I had the pleasure of reading an eARC of Between the Blade and the Heart (2018) by Amanda Hocking. It’s an urban fantasy about Valkyries whose purpose is to send immortals back to the underworld. There are secrets, tension, and really cool fight scenes galore. I especially loved how differently Malin approaches her relationship with Quinn and her relationship with Asher. Her relationship with her mother is particularly compelling.
As part of the blog tour, Amanda answered some questions about the craft and inspiration for this Scandinavian-inspired urban fantasy. The book comes out January 2nd.
What or who was the inspiration behind Between the Blade and the Heart?
I have already written several books inspired by Scandinavian folklore, and I was always fascinated by Valkyries. But because I had already done in Scandinavian fantasy, I wanted to come at this one from a different angle. I imagined the Valkyries helping to police a gritty, diverse, cyberpunk metropolis, in a world filled with not just Norse figures but from many mythologies.
What cities inspired the urban haven where the Valkyries live?
I was really obsessed with this idea of an overpopulated metropolis, and so I took a lot of inspiration from some of the biggest cities in the world, particularly Tokyo, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Manila. The city itself is actually a sort of futuristic, alternate reality of Chicago (one of my favorite cities in the world), and I wanted to incorporate that into it as well.
What came first: The world, the mythology, or the characters?
I usually say the characters come first, and the world builds around it. But for this one, it really was the world that drew me into it. I knew I was writing about a young woman who was a Valkyrie, but that about all when I began building up the world and the mythology.
I love that these characters are in college. What inspired this choice?
Because of the complex relationship Malin has with her mother, I knew I wanted some distance between them, so I thought putting her in college, living away from her mom, was a good way to do it. Plus, I thought it would be fun to explore the all the supernatural training that would be needed to do these specialized jobs that come up in a world where every mythological creature exists.
What was your favorite scene and why?
I don’t know if there is one particular scene that I loved more than the others, but I really enjoyed writing about the city that Malin lives in and all the creatures that inhabit it.
What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?
I don’t want to say too much or risk spoiling it, but there’s a scene near the end of the book where a confrontation leaves Malin reeling. I wrote it in an almost present tense, stream-of-consciousness way because I thought that was the best way to capture the raw intensity of her emotions.
How many more books can we expect in the Between the Blade and the Heart series?
One more! From the Earth to the Shadows will be out in April 2018.