What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Ava the Hunted?
Ava the Hunted is a continuation of the first novel in my “Legends of Ava” series. It takes place in a world much like our own, except society has devolved into a brutal, Mad Max type of environment. Many of the trappings of our current world are still there, such as buildings, roads, utility poles, etc. But everything is overgrown. Broken down. Buried under the shifting, arid, hot environment of a world that has nearly run out of water. And in this bleak environment there is a teenage warrior named Ava, who lives in the last stronghold that has water—the Reserve.
In the first book (Ava the Brave) Ava fought in the Reserve’s annual “Champion Contest”—a battle between the Reserve’s best teenage warriors. To win her weight class, Ava had to face and defeat the son of Reserve’s ruler. Unfortunately, when she was victorious, her father, her village, and everything she held dear were marked for destruction. And now, as we enter book two, Ava and her fellow warriors are being hunted.
So, how did I come up with the plot for Ava the Hunted? Have you ever heard the saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction?” Well, truth is also a great place to get ideas for fiction. I usually get my ideas from something I’ve seen, something I’ve heard about, or something I’ve experienced. I think the last one, “something I’ve experienced,” is the best. Writing is easier when I can see, feel, smell, hear, and physically embody a scene through memory.
But Ava the Hunted has a component that I never would’ve believed I’d ever experience. When I started this story, I didn’t think of including a world-changing virus. Then real life happened. My office job turned into my “bedroom office job.” Going out to eat became “going out to pick up carry-out.” And wearing a mask became a habit when I stepped out the door. Being a writer who doesn’t follow a strict outline, this had an impact on my writing. Before I knew it, I was writing a story about a world that had been turned on its head by a deadly virus.
It would probably be safe to say that the virus I wrote about is much more terrifying than the one that burned through our world. Yeah, it would be safe to say that, but it would be wrong. What I wrote in Ava the Hunted is fiction. What we all experienced was real. There’s no comparison. Real beats fiction every time. The magic of fiction is that it has the ability to transport us out of our daily worries and trouble.
By injecting a little truth into Ava the Hunted, I think that my readers will be able to view the anxiety and fear of our own crazy world from a distance and enjoy the ride. And that sums up my inspiration for Ava the Hunted—to transform the last couple of years of pandemic and war into something fun and safe. Sure, it’s scary at times. And intense. But it’s the best way I know of how to deal with the stuff that makes our real world scary.
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
I read YA all the time, with an occasional crime or thriller thrown into the mix. Books on my TBR pile: Don Winslow, City on Fire; Leigh Bardugo, The Ninth House.
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
A fun scene for me to write was when Ava and her boyfriend, Beau, run into a legendary band of outcasts called the Beggaree. The Beggaree are mysterious, ghostlike, and very, very dangerous. There’s a quiet to that scene that is very unsettling. It’s never easy to capture the dynamics of a scene, but this one seemed to write itself as the Beggaree first save Ava and Beau from one danger, and then surround them, posing an even greater danger.
Explosions and fights and loud confrontations are always fun to capture attention. But this scene captures attention with few words, deadly quiet, and silent stares.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
Nope. I just write.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
I don’t really have a motto, but I think we should all be kind to one another.
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
My hope is that they’ll remember the reading experience being fun. My goal is to write books that readers want to keep reading.
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