Tweens Read August is a 14 day event taking place for the first two weeks of August. I’ll be hosting authors, regardless of debut year, whose books I’m the most excited for. Each day, I’ll announce who the next author is at the end of the post. There’s also a giveaway going on, so be sure to check that out!
It’s the first day of Tweens Read August, and I’m honored to announce that Jennifer A. Nielsen will be kicking us off! Jennifer is the author of some of the greatest MG fantasies I’ve ever read, and I can’t wait to introduce you to her latest novel.
Here’s a little bit about Jennifer’s upcoming book, The Scourge, which will release at the end of August:
Release Date: August 30th, 2016
As a lethal plague sweeps through the land, Ani Mells is shocked when she is unexpectedly captured by the governor’s wardens and forced to submit to a test for the deadly Scourge. She is even more surprised when the test results come back positive, and she is sent to Attic Island, a former prison turned refuge — and quarantine colony — for the ill. The Scourge’s victims, Ani now among them, can only expect to live out short, painful lives there. However, Ani quickly discovers that she doesn’t know the whole truth about the Scourge or the Colony. She’s been caught in a devious plot, and, with the help of her best friend, Weevil, Ani means to uncover just what is actually going on.
But will she and Weevil survive long enough to do so?
Description taken from Goodreads.
Interview with Jennifer Nielsen, Author of The Scourge
What would you say is the biggest difference between The Scourge, the Mark of the Thief trilogy, and The Ascendance Trilogy?
To me, each of these books all stand on their own as completely unique stories. Although each takes place in the past, Mark of the Thief is Ancient Roman, the Ascendance Trilogy is early medieval, and The Scourge would probably be an early 1800’s story, though it’s in a fantasy time period. And each story’s challenges and heroes are very different. One hero has to hold his kingdom together, another must collect the artifacts of the gods, and in The Scourge, the battle is for two friends to uncover a secret that could either bring down or save their country.
Why will readers root for Ani and Weevil?
I love the friendship between Ani and Weevil! In one of the earlier chapters of the book, there is a contest between them to see who is the worst friend, with the “winner” being the one to take the punishment for the other. It starts out as a light scene with a little humor but becomes more serious as the reader realizes how much each of these friends is willing to sacrifice for the other. And once we understand that, we know that these two must find a way for them both to survive.
What do you love most about The Scourge?
It was a fun experience to pour so much of my favorite story elements into a single book: humor, mischievous characters, danger, conspiracy, friendship, and unexpected moments. But one of my favorite scenes is between Ani and Weevil when he gets sort of hung up on the fact that Ani has broken something very small and relatively unimportant of his. He keeps asking her about it and finally she tells him she had to do it to escape her life-threatening situation. And he sort of shrugs, as if saving her life was probably a good reason to have broken his item, but he still wishes she could have saved her life and not broken anything. I love it because it’s a great insight into the kind of person Weevil is.
Is there anything you want readers to know before reading The Scourge?
I think for me, one theme that emerged from this book was how important it is for us to come together as a people. I look at the diversity of people in my own life and how wonderful that is, and yet I think there are a lot of groups invested in dividing us, emphasizing our differences. Maybe they do it for political or economical advantage, or whatever power they think that brings them. But I also think it’s highly destructive. I think that idea must have been on my mind a lot as I wrote this book, because readers will definitely see my idea that we are stronger as a people when we focus on how we are alike, and how important it is not to separate ourselves or look down on others just because of any differences we have.
What’s the hardest part of the writing and publishing process?
Every author’s experience is different, and for me, every book is different. Right now, my biggest challenge is time – that I am limited by the clock. This means there are stories I am desperate to write that have to be delayed several years, or may never be written. It’s hard to have characters knocking at my imagination on a near constant basis and have to put them off. In a perfect world, I would be writing at least six different stories right now.
Out of the books you’ve written, which was your favorite to write and why?
Just as the publishing process is different for each author, each book I’ve written has become a favorite of mine, only for entirely different reasons. Each book represents a different part of who I am, and went on a journey with me from concept to publication. So rather than to say that I have any favorite book, it’s more accurate to say that each book is just a different part of me.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors trying to write fantasy?
For aspiring fantasy authors, I would suggest studying up on world building. This is such an important facet of creating great fantasy, and because anything is possible in a fantasy world, an author is only ever limited by their imagination. A lot of world building comes from understanding how any culture is built. So study history, and how climate affects a population, and how maps come to have their boundary lines, and what resources are needed for a country to thrive, and how that country handles things if they lack a needed resource. Study the culture of war, the limits of magic, and the mythology of fantasy creatures. Every bit of knowledge you acquire in world building will fuel even greater stories from the fantasy writer.
About the Author
New York Times Bestselling author, Jennifer Nielsen, was born and raised in northern Utah, where she still lives today with her husband, three children, and a dog that won’t play fetch. She is the author of The Ascendance trilogy, beginning with THE FALSE PRINCE; the MARK OF THE THIEF series; A NIGHT DIVIDED; and the forthcoming THE SCOURGE. She loves chocolate, old books, and lazy days in the mountains.
Thanks to Jennifer for doing this great interview and for being a part of Tweens Read August! Be sure to add The Scourge to Goodreads and pick it up when it hits shelves on August 30th, 2016. The author being featured tomorrow is the amazing Victoria J. Coe!