Feature · Interview

Author Spotlight: Katy Rose Pool and Amanda Foody

We’re so thrilled to be celebrating not one but TWO books out today by our incredible WBP contributors!! Happiest of book birthdays to AS THE SHADOW RISES and QUEEN OF VOLTS!! Make sure you grab your copies of these incredible sequels (and you can order signed copies of ATSR here and QOV here!)

Tell us a bit about AS THE SHADOW RISES and QUEEN OF VOLTS! 

KATY: AS THE SHADOW RISES picks up about a week after the end of THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS (warning! Spoilers for TWCAD ahead!) Jude and Anton are back in Kerameikos, but instead of a hero’s welcome, Jude finds himself without his Grace and on trial for abandoning the Paladin Guard in Pallas Athos. Meanwhile Anton begins to grapple with his haunting vision of the end of the world and what it means to be the Last Prophet. Hassan and Khepri have finally returned to Nazirah, but winning back his country proves to be more difficult and far more complicated than he imagined. And Ephyra has tracked down a legendary treasure thief who may be able to help her find Eleazar’s Chalice and cure Beru for good–except Beru, of course, has abandoned her in search of atonement. So all of the characters are really off on their own journeys in this book, only each of their individual journeys are more connected than they know, and of course the last prophecy, and each of their destinies, still looms over all of them.

FOODY: (Spoiler warning for KING OF FOOLS!) QUEEN OF VOLTS does not waste time letting all that dust of KING OF FOOLS settle–one day later, and boom! We’re back in the story. Not only are we down one beloved character (R.I.P. Jac), but the North Side is a mess, the Senate election was a sham, and now the whole world has learned that Enne is a Mizer. So all the characters are reeling. And speaking of characters… there’s a lot of them. Five narrators tell this story: 1) Enne, trying to decide if it’s safer to make the city love her or hate her; 2) Levi, realizing that his family’s past has finally caught up to him; 3) Lola, desperately searching for the answers no one else seems to care about; 4) Sophia, hunting down the Bargainer so she can get her memories back; and 5) Harvey, torn between his conscience and saving the boy he loves. There’s an uncountable amount of plot twists, a fake dating arc, a murder game involving 22 players, a bank, three beheadings, all wrapped up in a story ultimately about taking responsibility for your own destiny.

So AS THE SHADOW RISES is a middle book but QUEEN OF VOLTS is the end of the series. What was your approach when it came to getting all the plot points and character arcs where you needed them to be by the end of this book? 

KATY: I definitely had a much clearer idea of the ending I was writing toward for AS THE SHADOW RISES than I did when I was originally drafting THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS, because I had enough planned about the third book to know where everyone needed to be at the end of book 2, and what secrets needed to be revealed. I think second books in trilogies can be a struggle because you do need to answer some questions for the first book, but you need to have some questions lingering for the third book. For me, though, that space of not needing to set everything up and also not needing to wrap everything up was such a rich space to get to explore more of the world and delve deeper into the characters and their relationships. So book 2 ended up being a little bit of a playground for me–I had a very strong overarching plotline to build toward, but at the same time I was able to do things like write a party scene, introduce an all-female band of treasure thieves, and just generally make a mess of all the characters’ lives.

FOODY: I had a very easy time plotting out the first act of the book–I had all the characters and their storylines set up, like pieces on a chessboard (Hello, cover reference), ready to be unleashed. But the plot was so damn complicated… I kept getting all my clever little story webs tangled. I mean, a murder game with 22 players??? My outline was borderline masochistic. I plotted the rest backwards, determining where I wanted all the characters to end up and then figuring out how to get from A to Z. I called Katy, who helped me crack the game. I added an Excel sheet into the book itself. (Yes, really.) I spent a lot of time staring at my ceiling, trying to figure out, after three whole books, what I was trying to say. In conclusion, concluding a series is chaotic. I worked so, so hard, and I’m proud of the final product.

The best part of writing series with large group casts is getting to introduce new characters! Who are you most excited for readers to meet in this book? (Note: pls tell us about the cats in your book!) 

KATY: The aforementioned band of treasure thieves was really fun for me to write, but there were honestly so many new characters in the second book that I loved writing. (And yes, there is a cat who stars in one scene!) We also get to meet someone from Anton’s past who is essentially a socialite, who was a delight to get to write, because while most of the characters in this book are on these very serious quests to save their world, here’s a character’s whose main problem in life is what he’s going to wear to the contessa’s big party. But possibly my favorite new character doesn’t show up until over halfway through the book–a very odd and socially stunted hermit healer whose best friend is a cactus named Prickly.

FOODY: There are not that many new crew members in QUEEN, but here are three: Delaney Dawson, a prima ballerina with a dark secret; a boy who would prefer that you call him Silence; and the Bargainer, aka the most ruthless person to ever walk New Reynes’ streets. And as far as cats… I’m sorry to say that the cats have far less page time in QUEEN than they did KING, but they’re still there, all thirteen of them, hanging out with the girl gang. I’m partial to Veil.

