Thursday, October 26, 2017

Interview with novelist Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Today’s special guest is novelist Amelia Atwater-Rhodes and we’re chatting about her new dark fantasy romance novel, Of the Divine, Mancer Book Two.

During her virtual book tour, Amelia will be awarding a limited-edition print copy of the book (U.S. only) to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes wrote her first novel, In the Forests of the Night, when she was 13 years old. Other books in the Den of Shadows series are Demon in My View, Shattered Mirror, Midnight Predator, all ALA Quick Picks for Young Adults. She has also published the five-volume series The Kiesha’ra: Hawksong, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and VOYA Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror List Selection; Snakecharm; Falcondance; Wolfcry; and Wyvernhail.

Welcome, Amelia. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Of the Divine is the second book in the Mancer Trilogy (Book One, Of the Abyss, came out last year and Book Three, Of the Mortal Realm, comes out next year). Divine looks back 70 years before Abyss-- at a time when sorcery was not only practiced freely, but was a mark of the respected, powerful elite, most notably the royal family.

Terre Verte, prince of Kavet, has come up with a strategy to finally secure his country’s independence from the Osei, the creatures who claim dominion over the great oceans of the world and thus maintain a stranglehold on the island nation of Kavet. But no one fully understand the powerful magics he must use to accomplish this end, least of all Verte, and when disaster strikes, the repercussions are beyond anyone’s imaginings.

What inspired you to write this book?
This book specifically was inspired by the first book. Though Divine takes place 70 years before the first book, I’ve never really considered it a prequel; it explores the world in a completely different view, and reveals the next part of the story just as much as it describes the previous one. It features two characters-- Terre Verte and Naples-- who are first met in Of the Abyss, albeit in circumstances that make them nearly unrecognizable.

Writing Of the Abyss, I wanted to know: How did these powerful individuals get here? How had the world changed so much from their day to this one, less than a century later? I set out to answer those questions in Of the Divine, and ended up with a rich story of love, heartache, fear, paranoia, and the dangerous road laid by the best intentions.

Excerpt from Of the Divine:
 “You cannot live your life as a slave to those who have gone before,” Verte replied. “You need to let the living and dead alike move on.”

Wenge glared up at him. Verte paused, keeping his stance and expression neutral as he raised magical shields against a possible attack.

“You don’t know where the dead go,” Wenge accused. “We talk of the realms beyond, of the Abyss and the Numen, but no one really knows for sure what happens once our shades pass out of the mortal realm. What if we just go screaming into the void? What if—”

Verte took the man’s frail, trembling hand in his own. He wished he could use his magic to urge him to keep moving, but Wenge’s decision whether to demand a trial or to take the brand willingly needed to be made without magical coercion.

“Even the royal house, with all our strength and training and resources, does not practice death sorcery. Maleficence or not,” Verte said, hoping the words would pierce the man’s sudden anxiety, “if you continue to let your power use you this way, it will kill you before the year is out. Of that I am certain.”

Wenge’s body sagged. He waved a hand next to his face as if to chase away a buzzing fly—or in this case, a whispering spirit. He flinched at whatever the ghost said, then muttered, “I do not know what to be without it.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now, I’m finishing a story I call Ice House, which takes place in the same world as Of the Divine but focuses on the Osei-- the dragon-like creatures who are largely responsible for the disaster that triggers the cascade of events that define the nation of Kavet for decades after.

Once a generation, all Osei gather in the territory of the First Royal House. There, they court, compete, and conspire, and each queen chooses the members of her house for the next generation. This year, the gathering is disturbed by the presence of a queen who should not exist, dreams that seem to speak of the world before, and a contagious madness the First House calls Fascination.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I get asked this question a lot, but I still don’t have a good answer for it. I decided in seventh grade to publish my first book because I already considered myself a writer. I’ve always written; before I knew how to write, I told stories aloud. There was never a time when I thought to myself, “I’m going to be a writer.” By the time I thought in those terms, I clearly already was.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
In addition to my writing, I’m a mother and a full-time teacher. Finding time to write, I’ll admit, is a struggle. The best hours for me these days are between 4am and 5:45am, before I need to get ready for work, and 6-9pm on Wednesdays, when I (usually) have a babysitter and I can spend three hours at my writing group. Other than that, when I’m in a pinch I try to get words out during my lunch breaks, or if I’m on a tight deadline, I might camp out for a few hours on a weekend to get work done while my partner, parents, or sister watch my daughter (but that’s a last resort-- I hate giving up time with her!).

So in general, that 4am timeslot is “my time.”

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have trouble writing in a quiet room. I avoid write-ins at libraries or other places where quiet is expected because I’m simply not productive. I do my best work at somewhere like a Starbucks, where there are plenty of distractions--and food. Similarly, I know many people who turn off their Internet when they want to be productive. I Google so often when I’m working, it’s incredibly distracting to me if I don’t have Internet access.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My first dream, when I was 3, was actually to grow up to play pro football for the Washington Redskins (we lived in Silver Spring, Maryland). Given I grew up to a grand total of 5’ 1” tall and I’m not overly coordinated, it was never a realistic goal, but my parents were sweet-- and so were the players. When I wrote them fan mail and asked if they had a uniform they could send me, they sent me an autographed picture and-- with apologies they didn’t have a uniform my size-- a set of pajamas I surely wore until they fell apart despite how fast a 3-year-old grows.

I remember at one point in my childhood I wanted to be a vet, but that was never a serious goal of mine. As I mentioned, I published my first book early (it came out when I was a freshman in highschool) so I didn’t at the time think of “growing up” to be a professional writer. Actually, I graduated highschool with no idea what I wanted, except that I swore I didn’t want to teach. As a freshman in college, I considered becoming a Constitutional Lawyer.

This all goes to show you that there’s plenty of time in life to change your mind. (I love my teaching career.)

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Please come visit me online! You can find me in a few places, but your best bet is Twitter, where I’m @AtwaterRhodes. I love hearing from my readers and chatting there!


Thank you for being a guest on my blog, Amelia!
Thank you for inviting me--I hope you and your readers enjoy the Mancer Trilogy!

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