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Monday, March 8, 2010

Blog Tour: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Welcome to the last stop of Amelia Atwater-Rhodes blog tour! You can find her at her websites: here and here.
1. You've been writing for a very long time, does the inspiration ever stop or fumble?

Inspiration comes and goes, but there has only been one point when it stopped for so long I worried about it- back in the spring and summer of 2006. Looking back, I can imagine why I had a hard time that year (I was in undergraduate school full-time, and had some fairly major health problems that led to my having surgery that summer) but at the time all I knew was that the writing wasn’t fun anymore.

What helped was breaking completely from Nyeusigrube and my genre for a while. I participated in National Novel Writing Month for the first time, writing what I intended to be a throw-away fantasy novel, and ended up with a trilogy that completely restored my writing desire both in that world and back in Nyeusigrube.

2. Have you changed your style of writing to accommodate the change with the teen audience? Especially when considering language and sex.

My policy has always been that, while I have no moral objection to swearing, I know there are teachers and librarians and parents out there who would hesitate to give a kid a book with certain language, and I am not so in love with cuss words that I cannot tell a story without them. I don’t feel it cheapens a work if I find a way around saying the s-word, but that tiny change might make the book available to more readers, and that is what is important to me. I am the same way about sex. I do not need to write graphic sex scenes to tell a good story. Do my characters sometimes “do it”? Sure. But they do it off screen so I can focus on the plot.

What I do not alter for my audience is my ideas. Sometimes I feel some writers use more sex and swearing while dumbing down the ideas, which is just insulting to everyone involved. I can switch up language and how graphic I am in order to make a story accessible, but I do not believe in writing down to my readers. Throughout my published works, I have dealt with some controversial concepts, because I believe young adults not only can but should think, and form opinions, and be challenged by what they read.
All that said, I had a funny moment when working with a beta reader on Token of Darkness. There is a scene early in the book where Cooper has an awkward conversation with his friend, John. They are both football players and seniors in high school, and it was a real struggle for me to write natural dialogue without using the words I “self-censor” from my YA books. I made a comment to my beta-reader when she was reading it about how awkward it was to write without swearing, to which she responded, “I can’t imagine how much more awkward it would have been with the swearing.” Sometimes I need little reminders like that to make me remember that we here in Massachusetts do perhaps swear a little more liberally than other people.

3. When starting a new book do you plan that the book will turn into a series?

Several years ago, my agent asked me if I would consider writing a series, and I told him pretty flat-out, “I don’t write series.” At the time, Hawksong was meant to be a stand-alone book. Only once I finished it did I realize there were too many unanswered questions for the story to be over there. As I worked on Snakecharm I realized the challenges within required a conclusion about the daughter, and as I worked on Wolfcry I realized something was missing, so I went back to Falcondance… etcetera. Eventually I ended up with a five-book series, when I had never planned to have more than one.

Currently I am working on a novel that I think might turn into a series. This is the first time in my career that I’ve ever tried to plan a series of books, so I do not yet know how it is going to go.
Tour Stops:
Amelia is available for the week of March 1st at RandomBuzzers
Monday, March 1st Tales of the Ravenous Reader
Tuesday, March 2nd Park Avenue Princess
Wednesday, March 3rd The Story Siren
Thursday, March 4th Cynthia Leitich Smith
Friday, March 5th The Book Butterfly
Monday, March 8th Me!

15 comments:

  1. Oh, wow... She's all grown up!

    The sex thing is a tricky dilemma. Put too much in, and you'll have parents and librarians keeping the book away from kids. Don't put enough in, and you'll have readers complaining (like what happened with Breaking Dawn). I guess it's a tough thing to balance.

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  2. Wow, I love how you pretty much had no clue and disagreed to do any series, only to find out that you were gonna write one.

    I loved your comment from above " Sometimes I feel some writers use more sex and swearing while duming dow the ideas"
    I am glad that you stick to your ideas, and definitely don't dumb things down
    Looking forward to reading this book. Thanks for the amazing interview.

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  3. I agree with La Coccinelle - there really is a fine line that an author walks when incorporating "sex" scenes into their YA novels...and I don't mean just the actual sex, but any sort of intimacy between young characters.

    We know that teens these days aren't naive about sex so although authors should acknowledge that sexual curiosity is a part of adolescent life, we don't want to get carried away either!

    In terms of language, I'm perfectly happy to read a book without any cuss words. However, sometimes a bad word here or there can really help the characters along but adding some 'umph' to the conversation. Then again, I am from Miami and we curse like sailors around here so my ears have been desensitized, LOL!

    Great post!!!
    ♥Isalys

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  4. thank you for asking questions that are not typically "normal" questions.....i especially liked the first one. Finding out that there was a time during Amelia's undergrad years when she did have difficulty writing was surprising. it just seems to flow so effortlessly.

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  5. I agree with La Coccinelle and Book ♥ Soulmates...too much, the parents complain, too little the readers complain! But i like that you stick to your ideas. Originality is always something readers are looking for!

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  6. Oh how difficult that line we walk as writers...

    The sex line to me can be easier than the language line. Teens today say words that I would NEVER have said or phrases when their age. But I also know that it can depend on the character, on the story and on the comfort zone of the writer. So I think it is an individual topic for sure!

    I love this interview!

    Visit My Kingdom Anytime

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  7. I'm glad you had so many unanswered questions as I love a series much, much more than a standalone.

    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

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  8. Great interview. I am glad to see new and unique questions.

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  9. I'm glad you only write a series when need be. Sometimes I feel writers continue a story just to please the readers when there is actually no storyline left.

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  10. I haven't read any Amelia Atwater-Rhodes books as of yet but I do have her shapeshifter books sitting on my shelf. I do believe I'll be reading them very soon! While I love series it's also nice to have stand-alone novels when possible, especially in these recent years when everything seems to be made into series. It's a breath of fresh air. Some are really really worth it (like the Hunger Games!) because the world created was wonderful and my thirst for knowing more of it is insatiable, but many more are not. At any rate I'd love to read Token of Darkness (cool name, too!), and am planning on plowing through Amelia's books soon as I clear my mountain of school-related horrors out of the way :)

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  11. This is a great interview. Hi, Amelia! I started reading her books in like middle school, which was a whiiile ago. It is interesting where stories take you. Sometimes, the ending is satisfying and there isn't anymore. I loved the Hawksong books. I'd love to read your latest work. Congrats on all of your success. Please enter me in the giveaway. Thanks!
    -Kelly H.
    kghobbs@gmail.com

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  12. Thanks for this interview I have a 15 year old cousin who has recommended her back log of books to me in the past.

    The topic of sex and swearing in YA books. On the way hand authors want to portray their character as real teens and you have to believe that real teens at least sometimes swear and talk about sex. Authors just have to decide whether or not to show that in their books and alienating some parents and libraries.

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  13. Nice little interview! Interesting how she never set out to do a series but the story she came up with was just too big to end with one book. At one point she mentions that some writers use sex and swearing at the expense of ideas.. I know it would be bad to name names but I am curious about what authors she was thinking of when saying that.

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  14. Great interview! I fell in love with the Den of Shadow books back in high school. I always thought it was so cool she got published at a young age. She was my writer role model :) I never got into the Shapeshifter series (just not my thing) so I'm excited she has some new stuff out!

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  15. YA books are new to me. I'm glad to gain insight into an author and the way they work. It was a great interview. I'm impressed with the variety of YA books. I don't remember that genre when I was growing up.

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