*has a mini party by herself because she’s that
sad weird lonely cool. I am so ready for this Weekend of Awesomeness™ and to kick of all the excitement, I have a AWESOME interview with the wonderful Joanna Ruth Meyer! I will also be reviewing Echo North!
I absolutely loved Joanna’s answers and she shares some great writing/world building tips so stick around for that! My review will also be after the interview so you lot are in for a treat!
My questions are in
blood bold and Joanna’s answers are normal!
Which fictional book/world would you like to live in?
I’d love to live in Middle Earth, after Sauron was defeated so it would be safe. 😀 I also want to visit the world of Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, mostly so I could meet Eugenides!!
What was your favourite snack whilst writing your book?
I always have to have a mug—or pot—of tea when I’m writing! If I have cookies to go with my tea, even better!
Do you think that this was easier to write than your first novel? Anything you found harder the second time round?
I had actually already written three drafts of Echo North by the time my debut novel was published—Echo was going to be my backup if Beneath the Haunting Sea didn’t get picked up by a publisher. Fortunately, it did, which made the publishing process for Echo a lot faster. Moral of the story: write the next thing while you’re querying or on submission!
When did you first get the idea for your book? When did you first act on it?
The first spark of an idea for Echo North actually came from a dream I had about a girl riding a reindeer being chased across a snowy landscape by a pack of wolves. As I was playing with the idea, I realized it wanted to be an East of the Sun, West of the Moon retelling, and I attempted to write it as a 10,000 word short story. That didn’t work, so I wrote the rough draft of the novel version during NaNoWriMo 2014.
Your book contains a whole different world. Do you have any tips on making world-building believable and interesting?
I think the trick with world building is to mix a lot of real details in with the fantastical. Lots of smells and sights, concrete things you can easily visualize/relate to. And then if you have magic in your world, create a set of rules that your mag system adheres to, and then make sure you follow them!
Do you have any writer friends?
I have a fabulous group of writer friends, both locally and online! It’s so important to have people to go along on the publishing journey with you!
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It depends on the book! For Echo I looked at a lot of pictures of Siberian landscapes and researched 19th century Russian clothing before writing the first draft. While writing the second draft, I read about watchmaking and lighthouses for two small scenes, and somewhere in there I re-read the source material for inspiration.
Which part of the writing process do you enjoy most?
There’s aspects of (almost) every part of the process that I really love. I adore the brainstorming phase, when the ideas are new and exciting and the possibilities are endless—that feeling of creating characters and worlds never gets old. I love the initial rush of writing the first draft, watching the words pile up and something grow out of nothing. I love when I’m in the middle of a revision and I’m past the point of figuring out how to fix things and I’m actually fixing things, honing the book into what its meant to be. Making the book better is very satisfying, even though it can be frustrating at times!
Do you try to let the writing take you where it wants to go or do you stop and try to come up with plot twists to make the story more interesting?
That’s an interesting question! In my everyday life I am Very Impulsive and like things to be Open Ended (I’m a textbook INFP!). I can’t do that when I’m writing though—if I don’t extensively plot, I get stuck and stop. HOWEVER, sometimes what I’ve plotted out doesn’t work by the time I get there so I end up changing things as I go. This happened a couple times with Echo. During the first draft, I’d planned one thing with a character, but that character surprised me and made me change my plan in a delightful way! I also added a huge change in my third draft by asking myself a scary question: What would happen if [SPOILERS REDACTED] which sent me down a new avenue and ultimately added a unique element to the book that I didn’t realize was lacking before!
Any tips for aspiring writers?
My go-to advice for aspiring writers is to find the process that works for you, and stick to it. If you’re a plotter, plot. If you’re a pantser, pants. If you’re somewhere in between, do that! Don’t let my process or your critique partner’s process or your favorite author’s process dictate your own. There’s a way that your mind likes to create—find it, and follow it. Also, find a critique partner—a good one is worth their weight in gold, and they will make you a better writer.
*munching on popcorn* Weren’t those answers simply awesome? I’m not very writerly at the moment but a critique partner sounds awesome! Someone to give you encouragement, annoy you into writing and generally support you! The world building tips are also super important! If your world doesn’t seem real/have certain rules, it’ll be harder to understand and like it! Echo North was utterly awesome so read on to hear what I thought of it!
by Joanna Ruth Meyer// Echo Alkaev’s safe and carefully structured world falls apart after her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf—the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an offer: for her to come and live with him for a year. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes. (Read more at Goodreads) Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 (4.5 stars)
I was completely intrigued the moment I saw this book! Echo North’s cover, name and blurb are so mysterious that I was hooked! It is a simply exquisite read. From the moment I started reading to when I put it down, I was completely and utterly enthralled. Written in such a beautiful way, I was overflowing with an intense whirl of emotions- love and fear and hope and sadness. You will experience them all in this book and end up satisfied but in tears at the end! It was super touching and I loved all the twists and turns in Echo North! I would 10/10 read it again and even though the pacing was slightly fast near the end, I loved it and give it a 4.5/5! Echo North is a YA fantasy retelling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon (original version of Beauty and the Beast)
The characters were beautifully real and I fell in love with the Echo, the wolf and Hal!
Echo is a super amazing main character who has a passion for books and knowledge! She was attacked by a wolf at quite a young age leaving her with a scarred face that caused others in her village to avoid her (THEY ARE SO CRUEL). Echo is thought to be marked by the devil
*scoffs*. Literally the only people who don’t judge her are her father (i approve of this guy) and her brother (approval also granted)! I loved her the whole way through except when [SPOILERS REDACTED] and tbh I found her slightly annoying as well so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ She is a strong protagonist though and the way she learnt to be proud of herself and her face as she spent time with the wolf was heartwarming! I felt so proud of Echo and her emotional journey!
ALSO I HATE Echo’s stepmother PLS LET HER DISAPPEAR INTO NOTHINGNESS.
Hal is great not going to lie! I love how supportive he is and how at his element he seems in the book mirrors! He is so sweet and hurt and amazing that I just love him so much!! I did prefer the wolf over Hal and I was SO ANNOYED at the start when Echo started liking Hal because I SHIP ECHO AND THE WOLF.
I absolutely LOVE the Wolf. He was probably my favourite character in the whole story! No matter how much lying and deceiving he did, he will always be squished in a hug by me. The lying is also kinda understandable because what are humans if not selfish???
Rodya was such a great brother! He loved Echo so much and definitely did try his best to bring out her best and supported the life out of her! We definitely need more awesome brothers in YA because they are so SWEET!!!
Ivan, Satu and Isidor’s family is soo cute and ahh I love them! Tbh all the families are absolute goals in this book (minus the stepmother of course because she’s a witch). I kinda did work out the twist around them but the ending AHHHH. It was so hEARTBREAKING.
I absolutely loved the vivid description and writing in this book! The Wolf’s house with its magical rooms and book-mirrors (mirrors you can jump into and watch the story happen or explore some other part of the world! I loved reading about Echo’s job of sewing the rooms and it is just simply awesome! One thing I did notice was that the book’s pace was really fast near the end. I ended up getting slightly lost and had to reread passages multiple times. It was a beautiful story and I would deffo read again! I reccomend this book to everyone who loves fantasy stories or fairy tale retellings!
CHAT WITH ME! Do you love fantasy? Are you a fan of retellings? Have you seen Beauty and the Beast (Emma Watson edition)? Any retelling recs (I ACTUALLY NEED THESE SO IF YOU HAVE ANY, HIT ME WITH ‘EM)? Plans for the weekend? Divulge your secrets!!