Aimee Carter was kind enough to answer some questions for me in conjunction with my giveaway of her AWESOME novel, The Goddess Test:
What led you to write your debut novel, The Goddess Test?
This is a bit of a long story, actually, so my apologies right off the bat! I’ve been a big fan of mythology since I was a kid, and I’ve always wondered what happened to Hades and Persephone, which is a myth that really stuck with me from the first time I read about it. As I grew older, I began to see the myth from Hades’ side of things, and with how isolated and lonely a god he was, his perspective fascinated me. Especially with how often Hades is depicted as ‘evil’ in pop culture.
When I began to write original stories at age fifteen, I already had this brewing in the back of my mind, the idea of a girl who’s forced into a situation like Persephone’s. However, as the idea progressed, it occurred to me that I had an opportunity with a modern-day story to write a sequel of sorts – what happens after Hades and Persephone’s marriage is over. It took me a while after that to figure out the new girl’s story, but I began to outline. And outline. And outline some more. I don’t know how many drafts of outlines I went through over the course of a year or two, but finally I settled on one I liked. I was writing another story at the time, and I was also a full-time college student, so my time was limited.
However, the spring I began to write The Goddess Test, I had my wisdom teeth taken out. I was supposed to work on the set of a Hollywood film that was being made in the area (as a production assistant, which is a fancy title for ‘You there, get my coffee!’), and my surgery was scheduled for a few weeks before production in the area was due to begin. But somehow during the procedure, my dentist had to remove pieces of bone from both sides of my jaw, essentially breaking it in two places. Needless to say, it wasn’t a pleasant healing experience.
But instead of being too disappointed about not being able to work on set, I finally had a chance to write the story I’d spent years upon years thinking about and outlining. All in all, I’d say I made out pretty well, all things considered. I didn’t wind up dating Michael Cera, but hey, it all worked out in the end.
What were your inspirations for the novel, if any, and what made you pick Greek mythology as a starting point?
I didn’t consciously pick Greek mythology. I just happened to love the myth of Hades and Persephone, and I’d been itching to explore Hades’ side of things for a long time. The story went through so many versions and so many drafts, but in the end I wound up with something I would have wanted to read, and that’s the most important thing to me when it comes to writing a story. If I wouldn’t want to read it, I can’t possibly expect anyone else to as well.
What is the writing process like for you? Do you have a special place that you like to write, or any special rituals that you go through before/during the writing process?
The writing process tends to vary for me. My habits evolve, and while I can write anywhere, I prefer to write in a bookstore or cafe. I write every day, usually a few thousand words, but sometimes only a sentence or two. I always listen to a song on repeat in order to drown out the sound around me, though usually the song I listen to doesn’t have much significance to whatever I’m writing. The mood has to match though. I can’t listen to an upbeat song during an emotionally difficult scene. I always write on a computer (though I outline on paper), and I usually have to disconnect myself from the internet. With smartphones, however, that tends to be a bit tricky.
What character do you identify with the most in The Goddess Test? Why?
I identify on some level with nearly all of them, I’d say, especially the most prominent characters. In order to understand the characters’ motivations and feelings, I really have to know them and get where they’re coming from, and not relating to them at all makes it difficult. However, as far as relating to their situations, I’d have to say I identify most with Kate. I lost my mother when I was a kid, and I grew up worrying that something was going to happen to my father as well. Oddly enough, during the editing process for The Goddess Test after it’d been sold to my publisher, my father had a series of serious health issues, and I did most of my editing in a hospital room. That heavily influenced Kate’s emotional state taking care of her ill mother, and it really helped me relate to her more as a character. Personality-wise though, we’re pretty different.
Are any of your characters or stories based on aspects of your own life?
None intentionally, though what Kate goes through with her mother was heavily rewritten after I discovered what it was like to be my father’s sole caretaker. As nice as it would be, I’ve never met a Greek god in the middle of the woods. I purposely try to keep my real life and my character’s created lives as separate as possible. Otherwise my creative space would be limited, so to say, as I would likely feel compelled to stick to the ‘truth’, therefore restricting what could and couldn’t happen in the story. And I hate those kinds of restrictions.
