For those of you following the blog tour, tomorrow's stop is at YA Indie Princess. Anyway, enough of my waffle, let's get on with the interview!
Thank you for spending some time answering of my questions. How would you describe Defiance to someone who hasn’t heard of it?
Defiance is a post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure in which Rachel Adams commits treason against her brutal leader to escape her city so she can search for her missing father in the Wasteland beyond, but the truth she discovers will start a war two decades in the making. (Also, there’s a cute inventor who is also really good with a sword!)
Where did the inspiration for the trilogy come from? Also, could you confirm what the trilogy name is (as I keep hearing different names)?
In the UK, the trilogy is called The Courier’s Daughter Trilogy.
For years, I’d had the idea of a Leviathon-like creature living underground with the capability to destroy our world if anyone accidentally released him. Then one day I saw a picture of a fortress and it reminded me of a city-state. I said “What if we lived in city-states again? Why would we do that?” One idea collided with another, and Defiance was born.
With Defiance, the story is told from two characters points of view: Rachel and Logan. Was this an organic idea that happened while you were writing or did you always know that Rachel and Logan had to the share the story equally?
After writing half of the book from Rachel’s POV only, I realized that Logan had an equal stake in the trilogy (both with his backstory and with his actions), and so he deserved a chance to tell his story. Plus, he was going to do some REALLY cool things while apart from Rachel, and I wanted the reader to be able to see that.
How did you keep Rachel and Logan’s voices different?
Rachel is driven first and foremost by her emotions. She also loves to improvise instead of taking the time to come up with a meticulous plan of action. Logan is a planner, a thinker, and a master of figuring out every possible scenario before taking action. His go-to method for fighting is science whereas Rachel’s is weapons. Making sure I kept the emotions in the forefront for Rachel and the science/logic in the forefront of Logan’s scenes kept them different.
As I was reading Defiance, I got the feeling that while this book is a fantasy novel, it had elements of being a dystopia novel as well? Was this intentional or pure coincidental?
I set out to write a post-apocalyptic novel. When I finished, I discovered it had elements of fantasy, dystopia, steampunk, and some light sci-fi in it as well. I read those type of books voraciously, so it isn’t a surprise that those elements came into the story, but the dystopian aspect of Rachel’s city is truly caused by the personality of the leader. I didn’t know what kind of culture the city had until I understood him. Once I knew him, I realized the things that drive him would cause him to motivate his people to obey him out of fear, and thus the dystopian aspect of Defiance came to be.
With Rachel knowing so much about weapons and Logan knowing technology, did you have to do much research in these fields?
Yes! I was constantly stopping and looking up sparring videos or weapons descriptions or how to make a homemade battery etc.
I want to ask something about Rachel – all women in Defiance – needing a Protector and then having to a Claimed. With this being, in my opinion, extremely sexist. Is this the Commander’s ideal, or is this a subtle attack at sexist in the fantasy genre as a whole?
It’s truly awful, isn’t it? Sets my teeth on edge just thinking about it. The answer to your question is that it’s both the Commander’s ideal and my attempt to use the lens of dystopian fiction to deconstruct what it looks like to “protect” women… taking some of our ideals today and pushing them to the extreme edge of that protection. By using Rachel’s father, who protects Rachel by giving her the tools to protect herself, and Logan, who protects Rachel by fighting at her side as her equal, and by using that dynamic to upset the system the Commander put into place, I wanted to show my readers what true protection looks like. It isn’t a demand that you not bother your pretty little head about things, or that you stick with the roles a male-dominated society carved out for you. It isn’t being dependent on a man for every little thing. It’s understanding what makes YOU strong, respecting that, and expecting others to respect you and treat you as an equal.
Now, I want to ask about your journey into becoming a published author. Was it quite an easy journey or was it quite hard going?
It was a long journey. I signed with my agent in early 2009, and we subbed an adult urban fantasy to many, many editors. All of them said no. I wrote another urban fantasy, and we did the same thing all over again. I kept hearing things like “we don’t know where to shelve this” and “it doesn’t conform to the genre rules,” which was true. It didn’t because I like to combine genres as I write. I write what the story needs without worrying about whether that lines up perfectly with shelf space in a bookstore. :) It was a two year process of hearing constant “no’s” and that got discouraging some days! I finally sat down and said, “I can quit. Or I can switch to the genre I read the most and try the idea that scares me because it feels too big for me to handle.” I’m not a quitter, so two and half months later, I had a finished draft of Defiance. A few weeks later, my agent sold it at auction, and it took me soooo long to go from feeling like the poster girl for “Can Not Sell a Book to Save Her Life” to realizing I’d reached my dream.
How long did it take you to write Defiance from the original idea?
The idea was rolling around in my head in one form or another for months, but once I started writing, it only took two and a half months. That’s super fast! I think some ideas just burn their way out of you, and this was one of those.
While you were writing Defiance, there must have been scenes or moments that you, sadly, had to edit or completely cut out? How did you decide what stay in and what “little darlings” you had to cut out?
Yes, I cut entire chapters and combined others. My editor helped me decide where we needed to cut or combine and then I took that feedback and made decisions from there.
Was there a scene that you loved writing but you had to edit out?
There was a scene that I’d originally written from Rachel’s point of view that finally had to be switched to Logan’s, and I was reluctant because I wanted the reader to see it from her eyes. However, once I made the change, I loved having the reader see it through his eyes instead. :)
What do you feel when you see people chatting about Defiance and their reactions on their blogs/Facebook/Twitter? Does it feel surreal?
Very surreal! I try to avoid it as much as possible. I don’t mind people talking to me about it on Twitter or Facebook, but I don’t go searching for it at all. I feel that once I’ve released the story to the public, it isn’t mine anymore. It’s theirs to read and discuss and interact with at will. I don’t want to interfere with that.
Sticking with this, the UK publisher has called Defiance perfect for fans of Trudi Canavan and Christopher Paolini and I have heard a few well respected book bloggers calling Defiance the perfect hangover cure for the Hunger Games. How do you feel to be compared to well known and well respected authors and series?
That is just as surreal as having people tell me the book made them cry or ended up on their all-time favorites shelf. It’s SUCH an incredible honor, and I have to pinch myself, and then push it from my mind and get down to the business of writing the next book.
Now, I have to ask this (because I need to know!) can you reveal any titbits that you could reveal for the second book in the trilogy?
Hmm … I’m not authorized to reveal much, but I can tell you that we get a LOT more of the secondary characters in this book, and that there are several enemies hunting Rachel and Logan, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. :)
Before I finish this interview, I have to talk about the striking cover. Did you have any input into the cover?
A bit! Harper [CJ's US publisher] came up with the amazing cover concept, and I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. They discussed what they wanted to do at every stage (there were several cover comps before the final cover) and always took the time to ask for my opinion. My opinion usually consisted of HOLY WOW YES PLEASE I MIGHT LICK MY SCREEN I LOVE IT SOOO MUCH, so I was probably not that helpful. :)