TCWT: "What are some of the coolest/weirdest/funniest/most disturbing things you’ve researched for a story?"
ZH: I looked up lots of drugs for Where Madness Dwells, and even had an open conversation with my mom (who has seen almost everything, but thankfully hasn't done any of it). The stuff I learned is nuts. If I hadn't already decided against drugs, this definitely would have turned me off.
The Selection, by Kiera Cass, is the first in a trilogy, as well the author’s enchanting debut. In a post-American world, the famous “selection” provides thirty-five girls, all from different economic circles (more like castes), with the opportunity to compete for the crown prince’s hand in marriage.
America, one of these thirty-five girls, is not excited to live in an unfriendly castle and leave behind her secret boyfriend, Aspen, despite the benefits to her family. When she finds that she unexpectedly enjoys Prince Maxon’s company, America begins to question what she wants for her future. But the rules of the Selection are strict, and will force her to decide quickly.
It's finally here! A while ago in my Exiting Stuff post, I announced that I would be doing a guest post on Natalie Truitt's blog, and today's the day it went live! You can read it here on her blog or just keep reading below.
So you’ve decided to write a novel. That’s great! Congratulations on committing yourself to a wonderful adventure. The question is for most writers is what do you want to write? Fiction or nonfiction? If fiction, what genre, etc. But some authors think bigger picture first: Do you want to go it alone or do you team up with a co-author?
I’m done both. And while you shouldn’t take my opinion as law, but keep these considerations in mind while making about your decision.
I have very quickly reached that moment in the editing process when one realizes that they may or may not need to rewrite a substantial part of the book...YAY ME! (Note the sarcasm). And I will make the changes because not only is my mom a great mom, but she is a ruthlessly honest editor. Thanks for pointing out the glaring issues that somehow, no one ever mentioned to me (yeah, I know I should've picked them up myself, too, but I was preoccupied with finishing a first draft).
Chuck Wendig is a great writer and blogger. He has 2 great infographics (which I'll post below) from his blog TerribleMinds, that make me both laugh and surprisingly productive.
Please enjoy this interview with Thaddeus Nowak, author of the exciting and beautifully written YA fantasy, Mother’s Curse, and its sequel, Daughter’s Justice. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $450 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.
1. Stephenie surely defies stereotypes. Born a princess, but a tomboy. Cursed as a witch, but a likable relatable character all the same. How did you go about creating her character?
Stephenie was born in my imagination many years ago. It was during a time I was struggling with another story. To help “get my creative juices flowing,” I started to write random scenes with random characters. One scene I wrote was about a young girl who was alone in a public house where a conflict broke out, and she had to fight her way out.
Well, I kind of fell in love with the character and had to find out who she was, where she was going, and why she was alone in the world. In making that discovery, I crafted the current story arch that is the Heirs of Cothel Series. It took some time to work out her past and what her life would be like growing up as a witch and how the damaged relationship she has with her mother would affect her. Based on those factors, her break from what would be typical for a princess seemed natural.
Which then led me to think of the girls I had grown up with and the women I know today; many of them are tomboys and are not afraid of getting dirty and running about the woods. So it just seemed natural that Stephenie would be that way as well: a strong young lady who has her own motivations and agenda, but is compassionate and can sympathize with others, even if she cannot fix all of their problems.
As a bit of trivia, many aspects of that original scene are in Mother’s Curse.
2. Did you face any special challenges writing a female lead character, given that you are a male author?
Yes and no. I grew up surrounded by girls. My family had the only boys in the neighborhood for many years, so all my friends were female and that does give me something to draw from.
When writing Stephenie, I try to get into her head and see the world through her eyes. Occasionally, I need to refocus and make sure she would really react in a particular way. The good thing is I have had her in my head for so long that I usually have a pretty good idea of what to write for her. My bigger challenges come with some of the other female characters and making sure I am true to them.
3. The tension between Stephenie and Sergeant Henton is one of my favorite parts of the book. How did you develop their relationship using such subtlety and not hitting us over the head with cliché romantic dialogue?
I am glad the subtlety of their relationship is being noticed. I had one reader tell me they were worried that I might fall into one of the overused traps they see in so many YA novels. Once they realized I had not done that, they were ecstatic.
I can say this approach in the story is very much me. I am something of a romantic, but I don’t care for most of the stories dubbed as “romance”. Do people act in stupid ways when they are trying to attract other people? Of course, but too many stories seem to force stupid decisions upon the characters to ratchet up the tension. Too many times, that is done through obvious misunderstandings that could be resolved with half a minute of conversation that the characters work very hard to avoid.
My goal is to never have a character deliberately sabotage their relationships for stupid reasons (at least not a character I respect). If things work or don’t work, I want there to be more substance to the reasons. I want the investment in the relationship to be greater, and so the emotions stronger. Perhaps I’ve watched too many classic movies, but there is something very powerful about what is never said aloud between people.
4. The Kingdom of Cothel is at war. Could you tell us more about the front lines Stephenie is so desperately trying to escape to?
At the opening of Mother’s Curse, Cothel, and most of the other countries to the west, are fighting against an invading army that sailed in from the Endless Sea. These invaders have many witches and warlocks in their ranks and are overwhelming the holy warriors and soldiers of the people who live around the Sea of Tet. These Senzar invaders have killed royal families and left countries without rulers. Stephenie’s father was quick to join the battle because his oldest daughter was married to the crown prince of Esland and one of the first to be killed.
The Senzar spent most of their focus driving toward a prominent mountain range in the middle of the land between the Sea of Tet and the Endless Sea to the west. Their main forces have yet to cross over Cothel’s boarders. However, they are on the doorstep of the country and Cothel’s forces are low on supplies and reinforcements. Stephenie’s desperation is to reach her father and brother, the King and Crown Prince, because she fears her mother is plotting something that could put them and the people of Cothel at risk.
5. Although firmly rooted in the fantasy genre, Mother’s Curse and Daughter’s Justice remain quick-paced engaging reads not mired in the details of exotic lands or creatures. Why did you decide to depart from the genre with regards to this important aspect of storytelling?
While some fantasy novels feature lengthy descriptions and details about the various inhabitants, to me Mother’s Curse, Daughter’s Justice, and the subsequent books that will be in the series, are foremost about the main characters: Stephenie, Henton, and Kas. The backdrop of the world, while important, really is a backdrop and I have tried to embrace the idea of less being more.
I am proud of the world I have created, but I am also willing to let the nuances soak in over time as they become relevant to the story. For those who like to find out more about the lands Stephenie has to explore and the history I have created for those lands, I try to put some extra information up on my website. I’ve been adding to it slowly, but have had requests for more information and will work to increase the frequency of the postings.
I'm a self-published author (because being a college student wasn't hard enough!) and spend most of my time doing homework. I write YA multi-genre fiction for young adults or the young at heart. I love NCIS, BBC's Sherlock,
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