Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your Queen of Volts?
Amanda: At the time that I first wrote Ace of Shades, the original installment in The Shadow Game series, many of the most popular young adult books were dystopians, typically culminating in the heroes overthrowing a corrupt government or system. I then became intrigued by the notion of what happens after a revolution, and especially the effect such a turbulent history would have on the next generation, those who are marked by an event that occured before they were born, that they had no say in. This theme is where the entire trilogy has been leading, and so it is the core conflict in Queen of Volts—how history is dangerously close to repeating itself, and what this new generation intends to do about that.
What character in Queen of Volts do you most relate to and why?
I would have to pick Levi Glaisyer because he and I are both very goals-driven, and we prioritize logic over gut instinct or feeling. He reacts to conflict in a similar way that I would. But I’m not actually sure how Levi would feel about this comparison. I’m far less flashy in my mannerisms or attire, and I’m quite lousy at card tricks.
Why do you feel novels with powerful and unique characters are so popular and have such a voice right now?
Truthfully, I think that novels with powerful characters always have a voice, and I think young people, who are so often dismissed or cast aside by older generations, will always connect with young characters who are able to overcome this obstacle and put their mark upon the world. For as corrupt as the politics in the City of Sin can be, it was very exhilarating for me to write about these teenagers who have earned their seats at the table.
Please describe the content of Queen of Volts and what can readers expect from it.
In Queen of Volts, the newfound villain of the series, Bryce Balfour, has cast a curse on the twenty-two people whom he deems the most important “players” in the City of Sin, including Enne, Levi, and the rest of the cast. This game is one of life or death, where players must collect their designated target’s card if they have any hopes to survive. This conflict, coupled with the revelation that Enne is a Mizer, forces the characters into some treacherous situations—including the corrupt world of the city’s politics, betrayal from those closest to them, and the mystery surrounding the city’s oldest and most fearsome legend, the Bargainer.
Readers can expect a lot of surprising plot twists, especially ones that cast the previous two books in a new light. There’s a lot of fun, including a fake dating sequence that I absolutely loved writing. There’s also a lot of heartbreak, especially as characters navigate the grief of lost loved ones and untangle themselves from toxic relationships.
What’s next for you in the bookish world?
My middle grade debut, Wilderlore: The Accidental Apprentice, releases in the spring of 2021. Middle grade is definitely a new territory for me, but I have had the most fantastic time exploring it—I hope to remain there a long time. I also have more young adult and even adult novels in the works, which I hope to be able to speak more about soon.
Who is your current favorite writer? Why?
There are a lot of writers whom I admire for different reasons. I adore Erin Morganstern’s books, as her imagination and prose completely captures me. I also have a huge amount of respect for V.E. Schwab’s writing style and work ethic—she’s definitely an inspiration for me.
Any writing advice for aspiring writers?
Pick up books or read blog posts about the actual craft of writing. Once you understand the theory and method that go into story-telling, you will have a far easier time dissecting the decisions of the authors of your favorite stories… and thus learning from them and modifying their technique for your own interests and style.
My father used to be a professional basketball coach, and to this day, he has an entire, massive bookshelf devoted to the subject. I remember once he told me that he likely knew more about the theory of coaching and basketball than quite a lot of people, but he considered each new book he read worth his while if he learned a single thing from it. That’s how I try to approach my own study of writing.
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