Amy Ewing grew up in a small town outside Boston, where her librarian mother instilled a deep love of reading at a young age. Amy moved to New York City in 2000 to study theater at New York University. Unfortunately, her acting career didn’t quite pan out. She worked in restaurants, as an administrative assistant, a nanny, and as a sales representative for a wine distributor before the lack of creativity in her life drove her to begin writing.
Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing for Children from The New School, where she was lucky enough to meet a fabulous community of YA writers who keep her sane on a daily basis. She lives in Harlem, where she spends her days writing, eating cheese, and occasionally binge watching Netflix shows.
Amy, welcome to YA SH3LF. Your new book The Cerulean is the first book in YA fantasy duology. Had you entire duology plotted out from the beginning knowing that you wanted this to be a series?
I knew it was going to be a series, but I didn’t have the entire thing planned out. I rarely plan. And this book changed A LOT over the course of revisions. I always remind myself to be flexible because so much can shift or get cut or be entirely rewritten. I never outline, which I sometimes wish I could, since you’d think it would be crucial to writing a series! But it’s just the way I work—I love the exploration, the crafting of the worlds and people, and then the nitty gritty of tying the plot together. Giving myself a very bare bones roadmap allows me to have some sense of where the story is going but also leaves me the freedom to discover things as I write.
Can you tell us more about Sera and The Cerulean?
The Cerulean are a race of women with magic in their blood. They live in a city that floats through space and must be tethered to planets in order to survive. It’s sort of a theocratic, Sapphic utopia—the Cerulean are all gay and polyamorous, a family unit consisting of three mothers and one daughter. And they are led by a High Priestess, and worship a deity called Mother Sun. They value community and helping one another and living in peace. Sera is an eighteen year old Cerulean girl who is chosen to break the tether connecting the city to the current planet, so that the city can move and tether itself to a new planet. But to break it, she must willing sacrifice herself. Sera is quite loud and bold and curious, which are unusual traits for a Cerulean. She has only one friend, a girl named Leela, and their friendship was one of my favorite parts of the book 🙂 When Sera’s sacrifice goes wrong and she lands on the planet instead of dying, she has to fight for her freedom and figure out a way to make it back to her beloved city.
Can you describe Leela in 3 words?
Loyal, patient, brave.
Were any of your characters based off of people you know?
Nope! I get asked this a lot and to me, these characters are their own people and I just get the opportunity to peer into their lives for a little while.
Were you inspired by any fantasy books or authors while you were writing?
While I was writing The Cerulean? No. But I’m certainly inspired by fantasy authors, starting with Roald Dahl who is probably my favorite author and who gave me my love of the dark sides of fantasy from a young age. And of course anyone who knows me knows how much I love Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings, which was hugely influential to me as a teenager. Now I’m obsessed with the Game of Thrones books (I’m actually rereading them for the third time because I am HUGE rereader, especially of epic fantasies).
Off Topic : Favorite movie? TV show? Band?
I have to go with The Lord of the Rings for my favorite movie, which is cheating, I know, but I am the harshest critic of books-to-film and I feel Peter Jackson just nailed my beloved series (well, the first two films…Return of the King I take issue with). For TV shows, I love Parks and Rec. I put it on whenever I need to smile because Leslie Knope is simply the best. I don’t have a favorite band, but I like all sorts of music. I listened to a lot of Sam Cooke with my dad when I was a kid, I love folksy bands like Old Crow Medicine Show because I can play their songs on my guitar, and I definitely saw Taylor Swift in concert with my best friend on her 1989 Tour, because how could I not? So there’s a big range there 🙂
Interview : YA SH3LF