Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Conversation with AdriAnne Strickland, author of WORDLESS

Hi AdriAnne! I'm so glad you agreed to stop by the blog! I was poking around on your website and saw you'd called one of your characters "your beloved Tavin." This peeked my curiosity. Has your WORDS MADE FLESH trilogy been with you for a while? How did it feel when you found out a character you cared so much about was going to come to life? And do tell! What makes Tavin so beloved? I guess that's three questions, but they all seem related to me, so let's call it one! :0)

April 2014 - Flux - Pre-order Soon!

Thanks so much for interviewing me--I'm excited to be doing this!

And awesome question(s)! The WORDS MADE FLESH hasn't actually been with me for that long--it sort of burst into my mind like a weed when I was trying to write something else a couple years ago. The idea wouldn't stop growing, and so I had to start writing it. How it happened: in my research for this other project, I came across the oft-quoted line, "the Word became flesh," and I could stop thinking... what if a word was flesh? What would that mean? How would that look? What could these words do? The book isn't religious or anything, but that's where the seed came from. And I was relieved (plus ecstatic) when I found out the book would be published, because I wouldn't let myself write more of the trilogy until then--and I so wanted to finish Tavin's story! It was painful to hold myself back, and at that point I didn't have to anymore. And I love Tavin so much because, when I was tapping my inner "boy" for his voice, I essentially channeled my older brother. My brother and I grew up together and are really close, and I put quite a bit of him into that character. So of course I adore Tavin--he's like another brother, almost.

So did you have a trilogy mapped out already? As a standalone writer (thus far) I'm amazed at writers who can not only have story arcs for each individual book but somehow wrap them into a broader story arc of a multi-book series. How was that for you?

I had a trilogy hazily mapped out in my mind when I first started writing, because I knew the idea was too big for one book (I'd made that mistake before with a 200k+ rough draft...). My plots tend to be big. But this one wasn't so much a map as some slurred directions that a drunk guy would give you in the middle of the night. I mostly focused on the arc for the first book and made sure I was vaguely pointed in the right direction for the overall trilogy arc. I only solidly put it all down on paper when my agent requested an outline for book two and three to give to editors if they wanted them--this was after book one was already finished. And knowing where I'm going has been great. I started out writing as a pantser, letting my stories take me where they wanted, but I realized this led to a lot of revision time, not to mention spots where I just got stuck (my version of writers' block). Plotting it all out lets me write and revise much faster, so I've fully switched to this method.

Yeah. I'm still kind of in the middle. I'm a plotser, I guess, but at about the halfway point I have to start plotting or I end up with muddy middles. So I'm curious, any favorite trilogies you've read over the last 5 or 6 years? Or just favorite YA books in general?

Recently, one of favorite trilogies (well, set-of-three since they're not chronological) has been the Graceling Realm by Kristin Cashore. I've read all of them at least twice. And then, while I haven't finished it--since it would be impossible--I'm deeply in love with Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy. I enjoyed the first one, but the second one simply blew me away, and now nothing will stop me from getting my hands on the third as soon as it comes out! I've also been enjoying the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness, the Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu and the Grisha by Leigh Bardugo, none of which I've finished but only one the author hasn't finished (hey, there's a lot to read!). Favorite stand-alones have been: The Book Thief, Eleanor and Park, and Looking for Alaska. The single titles must be where I get my realistic fiction...

Yes, yes, yes! I love all of these. Except Patrick Ness. I mean, I loved The Knife of Never Letting Go until we got to Manchee, down by the river. That voice will stay in my head forever, and on principle, I won't read the others. He made me too mad with that little bit of author-ly evil. Some things are meant to be sacred! And to keep from being a spoiler I'm not saying what, but here's a hint. Manchee is a DOG, people. A dog.

Any sacred cows for you? Pet peeves or things that make you say "nope, not for me"? Or just tropes you're tired of reading?

The dog-rule nearly holds for me. And Manchee is not just any dog! He's noble and funny and one of my all-time favorite characters. I was SO angry, I actually ranted to my husband about it (over the course of several days, no less), and quit reading for two months. It took me that long to forgive Patrick Ness enough to continue, but I don't regret it. Otherwise, let's see... religious preachiness makes me stop immediately. No thanks. So do YA characters of either gender who are basically pretty props with the sole purpose of bolstering the MC's ego. Especially if the MC is a boy and the props are girls, since there has already been an overabundance of that throughout literature (though either case is bad). I never made it through I Am Number Four for that reason, among others.

Well, our conversation is coming to an end (sad face, this was fun), and I hope you're not too disappointed but I've ditched our Exquisite Corpse story. It was too hard to get interviews stacked up correctly. So I'm ending with this instead! (How does it feel to be guinea pig number one?). Tell us the next three books in your TBR pile, what liquid is in your cup, and what's playing on repeat.  Thanks AdriAnne! I cant' wait to read Wordless now!

Happy to be a guinea pig! The next three books in my TBR pile (which is a literal pile next to my couch, here) are all sequels in preparation for writing the second book in the Words Made Flesh series: Veronica Rossi's Through the Ever Night, Veronica Roth's Insurgent and Holly Black's Red Glove. I
currently have two bags of PG Tips English Breakfast tea with a dash of 1% milk in my favorite (very large) mug, and I am currently listening to my husband play a piano song on repeat for practice: one of Yann Tiersen's amazing compositions from Amélie, "Comptine d'un autre été."  (I also listen to the .mp3 version on repeat a whole lot.)

And thank you so much for the interview! It was so fun!

I've loved it, too! And you can bet I'll be lined up to meet Tavin in April.

Next week, I'll be on a blog break, but be sure and stop back in on January 2nd when we'll be celebrating with Robin Constantine during her RELEASE WEEK for the adorable contemporary, The Promise of Amazing.


  1. Loved the interview! Thanks, AdriAnne and JRo (great questions!). Love the idea of Wordless -- I'll definitely look forward to reading it! And I love that Tavin feels like a brother to you. :)

  2. I can't wait to read Wordless! Great interview! I have to agree with you that Patrick is evil for the whole Manchee thing, but the rest of the book and even more so the rest of the series (especially the other big animal scene) makes it worth continuing. Patrick Ness is a genius and so talented.


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