Apologies for not having any Monday Muses or Feature Fridays for the summer. I've been on insane deadlines and the blog got docked for it!
Today I've got the fabulous Mr. Lou Anders visiting!
Lou Anders is the author of Frostborn, Nightborn, and the forthcoming
Skyborn, the three books of the Thrones & Bones series of
Norse-themed fantasy adventure novels written for boys and girls
equally. He was the 2016 Children’s Writer in Residence at Thurber House
of Columbus, Ohio, where he spent a month teaching and writing while
living in a haunted historical building. Anders is the recipient of a
Hugo Award for editing and a Chesley Award for art direction. He has
published over five hundred articles and stories on science fiction and
fantasy television and literature. A prolific speaker, Anders regularly
attends writing conventions around the country. He and his family reside
in Birmingham, Alabama. You can visit Anders online at louanders.com
and ThronesandBones.com, on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr,
and on Twitter at @Louanders
What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?
Write all the time. The most important advice I can give and the toughest to hear is this—your first effort isn’t any good. Writing is just like anything else. It has to be practiced repeatedly for a long time to acquire the skill. No one would expect a beginning pianist to play Chopin’s Prelude No. 4 or someone who has never held a basketball before to compete in the NBA. I’m a very big believer in Malcolm Gladwell’s ten thousand hours, the idea that it takes roughly that amount of time to master a skill. Start now, write constantly, spend years. But the good news is—the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll arrive.
What's your favorite book and why?
It’s a toss up between two books. When I was young, I saw Robin Williams in the film, The World According to Garp and fell in love with the story. Subsequently, reading the novel by John Irving made me want to become a writer. But it was The Hobbit that made me fall in love with fantasy and showed me what I wanted to write. Those two books had a huge impact on my career as a writer.
Where do you feel the most inspiration?
I write standing up in the kitchen. But place isn’t really important. What inspires me is artwork, a really immersive video game experience, a wonderful film, a good book, a fascinating bit of history. Usually it’s a sense of grandeur in an otherworldly setting that sends me off, wanting to take a journey and explore.
With a few novels behind you, you must have hit a few snags along the way. Which was the most memorable and how did you fix it?
Skyborn, the third Thrones & Bones novel, was a hard one to write. It needed to stand alone as its own story while also providing a satisfying conclusion to the two previous novels. It had to answer a lot of questions and tie up a lot of character arcs, while juggling multiple characters. It went through a pretty extensive restructuring too. But usually when I hit a snag it’s because a character’s desires aren’t clear enough and the fix is to go back and rewrite the introduction in a way that puts the motivation front and center.
Which one of the characters you've written is your favorite and why?
That’s a terrible question. They are all my favorite. But I’m very fond of writing dragons. Orm and Orma, from the Thrones & Bones series are great, and I have some more dragons coming up which I can’t wait to share with the world.
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author?
My journey is a strange one, and I’m not sure that it’s something another could duplicate. I grew up in Alabama at a time when the Deep South was a little deeper than it is now, and although I had a lot of friends, I never quite fit in or felt completely at home. Everyone said, “You must be a writer,” because they knew the south occasionally produced those (William Faulkner and Truman Capote were frequently mentioned). So I went to college and tried to write. And failed miserably. In a fifth year of a mostly directionless education, I fell in love with theater and did most of the courses required for an undergraduate degree. This got me a spot in a summer in Oxford acting program and from there I did a year on partial scholarship in London. I moved from London to Chicago with dreams of being an actor but ended up writing and directing small black box theater instead. Then I met a man named Dan Decker who taught screenwriting, and I moved to Hollywood. I worked in LA for five years as a journalist for Titan Magazines, spending days and days on the set of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Babylon 5, and its spinoff Crusade. I got to see how television was made across every department while writing some five hundred articles, mostly interviews with cast and crew. During this time, I wrote screenplays with a partner and though nothing was ever produced, we were paid for writing a few of them. Then an old friend hired me to run an online publishing site before there was such a thing and I rode the dot com bubble up and down. When it crashed, I knew as many people in publishing as I did in tech, and so I began to freelance edit. Then around 2010 I began to get the writing itch again, while at the same time wanting to produce something that was suitable for my children to read. After a few failed attempts I hit on the idea to write a book that would encapsulate all the joy I felt reading The Hobbit, would stand for both children and adults, but which would be more inclusive and diverse than the fantasy fiction of my own youth. And Frostborn was the result. These days I’m a full-time author, which means I spend half my time writing and half my time talking to kids about my worlds. And that’s a great way to live. A.L.:
What are you working on now? More Thrones & Bones? Something new?
