Monday, October 9, 2017

Of The Divine by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes @goddessfish @AtwaterRhodes


Thank you for the interview! I’m excited to be here for the first stop of my tour.

I'm so happy for this chance to host you and find out a little about you and your work.  Thanks for agreeing to this short interview.  When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

The majority of my writing is done between the hours of 4 and 6 am.  This is when the inspiration flows and the. Oh, who am I kidding? This is when the toddler sleeps, the house is quiet, and I can get a couple hours to myself. I also attend a once a week writing group from 6 to 9 pm on Wednesdays (which makes those Thursday mornings a bit rough).

I’ve been writing for a young time, and publishing since high school, and used to laugh when people asked how I “do it all.” Writing, publishing, school, a job—how? I had always done everything at once, so didn’t know the answer. I didn’t schedule my time; there just always was time. These days, I still laugh, but it’s with a bit more hysteria. Apparently a full-time teaching job plus an almost three year old, a healthy relationship, a house, a garden, and a life involving friends and family really is a lot to juggle. 

Still, I find the time. People say I’m crazy to get up and do work at 4 in the morning, but there are stories inside me, I need to let them out, and that’s the only time I can (almost reliably) write (only occasionally with a Paw Patrol background, when the little one wakes up early).

Do you have critique partners or beta readers?

Yes! A good beta reader is gold. I’m protective of my bedtime (as you might imagine, given my 4am alarm), but I’ll stay up late or get up early for a beta reader who tells me they will be around to read.

Currently, my best beta readers share a file in Google Drive. I post a few chapters at a time in a Google Doc, along with my notes on anything specific I want feedback on, and they make comments; we also share a multi-person conversation on Twitter where we can discuss bigger issues. In addition to obvious critiques about confusion or inconstancies and the like, they respond to each other, share theories, make predictions, and generally chat. It is a strangely modern version of my earliest beta readers, who were my friends in high school, who would pass a printed manuscript around until I got it back with a half-dozen different colored of comments.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?

I learned a great deal about ducks.

It’s actually a long-running joke among my friends that, before writing Of the Divine, I did about nine hours of research on ducks. I knew different breeds, how they were kept, which sat eggs better and which were better for meat, what they should eat—it was an intense amount of research for what turned out to be about one paragraph in the rough draft before the character left her duck-farm and went to seek her fortune. My beta-readers started a running joke about my obsession with ducks (and, by extension, all birds) and the deep symbolism associated with them in my writing.

Another version of this answer: I don’t know what’s most “surprising” because I study a lot of strange things as part of my writing. For the Mancer trilogy, I spent a lot of time researching iron, and the effects that an iron scarcity in the world would have on society (the dragon-like Osei can be harmed by iron, so they strictly limit its trade). Kavet’s climate is roughly analogous to the coastal areas of Maine, so I did a lot of reading about agriculture and trade in Maine; it’s also an island in a pre-airplane world, so I studied sailing merchant ships.

Before and beyond Mancer, my research has ranged from the effects of zero gravity on plants (and, yes, poultry); the Church of Satan; psychopharmacology; you name it, and I’ve probably looked it up. I love research; I always end up doing hours of research for single lines that are sometimes cut from final drafts because they’re far more detail than the average reader wants.

Plotter or Pantser? Why?

Pantser through my rough drafts—then I go back, plot, outline, and revise and rewrite as necessary.  Pantsing lets me explore new worlds, characters and stories freely. Yes I end up with unnecessary scenes, paragraphs of exposition about foul, and meandering storylines in that first draft, but those extra scenes give me a chance to get to know my characters better and explore places of the world I might not otherwise touch.

If I finish the draft and it has a good story and good characters, I go back, revise, clean away the chaff, tie up the plot holes, and otherwise clean it up. At that point I develop detailed outlines and draw plot diagrams and character trees, and otherwise look the very picture of a plotter, but until then I’m a pantser all the way.

What was the scariest moment of your life?

