Author Spotlight: Amanda Foody talks Daughter of the Burning City
Today I have author Amanda Foody on the blog! Her debut novel, Daughter of the Burning City, was released yesterday and it's been racking up praise from such notable authors as Tamora Pierce and Roshani Chokshi. Described as "a darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires", The Daughter of the Burning City definitely sounds like an unforgettable read!
And now, here's my chat with Amanda.
Hi, Amanda, and congrats on your debut! Can you tell us a little bit about Daughter of the Burning City and the inspiration behind it?
I started writing Daughter for a Writing Children’s Literature course I took in college. My professor often gave us freewriting time, and so I wrote what is now the first few pages of the novel. I had no idea where the story would lead, and when I returned to it a year later, I had no answers to questions like “Who killed him/her?” “Why?” “What is the ending?” Normally I sit on my ideas for months or years before I start a project, but I’d never really considered a carnival book before this assignment—it was very spontaneous.
You’ve created and shared some amazing novel aesthetics for Daughter of the Burning City, so I’m assuming you’re a visual person. In terms of writing, how important is vibe and how do you go about crafting it?
I am utterly obsessed with mood and vibe. It is always on my mind as I write, from the beginning of drafts to revisions, which is why I love aesthetics as much as I do. It helps me discover the vision.
I craft vibe in descriptions, mainly. Descriptions should have two functions in your story: 1) they should describe your setting on a literal level, such as naming specific objects or scenery; 2) they should set a mood that allows your reader to fill in their own details based on the groundwork you’ve already laid. If you focus too much on the specific details, you’re actually painting far less of a picture than if you put your vibe/mood front and center. I look at my descriptions collectively, especially on word choice, and try to make all my descriptive words fall into the same mood, even if they’re describing different things within the scene.
Who was your favorite character to write? And which character gave you the most trouble?
I love Sorina, the protagonist of Daughter. I wanted to write an atypical fantasy heroine, one who is a performer, not a warrior, one who wants to be beautiful, one who is a lot like other girls. Sorina felt so real to me as I wrote her, and I was really dedicated to getting her character right, so she has always been my favorite.
I wouldn’t call it trouble, necessarily, but one character who transformed a lot over the revisions was Nicoleta. She is an older sister of sorts in Sorina’s family, one who has taken on a lot of the burden of household chores and responsibilities. She suffered a heartbreak before the story began, so she’s reserved herself to this role. But the more the story itself changed, the more Nicoleta’s role did as well. She went from a minor character to a major one, and I love how the plot chips away at Nicoleta’s dejected exterior and reveals her inner Gryffindor.
What songs might we find on a soundtrack for Daughter of the Burning City ?
“No rest for the wicked” by Lykke Li always worked well for the Gomorrah Festival, where the story takes place. “Guillotine” by Jon Bellion is the theme song of the love interest, in my head. Some others are “Carousel” by Melanie Martinez, “Heathens” by Twenty-One Pilots, and “Take me Away” by Globus.
You can listen to my book playlist here!
What was the biggest hurdle you faced on the road to publication? Querying? Finding an agent? Revising?
Rejection. Before I wrote Daughter, I’d written two other manuscripts. The first was queried but shelved. The second one, Ace of Shades, was quickly signed by an agent but failed on submission. I was really devastated after that, as we’d had so many close calls, and I was struggling to find another story I loved as much as Ace. After I wrote Daughter, I switched agents and started over entirely. I was fortunate to find an editor who loved both my projects, and now Ace will follow Daughter on April 24, 2018.
What part of the writing process do you find most challenging and how do you tackle it?
Drafting, typically. I don’t dislike it, necessarily, but I definitely see it as the most challenging. It takes the most out of me, no matter how quickly I work. Outlining ahead of time helps by providing direction. Sometimes I need to go back to the first chapter and fiddle with it, just so I have something to fiddle with. Then I go back to where I was in the drafting process and continue. I don’t otherwise look back.
What are you reading, or otherwise currently obsessed with?
I’m currently reading Warcross by Marie Lu and loving it so far. I’ve been obsessed with watching The 100, as I love all of its plot twists. My favorite book I read this year has been Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an author so far?
I love receiving messages from readers who enjoyed the story, especially those who connected to the characters and their journeys. It means so much that the heart I put into a story touches the hearts of readers.
And finally, what’s one steadfast piece of advice you’d like to share with other writers?
Keep pushing yourself to be better. Not even the best critique partner in the world will challenge you the way you can challenge yourself.
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Amanda as much as I did! I want to thank her for taking the time to craft such thoughtful answers, as well as sharing tips for using descriptions to create the right vibe for your story. Be sure to add Amanda's wicked debut to your Goodreads list, or order your copy RIGHT NOW from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local indie.
If you want to connect with Amanda (and tell her how much you love #DOTBC!), please hop on over to Twitter to tweet her at @AmandaFoody. And for more information, check out her gorgeous author website at amandafoody.com.
And, as always,