Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Of The Divine by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

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GENRE:  Fantasy

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes will be awarding a limited edition print copy of the book *U.S. only* to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Of the Divine Description

Henna is one of the most powerful sorcerers in the Order of Napthol, and her runes ’s runes tell her that the future of Kavet is balanced on the edge of the knife. The treaties between Kavet and the dragon-like race known as the Osei have become intolerable. The time has come for the royal house to magically challenge Osei dominion. Prince Verte, Henna’ lover, is to serve as the nexus for the powerful but dangerous spell, with Naples–an untested young sorcerer from the Order of Napthol–a volatile but critical support to its creation.


Amid these plans, Dahlia Indathrone’s arrival in the city shouldn’t matter. She has no magic and no royal lineage, and yet, Henna immediately knows Dahlia is important. She just can’t see why.


As their lives intertwine, the four will learn that they are pawns in a larger game, one played by the forces of the Abyss and of the Numen—the infernal and the divine.


A game no mortal can ever hope to win.


Interview with Author Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Of the Divine book coverHow would I describe a perfect hero?

This question jumped out at me because of the use of the word “perfect.” Of course I think I know what it’s supposed to mean (I would guess, “How would you describe the hero you would most like to read about?” or, “What kind of hero makes the best book?”) but that wasn’t the question asked.


A perfect hero is someone who always does the right thing for the right reasons. They consider which actions will benefit the world the most, but aren’t heartlessly utilitarian; they recognize the smaller hardships as well. They listen well, communicate well, ask for help when necessary, take or give credit when appropriate.


If they must charge, they charge only what is appropriate for their services and what a community or individual can afford. They are polite to all, unless rudeness is truly called for and necessary. They are confident but not arrogant. I could go on, but I think one thing is clear: the perfect hero is dreadfully dull to read about.


I like my heroes gritty. They struggle. Sometimes they’re selfish, or petty, or overly proud, or self-conscious. They are real people with real strengths and weaknesses. They come from a culture with all its richness, beauty, and limitations and biases. They have disabilities (but the story isn’t about “overcoming” or “curing” those disabilities– they simply exist). They exist in a world where they get to be complex and make mistakes (that said, they aren’t so disgustingly prejudiced and misogynist that my flesh crawls reading about them–that’s not a character flaw that appeals to me).


In short, the heroes I enjoy reading about are Roland of Gilead of the Dark Tower series (the books, not the awful movie), or Peter Quill of Guardians of the Galaxy— not Superman. In Lord of the Rings, it was Gollum I loved at the end, not Frodo.


What’s your favorite song on your playlist?

These days, “my playlist” contains songs from Moana, Frozen and Trolls, with a couple highlights of Jewish children’s music (“Bim Bam,” “Alef Bet,” etc.). That’s what I’m allowed to listen to in the car or when my daughter is up without her strongly objecting. On the other hand, if nothing else repetition and familiarity (and possibly Stockholm Syndrome) has made me appreciate these songs more and more.


Currently, my favorite from the list is “”Get Back Up Again” from Trolls. If you haven’t watched the movie, it’s a power-song, a “I will accomplish this difficult task no matter what setbacks I face!” song… during which the main character is literally repeatedly eaten. At the end she’s poisoned and wrapped up in a spider web, but after the other character revives her she pops up with the line, “get back up again!” It’s surreal and disturbing and I love it because it reminds me of all the ridiculousness of life and how sometimes you’ve got to just keep trucking no matter how rough things seem.


Of course, given an opportunity I also like to write with music on, so most of my books also have playlists. Most of the Mancer Trilogy was written and/or revised to the sound of Dar Williams’ two albums, “Better Self” and “Promised Land.” Many of the songs from these albums were written in protest of the Iraq war and other post-9/11 policies, which is the real-life context that first inspired the Mancer trilogy. Other songs, like “Teen for God” or “Two Sides of the River” speak to me about the power of belief, and how belief changes or can be found or lost or missed. My favorite of the list, however, is probably “Buzzer.” It makes some good points about society as well, like most of Williams’ work, but mostly I’m a huge psychology nerd so I love that an artist used the Milgram experiment as the basis of a song.


Do you have a favorite scene? If so, what was it?


I do have a favorite scene, and it’s my favorite because I’m a horrible, evil person. I can’t tell you about it because it’s a spoiler, but as you read Mancer 2, the moment when you start yelling at me in your head (or out loud, if you’re a really active reader)– reach out to me on Twitter and ask if that’s it. Every time I give a copy of Mancer 2 to a friend or a beta reader, I anxiously await their phone call or email or text message yelling at me.



Any challenges in writing this book?


Several, but I’ll mention two here.

