Day 6. Remember, not all Canadian YA authors currently live in Canada. :)
Amy McCulloch currently lives in the UK. Born in Kingston-upon-Thames, she and her family moved to Ottawa, Ontario when she was 11. There, she developed a love of all things geeky like science fairs, yearbooks, RPGs, and The Lord of the Rings. After graduating from the University of Toronto and traveling around the world, she headed back to London to work in publishing. She now works as an editorial director at Puffin UK. Even though she's now in the UK, she's still a proud Canadian. Her debut YA novel, The Oathbreaker's Shadow, came out in June 2013 in Canada and the UK, and is set to come out in the US in 2015. The second in The Knots Sequence duology, The Shadow's Curse, comes out June 24, 2014. You can find her at her blog and on Twitter (@amymcculloch). :)
Q: Your debut novel The Oathbreaker's Shadow came out almost a year ago, and now The Shadow's Curse releases some time this spring/summer. Is the excitement still there, seeing your name on books in stores and in reader's arms?
A: Oh my gosh, it's still so exciting! I hope that feeling never goes away. I think second books are always a bit nerve-wracking, as they’re often written on a very different timeline to your debut. This time I only had a year to pull it all together, whereas I had 7 years for the first! Although, that being said, the story had been percolating in my mind for a lot longer than a year – and it was so much fun to get it out of my head and onto the page.
Q: I always found the presence of the shadow to be rather interesting. Being able to see the consequence of breaking an oath isn't something you can really see in real life, there's no shadow or mark to tell people what you did, or didn't do. Why have this visual representation of a broken oath?
A: This was actually the genesis of the entire duology. When I studied Medieval History at university, I was fascinated by this idea of an 'oath of fealty' – a pledge of allegiance from one person to another. I saw this idea replicated across vastly different medieval societies: the oath between vassal and lord in Western Europe, the samurai in Japan, or Genghis Khan's blood brothers. I wanted to write a book centring around one of these oaths, but I also wanted to give it a fantasy twist. My imagination instantly wondered what would happen in those societies if the oaths manifested in a visual/physical way. It would amplify the pressure to uphold the oaths, and also make you think very carefully before making one. There would rarely be rash promises.
I also thought it would make it even more interesting if someone was marked as an oathbreaker, but didn't know who they made the promise to or why it's suddenly broken…
Q: Raim's broken promise is the dangling carrot for me, I'm so curious as to what the promise is. Will we finally find out what the promise was and who it was made to?
A: Ooh, yes, the carrot will be cooked up and served to the reader, don’t you worry! When I envisaged Raim's story, it was originally going to be one big book – but eventually it was split into two. So it’s a true duology that way, in that you need to read both books to get the whole tale.
Q: Will is be all following Raim and Draikh, their continued journey, or will we also see what's happening with Wadi and her being kept prisoner by Khareh?
A: The Shadow's Curse is told by two different narrators, so you will be following both Raim and Wadi on their continued journeys. I think there's a lot of curiosity out there around Khareh and his motivations – and all will be revealed by the end.
Q: What's next for Amy the author? Are you working on more books or are you busy right now being Amy the editorial director?
A: I'm working on more books! I have a new series that I'm hoping to sell after this, still a YA fantasy but this time with a more modern setting. It's tentatively called Philtre (n. a love potion) and features love potions (duh), unicorns and an abominable snowman. You can't go wrong with that, can you? I am definitely very busy as Amy the editorial director, working on some amazing books, but I just can't ever seem to take the writing hat off. I think it's welded on my head for good.
Q: Are you still torn between the UK and Canada?
A: Oh, always. I love Canada and I want to be back there someday. When they invent superfast portal travel between Ottawa and London I'll be the first to sign up!
Thanks so much to Amy for taking part again this year! Go check out The Oathbreaker's Shadow and The Shadow's Curse in June. :)