One of our August book club reads was Daughter of the Burning City, a dark and lush fantasy set in a travelling festival. It was a book that took me a while to get invested in but once I did, I was hooked. We were able to find out more about author Amanda Foody and her career in this interview.
Hi Amanda, welcome to Beauty and Lace and thanks for talking to us.
Thank you for having me! I’m glad to hear you liked Daughter of the Burning City.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was very young. I started writing around the same time I started reading–I honestly don’t even remember. I’ve just always been telling stories. I started pursuing it seriously when I was 11.
Do you remember the first thing you wrote?
Nope! It definitely predates my working memory. I do remember the first novel I finished, when I was in 6th grade. It looked like a weird cross between Star Wars and Avatar: the Last Airbender. I was a very impressionable child.
What inspired the creation of the Gomorrah Festival?
I’m not sure. I started writing the story as an assignment for class. Usually my ideas marinate for years before I’m ready to write them, but this one was more immediate so I could turn it in. I didn’t have many ideas walking into the project, so I just allowed myself to be weird and creative. I read THE NIGHT CIRCUS right before I finished the first draft, and that helped me shape a better vision for what I wanted to achieve in the Festival’s atmosphere.
Can you share a little about your world building process with us?
Yes! I focus a lot on mood and atmosphere–a vibe. If you can build a really colorful, illustrative vibe to your world, your reader’s imagination will actually do a lot of the work for you. I focus a lot on word choice, to make sure that my descriptions are all working together to paint this larger picture. Everything about Gomorrah is supposed to be darkly indulgent, where you can surrender to your deepest fantasies hidden among the Festival’s smoke. Once I have successfully orchestrated an atmosphere, I fill in details: licorice cherries, specific attractions, names of creatures and magic. This gives the world depth.
Your debut novel is Daughter of the Burning City and has recently released, can you tell us a little about the book?
Yes! It takes place at a traveling carnival of debauchery known as the Gomorrah Festival, where Sorina–illusionist and freakshow manager–must determine who is murdering her illusions, why, and–most importantly–how they’re killing those who do not truly exist. It is an epic fantasy and a murder mystery combined into a single story, amid a very lush, carnival-style setting.
Sorina is a complex character, can you tell us how you created her?
In YA fantasy right now, a lot of the heroines are warrior-types, who don’t care about how they look, who are prepared to lay down their lives to defend what they believe in. I love characters like that, but I wanted to create a heroine who was more of an every girl, unaware how to hold a sword, not cut out to lead a revolution. Sorina is brash and immature and insecure and uncertain, and I love those negative qualities about her–negative qualities make characters feel real, and Sorina, throughout the entirety of writing this book, always felt very, very real. I think that makes her journey that much more heart-breaking. Amid all the glamour of this very strange backdrop, this story is actually a very intimate, tragic tale, and Sorina was the perfect character to tell it.
There is lots of interesting magic in the Gomorrah Festival, where did it come from?
I mainly drew inspiration from what I consider as typical attractions you might find at a carnival–fortune tellers, fire eaters, charm sellers. The others were all inspired by other places. Shadow-work was inspired by Shikamaru’s ninjutsu in Naruto. Illusionists and telepaths are already fairly famous powers. The setting is so weird that I tried to make the magic something the reader would’ve seen before. Fantasy writers always need a balance between the strange and the familiar. I loved this read and got involved with the characters.
Do you think there will be another book about Sorina and the Festival?
I’m sorry–I’m not currently planning a sequel! I cannot imagine putting my characters through anything else, and their stories feel very much complete. However, if you enjoyed the atmosphere of the Festival and themes of indulgence and sin, you will love my next book, Ace of Shades, which releases April 2018. Plus, that one is part of a series, so you won’t have to leave the characters and the setting after the first book!
Are you working on anything new you can tell us about?
I can definitely share some hints about Ace of Shades! It follows the points of view of two characters: Enne Salta and Levi Glaisyer. Enne has spent her entire life dreaming of graduating finishing school and becoming a lady, but, when her mother goes missing, Enne leaves her aspirations and reputation behind to follow her trail into New Reynes, the notorious City of Sin known for its casinos, organized crime, and political corruption. There she meets Levi Glaisyer, a card dealer and a street lord, who has been struggling to clean up a failing investment scheme. The two form a very unlikely partnership to find Enne’s mother, taking them through the city’s criminal underbelly, into raunchy cabarets, and glamorous casinos. If you like ruthless villains; a colorful, endearing cast; romantic angst; and unique fantasy worlds, you’ll love this one! It’s definitely near and dear to my heart.
What is the book that has had the strongest lasting impression on you?
I recently finished WINTERSONG by S. Jae-Jones, and I loved her descriptions of the goblin world and the Goblin King. It all felt very much like a fairy tale, and I love characters that take on larger than life roles.
What are you reading at the moment and which releases are you most looking forward to in the coming months?
I’m currently reading TIMEKEEPER by Tara Sim and really loving it. I’ve actually already read most of my anticipated 2017 releases. I loved WARCROSS by Marie Lu and MASK OF SHADOWS by Linsey Miller, but I’m also very eager to get my hands on ONE DARK THRONE by Kendare Blake.
Thanks for your time Amanda and good luck with the release.