Author Spotlight: Amanda McCrina talks TRAITOR
I'm happy to feature author, Amanda McCrina, on today's blog! Amanda was homeschooled through high school and graduated from the University of West Georgia with a BA in history and political science. For three years, she taught high school English and government at an international school in Madrid, Spain, and is now a bookseller in Franklin, Tennessee. She is represented by Jennie Kendrick at Red Fox Literary.
Amanda McCrina's Traitor is a tightly woven YA thrill ride exploring political conflict, deep-seated prejudice, and the terror of living in a world where betrayal is a matter of life or death.
Poland, 1944. After the Soviet liberation of Lwów from Germany, the city remains a battleground between resistance fighters and insurgent armies, its loyalties torn between Poland and Ukraine.
Seventeen-year-old Tolya Korolenko is half Ukrainian, half Polish, and he joined the Soviet Red Army to keep himself alive and fed. When he not-quite-accidentally shoots his unit's political officer in the street, he's rescued by a squad of Ukrainian freedom fighters. They might have saved him, but Tolya doesn't trust them. He especially doesn't trust Solovey, the squad's war-scarred young leader, who has plenty of secrets of his own.
Then a betrayal sends them both on the run. And in a city where loyalty comes second to self-preservation, a traitor can be an enemy or a savior—or sometimes both.
Hi, Amanda! Welcome and congrats on Traitor. Can you share a little about the story and what inspired it?
Thank you! Traitor is the story of a seventeen-year-old Soviet sniper who has to go on the run after not-quite-accidentally shooting his unit’s political officer. It’s based on a short story I wrote back in high school, inspired by my interest in WWII, Soviet history, and my own Polish heritage.
Tolya and Aleksey have very different perspectives. What was your biggest challenge when it came to interweaving their narratives?
Just from a craft perspective, I think the dual-narrator format was easier for me than it may be for the reader. Tolya’s narrative was already completely drafted before I decided to bring in a second narrator, so it was easier for me to keep the narrative threads distinct in my head as I wrote. (There are a couple different reasons why I decided I needed to bring in Aleksey’s POV, the main one being that I didn’t think he would be a sympathetic character if the reader didn’t know the things about him that I knew.) I do think the two POVs complement each other. Tolya is a very emotionally shuttered character because of the trauma he’s been through; Aleksey is much more open. I think their voices balance each other nicely.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that every story teaches the writer something new, so what did writing Traitor teach you?
One thing Traitor taught me is that I can write a story with dual POVs! Before this, I was too intimidated to try anything but single-POV stories. But I liked how being able to switch between narrators made it easier to keep the tension up.
Traitor also reminded me to challenge my assumptions. I thought I knew this history pretty well before I started writing. The process of researching and drafting Traitor taught me just how much I had—and still have—to learn.
Tension is the essence of a thriller. What’s your best tip to manipulate it to keep your readers on edge?
I always hesitate to give writing tips because I’m still figuring things out myself, so I’ll steal one from Elmore Leonard: Leave out the parts people skip!
And finally, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in your writing/publishing career?
Comparison is the thief of joy. I struggle with this. I think a lot of writers do. It’s so easy to look at peers’ successes and accomplishments and get jealous or discouraged. Everybody’s writing journey looks different, and that’s OK.
So many thanks go out to Amanda for taking the time to tell us more about TRAITOR, as well as for sharing some of the lessons she's learned along the way in her publishing journey. Be to sure to add TRAITOR to your Goodreads list, or (better yet!) order your copy (WRITE) NOW from retail sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or request it at your library, or local independent bookstore!
And, as always,