Saturday, November 2, 2013

Interview with Antony John, author of the Elemental Trilogy, and Giveaway of Signed ARC of Firebrand (US only) AND... Book 3 title reveal!

I am thrilled to have one of my favorite authors and a good friend in St. Louis, Antony John, back on my blog to talk about his new book coming out this month! I beta read this novel so I can assure you it's going to be awesome and EXPLOSIVE just like the title!

Firebrand (Elemental, #2) Goodreads Book Description: In this sequel to the dystopian fantasy-adventure ELEMENTAL, which James Dashner called "fantastic," the stakes are life-or-death and nothing is as it appears to be.

Thomas and his friends have rescued the Guardians and commandeered the pirates' ship, but the pirates still hold fast to Roanoke Island. Using his newly discovered element, Thomas hears a radio message calling for refugees to head to Fort Sumter. They sail south, but quickly discover that their elements wane as they leave Roanoke behind. There is something sinister going on in the refugee colony too. From the perilous food-gathering squads, to the constant threat of rat infestation, to dangerous secrets, Thomas and his colonists begin to realize that this promising new world may be even more terrifying than the one they left behind.

Fans of The Maze Runner and Ship Breaker will love the fast pace, high stakes, and touches of romance in this thrilling novel by an award-winning author.

Blurb about Antony: Antony John was born in England and raised on a balanced diet of fish and chips, obscure British comedies, and ABBA's Greatest Hits. In a fit of teenage rebellion, he decided to pursue a career in classical music, culminating in a BA from Oxford University and a PhD from Duke University. Along the way, he worked as an ice cream seller on a freezing English beach, a tour guide in the Netherlands, a chauffeur in Switzerland, a barista in Seattle, and a university professor. Writing by night, he spends his days as a stay-at-home dad—the only job that allows him to wear his favorite pair of sweatpants all the time. He lives in St. Louis with his family.

Antony, it's great having you back here at Ensconced in YA to celebrate the sequel to Elemental, FIREBRAND!

Thanks for having me! 

1. What were the hardest and best things about writing a sequel?
The best thing was knowing in advance that I was going to have that opportunity, which meant that I could think beyond a one-book story. Book 2 of a trilogy allows some narrative threads to be tied up, others to be started, and some to be continued into book 3. Working it all out is very gratifying. It's also very hard. Making sure that book 2 stands alone when it begins and ends in the middle of a larger story was definitely the greatest challenge. 

2. Now that you've been with your characters a little longer, who other than your main character do you think has grown/developed the most? Why?
Rose, for sure. In ELEMENTAL, she was almost a foil for Alice, who was the dynamic risk-taker. But when things turn dark in FIREBRAND (and, believe me, things turn very dark), Rose is forced to become extremely active. To me, her journey feels very organic and believable, and I think readers will identify with her. While we may wish we were more like Alice (or Katniss, or Tris), the truth is that many of us are like Rose, just trying to do the right thing, while bringing people together. What's interesting to me is how we respond when we no longer have the option of playing peacemaker.  

3. Since you don't like chocolate, what is your go to snack food? :-)
If you put fresh-baked bread in front of me, I can't help myself. I know it's not exactly a snack, but it's my weakness, for sure. 

4. If you could give three tips to a newbie writer, what would they be?
Take your time. Many first books are written quickly (think: Nanowrimo) and instinctually, which is great. But it really helps to put the manuscript aside for a while (preferably months) before editing. Use the time to work on a second project. The advantage is that when you return to the original book, you'll be more objective about its strengths and weaknesses.

Write for yourself. No book will be universally adored, and every writer has to come to terms with bad reviews at one time or another. As long as you're writing the book that you want to read, and making that book as strong as possible, you'll learn to live with negative feedback. If you're writing for someone else, you'll feel like you've been exposed as a fraud.

Surround yourself with a support team, and be honest about which person is best for which role. I'm not talking about an agent and editor, either (though both are wonderful allies). Almost ALL writers can assemble a team of thoughtful and positive beta readers, ego-boosters, and picky copy-editor types who will improve the manuscript and make the writing journey less lonely. However, do NOT keep someone in your support team if they cannot be open and honest, or if their input brings you down. 

5. Which is your favorite Harry Potter book and why?
Book 3 (aka PRISONER OF AZKABAN), because it was the book in which I realized "Holy moly, she really has planned this whole thing out to last seven books." I cannot imagine undertaking such a gargantuan task.  

6. If you could reread a book for the first time, what book would it be and why?
HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff. I read this book in 2005 when I was first starting to write, and it completely blew me away. Everything about it -- the voice, the scope, the taut pacing -- helped to cement my impression of YA as a highly sophisticated genre. Now that I've been writing for years, I'd be interested to see if I can simply immerse myself in those elements (as I did back then), or if I'd find myself wanting to deconstruct the novel in hopes of working out why it's so darn good. 

7. Can you tell us a little hint for what's in store for Book 3?
Well, let's start by revealing the title for the first time!

( . . . drum roll, please . . . )

It'll be called RENEGADE, and picks up right where book 2 leaves off. I don't want to give any spoilers, so I'll just say that it answers all of the lingering questions from ELEMENTAL and FIREBRAND, including lots of juicy stuff about The Lost Colony. I'm fascinated by the legend of The Lost Colony, so this was seriously fun for me :)

Thanks again for having me along, Christina!
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  1. The next title sounds extremely dynamic and has a lot of promise towards the future of the series. It definitely sounds very interesting to me! I like it.

  2. The name definitely elicits a visceral reaction in my body. My muscles clench because I think of fire branding my skin!