What do you hope readers take away from your novel?
I hope they enjoy it! Honestly, I didn’t write it with a lesson in mind. It very clearly is not strict mythology, as I found that to be too limiting to the story I wanted to tell. Therefore I did my best to make the story logical and relatable to the original myths. I also tried to keep the characters as human as possible with motivations, desires, and back story that got ‘lost’ in the constant cultural shifts, as well as the retelling and evolution of mythology over the years. I didn’t set out to write a lesson in Greek mythology or loving your parents or not talking to dark strangers in the middle of the night. I set out to write a fictional story that I and hopefully others could enjoy, and more than anything, that’s what I want. And even if the reader doesn’t enjoy it, I’m extremely grateful to everyone who gives it a chance.
Do you have a playlist in mind for your novel? If so, what music would you recommend a reader listen to while reading?
I don’t! I wish I remembered what songs I listened to while writing this, but while I have a few for the second book, I have yet to stumble across a song that really works for the first book. The only song I remember listening to during the editing process is Sarah McLachlan’s ‘Angel’, but even that’s more of a mood than anything.
I don’t listen to music while I read, but I’d recommend that the reader does anything they’d like to do. Whatever makes them comfortable while reading, since reading is the important part.
Why did you choose YA literature as a starting point? Did you always want to write for this age group, or did it just happen?
I started writing original stories when I was a teenager, creating characters who were my age, and although I grew older, my characters never did. I do tend to write with older teens in mind – Kate is eighteen at the start of the first book – but mostly I write what I’d like to read. And I’ve yet to come up with an idea that would be better suited for the adult market than the YA crowd. Honestly, I think YA literature is some of the most entertaining stuff out there today. Teenagers tend to insist on quality, logic, and compelling characters, and they won’t sit through a hundred pages of nothing to get to the good stuff. There’s a reason so many adults gravitate toward YA lit as well, and I think that has everything to do with how friggin’ amazing YA fiction is.
Do you have a favorite author or novel that you recommend your fans read? What are you reading right now?
Right now I’m in the middle of Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed, which comes out in late May, and I’m loving it. I’ve also recently picked up Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, and after reading the first few sections, I’m dying to read more.
My three favorite books, in no particular order, are The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (and if you haven’t read it, what are you waiting for?), Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (character-heavy science fiction with a heavy psychological and political twist, and something I reread at least once a year), and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by JK Rowling. The Harry Potter series is the reason I stuck with writing, and I wouldn’t be in this position today if it wasn’t for Ms. Rowling.
How you do feel about eReaders? Do you think they enhance or detract from the reading experience? What’s your personal preference?
I don’t own an eReader, but my father has two. I can definitely see the convenience of having one, especially since I’m forever dragging books places and getting them messed up. But I love the idea of turning the page and holding it in my hand. I might get an eReader in the future for trips and the like, so I don’t have to lug around a suitcase devoted solely to books, but for now, I’m content without one. Besides, I’d be too afraid of losing it to bring it anywhere.
You’ve just been signed for a new book series (yay), so could you tell us a little bit about the series and how it came to be?
Yes, I literally just signed the contract a few weeks ago! The first book is called Masked, and it’s the first in a dystopian trilogy about an orphan who is forced to take the place of the Prime Minister’s assassinated niece. I can’t say too much about it, but I will say that I love writing in this world. The book’s already written, and it was actually the book I wrote while The Goddess Test was on submission, mostly during the time frame when I thought it wasn’t going to sell. As a result, I really pushed myself, and I’m so proud of the results. I’m not entirely sure when it’ll be released, but I’ve heard August 2013. Don’t quote me on it though, as that’s all subject to change.
Thanks so much for having me!!
Thank you Aimee!!! I am honored that you are my first author interview on my blog!
This giveaway is now closed and winners have been chosen: