Monday, April 23, 2018

Blog Tour: Author Spotlight - Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.

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Instagram: @adrienneyoungbooks
Twitter: @adriennebooks

Title: Sky in the Deep
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Author: Adrienne Young
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication: April 24th 2018
Cover Rating: 5/5
Reading format: Provided eARC

Adrienne Young's debut novel Sky in the Deep is one of my favorite books of this year. She captures the Viking life so well that I daresay she must be a Viking shield maiden reincarnated. (Are you, Adrienne?) The world-building is clear, the writing style harkens to everything I love about Medieval European storytelling, and her characters are both staunch in their mental and physical strength AND extraordinarily vulnerable in their beliefs. It is a book overflowing with complexities that I enjoyed exploring.

I do want to say early on that this book may not be for you if you aren't into constant action, gore, or fast pacing. From the start, you are dropped into a battle between the Aska and Riki, clans that have been enemies for as long as can be remembered. For both peoples, their lives are motivated by survival and hate of the other group. Five years before the opening battle scene, Eelyn lost her brother during one of the clashes. But plot twist: she sees him fighting alongside the Riki during that opening scene, helping who should be his forever sworn enemy. From that point on--very quickly, since the story just zooms on--everything that Eelyn had known comes into question. How is he alive? Why is he with them? What has been going on for the past five years? How could he choose to be with them and not come home to family? So on and so on. 

Note on the pacing: Sky in the Deep is fast-paced and the action is constant. A great comparison is Kincaid's The Diabolic and The Empress. Though vastly different in terms of genre and story, they are like each other in the movement of the story. If you like the feel of the persistent action and rapid flow, I suggest giving this book a go. I wasn't sure I would be into the book due to these reasons, but I ended up swept away and there for the long haul. I am glad I did. (I repeat: Sky in the Deep is one of my favorite books of 2018. *wink wink*)

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the exploration of identity. Eelyn, our protagonist, goes through identity crises and struggles the balancing of her identity. In the beginning, she is firmly rooted in knowing herself and where she stands in the world. Discovering her brother lives starts the crumbling of her certainty, and through the events that follow she understands that the world is not as black and white as "Aska good, Riki bad." She is nudged into an internal evolution, one that leads to a better understanding that the Aska and Riki aren't as different as she had thought.

Also, I can't really dig into explaining this due to spoilers, but this book brings a whole new meaning to "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." As you read, I would keep that thought on the periphery.

As for another favorite part of Sky in the Deep that I loved, enter the romance. The slow burn love that builds between Eelyn and a mystery man is so gosh darn good. The man in question is so good and pure, on par with lovable Lazlo (Strange the Dreamer) and Edmund (A Death-Struck Year), and I can't get enough of them. Eelyn's man, in particular, is especially appealing, because he had the same identity challenges and connects with her on even deeper levels thanks to their kindred enlightenment. But another reason I was excitedly squirming was the intensity of their romance's slow burn. It is forbidden due to the prejudices instilled by each clan, yet as Eelyn realizes the injustice of that kind of thinking and the common ground between their peoples, it feels so right. It is through her evolution of identity that their relationship becomes realistically possible, and I'm just over here screaming, "YAAAAAAAS!" And even with the differences between their people (pfft, or lack of differences), Eelyn is upfront with him regarding where her priorities lie, and he echoes the same sentiments. But even with them constantly reminding each other that they will protect their own no matter the circumstances, neither can resist the other or deny the sprout of love that has grown between them. Despite all odds, despite everything forbidden, despite the atrocities they must endure, they know they are fated for each other--even if it means working through difficult situations to be with each other. 

And on that note where I am yet again breaking down from the purity of their love, recalling the tummy tingles I felt as their love manifested, I must leave you with my rating of 5 out of 5 bitchin' stars. I could probably talk about this book for hours and hours, but I would rather talk about it with you, so get yourself to a bookstore on 4/24/2018 and pick up a copy of Sky in the Deep on its release day! 

1. What inspired SKY IN THE DEEP? How did the idea and Eelyn come to you? Do you have any favorite Viking stories?
The sibling betrayal was definitely the first inspiration for this story. I was driving in the pouring rain on this country road and that first scene just hit me - Eelyn, seeing her brother on the battlefield after thinking that he was dead for five years. I pulled over on the side of the road and scribbled a million notes on an old envelope. I was immediately hooked to the idea and I wanted to know what had happened. I started writing that first chapter and I just never stopped.

2. What type of research did you do for your characters and world-building? What languages did you study to implement the languages that the Aska and the Riki speak? What was the strangest thing you had to research for this book?
I did a ton of research for this story. I actually really love to research things so it was a lot of fun. A lot of it was stuff like clothing, landscape, weapons, food, etc. But I did a lot of research into Norse mythology as well to build a foundation for this world. The language used is Old Norse, but it’s a dead language so studying it was really difficult. There is a lot of controversy about it among scholars and there’s no real way to fully understand it, so I just did my best based on my own investigation. I’m definitely not an expert! The weirdest thing I had to research was how to tear out someone’s eyeball. Yuck.

3. What was your writing process like for SKY IN THE DEEP?
Complete and utter obsession. When I draft, I get really buried in the world and I don’t really come up for air until I get to the end. I write as much as I can and limit my intake of other influencers that could mess with my mindset. I don’t watch TV or movies or listen to music that’s not on my playlist, and I kind of don’t have a social life until it’s done.

4. What was your hardest scene to write? What was the easiest?
I really didn’t struggle to get this story on the page the way I have with other books so I really don’t  know what the hardest scene to write was. But the easiest was the first chapter. I wrote it so fast and it just clicked in so perfectly.

5. Which of your characters are you the most like? Who was your favorite to write?
Eelyn! We have so much in common and she really inspires me. But I think Halvard was the most fun to write. I really, really love him.

6. Do you have a soundtrack for SKY IN THE DEEP? Can you share a couple songs? What would Eelyn’s favorite song be?
Yes! Music plays a HUGE role in my writing process and I have a playlist for every project. The ones I probably listened to the most while drafting SKY are To the Hills by Laurel, Bare by Wildes, and Rise Up – Reprise by Foxes. But a link to the whole playlist is on my site!

7. What books have inspired you to write? What books are you looking forward to reading this year?
The ones that inspired me to write are nothing like my books. One of the most influential ones for me was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, because the human element is so beautiful and the author explores so many things in that book that really took my breath away. I wanted to write stories that went deep like that, but I love fantasy so I try to it within that realm.

8. Any advice on querying? Or writing advice for aspiring writers?
Querying – do not just sign with any agent who will take you. Make a dream agent list of qualified agents who have good reputations and make consistent sales. Query them. If they don’t bite, then write another book that they might want. Believe me when I say it is worth waiting for the right agent!

9. Any details about the companion novel?
I can’t say anything about the companion novel yet! But I’m hoping that we can start talking about it soon because I am really excited about it!

10. If Sky in the Deep was to become a movie who would you cast as the lead characters?
So many people ask me this question and I just feel like no one would ever live up to Eelyn in my mind. I have yet to think of someone who I think could do her justice.


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