Good morning my beautiful poetic land mermaids and happy Galentine’s day to you!!!!!! I have been waiting for this day all year and now that it is finally here, I am celebrating the best way I know how!! I was lucky enough to be able to chat with a few of my all-time favorite poets and ask them a few questions about dragonhearts, which is a collaborative book that they released as a surprise in January! This book has already cemented its place at the top of my favorite books list and will forever have a special place in my heart. It is a powerful collection about the importance of friendship, which makes it a perfect book to read on a day like Galentine’s day!
So order your copy of dragonhearts, settle in with a plate of waffles, and check out my interview with Amanda Lovelace, Trista Mateer, and Nikita Gill!
Morning everyone! Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedules to chat with me! Let’s jump right into the questions! Can you describe dragonhearts in 140 characters or less? Pitch it to me in a tweet, hashtags and all.
Nikita: Feisty and furious with a ladleful of fairytales. It’ll get you, my pretties, the way nothing else ever could. #wickedandwitch
Oh man, that sounds incredible and I am pretty sure “ladleful of fairytales” is enough to make anyone want to read dragonhearts. Speaking of reading, we all have our copies of dragonhearts now and we are ready to start celebrating, Leslie Knope style, but it wouldn’t be a proper Galentine’s celebration without some sort of breakfast food to go with it. What are your go-to breakfast items to pair with dragonhearts?
Trista: It’s like, I know Leslie would be disappointed if I said anything other than waffles but it’s bagels all the way. Bagels with chive cream cheese and hot sauce. Bagels with red plum jam.
Amanda: Down with waffles! Not my fave. I would choose pancakes over them any day. Maybe with some honey drizzle on top to go with the cover art!
Nikita: Masala omelette with lots of green chili, a handful of tomatoes and a big glass of lassi to chase it down.
Oh my goodness, all of those sound incredible and now I am drooling. Also, red plum jam? I’ve never even heard of that but suddenly it is super important that I try it!!
Dragonhearts is the poetry collaboration that I never knew I needed. All 3 of you are powerhouse writers on your own, with very unique styles, so seeing you come together in a cohesive way is incredible. Can you talk a little about the co-writing process and how you shaped dragonhearts into what it is today?
Trista & Amanda: What we tried to do was lean in hard on things that we all mutually love. The stuff that shaped us separately and then brought us together—books and fairytales and love and healing. Learning to fight for ourselves just like we read about our favorite storybook heroines doing. Each of us write in different styles on a lot of different topics, so we just tried to pick what we thought would mesh well together. Even though it reads like a cohesive story, most of it was written separately and then pieced together afterwards, sort of like stitching squares of a quilt together. We weren’t sure what the final product was going to look like, but everything ended up coming together super seamlessly, and all we had to do was polish it up!
As for the poems penned by multiple authors, those were done at the very end of the writing process. By that time, we were so in tune with each other’s ideas and feelings, we just sort of left space to finish each other’s sentences. You’ll have to tell us how you think it worked out!!
I think I speak for everyone when I say that it worked out pretty well!!! I mean, I am still not over the fact that you all essentially Beyoncé’d this book, self-publishing as a total surprise without any promo beforehand. Can you tell me a little about why you chose to release it this way and how you made the decision to self-publish?
Trista: The short answer is that publishing is complicated. Our schedules were all pretty full with our own upcoming solo releases from separate publishers. We had the idea to collab and we all had a very short amount of time to get it done. The time frame that worked for us just wasn’t something that would have worked for traditional publishing with writing it and then finding representation for it and then pitching it and then waiting for a time it could come out that wouldn’t compete with our other projects. We wanted to do it. We all had January available as a release month. So we made it happen. Wrote it, rewrote it, illustrated it, wrangled a photographer for the cover (Lauren Zaknoun), spent late nights editing and reformatting and editing again. We thought it would be a neat surprise to drop it without saying anything but more than that, I don’t think we would have had the time to promo it beforehand even if we’d wanted to.