Of course I’ve had plenty of the classic, daily scares—the cop who calls to say my mother’s been in an accident, and only thinks to say “she’s fine” last, or when my daughter had an allergic reaction to raspberries and turned purple—but those scares are momentary. Thankfully, my mother was fine, my daughter was okay; those moments, for me, have usually turned out like that.

Then there are the creepy moments, the times that are scary in a grew-up-on-horror-movies way. The creepiest moments in my life have all featured in my books, because writing has always been my outlet.

The one that comes to mind fastest inspired one of my young adult novels, Persistence of Memory. I went to the emergency room with a friend whose insurance company had dropped a critical medication he had been on; as a result, he had a psychotic episode, including vivid hallucinations. At one point we were alone together in a hospital room. He looked all around—at the ceiling, at the walls, at the floor—and then looked directly at me and asked, “You don’t see them, do you?”

Another time, I was driving to a family funeral in another state with (oddly enough) the same friend. We sat in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike for a long time, until a bit before midnight we finally reached the front of traffic… only to discover a dismembered body. Parts of one, anyway. It must have happened recently enough that it hadn’t been cleaned up; it was graphic and, reasonably enough, threw me into a panic. My brain skipped over any logical answers and decided this must have been some kind of serial killer dump. No power in the ‘verse could have convinced me to stop the car; if a cop had tried, I probably would have floored it. We were on our way to a small town on the coast of Maryland, so from there we drove through endless miles of dark cornfields (yes, I grew up on horror stories). When we reached our motel, the owner had taped the keys to the door since he knew we were coming in after the office was closed, and it was the kind of place where that was perfectly reasonable....

Except that it still left us at 2am walking into an unlocked, unfamiliar motel room in the middle of cornfield country after being convinced we had witnessed some kind of serial killer body-dump earlier in the day. (That one became a novel called Token of Darkness)

Those moments stay with me. And, thanks to the power of writing, they get to stay with my readers too.

What books have most influenced your life?

My mother was an avid Stephen King fan, so I was watching his movies well before I was capable of reading his books, and probably well before an age when it is strictly healthy/normal for a child to be watching Stephen King. I first read his The Stand when I was in sixth grade, and that and the Dark Tower series (which I read for the first time in college) have remained among my favorite books for years. What always struck me about King’s writing was how deeply flawed even his heroes were. He doesn’t write pretty, perfect people; he writes people who have petty sides, weaknesses and addictions and disabilities and blind spots. Even the villains who are evil for the sake of evil (Randal Flagg, for example, or the Crimson King) have a dynamic I admire. My real world has always been full of complex, imperfect people, so I’m attracted to stories that feature the same.

Clearly, these books affected my genre interests. I grew up on horror, and my first books all featured vampires, witches, and other monsters. More so, they affected how I view and interact with the world. I believe everyone has a story, and I want to know it. This has often led me to make friends (lifelong in some cases, only the span of time we share in a waiting room or airplane in others) with people that others tend to dismiss or avoid. In turn, this has affected my view of the world, of mental illness and disability and social norms and privilege.

What are your favorite TV shows?

My favorite genre is heist shows with sexy, clever thieves; White Collar and Leverage are among my favorites. I occasionally like super-hero or other supernatural shows—I found the first season of Legion addictive, and I watched Supernatural for about nine seasons before I lost track (it scared my daughter, and I had trouble finding time to watch)—but I don’t have any I’m currently following.

I’ll be a nerd and admit that right now, my favorite is Star Trek: The Next Generation, not because it’s the best show ever, but because it’s one my family watches together. My three-year-old wants to be Doctor Beverly Crusher for Halloween. She watches with me, dances to the theme song, and asks questions. We talk about how you can’t tell bad guys and good guys by looking at them, but only by what they do. 


Of The Divine
by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes



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.


“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.”

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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.

Buy link: Amazon


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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

atwater-rhodes said...

Thank you for having me today. I enjoyed the questions— and I’m hoping to find a few book suggestions myself perusing your blog.