From an obvious plotting standpoint, Mancer 2: Of the Divine takes place 70 years before Mancer 1… which was also already published before I finished editing Mancer 2. I always knew I meant the prequel to be the second in the series, because it makes sense in terms of how the major plot is unveiled, but how it sits meant I needed to be careful with my consistency. I also needed to constantly weigh what readers knew from Mancer 1, and how that would affect certain reveals, versus what new readers (or readers returning after time between books) didn’t know and wouldn’t notice.


For example, Dahlia Indanthrone is one of the four narrators of Book 2. In the first draft, her name was dropped as a Big Reveal, because readers should know from Mancer 1 that Winsor Indanthrone is President in modern day Kavet. Readers were meant to wonder how she goes from when we meet her to her descendant holding such a position of power. What actually happened was that people went, “Why did it take so long to get her name?” or “That name sounds kind of familiar but I can’t place it.” I eventually had to accept that I couldn’t treat this as a major reveal because most readers wouldn’t recognize its importance. So, it’s there, but if you don’t make the connection until you read Mancer 3 and someone points it out, it doesn’t hurt the story at all.


All that was trivial compared to certain questions of inclusion. Of the Divine is set in the capital city of Kavet, a major port city that sees a great variety of people, but my first draft (written quickly before all my world-building was done) was very homogeneous and white. The book also deals with religious conflicts and sexuality, also issues that need to be addressed with care. As a gay, Jewish woman, there are some aspects I can address from my own experience, but there are also experiences beyond my own (namely: I’m a white woman from mostly-white suburbia, and having non-white friends does not make me an expert in how to handle race in fiction).


I ended up working with a couple sensitivity readers to address issues I never would have realized were issues on my own, things I’m tempted to describe as “little things” because they seem little to me but which are apparently very important to certain readers. For example, I’m personally more than a little obsessed with food. When I go to write a description, I tend to use a lot of food-descriptors, unless I consciously stop myself (someone once told me my character Adjila from Persistence of Memory sounded like a fancy latte from Starbucks because of the description I used for him). What I didn’t know until a sensitivity reader pointed it out is that these kinds of descriptions are disproportionately used for POC, and thus are offensive, and can be triggering.


My immediate response when my sensitivity reader told me this was, much to my shame now, predictable: What’s the big deal? Oh, I don’t mean it that way. I describe everything that way. I’m glad that reader gave feedback in a way that I didn’t need to respond immediately, so I had time to process and consider and realize: It’s not a big deal to me because I’m white. I don’t get to decide if it’s a big deal to someone else. I had time to get my privilege under control so I didn’t say something defensive and obnoxious, but could instead say, “Thank you for pointing this out.”


So I started researching ways to do better, instead, and started practicing two mantras in my head for when I’m writing and getting beta-reading feedback: If it’s not my experience, I don’t get to judge whether or not it’s important, and, Try not to be an insensitive jerk, Amelia.


Wow, I apparently had a lot to say on that topic!


One way or another, I hope you enjoy the Mancer Trilogy. I’ve enjoyed writing it, and learned a lot through it. Thanks for being here today and thanks for reading!



Of the Divine Excerpt

The pride of Osei abruptly turned and dove. Serpentine bodies large enough to lift ships from the sea plummeted. They changed shape so close to the ground that the wind from their wings smacked the plaza like a hand, rattling or knocking over the light carts and tables the early morning merchants set up to display their wares. Henna squinted her eyes against the grit that smacked her face as the Osei landed with enough force to shatter their bodies had they been human.


People in the plaza scattered, scrambling away to hide in the shelter of surrounding buildings, but Henna couldn’t make her muscles move as the Osei queen looked around speculatively.


The creature had skin like liquid silver and eyes like barbed steel. As she crossed the plaza directly toward Henna’s frozen form, Henna recognized her. She was the only Osei queen who ever left her own territory to visit another Osei House.


The Queen of the First House, the Royal House of the Osei, was standing in the Kavet marketplace.


Henna felt all the blood drain from her face. Maybe farther. Was she bleeding onto the cobbles? Into the core of the earth?


“You know us,” the queen said. “That is convenient. You will inform the rulers of this land that we require their immediate presence.”



About the Author


author photo Of the DivineAmelia Atwater-Rhodes wrote her first novel, In the Forests of the Night, when she was 13 years old. Other books in the Den of Shadows series are Demon in My View, Shattered Mirror, Midnight Predator, all ALA Quick Picks for Young Adults.


She has also published the five-volume series The Kiesha’ra: Hawksong, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and VOYA Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror List Selection; Snakecharm; Falcondance; Wolfcry; and Wyvernhail.

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Amelia Atwater-Rhodes will be awarding a limited edition print copy of the book *U.S. only* to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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  • Goddess Fish Promos (@GoddessFish)
    October 27, 2017 at 4:28 am

    Thanks for hosting!