Today we're excited to chat with Amanda Marin author of North To Nara.
Read on for more about Amanda, plus an excerpt and an giveaway!
Meet Amanda Marin!
When Amanda was a child, her father traveled frequently for business, always bringing her back a book as a present. Whether she was getting lost in the pages of a tale about far-away knights, girls with supernatural powers, or kindly giants, she was quickly hooked on stories.
Over the years, Amanda has followed her own yellow brick road of reading and writing, and although her adventures haven't involved sword fights or saving the planet from certain annihilation, they have involved jobs in scholarly publishing and marketing, a modest amount of travel, and a lifelong love of novels.
Amanda holds degrees in English from Salve Regina University and Boston College. Her favorite things include Starbucks lattes, lazy summer afternoons at the beach, and books with characters that make you go "awwww." She lives in New Hampshire with her family and furbaby, Snickers the Poodle.
Meet North To Nara!
Neve Hall has always admired the good works of the civil servants who brought prosperity back to the Nation. She especially respects the Sufferers—empaths who, with the help of technology, anonymously bear others’ troubles for them. But when her assigned empath is abruptly retired, she uncovers certain secrets. Like the identity of her new Sufferer, Micah Ward... and the fact that behind his kind smile is a life filled with loneliness and pain.
The closer Neve grows to Micah, the more desperate she becomes to protect him from a cruel and gruesome fate. But in a world where only a few are allowed the luxury of love, saving Micah comes with a price: Neve must choose between her loyalty to the Nation or her heart—a decision that will take them both on a race for their freedom, and their lives.
~ Author Chat ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
North to Nara has been several years in the making. At its heart, though, it’s very much inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. It’s one of my favorite books, but I always wanted Hester and Dimmesdale to have some sort of happily ever after. North to Nara isn’t exactly a retelling of the story, but it is a reimagining of it, focused on those two characters. (Hopefully readers will see the parallels—and hopefully Hawthorne wouldn’t be mad at how I played around with some of his ideas!)
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
Hands down, it’s Micah Ward, Neve’s love interest. He’s compassionate, kind, and thoughtful—all qualities the world needs more of (and that I aspire to better embody myself!). Is it weird that he’s on my own list of “book boyfriends”? Probably. But it’s true. ;)
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
Definitely the novel! I really struggled with titles and went through about 10 before I settled on North to Nara—fortunately, my publisher agreed it was the strongest on my list. The title comes from a conversation between Neve and Micah about where they can go where their forbidden romance won’t be… well, forbidden.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I’m definitely proudest of the scene that inspired the book’s title. In it, Neve and Micah are chatting in a park, trying to sort out how (and where) they can possibly be together. The scene was a total train wreck in my first draft (you’ll have to take my word on that, because no one is ever seeing it!). I kept reworking it, though, and now it’s one of my faves—partly because I didn’t let it best me.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
What do you like most about the cover of the book? Working with the cover designer—the fabulously talented and patient Najla Qamber—was a really fun and collaborative journey. We went through some exciting and dramatic changes with it, so the creative process as a whole—not just one element of the cover—was what I liked best about it. Naj worked wonders when it came to bringing the images in my head to life!
YABC: What was your favorite book in 2018?
What’s up next for you? I’m finishing up the sequel for North to Nara. It’s called Sky to Sea and is expected out in January 2020. The sequel is very personal to me—I put a lot of emotion into it, and it’s once again filled with romance, suspense, and adventure. The first few pages of Sky to Sea appear at the end of North to Nara—I’m keeping quiet beyond that so as not to spoil either book!
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising? Definitely drafting! I love the freedom of just being able to get ideas down on the page without worrying too much about whether each word or scene is perfect. It’s exciting to simply go where the characters take you. Refining can come after. When writing North to Nara, I did some pretty extensive overhauls, but the nuts and bolts of the story stayed the same.
YABC: What would you say is your superpower?
I’m not sure I actually have a superpower (though I hope some readers will think I’m good at writing a thought-provoking but totally swoon-worthy YA dystopian romance!). But if I was able to pick a superpower, I’d go with having the ability to manipulate time—go forward or backward, relive your favorite moments whenever you want or fix your mistakes. As long as it could be free from negative side effects, count me in!
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I love animals and am dog-momma to the world’s gentlest toy poodle, Snickers (who may or may not be the living definition of “pampered pooch”!). I donate regularly to ASPCA and local animal shelters—it’s important to me to help those who have no voice, including animals.
~ Excerpt ~
Frantically, I glance around the darkened street, trying to think of something to say to postpone our inevitable goodbye. Each second that passes is like wind blowing through my fingers—impossible to hold on to no matter how hard I try. But if I only have a few moments left with Micah, I want him to know that I’ve appreciated him—that someone has cared about him, despite the lonely laws of the Suffering.
“For what it’s worth, I admire how you always do the right thing, even when others say it’s not. I hope you never lose that,” I tell him. “I’ve never met anyone who seems as alive as you do, either. And I guess… I’ve never felt as alive as I do when I’m with you.”
“And you’re curious about everything—I like that about you,” he replies. Delaying, just like me. Desperate, just like me. “You also have this quiet strength within you. You’re braver than you think you are—you should trust yourself more.”
As I look at Micah, I try to remember everything about him. The angle of his jaw. The persistent stubble on his chin. The wildness of his hair. After tonight, I may never see him again—and if I do, he’ll look older, more tired and weak from carrying others’ troubles. In time, I may not even recognize him. Realizing this, I reach up to touch his cheek, to help me map the way he looks right now, tonight, in my mind. Micah doesn’t pull away or try to stop me, but he seems uncomfortable anyway, like he’s hurting somehow.
“There are laws against this,” he says. “We’re not even supposed to know each other… And I signed a contract when I was seventeen—a thousand years of service to the Nation.”
His voice is little more than a strained whisper, and as I look at him, I’m sure he feels the same reluctance tugging at him that I do, so I decide to take a chance.
“I’m not ready to give you up, Micah,” I murmur.
North To Nara
By: Amanda Marin
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Release Date: March 20th, 2019
15 winners will receive a Kindle ebook edition of North to Nara
1 grand prize winner will receive a North to Nara prize pack including: one Alex and Ani gold-toned “oyster” bracelet + miscellaneous North to Nara swag + a Kindle ebook edition of North to Nara
~ US Only ~
*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*