Today I’m thrilled to be sharing a Q&A with Elly Blake, the author of Frostblood!
Where did the idea for Frostblood come from?
I’ve always loved elemental magic, including the series Avatar: The Last Airbender. One night, I dreamed of a girl with power over fire and a king with an icy heart. I decided to focus on just fire and ice as elements, and I had an idea for a scene where the heroine was in prison, so then I had to figure out how she ended up there. Starting a new project is always terrifying, and I kept delaying, feeling too nervous to write. My friend and critique partner, Nicki, finally said, “Just write the scene with the girl in prison.” That’s what got me started.
Do you consider yourself a pantser, plotter, or something in between? What was your process while writing Frostblood?
I’m mostly a pantser, but I desperately wish I were a plotter. I’m always reading books and taking courses, hoping that some method will be The One that will allow me to plan everything ahead of time. I do have to do some planning, but it’s pretty vague, and sometimes I get stuck, which is frustrating when you’re drafting. Unfortunately, if I push myself to plan too much—to fill out character worksheets or try to create detailed outlines—I end up paralyzed and can’t write. So, I’ve learned to let my unconscious write the crappy first draft. Then I apply planning methods, like Michael Hauge’s structure or Scene and Sequel, during revisions. I do a LOT of rewriting. It’s a messy process.
This is your debut novel – congratulations! What have you enjoyed most about the publishing process? Is there a moment that stands out to you?
There isn’t a single moment that stands out, but many great moments, such as finding out my book sold, seeing my covers for the first time, seeing the map in the UK edition, signing stock at my local bookstore, being surrounded by family and friends at my launch party, and meeting published authors I admire.
I’ve also realized that a good deal of success in this industry, or any industry, is luck. And I’ve been extremely fortunate in several ways.
First of all, I have a group of very supportive and talented writer friends. They’re vital to my writing and my peace of mind. My husband is unwavering in his support, which allows me to write even when life is busy, and my kids are very understanding about me disappearing into my writing cave for hours at a time.
Also, I have a wonderful agent. Suzie is excellent at the business side of things, but she’s also great at the taking-care-of-your-client things. She always seems to know the right thing to say when I’m struggling with revisions or deadlines.
Finally, I’ve had great experiences with my editors, who are not only talented and perceptive, but say things in just the right way so I can handle all those many notes and changes.
Ok, if I had to pick a single thing, it would be my covers. I love my covers, and that is something that is mostly out of the author’s control. Holding your own book with a gorgeous cover on it is a complete thrill!
The juxtaposition of fire and ice has been done before, which means you had to put an original spin on it in Frostblood. What did you find most challenging while writing?
The most challenging thing about writing, for me, is getting past my anxiety about not being good enough. It makes it hard to focus and hard to finish things on time. That’s my biggest struggle.
As for making my book different, that was probably easier than it sounds because I haven’t read or seen all the examples of elemental magic out there—and I know there are many if you include games and anime. I’ve seen Avatar: The Last Airbender, and I didn’t want my book to be too similar to that (although the powers themselves are similar) but other than that, I hadn’t read a ton of books with elemental magic. Sometimes I see reviews that compare Frostblood to other YA fantasy novels, but the funny thing is, I hadn’t read those novels when I wrote my book, either because they hadn’t been published yet (I wrote Frostblood in 2014) or I was too busy writing to read as much as usual.
If you could spend a day with a character from Frostblood, who would it be and why?
Well, Arcus obviously. Haha. I’d just stare at him and make Bambi eyes.
But really, I think I’d like to learn how to illuminate manuscripts from Sister Pastel. I’ve always loved drawing, though I’m not particularly good at it. I think spending a day in the library at Forwind Abbey would be wonderful.
What were your favorite books when you were a young adult? Did that influence your own writing at all?
My reading as a child and young adult has definitely influenced my writing. YA literature hadn’t really exploded into what it is now, so I read a mixture of middle grade, teen, and adult literature. In fantasy, I read C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Tolkien, Alan Garner, Tanith Lee, and anything by Robin McKinley that I could get my hands on. I also read contemporary teen fiction (Judy Blume, Robert Cormier, Paul Zindel, Gordon Korman) and some adult classics (Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Jane Austen, Tolstoy). I read Robert Ludlum and Agatha Christie and short stories by Guy de Maupassant, which I found on my parents’ bookshelf. I also periodically read stories from a beautiful old edition of 1,001 Nights. And in between all that, I read category romance by the bucket-full. If you put that all in a blender, I guess you get a strange mix.
The sequel to Frostblood is scheduled to be released later in 2017. Can you give us a hint about Fireblood?
Fireblood is all about challenging what Ruby thinks she knows about herself. Her relationship with Arcus is also put to the test. Between the disapproving and potentially dangerous Frost Court, to a rampaging creature causing mayhem in Tempesia, to Ruby’s exploration of her identity, she has a lot to contend with. There are revelations that have ripple effects into book 3, Darkblood, which I’m so excited to write. I hope you like the new characters and setting as well as the familiar ones!
Author: Elly Blake
Pub. Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook, audiobook
Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon.
All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.
Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies—but together create a power that could change everything.
Elly Blake loves fairy tales, old houses, and owls. After earning a BA in English literature, she held a series of seemingly random jobs, including project manager, customs clerk, graphic designer, reporter for a local business magazine, and library assistant. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and a Siberian Husky mix who definitely shows Frostblood tendencies.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of FROSTBLOOD, US Only.
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