Please raise your tea tankards and coffee chalices for Amy Bartelloni and our first author interview on bookmarkedone!
Amy Bartelloni is the author of The Children of Camelot, a delightful new Arthurian retelling with dragons, magic, familiar faces, and all the bright new characters one could ask for. Be sure to enter our giveaway for a signed copy of The Children of Camelot and a three-ebook bundle of the entire series. You can also check out Amy’s other writing here on her website.
Now, without further ado…
What inspired The Children of Camelot? Was there a specific book you read or moment when you thought “This is it. This is the book I’ve got to write?”
Amy: I had that first chapter in my head for so long, I just wasn’t sure where to go with it. I can still see that mountainside and the lights and the questions it brings up in my head – the problem was, I couldn’t answer those questions! Not right away. I started to write it out as a YA fantasy, but the characters weren’t speaking to me. So I would tinker with it, put it down then pick it back up. It never really left me alone 🙂 It wasn’t until I found the Arthurian connection that the story really started to flow.
Bookmarked: That scene watching the colored lights from the cliff is one of my favorites. It’s so easy to imagine being there with Arynn’s hair catching in the cold breeze, the lights blinking out in the dark–I’ll stop before I hijack this post into a ramble about that one moment.
How did you go about writing The Children of Camelot? Was there a lot of research, or did you know right away what characters/parts of the story you wanted to include?
Amy: I knew the basic story of Camelot, but once I knew who these characters were, I did have to do a lot of research. Obviously I changed the story up a little bit. I do not believe Lancelot is a dragon in the original story :). But once things started to come together, the story flowed really smoothly. Writing is its own kind of magic, really. I love that part of creating,where the story comes out and the characters and plot are formed. Sometimes when I’m in between projects or feeling badly about marketing, I forget how amazing that magic of creating a story can be. I love it.
Bookmarked: Far be it from me to criticize the original Arthurian myths we all love so well…but Lancelot as a dragon is one thing I consider an improvement to the story. And writing as magic is something that I guarantee you I gab far too much about. There’s just something about it that doesn’t seem possible–and yet, marvelously, painfully, wonderfully, is.
Who are a few of your favorite authors? Do you think they influence your writing?
Amy: I’m a really wide reader and I LOVE a good story. I’m not sure it’s possible for the books you’ve read not to influence you in some way. That said, while I LOVE YA and fantasy in particular, my favorite authors tend to be out of the genre I write. In YA I do love Cassie Clare, Holly Black and Stephanie Garber’s to name a few, but give me something by Neil Gaiman, Jasper Fforde, or Grady Hendrix and I’ll spend all day reading. Stephen King is a old favorite too – I am a Constant Reader. I also really like the self help genre.
Bookmarked: Shameless plug for my review of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones, then! I recently stumbled on Neil Gaiman’s short story “Chivalry,” about an elderly lady finding the Holy Grail in a thrift shop…and as a frequenter of thrift shops myself, I’m not sure I could entirely rule out the possibility. It’s a lovely read. I think I’m crushing hard on that story…
What’s one of your favorite pieces of Arthurian myth?
Amy: There is so much to unpack in Arthurian myth, isn’t there? The Children of Camelot series is based on the very basic parts of the known myths, but in my research I became interested in many of the lesser known knights. There are so many side stories I’ve thought about telling. I particularly like the story of the Lady in the Lake. In my series she only appears briefly, but there is such a rich history there that’s worth exploring.
Bookmarked: Ooh, yes, the Lady in the Lake is so fascinating. One of my bookish friends is rooting for me to write a piece about Avalon someday. I’ve always been utterly enraptured by the idea of that place.
Do you have a favorite character/scene in The Children of Camelot, or do you “love them all equally?”
Amy: I do love them all equally :-). But I’m really partial to the character of Mordred, I think he makes an appearance in book 2, and plays a greater role in book 3. Without spoiling anything, he’s got a great redemptive arc that I was both surprised and heartened by. My writing style is what they call a “pantser” in that I don’t outline, I write by the seat of my pants. I actually call my first draft my outline because I often have to go back and fix continuity issues or plotlines. It’s not something I recommend because it adds a lot of work, but I have to let my characters talk to me naturally and Mordred was a real surprise.
Bookmarked: Oh, Mordred could use a redemptive arc once in a while. Detestably evil or not, I’ve read a few retellings that just make me sad for the poor boy. Now I’m curious what you’re up to in Book 2.
Amy: One of my favorite scenes was when Arynn is standing in the upper terraces and decides whether to go with Malik on a grand adventure or stay in her safe life on the island. She takes one last look at the island and decides to take a leap. It’s such and act of faith and bravery and adventure. It’s the point her whole life changes, when she chooses truth over safety.
Bookmarked: Definitely a powerful moment for the character! Although if I may–you don’t spend nearly as much time exploring those upper terraces as I would like. I could probably read a whole book set just in that slightly creepy, skin-tinglingly magical place. Not to mention the view.
Tell us about Gen One and your Andromeda series! Do they have any similarities to Children of Camelot or are they something totally different?
Amy: I think my writing style is probably similar but the genres are different. Gen One is a YA science fiction about the idea of AI and robots taking over the world. I really loved exploring the character of Gen, and what it is that makes us human. I think it’s a great story and an exciting plot, but I love exploring those deeper issues of humanity in fiction. I actually have a sequel called Gen Two that I’ve written and will eventually publish. Andromeda was my first published series, and I loved the idea of YA dystopian because you can build the society from the ground up. Those characters are very close to my heart.
Bookmarked: “What it is that makes us human” is a theme I’ve noticed cropping up in my work as well…even more so lately. It’s such a complex idea to explore, especially when people don’t act human in the way they treat each other. I often find that writers’ debut novels are some of their best, even if their writing gets stronger later, just because they’ve spent so much time mulling over all the experiences and ideas they have. I’m sure Andromeda is no exception.
What’s next? What new adventures do you see on the horizon?
Amy: Hmm, now you have me thinking about going back to re-edit Gen Two! I considered publishing some short stories in the Children of Camelot world. In particular there is a story about Malik’s parents that’s been swimming around my head, but in the meantime I’ve started something completely different. I keep coming around to the idea of Atlantis – it makes an appearance in my Children of Camelot series. I started to play with a lot of “what if’s” around the city and the legend. There are a lot of possibilities there, and I have a cast of possible characters. I’m not sure what kind of adventure they’re going to take me on, but like Arynn, I’m ready to take that leap!
Bookmarked: I hope I get a chance to review Gen Two when you finish it! And as for Atlantis, well. Amy, I think you’re trying to present me with cake only to drizzle fudge on top. I can’t wait to see what you write next!
More exciting things are coming soon, but until then, happy reading!