I just finished a new novel not in the Thrones & Bones series. It is more fairy tale than fantasy and has knights and dragons and other creatures. It’s out with readers now for initial feedback, and I’m quite pleased with it. And I’ve begun work on something new about which I’ll say even less, except that I’ve taken one character from my series, aged them a few years, and sent them on a solo adventure.
You've been both an editor and an author at this point. Can you tell me the pros and cons of each?
When I became a full-time author, a colleague said to me “expect your inbox to get a lot lighter.” It did. I loved working with authors. I loved working with artists even more. I don’t work with authors these days, but I continue to work with illustrators to create all the wonderful maps and character artwork for my fantasy world. I must say that, while I enjoyed my time as an editor and art director, and I’m very proud of the work that I did and very grateful for the relationships it afforded me, nothing compares with producing your own creative work. A.L.:
Why did you choose to write for a middle age crowd and, likewise, why did you choose to work in the realm of Norse mythology?
A middle aged crowd? I think you mean a middle grade crowd, though I do have middle aged fans too! But my desire to write children’s books began with the urge to write something for my own kids. I edited a lot of fantasy books for the adult market that, while I am proud of them, weren’t appropriate to share with my children. I wanted something of mine they could interact with now. Also, my children are biracial, and I wanted to write about heroes who straddled two worlds in which they might see themselves. And I wanted to recapture the joy I felt reading fantasy when I was their age. A.L.:
What is your favorite paranormal creature? And your favorite myth/legend?
I like dragons. I really like dragons. But one of the fun things I’ve done in the Thrones & Bones series is plumb the depth of mythology for unusual creatures you might not have heard of, like draug (Frostborn) and tatzelwurms (Nightborn). And I love sharing those with readers. As for a favorite myth, when I was a child I was an enormous fan of King Arthur. Arthurian legend loomed very large for me. These days I have a renewed appreciation for Tolkien and for the myths that inspired him.
Lou is giving away a copy of Nightborn to US entrants!
Nightborn:For fans of Lloyd
Alexander and Brandon Mull comes Book 2 in the acclaimed Thrones and
Bones fantasy-adventure trilogy that began with Frostborn. Karn Korlundsson is a gamer. Not
a riddle solver. But in order to rescue his best friend, Thianna
Frostborn, he will need to travel to the faraway city of Castlebriar (by
wyvern), learn how to play a new board game called Charioteers (not a
problem), decipher the Riddle of the Horn, and tangle with mysterious
Meet Desstra. She’s in training to join the
Underhand—the elite agents of the dark elves. When she crosses paths
with Karn, she is not all that she appears to be.
chasing after the horn of Osius, an ancient artifact with the power to
change the world. The lengths to which Karn will go in the name of
friendship will be sorely tested. Who knew that solving a riddle could
be so deadly?
The novel includes instructions for playing the
board game Charioteers. Visit ThronesandBones.com for additional games,
maps, character profiles, and more!
Praise for Nightborn “Anders presents a captivating world.” —Kirkus Reviews
”[A]n adventure story with good pacing, well-drawn characters, and engaging action scenes.” —Booklist
Praise for Frostborn
“Future fans of Tolkien and George R. R. Martin can happily cut their
serial-fantasy teeth on this first book of an eventual series.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A fun, fast-paced, and highly enjoyable tale.” —Garth Nix, bestselling author of the Abhorsen trilogy
“A powerful, fast-paced tale. . . . The setting is rich, the characters well-defined, and the danger ever-paramount.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred
excellent choice for readers new to the genre. The themes of staying
true to oneself, teamwork, and individuality will resonate with
readers.” —School Library Journal
“The most delightful
fantasy I have read in ages. . . . Put me on the waiting list for book
two!” —Amy Plum, international bestselling author of the Die for Me
Today we've got Colleen Houck giving us a guest post on her "dream cast" for her new novel, RECREATED.
