BLOG TOUR: “Between the Blade and the Heart” by Amanda Hocking

Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

SUMMARY

When the fate of the world is at stake
Loyalties will be tested

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.

AUTHOR BIO

Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

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Q&A with Amanda Hocking

Q: What or who was the inspiration behind Between the Blade and the Heart

A: I have already written several books inspired by Scandinavian folklore, and I was always fascinated by Valkyries. But because I had already done in Scandinavian fantasy, I wanted to come at this one from a different angle. I imagined the Valkyries helping to police a gritty, diverse, cyberpunk metropolis, in a world filled with not just Norse figures but from many mythologies.

Q: What are the life lessons that you want readers to glean from your book? 

A: That love is a strength, not a weakness.

Q: If you were given the chance to go on a date with one of your characters, who would you choose and what would you do together? 

A: Oona. She doesn’t swing that way, but since I’m married anyway, it would be a friendship date. I think it would be fun to go to an apothecary with her and have her show me around the magic. Or maybe just veg out and watch bad movies.

Q: Would the essence of your novel change if the main protagonist were male?

A: Yes, it would be changed dramatically. For one, Valkyries are women. But I also think the book explores the relationships between mothers and daughters, and friendships between young women.

Q: What is your definition of true love in YA literature? 

A: There has to be passion and desire – not necessarily anything physical, but so much of young love is about yearning. But I also think that true love is based on mutual respect and selflessness.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to be an author/start writing?

A: My biggest piece of advice is to just write. It’s so easy to get caught up in self-doubt or procrastination. There are lot of great books and blogs about the art of writing, but the most important thing is really to just do it. The best way to get better at writing is by doing it.

Q: What’s one book you would have no trouble rereading for the rest of your life?

A: It would be a toss-up between Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli and Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I’ve read both of those books a dozen times already, at least, and I never get sick of them.

Q: How did you name your characters? Are they based on people you know in real life?

A: It’s a combination of names I like and taking inspiration from the world itself. With Between the Blade and the Heart, the names were inspired both by the mythology they come from – many Valkyries have Norse names like Malin, Teodora, and Freya, for example – and the futuristic setting of the book, so I wanted names that seemed a bit cooler and just slightly different than the ones we use now.

Q: Alright, Amanda, I know you’re a movie buff. What are some movies your characters would pick as their all-time favorites?

A: That’s a tough one. Malin – The Crow, Oona – Pan’s Labyrinth, Quinn – Wonder Woman, Asher – Inception, and Marlow – Twelve Monkeys.

Q: Which mythological character is most like you?

A: Demeter, because she’s pretty dramatic – she basically kills all the plants in the world when her daughter goes missing – but she’s also determined, and will stop at nothing to protect those she cares about.

Q: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

A: Oona or Bowie. Oona because she’s so practical, supportive, and determined, and Bowie because he’s adorable.

Q: What is your favorite scene and why?

A: I don’t know if there is one particular scene that I loved more than the others, but I really enjoyed writing about the city that Malin lives in and all the creatures that inhabit it.

Q: What cities inspired the urban haven where the Valkyries live?

A: I was really obsessed with this idea of an overpopulated metropolis, and so I took a lot of inspiration from some of the biggest cities in the world, particularly Tokyo, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Manila. The city itself is actually a sort of futuristic, alternate reality of Chicago (one of my favorite cities in the world), and I wanted to incorporate that into it as well.

Q: What came first: The world, the mythology, or the characters?

A: I usually say the characters come first, and the world builds around it. But for this one, it really was the world that drew me into it. I knew I was writing about a young woman who was a Valkyrie, but that about all when I began building up the world and the mythology.

Q: I love that these characters are in college. What inspired this choice?

A: Because of the complex relationship Malin has with her mother, I knew I wanted some distance between them, so I thought to put her in college, living away from her mom, was a good way to do it. Plus, I thought it would be fun to explore the all the supernatural training that would be needed to do these specialized jobs that come up in a world where every mythological creature exists.

Q: What songs would you include if you were to make a soundtrack for the book?

A: This is my favorite question! I love creating soundtracks that I listen to while writing a book, and here are some of my favorite tracks from my Between the Blade and the Heart playlist: Annie Lennox – “I Put a Spell on You,” Daniel Johns – “Preach,” Halsey – “Trouble (stripped),” Meg Myers – “Sorry (EthniKids Remix),” and MYYRA – “Human Nature.”

Q: Was this book always planned as a series or did that develop afterward?

