I’d like to welcome Amanda Torrey today. Amanda is the author of the Teen Fury series, about an ordinary teenage girl named Felicia who learns she is the offspring of a Fury (a goddess of Vengeance) and a god of Mercy. Adolescence is tough enough without mythological genetic quirks, like snakes growing out of Felicia’s head when she loses her temper! This series grabbed me from Book One due to its mythology premise and Amanda’s knack for writing realistic teen dialogue. Speaking of genetics, Amanda is the daughter of romance novelist Liberty Blake. Read Amanda’s interview today, and then check out my interview with her mother!
How did you get the idea for the Teen Fury series?
I can’t remember the precipitant, but one day I began imagining what the offspring of a Fury (basically, a goddess of Vengeance) and a god of Mercy would be like. I was intrigued by the notion of a child with such duality. Then I started imagining that the child was raised in the regular world with regular parents, fully in touch with the Mercy side of her nature. Having experienced my own teen years and being in the middle of my daughter’s teen years, I then imagined what would happen when the child became a teen… Having a Fury emerge didn’t seem like that far-fetched of an idea! I didn’t write the book right away because I was working on an adult paranormal romance and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to write YA at that point, but I took notes and kept them with my other stack of notes. Felicia (the protagonist) began to really nudge me, so finally I gave in and wrote her story.
How do you anticipate Felicia changing and growing throughout the trilogy?
Felicia definitely has a lot of growing to do! In the first book, she makes some decisions that are purely based on her visceral reaction to external circumstances. The mom in me was saying, “No! Don’t do that! Bad choice!” The writer in me had to honor her choices, even if I could think of a million other ways she could handle the situation. Felicia is changing not only physically (becoming a woman AND having snakes emerge from her head when she’s angry), but also emotionally. She’s learning that her parents aren’t perfect, that friendships aren’t always easy to manage, and that she can’t always trust blindly. In the second book, Felicia struggles with the fine line between right and wrong and good and evil. As she grows, she begins to see things in a different way, and this new vision creates a new path for her. In book three, she finally learns to seek true balance and come to terms fully with her dual nature. I think this trilogy is one hundred percent about a young girl finding herself and figuring out how to stay true to what she believes.
What do you like about writing for young adults?
I love that teens are so full of life and hope, so optimistic for the future and so idealistic. I love writing characters who aren’t yet jaded by life, and who are open to learning and growing. I think that in YA novels, we are able to explore topics in a fresh way that isn’t always feasible in adult novels. I also enjoy writing a somewhat unreliable narrator. We only see things through her perspective, so we don’t really know the motivation or intent behind other characters other than what is filtered through Felicia’s limited viewpoint. Most importantly, I love the self-discovery that comes in the teen years; the uncertainty, the vacillation between hope and doubt, success and failure.
You write in such a natural YA voice. How did you master that voice? Do you spend time with a lot of teens; are there any YA books that you read or TV shows that you watch to “stay current?”
Thank you so much! That’s a great compliment! Maybe I have never grown past my teen years… (hee, hee.) Okay, I’ve gotten old, but I do spend a lot of time with my teen children and their friends. I often have a van full of kids, and I like to casually “spy” on their conversations—not to get them in trouble or anything, but to be reminded of what issues are important to teens, how they react to situations, the cadence of their speech. I am a people-watcher by nature, and am not above sitting near a group of teens in the mall or park just so I can listen in while I read a book or eat a snack. (I swear I’m not a creeper! It’s for research purposes only!) I do also watch several teen shows with my kids—our favorites are currently Glee, Awkward, and The Carrie Diaries. I’ve been reading YA books since before I decided to write YA, and I’m always impressed with the authors who can capture the true voice of teens. There are some great YA books out there—if you aren’t reading them, you’re missing out on some amazing stories!
You were published at a young age. Since your mother is also a writer, what influence did she have on your developing an interest in reading and writing?
