’s the case …. It’s still in the brainstorming phases. 🙂

VH: Thanks so much for chatting with me today, Katie, and congrats again! 

KB: Thanks so much for having me!!

About the Author

Katherine Barger writes stories about characters of faith in a world where faith is challenged. When she’s not wrangling kids alongside her forever-forbearing husband, she’s writing, eating Mexican food, or snuggling with her family’s two rescue pets: a dog named Queen Elsa and a cat named Princess Jasmine.

Katherine loves hearing from readers! You can contact her at, or on Facebook or Instagram.

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