You both have stories with such expansive worlds. Are there any new places we get to visit in this book that you especially enjoyed writing? 

KATY: So many! AS THE SHADOW RISES is in some ways a quest book, although not a traditional quest book, but we do get to see a lot more of the world. I particularly loved getting to explore two more of the Six Prophetic Cities–Endarrion, known as the Fair City, and Behezda, the City of Mercy. I also really enjoyed getting to see more of Nazirah, where the climax of the first book takes place, including getting to finally see the Great Library!

FOODY: The boardwalk of New Reynes, which has been under construction since the first book, is finally open for business! That’s obviously the big one, and one I enjoyed writing because it was inspired by boardwalks I visited as a child. But we also get a few glamorous parties in the House of Shadows. An exploration of the Capitol. A tittling scene in the accounts payable department of the treasury. 

We know music is very influential for both of you. Were there specific songs or albums you listened to while writing pivotal scenes? Also feel free to share your book playlists!

KATY: Haha, well the only music I listen to while writing is orchestral soundtracks. For AS THE SHADOW RISES, it was mostly Assassin’s Creed: Origins, which was the exact kind of ominous, desert-y soundtrack I wanted. But in terms of brainstorming and such, I definitely listened to a lot of Sufjan, whose music has always served as a touchstone for Jude’s character arc. In particular, the song All for Myself was inspiration for a crucial emotional moment. It’s a weird song and the lyrics are somewhat esoteric (as Sufjan’s lyrics tend to be) but the swelling, almost desperate refrain of I want it all/I want it all for myself is a perfect encapsulation of everything Jude has to reckon with in this book.

FOODY: You can check out my QUEEN OF VOLTS playlist here. Some of my favorite songs: “Sinners” by Barns Courtney (New Reynes’s theme song); “Under the Table” by BANKS (THE Enne song of this book), “Flames” by Tedy (Levi’s song), and “Tied Down” by Jaymes Young (A song you wouldn’t think someone would cry to, but it makes me think of a specific scene, so I did.).

If your cast of characters ended up in each other’s worlds, how do you think they would fare? Where would they go? What kind of shenanigans would they get up to? 

KATY: I would lowkey love fanfic of my characters in New Reynes. I think Anton would fair okay, just kind of keeping his head down and navigating the streets as he always does. Illya would, of course, quickly rise up in the ranks and probably try to join forces with Vianca (she would eat him alive). Ephyra would obviously have no shortage of immoral people to prey on as the Pale Hand. I think Hassan would try to be a politician on the North side of the city, and be very uncomfortable with how much and how effectively he learns to lie “for the greater good.” Jude would just hate every moment of being in New Reynes and try to leave as fast as possible. 

FOODY: First off, I think that my characters would miss some pretty convenient technology, like guns, telephones, subway systems, and cars (Sorry, Enne, your future as a sharpshooter is extra over). Otherwise, I think they’d fare ok. Levi would walk a similar path as Anton. Enne would, hopefully, be free of the City of Sin’s various curses and torments and could f*ck off to live the glamorous life that she deserves. Lola, too. Harvey would not do well–I’m not sure he has it in him to worry about an apocalypse on top of everything else he’s been through. 

We know both of you are big foodies (some of you in more ways than one… GET IT???). If your characters lived in our world, what would their favorite snacks and/or beverages be? 

KATY: Anton loves sweets and baked goods, so anything of that nature would be his favorite. I think he would really enjoy all the different flavors of kitkats you get in Japan–strawberry cheesecake kitkats, grean tea kitkats, etc. Beru is also a pastry lover, but I feel like she’d go for something really out there and different, like a passionfruit donut or something.

FOODY: The City of Sin, despite all its curses and talents and magic, is not all that otherworldly when it comes to food, so my characters can enjoy here pretty much anything they could there. I worry about Lola having access to hyper caffeinated drinks like Red Bull. In a few years, Tock might get really into craft beer. Narinder would be living his best Grubhub-sponsored takeout life. Harrison would rule Millennial brunch. Enne would be a high fructose corn syrup-fueled menace to society.

Also join Katy, Foody, and some of the other WBP contributors on a Virtual Book Tour to celebrate their releases!

Katy Rose Pool was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in history, Katy spent a few years building websites by day and dreaming up prophecies by night. She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she can be found eating breakfast sandwiches, rooting for the Golden State Warriors, and reading books that set her on fire.

Katy is represented by Alexandra Machinist and Hillary Jacobson at ICM Partners.

Amanda Foody has always considered imagination to be our best attempt at magic. After a double life as an accountant preparing taxes for multinational corporations, she now spends her free time brewing and fermenting foods much more easily obtained at her local grocery store. She lives in Boston, MA with a hoard of books guarded by the most vicious of feline companions, Jelly Bean.

Her books include Ace of Shades, King of Fools, and Daughter of the Burning City. The next installment of The Shadow Game series, Queen of Volts, releases on September 1, 2020, and her middle grade debut, Wilderlore: The Accidental Apprentice, hits shelves March 30, 2021.

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