My mom was my biggest fan and my strongest supporter from the time I was a little girl. She always encouraged imagination (to this day, I believe she really did chase a unicorn when she went to Ireland!) She believed in me no matter what crazy ideas I came up with. When I wanted to be Claire in The Nutcracker, she told me I could be. When I wanted to be Annie, she thought that made perfect sense. When I wanted to be a teacher, she gave me every opportunity to pursue that interest. Books were never in short supply at our house, no matter how little money we had. I’ve never seen my mom without several books in her pocketbook and a houseful of novels waiting to be read. I grew up watching her write and seeing how much joy she derived from the act. I can’t say I wanted to be a writer when I was young—it’s more of something I finally gave in to rather than something I aspired to (I didn’t realize that not everyone walks around creating scenes and dialogue in their head every day). But when my story was chosen to be published in the Young Authors of America anthology when I was in seventh grade, you’d think my success was my mom’s. I remember her greeting me at the bus stop with the box of author copies that were sent to me from NY. She was hugging the books to her chest and crying. I’ve never seen such pride anywhere else, and the image will be with me forever. In my adult years, it’s my mom who encouraged me to join the writing groups she discovered. She reads my work enthusiastically, and most of our conversations now revolve around writing or marketing. She’s a talented writer, and I always look forward to reading her works in progress.
What is it like to have a mother who is in the writing and publishing business also? What are some ways you help each other with the writing journey and with marketing?
Having a mom in the business is great. When we travel somewhere together, we listen to writer’s workshops in the car, then discuss them. We go to conferences together and always have a guaranteed roommate. We are able to brainstorm together (and we both know that when one of us needs to talk out a story problem, we aren’t looking for someone to solve it or even offer suggestions. We know that sometimes we just need to talk it out to find the solution ourselves.) We read and critique each other’s work. I tend to be more on the shy side when it comes to promoting my books in person, but my mom is more than happy to brag about her daughter. She brings my book to libraries, drops off bookmarks anywhere she can, and is constantly posting about my books on her social media. I obsess over researching topics in the writing world, so I share all the interesting snippets, marketing and promotional ideas, etc. so she doesn’t miss out on something. Oh, and if someone says something bad about our writing, we can reassure the other that obviously that person doesn’t know what they’re talking about. (hee, hee.)
What was it like to read your mother’s books? Was there ever a scene, line or character she’s written that made you think “that’s so her,” knowing her as well as you do?
Well let’s just say that my mom writes romance, and sometimes it can get pretty steamy. There are certain scenes that are awkward to read, so I try to brainwash myself into thinking I’m reading a stranger’s writing. I’m always impressed with her writing—she creates these amazing plots and characters. And when the heroine is kicking butt in one way or the other, I know that my mom is letting her inner heroine out to play. I’ve always admired my mom’s kick-butt attitude and fearless way of moving through life, and I do believe she captures that spirit in her books.
Teen Fury: Unleashed: Adopted at birth, fifteen year old Felicia Murphy has no idea she’s the offspring of a Fury and a god of Mercy. The discovery will soon shatter her world… Felicia’s reputation as stable and trustworthy means everything if she’s to win the grant for the troubled kids she mentors. Snakes emerging from her head, massive mood swings, and a strong thirst for vengeance do not fit into her plans. She has no time to worry about her adoptive parent’s separation and the unwanted discovery that her biological parents are supernatural freaks. She can’t confide in her friends; who would believe her? As her life spins out of control, she allows herself to be distracted by the two new guys who are suddenly showering her with attention, pulling her in different directions. Felicia has choices to make. Embrace the Fury and risk everything, or find a way to tame the beast.
Teen Fury: Embraced Sixteen-year-old Felicia Murphy has learned the pitfalls of letting the snakes in her head control her life, and she has no intention of letting them interfere in her future. She knows it’s not her duty to dish out vengeance, but, oh, the temptation… Battling near-constant headaches bites, but with Ryder by her side, she’s able to keep the Fury at bay. She doesn’t care that Meg, her biological-mother-from-hell, has escaped Mercy’s prison and will be playing dirty to get Felicia on her side. What she does care about is having a perfect night at the prom and successfully debuting the new mentor room for the troubled kids in town. She refuses to play into Meg’s sick, twisted games. Lines become blurred when Felicia’s best friend is brutalized. Felicia knows she could have prevented the pain if she had been willing to wield her one secret weapon. What once was black and white now becomes soiled with shades of gray. Will this self-discovery encourage her to embrace her craving for vengeance? And if so, will Ryder be able to accept her for who she has become?
When not writing, Amanda enjoys hanging with her kids, reading, playing in nature, obsessively checking Facebook, visiting Disney World (as often as possible), and her latest obsession- Just Dance 4 (though she’s not very good at it!) She loves meeting new people, and especially loves to hear from readers! She truly believes that if anyone can change the world in a positive way, teens can.