5 Questions With: Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy, Authors of ‘Once & Future’

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[Note From Frolic: Our resident YA expert Aurora Dominguez got the opportunity to interview authors Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy and ask them five(ish) questions. Their novel ‘Once & Future‘ is out now!] 

Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?

Amy and Cori: Our inspiration for Once & Future came from two main places. The first is the obvious one—Cori had the idea of writing Girl King Arthur for years. And right after the 2016 election, when things got very scary both politically and personally, we realized that we both needed a story to get ourselves to the other side of this. A story that gave us hope. Our favorite version of the Arthurian legend, T.H. White’s The Once & Future King, was written as resistance literature in the shadow of world war. There’s something about King Arthur that people come back to in difficult times, and the story was there for us when we most needed it.

What character do you most relate to and why?

Cori: Lamarack and Ari. Gender-wise, I relate to Lam as a nonbinary person who uses they-them pronouns and has an affinity for leather armor. For everything else, I’m quite a bit like Ari. I am pansexual and of Arab descent on my mom’s side, have battles with my brothers, an honesty addiction, and a sincere love of swords.

Amy Rose: I have a lot in common with Merlin. “Queer mage” is pretty much my default setting. But another character I relate to just as much is Gwen. Our Gweneviere is the Queen of a Renaissance Faire Planet. Besides the extreme nerd factor inherent in caring so much about the Ren Faire, she’s really ambitious. And yet that doesn’t get in the way of how much she cares. We so often see characters who are one or the other: ambitious or caring. Gwen can’t turn off either part of herself.

Why do you feel young adult books are so popular and have such a voice right now?

Books for teenagers are necessary. We put them through so much in this society that to not give them stories crafted for them would be insult on top of injury. Also, a lot of people feel that their lives and experiences are reflected in YA books, regardless of age. Many people we know grew up without YA and without real reflections of themselves in the stories they loved, and it’s wonderful to believe that that is changing for the better.

That’s one of the reasons we wanted to write Once & Future. It throws open the door to a well-loved story and invites more people in.

Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.

Once & Future has parallels to our society’s political, economic, and capitalistic challenges, and at the same time its epic space fantasy fun. Readers can expect banter, spaceships, magic, queer love, fighting of good fights, identity freedom, and the best group of friends. 

What’s next for you in the book world?

We’re at work on the sequel right now! It’s called The Sword in the Stars and it brings the duology to a close. Many things we want to share about it are spoilers, but we can say that we’re putting even more of a twist on the original canon in the second book.  

What’s your favorite writing method that you follow for inspiration?

We both have screenwriting backgrounds. Cori also has a degree in poetry and Amy Rose has one in theater. We met while pursuing MFAs in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts. We pull from a lot of different places when we write. The most helpful is Cori’s structure system, which allows us to see the whole story as we go and co-write a coherent narrative. Without it we would probably still be fighting our rough draft!

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