Book Nerd Interview
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always written stories, and before I wrote stories, I told them and imagined them. When I was very young I didn’t realize it required anything to “be” a writer. I didn’t realize it was a definitive description I could claim. I wrote off and on through my teen years, and did consider publication, even tried it casually, but it wasn’t until I was in graduate school trying to learn how to change the world through politics and academia that I realized what had changed ME the most were the books I read. I learned about humanity and compassion and faith and alliance through fiction – it changed me. I realized that to change the world, I could tell stories, and that was the moment I knew I could throw myself whole-heartedly into writing.
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
I couldn’t pick an all-time favorite book, though I can suggest favorite authors: Anne Rice, Robin McKinley from my youth (and continuing today), and currently I adore Melina Marchetta. I read YA and fantasy and romance and mystery, and couldn’t possibly narrow my favorites down.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
YOU’RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR NEXT BOOK.
In your book; The Strange Maid, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
The Strange Maid takes place in a world like our own, an America like ours, but it was founded by Vikings and their gods. Valkyrie interfere in Congress and trolls rampage across the Rocky Mountains, gods walk the red carpet at Hollywood premiers. This second book in the series is a companion novel to THE LOST SUN, and follows a young girl who wants to be the next Valkyrie as she goes on a quest across Canada and the USA to answer a riddle by hunting the oldest troll mother.
For those who are unfamiliar with Signy, how would you introduce her?
Signy Valborn is dangerous. Passion rules her, and she is loud and angry, but smart, too, and very determined.
Which character have you enjoyed getting to know the most over the course of writing the United States of Asgard?
I’ve had quite a lot of fun with Glory, the Fenris Wolf. She is hungry all the time, and destined to start the end of the world, but what she really wants is to be satisfied, to understand what it feels to be full – full of love or comfort or anger or anything. Glory is half god, half monster and very fun to write. She’s also been alive for a long time, but because of her nature has retained the volatility of a teenager.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Nick from my book BLOOD MAGIC would love to meet Cole St. Clair from Maggie Stiefvater’s SHIVER trilogy. Nick’s a huge NARKOTIKA fan.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Ned?
That he’s a tick-eating old man.
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Read, read, read and write, write, write. There are no shortcuts to this one, you just have to practice. You have to let yourself have fun and challenge yourself, too – because what entertains you and what challenges you will be unique to you.
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
I worked at a Hollywood Video one summer – an old Blockbuster-like video rental store – in a very flashy/bad part of town. Closing the store at 1am on a Saturday night was dramatically full of drag queens or drunk people asking for copies of The Little Mermaid and Free Willy.
When was the last time you cried?
Yesterday. I’m a crier.
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
When were tampons invented? It would be after that.
What is your greatest adventure?
I hope I haven’t experienced it yet.
Where can readers stalk you?
www.tessagratton.com is where all my info can be found! I’m on twitter at @tessagratton and tumblr at http://odinsbitch.tumblr.com/
Thanks for having me!
Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of war, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that’s exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy’s destiny.