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We hear a lot of you out there are into this new thing all the cool kids are doing called … READING!
Strange, but true, with the success of Twilight, Hunger Games and The Vampire Diaries, we're finding more and more that YA fiction is on the rise — and is often the source material for some of the hottest movies and television around!
So we thought … why not try to find the next big thing!
While we were at Comic-Con earlier this month, we met up with Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, author of the new book, Poison Tree. The really awesome thing about Amelia is that she's been a published fantasy YA author since she was — wait for it — 13! That's way before Edward Cullen started to sparkle!
In speaking to Amelia, we asked her about her life as an author, her favorite aspects of her new novel, and who she'd like to see cast in a potential movie adaptation. (Johnny Depp, we think there is a part for you in here!)
If this sounds up your alley, CLICK THE JUMP and check out some HIGHlights from our interview with Amelia.
Amelia's written world is inhabited by vampires, shapeshifters, witches and more! in her latest book, she brings almost all of her creatures together to tell an engaging story about overcoming one's past to get on with their future. Her story follows the unlikely parallel lives of two girls: Alysia, a mercenary with a bounty on her head and the tenacity to challenge the conventions of her world, and Sarik, a shapeshifter with the power to turn into a tiger at will, but not enough strength to stop running from her past. When the girls' paths intertwined, both are forced to confront the things they've been fearing the most and are thrown into circumstances that test their courage in every way.
In our interview, Amelia reveals how the book came to be, the message at it's core, and who she'd really like to see portray her characters on the big screen!
On Why Amelia Writes In The Sci-Fi Fantasy Genre:
Well I grew up on horror fantasy. My mom is a big Steven King fan, [and I] grew up on a lot of the movies before I started reading the books, which again wasn’t until about middle school. So there was always kind of, in the back of my head, this other fantasy world that I enjoyed playing with. When I started writing … I tried a bunch of different things, [but ultimately, my first story] was a vampire story and it was the first one I ever finished.
There’s a lot of interest in fantasy horror. I mean, there’s a lot you can make up, there’s a lot of freedom, but I also like the challenge that comes from being based in the real world. You have to look at something and say, "OK, how does modern technology change something?" The invention of the cell phone has changed the horror industry, I have to say. You either have to come up with some convoluted reason for how the cell phone doesn't work or else factor in the fact that all your characters should be able to be in touch constantly. I mean, as soon as a horror writer mentions there’s a dead zone — no cell phone coverage — you know something is going on; it’s obvious. So modern technology, the human world, the real world, affects everything I am doing as I am writing and that’s fun for me.
On How Poison Tree Actually Took A Decade To Be Published:
Back in 2000 — so 12 years ago now — I had two books: Hawksong and Tiger Rise. We were debating which one to publish. Tiger Rise would become Poison Tree, but we ended up going with Hawksong because it was different. We kind of wanted to go more into the shapeshifters and that became a five book series. Coming out of that series, I didn’t want to jump right instantly Poison Tree because it’s big; it deals with a lot of the world. So, we did a couple of other stories first, but that meant that Poison Tree really had twelve years to marinate. During that time, just for the fun of it, some friends and I got together and we filmed it as a movie. So, it not only had twelve years to marinate, I was also able to actually manipulate this; teaching cast members the language and inflection so they could speak lines and really getting questioned by actors about, “Why is this going on?”, “I don’t understand what my character is doing here?” And that’s aggressive. I mean, you hear on TV, “What’s my motivation?” And it’s always kind of a joke, but it’s a real question. When an actor comes up to you and goes, “I hate my character right now. Why am I doing this?” You go, “Oh that’s not good.” And so Poison Tree changed a lot through my seeing it through all these different lenses.
On The Difficulties Of Writing Sarik, One Of Poison Tree's Protagonists:
There are a couple of major reveals in the book that I don’t want to reveal here, but my goal was that when they happened, they would make sense, and people would read them and go, "Oh, so that’s why?"
Especially in the early drafts, Sarik has this vehement dislike of Alysia, which she has reasons for, but I couldn’t tell anyone the reasons. In the early drafts, you read it and Sarik was just … I don’t want to use that language on the microphone, but I mean you just read her and she’s like the most unsympathetic brat you’ve ever met. So I needed to come up with reasoning. Sarik is from a culture that’s very isolationist and very limiting, so I really needed to find a way (without info dumping) to reveal why Sarik was so nervous about anyone coming into her world who could potentially be a threat; to reveal the fact that she is genuinely scared that someone could take her away and could threaten everything she has. Not just her, but her boyfriend Jason. Her boyfriend Jason is also coming from a past that he is hiding from. So she legitimately, in the beginning, is very scared of this stranger coming into her world who could represent anything who could represent a threat. Who could represent a betrayal and loss of everything in her world. In trying to make that clear without just 2x 4’in it, without making it so obvious and still leaving some mystery to reveal throughout the book was a challenge.
On The Message Of Poison Tree & Who Should Read It:
The notion that people are individuals and they are going to all have their individual dreams and everyone around you thinks they know who you are. And I’m not saying that as an existential, “nobody really knows you” thing. It’s just that people always see a limited view of each other because we are not in each other’s brains. You have to respect people for who they are whether or not you get it and sometimes that means telling your parents, “Hey, yeah. Family business, no.” Or worse , you know, “I am going to college even though you don’t support that" or “I’m not going to college I am going to become a mechanic and that makes me happy.” That’s really hard and it’s hard on both sides, both on the side of the individual saying, “Yeah I know its going to hurt you that I made this decision I hope you’ll get it someday” and on the side of the individual going, “Why? I think I know better for you. I think your making a bad decision and your going to get hurt but I need to let you do it.” And I think that’s an important message on both sides.
On Who She's Like To See Star In A Movie Version Of Poison Tree:
I’m terrible with names! I tend not to know most actors. I have a list of actors in my head that I would say, "Yes! They should to be in my movie!", but they probably wouldn’t be the best casting choices. So, I’d have to say if I ever made a movie I’d have to leave that to the professionals. If I could have … maybe Dean from Supernatural? Nathan Fillion or Johnny Depp? But I don’t know who’d they play.
But maybe you do! Pick up Amelia's book, in stores NOW, and see if you have any suggestions for her!