Amanda: All of this! In addition, we thought it would be cool to surprise our readers, since we’ve never done anything like this before. Late last year, we were all included in a short story and poetry collection, [Dis]Connected, but none of us had the opportunity to work directly with each other, and we so desperately wanted to come together on something. Since Trista and Nikita were already included in the bonus chapter of the B&N exclusive hardcover of the witch doesn’t burn in this one, “the dragonhearts”, I thought the perfect idea would be to extend in into something super feminist and book-length, and they agreed!
Nikita: I think the idea behind self publishing this particular book is also that we had complete creative control over it, given what a powerful and special project it was for all of us. We all love each other deeply and a book on sisterhood and found family was a natural culmination of that love we have for each other. We hadn’t read a book of poetry which was written by three sisters together before, so we wrote the book we wanted to read.
Just by hearing your answers to that question, it is evident why the book has done so well. The friendship that you all have is rare and it leaves me craving more from the 3 of you. What books would you recommend to readers who want to read more books like dragonhearts to tide them over until your next releases? Who are some of your current favorite writers?
Trista: Some books by my co-writers seem like too obvious of a suggestion, but truly, things like the mermaid’s voice returns in this one by Amanda Lovelace and Wild Embers by Nikita Gill have a similar feel and Amanda’s release even includes a chorus of poems from other poets, working together to lead you toward a place of healing. Nocturnal by Wilder probably also fits the bill pretty closely. If you’re looking for collaborative work, I have a collection called Before the First Kiss that was co-written with Ashe Vernon.
My current fave poets: Richard Siken, Andrea Gibson, Iain S. Thomas, Natalie Wee, Lyd Havens, Azra Tabassum, Emi Mahmoud. My current fave writers in general: Holly Black, Holly Black, Holly Black again. Also Yena Sharma Purmasir was generous enough to allow us to add two of her beautiful pieces in dragonhearts and she also has work of her own available.
Amanda: For books like dragonhearts, I would recommend The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer! It’s the perfect mix of fairy tale elements and girls kicking butt. As for poetry, there’s a self-published poetry collection, Our Wild Magic by Amanda Linsmeier, which is filled with lots of witchy and empowering things—I love it!
Aside from my co-writers, some of my favorite writers are Leigh Bardugo, Holly Black, Christina Lauren (a writing duo!), and Lang Leav.
Nikita: Definitely read more Caitlyn Siehl. What We Buried is one of my all-time favourite poetry collections and she has recently re-released it. Also a short list of writers I am reading currently: Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, Tomi Adeyemi, Jhumpa Lahiri, Nikesh Shukla and Blythe Baird.
*BRB IM ORDERING EVERYTHING MENTIONED* What are you working on next? Can we expect another co-project from the 3 of you?
Trista: I’m wrapping up the last few bits of my October 1st release, Aphrodite Made Me Do It. It’s a little bit of a departure from my usual heartbroken poetry and I’m excited to see how people respond to the mix of myth and self-love. After that, I have a few other secret projects in the works. Some of these may or may not include other poets. 👀
Amanda: I’m in between poetry projects right now, but you can expect many more poetry collections from me over the next few years! I’m also working on something more in the realm of fiction and it’s really exciting!!
You never know what the future holds… 😉
Nikita: I have recently set up a company called “Fierce Fairytales” and I hope to get both Amanda and Trista involved in some of the stuff I’m developing there. Also I hope to keep working with them forever, so I hope the universe helps make that happen!
This all sounds amazing and Trista, I just saw your cover for Aphrodite Made Me Do It and it’s STUNNING. I am absolutely smitten! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the three of you and you can be sure that we will all be there to support whatever it is that you do next! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today and for helping celebrate Galentine’s in style!
If you’d like to order a copy of dragonhearts you can do so here
Visit Amanda’s Instagram: http://instagram.com/ladybookmad
Visit Trista’s Instagram: http://instagram.com/tristamateer
Visit Nikita’s Instagram: http://instagram.com/nikita_gill