Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Interview with Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, author of Of the Divine

Now available from Harper Voyager Impluse is the novel Of the Divine, the second book in the Mancer Trilogy,  by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.

Buy Link: Amazon
Henna is one of the most powerful sorcerers in the Order of Napthol, and her runes ’s runes tell her that the future of Kavet is balanced on the edge of the knife. The treaties between Kavet and the dragon-like race known as the Osei have become intolerable. The time has come for the royal house to magically challenge Osei dominion. Prince Verte, Henna' lover, is to serve as the nexus for the powerful but dangerous spell, with Naples--an untested young sorcerer from the Order of Napthol--a volatile but critical support to its creation.

Amid these plans, Dahlia Indathrone’s arrival in the city shouldn’t matter. She has no magic and no royal lineage, and yet, Henna immediately knows Dahlia is important. She just can’t see why.

As their lives intertwine, the four will learn that they are pawns in a larger game, one played by the forces of the Abyss and of the Numen—the infernal and the divine.

A game no mortal can ever hope to win.

The author has taken time out of her busy schedule for a quick Q&A about her newest book.

When did you become interested in storytelling?

I have always been a storyteller, from the time of my earliest memories (and before). When I was five, I ran through a glass door and cut myself pretty badly. When we got me to the hospital, they separated me from my parents to ask what had happened. My mother describes waiting in terror, worried that THIS was when my storytelling would come out...

As I grew up, I learned more about how to tell a story well, and it was in seventh grade that I first decided I would try to publish a novel, but the desire to tell stories has always been there.

What was your first book/story published?

The first novel I published was titled In the Forests of the Night. It was a young adult urban fantasy about a vampire named Risika who needs to face an old enemy in order to finally come to terms with her own identity. Forests, which became the first of my Den of Shadows series (nine books in total), was released in May, 1999, when I was a freshman in high school.

What inspired you to write Of the Divine?

My most recent novel, Of the Divine, is the second book in the Mancer Trilogy. It was inspired by a vast collection of things, ranging from writing block and anxiety to political advocacy.

In 2006, I was under contract for the fourth book in the Kiesha’ra Series, and was struggling to put it together. It was the first book I had ever signed a contract for without having a completed rough draft. It was also the first book I had ever published with an explicitly gay protagonist, and it explored some very personal issues to me— which meant I was terrified of getting it wrong.

I needed to get away from the young adult realm of Nyeusigrube, so I decided to participate for the first time in National Novel Writing Month, and I started Mancer. The book was supposed to be a silly throw-away, but as I often joke, I got “distracted” by silly things like plot and characterization. Because it wasn’t under contract, I felt more free to explore the topics that had me so intimidated in Wolfcry, such as sexuality and the pressures to conform to societal expectations despite one’s own true needs and desires.

In the end, instead of a 50k throw-away experiment, I had a 300,000 word trilogy with a complex world, interesting characters, and a conflict I wanted to further explore— and share.

What character in Of the Divine is the most/least like you, and in what ways?

There’s a little of me in many of these characters, but there’s no one of them that I look at and say, “That’s me, right there.”

Naples includes a lot of my teenage angst and the poor relationship luck (due mostly to my own poor decisions) I had at his age. Terre Verte has some of my arrogance (yes, I know I can be at times) but also my desire to try to help people when I can. Henna has my other-ness; I spend a lot of time being the only queer and the only Jew in a room. Maddy is the mother and teacher in me, though strangely, her 2-year-old son was written eight years before my daughter (who was 2.5 when the book came out) was born. Hello has my tendency to jump ahead in a conversation.

So, they are all a little me, but none othem are me.

What is your favorite part in Of the Divine?

Oooh, I’m not sure how to answer this, because it’s positively evil and absolutely a spoiler. There’s a moment I avidly wait for when someone I know is reading Divine, but I can’t describe it without ruining the surprise...

What was the hardest part to write?

It probably sounds silly, since I’ve always written fantasy and I write a lot of magic, but I have the hardest time describing magic rituals. I enjoy coming up with the magic systems and developing them, but as soon as my character sits down to actual perform a fancy spell, my brain goes, “Nope.”

My rough drafts are often full of place-holders saying something like [[insert cool magic ritual here, should involved silver/wax, maybe sand?]] or scenes where I fade-to-black or cut a chapter and never show the actual ritual. I often end up writing the rest of the story, then going back and filling in the actual practice of magic.

Three of the four narrators of Of the Divine are powerful, practicing sorcerers, and much of the story has to do with the complex benefits and dangers of magic, so I was constantly running into places where my early beta readers said, “We want to see more of the spell!”

What would your ideal career be, if you couldn't be an author?

Well, writing is actually only one of my two careers; I am also a teacher, and I love it. However, I often daydream about alternative paths I could have taken. I think I would have done well in marketing, designing advertising campaigns— storytelling combined with my love of psychology. I also love computers and coding, and would have enjoyed a chance to do more with web design and software development.

Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?

I try not to read too many of them— it’s just not a healthy pursuit. No one book can please everyone, and by the time reviews crop up on Amazon or something, it’s too late to edit anyway. I do listen to readers on Twitter and Facebook, and try to learn from what they say.

What well-known writers do you admire most?

I love Stephen King’s character-development. I admire the fact that he is so popular and powerful now, he can get away with things I know I would be told to cut— like a meandering 100 word description of a random throwaway minor character’s background, which I enjoy when reading, but know I would be told was off-topic and slowed the pace when writing.

I’m also a great fan of Mira Grant’s (Seanan McGuire) Newsflesh trilogy. I love the way she plays with culture, politics, and religion and imagines how it would all shift post near-apocalypse. She didn’t destroy the entire world and write a post-apocalyptic wasteland; she examines how all aspects of reality responded to the zombie rising, and goes from there.

Finally, I don’t know if she counts as a well-known writer, but a writer I’ve recently discovered and admire greatly is Corinne Duyvis. Someone suggested I read her novel On the Edge Of Gone when I said I was looking for more diverse books to add to my English department’s curriculum. It’s one of the first books I’ve read of that genuinely made me tear up from sheer inclusion.

Do you have any other books/stories in the works?

Always! As I said above, I’ve been telling stories since I could talk; I’m not about to give up now.

Next up, of course, is Mancer 3: Of the Mortal Realm, which will come out next year and complete the Mancer trilogy. After that, I’m trying to decide between two other Castrili books (the world where Mancer takes place)... or a futuristic sci-fi I’ve been calling Sororcula... or a YA story that takes place after the world-altering events that concluded the Den of Shadows series.

All of it’s up in the air. The only thing I know for sure is that there is much more still to come.


Amelia Atwater-Rhodes will be awarding a limited edition print copy of the book *U.S. only* to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Make sure to visit other blogs in the tour, so you can increase your chances in winning the prize. The blog tour is at: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2017/09/vbt-of-divine-by-amelia-atwater-rhodes.html

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

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.

For more information, please visit the author's website at: http://www.atwaterrhodes.com/

Follow the author Facebook and Twitter.

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