Hi, everyone! As a participant in a blog tour for Between the Blade and the Heart, I was given the opportunity to have a written interview with Amanda Hocking, one of the most popular authors of YA literature. BTBATH was the last book I read in 2017, and you can find my review here. Hopefully, this Q & A will encourage you to check out BTBATH, which comes out today. 😀
(Note: The questions with a red asterisk were submitted by my fellow blog tour participants.)
- What or who was the inspiration behind Between the Blade and the Heart?
“I have already written several books inspired by Scandinavian folklore, and I was always fascinated by Valkyries. But because I had already done in Scandinavian fantasy, I wanted to come at this one from a different angle. I imagined the Valkyries helping to police a gritty, diverse, cyberpunk metropolis, in a world filled with not just Norse figures but from many mythologies.”
- What are the life lessons that you want readers to glean from your book?
“That love is a strength, not a weakness.”
- If you were given the chance to go on a date with one of your characters, who would you choose and what would you do together?
“Oona. She doesn’t swing that way, but since I’m married anyway, it would be a friendship date. I think it would be fun to go to an apothecary with her and have her show me around the magic. Or maybe just veg out and watch bad movies.”
- Would the essence of your novel change if the main protagonist were male?
“Yes, it would be changed dramatically. For one, Valkyries are women. But I also think the book explores the relationships between mothers and daughters, and friendships between young women.”
- What is your definition of true love in YA literature?
“There has to be passion and desire – not necessarily anything physical, but so much of young love is about yearning. But I also think that true love is based on mutual respect and selflessness.”
- *What advice would you give to someone who wanted to be an author/start writing?
“My biggest piece of advice is to just write. It’s so easy to get caught up in self-doubt or procrastination. There are lot of great books and blogs about the art of writing, but the most important thing is really to just do it. The best way to get better at writing is by doing it.”
- *What cities inspired the urban haven where the Valkyries live?
“I was really obsessed with this idea of an overpopulated metropolis, and so I took a lot of inspiration from some of the biggest cities in the world, particularly Tokyo, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Manila. The city itself is actually a sort of futuristic, alternate reality of Chicago (one of my favorite cities in the world), and I wanted to incorporate that into it as well.”
- *How did you name your characters? Are they based on people you know in real life?
“It’s combination of names I like and taking inspiration from the world itself. With Between the Blade and the Heart, the names were inspired both by the mythology they come from – many Valkyries have Norse names like Malin, Teodora, and Freya, for example – and the futuristic setting of the book, so I wanted names that seemed a bit cooler and just slightly different than the ones we use now.”
- *Which mythological character is the most like you?
“Demeter, because she’s pretty dramatic – she basically kills all the plants in the world when her daughter goes missing – but she’s also determined, and will stop at nothing to protect those she cares about.”
- *You’ve said that pop culture and the paranormal both influence your writing. How do these things intersect for you?
“In a way, I think they’re both about how humans choose to interpret and define the world that surrounds us. So many mythologies come from humans trying to make sense of the seasons and the chaos of existence, and even though we’ve moved past a lot of the scientific questions, pop culture is still tackling our existence. Even when looking at shows made for kids, like Pixar, they handle a lot of difficult concepts, like what it means to love someone else, how to be a good friend, facing your fears, and overcoming loss. These are things that mythologies and stories have been going over for centuries.”
- *Your novels and characters are so layered. How do you stay organized while plotting/writing? Do you outline, use post-it notes, make charts, or something else?
“All of the above! This one was the most intensive as far as research and note taking goes, and I also had maps, glossaries, and extensive lists of various mythologies. I think I ended up with thirteen pages of just Places and Things. I do a lot of typed notes, but I also do handwritten scribbles (which can sometimes be confusing to me later on when I try to figure out what they mean. I once left myself a note that just said “What are jelly beans?”) For this one, I really did have to have lots of print outs on hand that I could look to when writing.”
- *Was this book always planned as a series or did that develop afterwards?
“It was always planned as a duology. I don’t want to go into too much or risk spoiling the second book, but I had this idea that one book would be above, and the other below.”
About the author:
Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.
Visit Amanda’s website