What’s a heroine to do when her quest takes her to a world entirely unlike her own?
That’s just what happens to Riven, the protagonist in Amalie Howard’s THE ALMOST GIRL from Strange Chemistry out earlier this year. We had the chance to chat with Amalie about Riven, THE ALMOST GIRL, and a whole slew of books she’s got coming out this year.
Yes, I have four books coming out this year, so 2014 is definitely going to be an exciting time! THE ALMOST GIRL with Strange Chemistry came out a couple weeks ago on January 7, and it’s about a female soldier from a parallel universe who is sent to Earth to find a mysterious boy. ALPHA GODDESS with Sky Pony Press comes out on March 4. That one is near and dear to my heart, and is about a girl who finds out she’s a reincarnated Indian goddess and a conduit between heaven and hell. Following WATERFELL, which came out last November about an alien sea princess who must decide whether to defend her throne or hide in the human world forever, the second book in the Aquarathi series, OCEANBORN from Harlequin TEEN, will be out in August. This sequel takes off from when Nerissa is crowned, but things aren’t always as they seem and enemies once thought defeated resurface with sinister and deadly plans. Lastly, the sequel to THE ALMOST GIRL is scheduled for November. Our protagonist, Riven, is on the hunt for her father, but it turns out there are worse things brewing in Neospes than her mad scientist father, and she may need his help after all.
THE ALMOST GIRL was out at the beginning of January, featuring a soldier named Riven from a parallel universe. What was the most fascinating part of building the world of THE ALMOST GIRL?
The most fascinating part of the world-building in The Almost Girl was without a doubt using all the many laws of physics to 1) explain the existence of a parallel universe, and 2) figure out how to move between them. During my research, I found myself captivated by quantum mechanics, string theory and advanced robotics. It was mind-boggling, especially for a girl who loathed physics in high school. In my world-building, I needed to make sure it all worked for my readership, i.e., find the very delicate balance between my savvy, erudite sci-fi readers and my high-concept teen ones. Using quantum theory and the microscopic gaps in the universe to allow two distinct points in time and space to connect, I used a combination of string theory and anti-gravitational quantum vacuums to engineer my version of wormholes, which I then tied into zero-point energy as my “launch” spots to jump between universes (for which I invented the term eversion).
Riven’s quest to find her prince’s brother leads her to modern-day Earth. What do you think is the most exciting part of her journey?
Apart from the environmental and geographic differences between the two worlds, I think the most exciting part of Riven’s journey is meeting Caden, and not just because he’s the mysterious boy she’s supposed to find. Where she comes from, showing emotion is a sign of weakness. But then she meets a boy who harbors no such illusions. He’s a good guy who likes her and isn’t afraid to tell her so, or make her question what she feels for him. I think Caden is a puzzle to her—she’s not used to people like him being so unguarded, generous and caring, and the fact that he is her target makes the intensity level between them skyrocket. For a semi-repressed seventeen-year-old who has been taught to regulate all her emotions, I can see a relationship like this being quite exciting (as well as terrifying) for her.
Which YA heroines do you think make the best action-adventure heroes? (Besides Riven, of course.)
This is a great question! Since every writer has their own vision of what their heroine is going to be, I can only talk about what I like in my action-adventure heroines. First off, I’d have to say she would need to have a strong sense of self—she knows exactly who she is (for better or for worse). She has to have confidence, or least gain some along the way through the course of the story. I’d prefer her to be feisty, and have some spunk, but it could turn out to be a front/defense mechanism to hide a fatal flaw. She would be the kind of girl who saves herself, but doesn’t realize that she may also need saving. I like a strong but vulnerable protagonist—one whom the reader can root for when she’s in the middle of a kickass fight scene and empathize with when we start to peel back her layers. Last, but not least, she has to have heart. Some of my favorite heroines are Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games), Hermione Granger (Harry Potter), Fire (Fire), Katsa (Graceling) and Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables).
Thanks for visiting Girls in Capes today! Since we’re getting to the end, could you share any advice for our readers who are writing about their own YA heroines?
Thank you so much for having me! For any new writer, I would definitely encourage reading as many books as you can get your hands on. Draw inspiration from the protagonists who move you, the ones who make you connect with them (whether it’s negative or positive)—try to understand and appreciate why that character made you feel something in the first place because those are the ones who become unforgettable and those are the ones who stay with you long after you’ve closed the pages to a book. Did you love them? Did you hate them? Did their actions/behavior anger you, sadden you, delight you? Why? Consider what the author did that led you to such an emotional place. That’s what you want to emulate. You want to make readers feel something (good or bad). Heroines are not perfect. They make mistakes. They do stupid things. They make you want to hurl a book away and then cuddle it in the same breath. Don’t be nervous to draw from your own experience or put parts of yourself into your characters. Writing from what you know can give your heroine shape, breadth and dimension. Give her quirks and flaws (even fatal ones)—sometimes the characters we root for are the ones who are the most broken, but who manage to redeem themselves. Lastly, don’t be afraid to do something outside the mold and be different. The best characters are the ones who refuse to let you go.