We’re so incredibly excited to feature our very own Amanda Foody for today’s Author Spotlight to celebrate the release of her debut middle grade novel, The Accidental Apprentice, Book One in the Wilderlore series!!
AXIE: Give us a quick pitch for Wilderlore: The Accidental Apprentice! What can we expect to find in this book?
FOODY: Wilderlore follows the tale of Barclay Thorne, who has never wanted to go on an adventure. Barclay’s quirky little village borders the Woods, a vast and frightening forest that the villagers warn never to stray inside. Because within the Woods lurk… the Beasts.
The Accidental Apprentice is the first installment in what is intended to be a sprawling fantasy series, ideally one that feels both fresh and nostalgic at the same time.
AXIE: Ahh!! Having read The Accidental Apprentice, I already know how amazing it is!! How was the switch from writing young adult to writing middle grade?
FOODY: Though YA is where I began my career, middle grade is where I got my start as a reader. Nearly all the stories that shaped me as a creative and as a person came from my childhood, and so trying my hand at this age category felt less like setting on a new adventure so much as coming home to the one I’ve always known and loved. It had its challenges, but it was also so rewarding. I see myself writing middle grade stories for years and years to come.
AXIE: Me too!! What’s your favorite part about writing MG?
FOODY: I love the quirkiness! It’s so much fun to embrace the silly and the funny. I crack myself up sometimes as I write 🙂
AXIE: Hahaha, okay, now for something fun! Fill in the blank: If you love _________, then you’ll love The Accidental Apprentice!
AXIE: Where did the idea for Wilderlore come from?
FOODY: I had always been drawn to the notion of writing a MG book, but for most of the early years of my career, I never had an idea for one. I didn’t want to commit to a subject that I loved as an adult but that would’ve bored me as a child. Nor did I want to choose some quirky idea that fascinated Child Me but that Grown Up Me no longer found so interesting. And so I started considering what stories or subjects I loved as a kid that I continue to love to this day, and the first and most obvious answer was Pokemon!
I was a huge Pokemon dork as a kid, and I still have a section of my brain wholly devoted to its random details, like evolutions, gym badges, and more. Animal companions are already such a delightful feature of MG stories, and so my imagination took off… I’d create a whole series with seemingly endless animal companions to choose from!
AXIE: I love the trope of the powerful animal companion! So of course one of my favorite parts about Wilderlore is the Beasts! What was the process of coming up with the Beasts? And how did you choose which Beast to pair with which character?
FOODY: I tend to figure out my stories more as I write them than ahead of time, so most of the Beasts came to me as I was drafting. I modeled some after real-life animals with a magical twist. Others derived from mythical creatures, like dragons or phoenixes.
For pairing Beasts with characters, I tend to opt for one of two routes: Either the Beast and the character share a vital trait in common, or they’re opposites! Barclay and Root are both very fast and love to run, so they seemed like natural complements for one another. Mitzi, however, is very mischievous and silly compared to Viola’s determined and ambitios personality. They bring out the best in each other!
AXIE: I love that!! The Accidental Apprentice is the first book in a series! Can you tell us about the world of Wilderlore as a whole?
FOODY: The magical Beasts of the world are divided into six regions across the map, each called a Wilderland, and each modeled after a different natural biome. The Accidental Apprentice is set in the Woods, but going forward, each new book will explore a different Wilderland as its primary setting. I really wanted to embrace science and the beauty of the natural world, especially when the younger generations are those who will be burdened with the worst of climate change. Even in a fantasy world, the topic felt as fun and wondrous as it did important.
AXIE: I know book one only came out today, but can you tease book two for us?
FOODY: I can’t give away Book 2’s Wilderland just yet, but I can say that the story is centered around a mystery. A very powerful Legendary-class Beast has been attacking innocent people, and Barclay and his friends have to figure out how to stop it.
AXIE: OMG, so cool! I’m so excited!! And lastly, how’s JB doing??
FOODY: Jelly Bean is doing very well! He goes through phases—what his favorite toys are, where he loves to nap, etc. Lately, he’s been very cuddly. And he’s loving this nice weather. His favorite activity is to perch by the open window and stare at the passersby outside.
He’s also very tickled to have a book dedicated to him!
AXIE: Yay!! Thanks for joining us today, Foody!!