Recreated: From Colleen Houck, New
York Times bestselling author of The Tiger’s Curse, comes Recreated, the
second book in the epic Egyptian-inspired Reawakened series, in which a
seventeen-year-old must literally go to hell to save the love of her
Lily Young thought traveling across the globe with a
reawakened sun prince was a grand adventure. Now she’s about to embark
on the journey of a lifetime.
When Amon and Lily part tragically,
he transports himself to the Netherworld—what mortals call hell.
Tormented by the loss of his one true love, he’d rather suffer in agony
during Lily’s mortal years than fulfill his duty to protect humanity.
Lily seeks refuge on her grandmother’s farm. Yet she can feel Amon’s
pain, and she has been having dreams—dreams of Amon continually
For before he departed, Amon gave Lily something very
special, an item that connects them even though they are worlds apart.
Now Lily must use this object to free him, and to free their realms from
darkness and utter chaos. She will do whatever it takes.
If I had any say about which actors and actresses
would play in the Reawakened series movie, should I be fortunate enough to make
that a reality, I might choose something like this:
I chose these actresses because I
wanted Lily to be strong, confident, and have the look of a girl sophisticated
enough to walk down a New York City street and look like she belonged there.
These two actresses look like they’d be comfortable in Manhattan but they would
also fit in just fine on grandma’s farm in Iowa. That takes a special girl.
Lily’s Nana is a spunky lady. She’s still very pretty
for her age but she’s also a bit stubborn and tells it like it is. She’s the
type of woman who might have raised a son to be tough enough to make it in NYC
but she has the values of a farmer’s wife. She guides Lily through some
difficult times in the series and she’s a great judge of character.
Kostas Martakis Sean O’Pry
these models for Amon because I like their look, especially in the shots where one
is dressed up to look more Egyptian. I’ve also seen this model look very
American so I’m not sure that he’s exactly the right fit but Amon has his lips
I imagine a slightly younger version of this guy for
Asten. He’s mischievous and handsome and he’s a powerful magician in his own
Ahmose is a little bigger than his brothers. His smile
is less frequent but he’s a solid rock that Lily comes to lean on. This guy has
When I first began researching Egypt, I watched a lot
of documentaries that were hosted by Zahi Hawass. He is exactly how I imagine
Dr. Hassan, right down to the hat.
a tall, gorgeous black man. He's the main god that all the others obey. He
rules the cosmos from his palace in the city of the gods, Heliopolis.
the son of Isis and Osiris. He has been the thorn in the side of Seth for
centuries. In RECREATED he is in exile under the protection of Amun-Ra. He's a
bit of a womanizer and his actor seems to fit the part perfectly.
the dark lord of mummification. He's cheeky, has a lot of secrets, and loves
his dog. This actor seems just about right.
Lee Thompson Young
the god of agriculture. He's a bit of the handsome football captain/student
body president type that everyone admires. Seth hates him because of this. Isis
falls for him but he's too much of a rule follower to jump into the forbidden
relationship right away.
tall and strikingly beautiful. She falls for Osiris but has to talk him into
the relationship since the gods are not allowed to be together. She is a master
spell caster and Seth desire her not just for her beauty but for her ability.
Elisha CuthbertSkylar Day
is Isis' sister. She's a gifted seer. She is Seth's wife but not all is as it
seems in their relationship. Nephthys works in the Netherworld to help keep
things in order but she lives in Heliopolis most of the time.
a ferryman better known as Charon. He's a surly boat captain who takes the
ghosts of the dead to the Afterlife for judgment. He's a bit crusty and rough
around the edges.
Emilia ClarkeCamilla Belle
Ma'at is beautiful but she's very
stern and unapproachable. Her role is the judge in the Afterlife. She can weave
spells too but not as well as Isis.