ALL FOUR KIDS: Interview with Livia Blackburne, author of Midnight Thief

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Today we’re lucky enough to be hosting Livia Blackburne, whose debut novel MIDNIGHT THIEF is out now!

MIDNIGHT THIEF was one of my most anticipated reads of the year (seriously, the release date was penned into my diary and everything), so I was really excited to get my hands on it and chat with Livia.

Here’s the official summary:

17566814Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

And MIDNIGHT THIEF doesn’t disappoint! It’s a classic fantasy, full of adventure and assassins and surprising twists, and I loved every minute of it.

RT: You’ve said that Midnight Thief was partly inspired by your love of Tamora Pierce books. I was a massive fan of her books too! What was your favorite thing about her writing that you wanted to recreate?

LB: It seems like a whole generation of YA authors grew up on Tamara Pierce, doesn’t it? I loved her Song of the Lioness series, and I what drew me to the series was Alanna’s character. I loved how she was a total badass in terms of physical prowess but still had so much to learn about life and love. In that way, I think my main character Kyra is very similar.

RT: Midnight Thief is told from two perspectives: a thief and a knight. Why did you decide to split the book? Was it difficult to write from two very different character perspectives at once?

LB: I split the perspectives out of necessity, because the two of them don’t meet until about halfway through the book. I needed to write from both their points of view in order to convey the story. And it was so hard! Kyra was very easy to write because she is very similar to me, but I lose count of the number of times I rewrote Tristam’s chapters. It was really difficult for me to get inside a guy’s head, and it took many iterations before he came to life. If you want to read a funny story about me attempting to write a male point of view, check out this blog post here.

RT: If you had to pick, who’s your favorite character in Midnight Thief, the one you’re most excited for readers to meet?

LB: I have this unhealthy obsession with James the head of the Assassins Guild, because he such an intriguing and morally ambiguous character. Depending on whether you read Midnight Thief or Poison Dance first, it you’ll have a very different view of him, and I like that. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s drop dead sexy.

RT: How did you go about building the world for Midnight Thief? What came first — the world itself, the characters in it, or the plot?

LB: Midnight Thief started with the idea of a talented girl thief whose conscience gets in the way of her job. I also came up with the idea of the novel’s central plot twist at about the same time. The world building came last, and a lot of it actually came after I sold the book. Much of the lore and scene setting was done at the suggestion of my awesome editors.

RT: You say on your website you started Midnight Thief in highschool, to get out of a mandatory camping requirement. And your characters certainly spend a lot of time adventuring in the woods! Any connection there?

LB: Ha! Maybe not the fact that they spend a lot of time in the forest. I think that just happens a lot in fantasies. But I did get a kick out of the fact that Kyra is a city girl who feels really uncomfortable and out of place in the forest. If you’re looking for a capable fantasy woodsperson, Kyra is not your woman.

RT: You also wrote a prequel novella in the Midnight Thief world, Poison Dance. How was the experience of writing a novella different from writing a full-length novel?

LB: Structure wise, the novella was of course much simpler. There were only two plot threads, and it was a nice bit of instant gratification (relatively speaking) to have something completed so quickly.

The biggest difference for me when writing poison dance though, was the fact that it was written from the point of view of a 25-year-old hardened male assassin — a far cry from the teenage girls I usually write. Getting to James’s head was a big challenge, and I had a great deal of fun analyzing books with badass male characters to get my head into that space. I blogged about that in a series of blog posts I coined Operation chest hair (episode one on love, and two on grief).That whole experience helped me grow greatly as a writer.

RT: Finally, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you are afraid of and something you are not afraid of.

LB: I’m horribly afraid of spiders, but not afraid of snakes at all (Well, I have healthy respect for any snake that has of my path, but I don’t get the full on irrational fear reaction I get to spiders.). I’ve always wondered about this, because my parents are scared of both. But somehow, I picked up on one phobia and not the other.

RT: Thanks Livia, and congratulations on the fantastic debut!

About Livia:

liviablackburneLivia Blackburne wrote her first novel while she was a PhD student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she conducted research on the neuroscience of reading acquisition in children. Upon graduation, she switched to writing full time. Livia still blogs about the intersection of literature and neuroscience.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS


SBS130424-RHIANNONTHOMAS-023Rhiannon Thomas grew up in the north of England, but moved to the US in 2007 to study English Literature at Princeton University. She now lives in York, England, where she is attempting to master the art of making her own bubble tea. When she isn’t lost in YA fantasy, she writes about feminism in the media at her blog, FeministFiction.com. Her debut novel, A WICKED THING, will be released from HarperTeen in Winter 2015.
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