Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Awesomesauce Authors: An Interview with Amalia Dillin!

Not even a month ago, hubby and I were discussing fantastical beings that don't get nearly enough screen time in YA (or really any literature for chicks). Among my favorite (humanoid elves) and his favorite (dwarfs--of the non-Disney variety) there haven't been a lot of true YA/F involving orcs. And since new adult is just branching out into genre fiction (toldja so--and no I'm never going to stop saying it!) it's an exciting time to be a fantastical creature in NA!

So I was super excited to meet today's author via a recent NALitChat on Twitter! Here's a little bit about Amalia and her new book baby HONOR AMONG ORCS which is out TODAY!

About the Book

After nearly a decade as the king’s whipping-girl, Princess Arianna has no intention of going quietly into marriage to some treasonous noble, or serving obediently as the king’s spy until her death is more convenient. When she discovers a handsome orc, chained and trapped inside a magic mirror, Arianna cannot help but see a lasting freedom from her father's abuse.

Left to rot inside a mirror by the king, Bolthorn never imagined his prayers would be answered by a princess. Nor did he ever expect to meet so worthy a woman after knowing her father’s cruelty. He needs her help to escape the mirror before the king marches against the orcs, but all he can offer Arianna is ice and darkness in exchange for her aid.

If Arianna can free the monster behind the glass, perhaps she might free herself, as well. But once they cross the mountain, there will be no return, and the deadly winter is the least of what threatens them on the other side.

Fans of Kristin Cashore's FIRE and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings will appreciate the collision of romance, adventure, and epic fantasy -- all with a new adult edge -- in Honor Among Orcs.

Tell us a little about your writer's journey so far:

It’s been a slow and steady kind of journey, I guess. I find the motto “If not this book, then the next!” to be a helpful expression to keep in mind – it was particularly reassuring before I found my agent, but even still now, if a book or a story doesn’t quite do as well as I hoped, it’s good to remember that this is just the beginning, and as far as foundations go, I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished with my Fate of the Gods trilogy from World Weaver Press, and now HONOR AMONG ORCS.

Okay, let's hear your Twitter Pitch! (140 characters or less.)

Tolkien meets Beauty and the Beast when a princess discovers an orc trapped inside a magic mirror in the NA Fantasy, HONOR AMONG ORCS.

What inspired you to write this book? How is it a book only you could write?

When I was in college, I took a course on Tolkien, and one of the things that really stayed with me in The Silmarillion was a passage which talked about how the orcs had been elves once, before they wandered too far, and were stolen by the evil power, Morgoth. It just seemed like such a missed opportunity in The Lord of the Rings, because if the orcs were once elves, why didn’t anyone ever try to appeal to that connection? Or for that matter, what would have happened if some hero had rescued them from this re-shaping through torture and darkness? HONOR AMONG ORCS is kind of my way of answering those questions.

As for how this is a book only *I* could write – I think as a writer, I’m always drawn more to characters and relationships. This book is very much about what happens when you throw a princess who doesn’t believe in orcs up against the knowledge that her only way forward is through this totally foreign monster, and everything his existence implies. Bolthorn basically turns Arianna’s world upside down, and I think their relationship and the exploration of what it all means for the past, the future, the present, isn’t usually approached on such a personal level. But the personal level is what I like to read, so I wrote it!

What's your favorite thing about writing?

Writing allows me to study pretty much anything I want. Instead of writing academic papers on topics, I get to write stories reimagining said topics. But writing also really helps me to learn about myself, and I think that’s maybe the most difficult lesson to learn, and the most rewarding part.

What's your least favorite thing?

The pay. :) Hopefully that’ll change someday!

Now it's time to brag a little--What do you love most about your book?

Oh man. EVERYTHING. I’m really proud of the job I did with description and worldbuilding in this book, and I am absolutely, completely in love with the characters. Some of my favorite secondary/tertiary characters are in this book! And I loved playing with these different fantasy races, giving them new twists and respinning their histories, more than I thought I ever would.

Who was your favorite character to write? Why?

Fossegrim! He’s an old, crotchety, you-kids-get-off-my-lawn kind of elf, and he rambles and rants and just generally does not care in the least what anyone thinks of him (mostly that he’s off his rocker, is what the other elves think!), and he was SO much fun to write! I mean, I loved writing Bolthorn and Arianna, too, but there was just something extra special about old Fossegrim.

Okay, now a little about you. (And yes, I stole these questions from In the Actor's Studio with James Lipton.)

What is your favorite word?

Endilega. It’s Icelandic, and it means absolutely. I just think it’s a fun word to say, and I like how it sounds.

What is your least favorite word?

Blink. I feel like it sounds so much harsher and just... ugh, gross, for the action it describes. It’s too strong a word for something we don’t even think about doing, something which occurs silently and takes virtually no time at all.

What sound or noise do you love?

A purring cat! And also, the flutter of sparrow wings, when they fly so close you can actually hear them flapping. Oh! and thunder. I cannot forget the thunder.

What sound or noise do you hate?

The sound of a metal spoon on a hand thrown ceramic bowl drives me absolutely bananas. Ugh. It is like nails on a chalkboard for me.

What profession, other than your own, would you most like to attempt?

I used to dream of being a tiger zookeeper, which I think I’d still love, but also comic book shop owner, or bookstore owner!

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear G-d say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

I’m actually kind of hoping I’ll be intercepted by Thor before I make it that far! But hm. maybe. “The library is right that way, enjoy!”

Finally, what's the one question you've always wanted to answer in an interview? (And of course, you have to answer it!)

I took to facebook and asked my followers what question they’d most like me to answer, because I couldn’t come up with anything, myself! They said:

“What authors do you read, and do you plan to explore any other genres in your own writing?”

I read a lot of different authors! Everything from Heinlein to Anne McCaffrey, Kate Quinn and Stephanie Dray to Stephanie Perkins, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Kristin Cashore, and of course translations of historical sources like the Eddas and Sagas, and the Classical writers like Euripides, Pseudo-Apollodorus, Ovid, etc. I love historical fiction, contemporary fiction, romance, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, science fiction (space opera!), and comic books, in Young Adult, New Adult, and general Adult categories.

As a writer, I definitely have some Paranormal Romance up my sleeve, and my alter ego writes Historical fiction, so I think it’s safe to say yes, I do plan to explore other genres!

About the Author


Amalia Dillin began as a Biology major before taking Latin and falling in love with old heroes and older gods. After that, she couldn't stop writing about them, with the occasional break for more contemporary subjects. She lives in upstate New York with her husband, and dreams of the day when she will own goats--to pull her chariot through the sky, of course.

Amalia is the author of the Fate of the Gods trilogy, and the soon to be released Orc Saga, beginning with HONOR AMONG ORCS on April 1 2014. 

You can also find links to all her work online at www.amaliadillin.com. 

Thanks, Amalia! I wish you and your honorable orcs all the book sales!

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