A: It was always planned as a duology. I don’t want to go into too much or risk spoiling the second book, but I had this idea that one book would be above, and the other below.

Q: Your novels and characters are so layered. How do you stay organized while plotting/writing? Do you outline, use post-it notes, make charts, or something else?

A: All of the above! This one was the most intensive as far as research and note taking goes, and I also had maps, glossaries, and extensive lists of various mythologies. I think I ended up with thirteen pages of just Places and Things. I do a lot of typed notes, but I also do handwritten scribbles (which can sometimes be confusing to me later on when I try to figure out what they mean. I once left myself a note that just said “What are jelly beans?”) For this one, I really did have to have lots of printouts on hand that I could look to when writing.

Q: You’ve said that pop culture and the paranormal both influence your writing. How do these things intersect for you? 

A: In a way, I think they’re both about how humans choose to interpret and define the world that surrounds us. So many mythologies come from humans trying to make sense of the seasons and the chaos of existence, and even though we’ve moved past a lot of the scientific questions, pop culture is still tackling our existence. Even when looking at shows made for kids, like Pixar, they handle a lot of difficult concepts, like what it means to love someone else, how to be a good friend, facing your fears, and overcoming loss. These are things that mythologies and stories have been going over for centuries.

Q: Did you choose the title first, or write the book then choose the title?

A: It depends on the book, but I will say with this one that it took a very, very long time to come up with a title. It was already written and edited, and we were still bouncing around different names.

Q: How many more books can we expect in “Between the Blade and the Heart” series?

A: One more! From the Earth to the Shadows will be out in April 2018.

Q: What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?

A: I don’t want to say too much or risk spoiling it, but there’s a scene near the end of the book where a confrontation leaves Malin reeling. I wrote it in an almost present tense, stream-of-consciousness way because I thought that was the best way to capture the raw intensity of her emotions.

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BOOK TOUR PROMO: “Domme Experience: Power Exchange and the Making of a Dominatrix (Experiences Book 8)” by Simone Freier

BOOK TOUR PROMO:

Excerpt:

I finished going through my e-mail and was turning off the computer when Kelly came down to my office in the playroom. We were planning to go out to the French restaurant tonight, and it looked like Kelly was ready: She wore an emerald color sweater that contrasted nicely with her auburn hair.

“We have a slight change in plans,” Kelly bounced into the room and plopped down on one of the chairs in front of the desk. I awaited the details.

“I spoke to Linda, and it turns out that she and Matt were also planning on going to the French restaurant, tonight. So we decided to make it a Valentine double date.”

That was a surprise, but a nice one. I came around the desk, pulled Kelly up, and kissed her passionately. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

She smiled and waved her hand. “We don’t have to celebrate every holiday, and certainly not commercial ones. As far as I’m concerned, every day is ‘Valentine’s Day’.” I nodded, and kissed her again. Then, I went upstairs to get dressed for dinner.

We met Linda at the restaurant, and she introduced us to Matt. He was handsome and stylishly dressed. Linda told us that he had both legal and accounting degrees, and worked for a law firm in town, specializing in tax structuring – exactly what we needed!

Throughout the dinner, I kept thinking of questions to ask, and Kelly kicked me under the table each time I turned the conversation back to business. My shin was starting to hurt. Finally, Linda suggested that they come over for a while tonight. “Kelly and I can go in the sauna, while you and Matt work on business.”

It didn’t have to be binary – one or the other; I just wanted to give Matt an introduction, and find out whether he would be interested and able to help us. We could easily do that in the sauna.

Linda and Matt followed us back to the house, and we went down to the playroom, where I offered everyone after dinner drinks. Kelly decided to make coffee, and I took out the bottle of Kahlua, in case anyone wanted Mexican coffee.

We sat around the coffee table, and I couldn’t help but remember some of the experiences Kelly, her friends, and I had had here. As Linda’s eyes scanned the room, there was the hint of a smile that betrayed her thoughts of our past experiences, also.

Linda turned to Matt, “Sam is quite the techie. He has a huge video screen, computer-controlled lighting, and multi-channel surround sound.” Fortunately, she didn’t mention the video cameras or the ‘gadgets’ that I built.

I asked Matt, “Has Linda told you about our company, KS Biotech?”

Matt nodded, “Basically, although I don’t really understand the technology. Are you going to sell the hardware? Or license other companies? Or, develop drugs yourselves?”

I answered, “We’ve considered all those options, but it turns out that a Japanese company is interested in acquiring us. And we’ve already negotiated letters of intent with three mid-sized pharma companies to license the technology to them for their specific markets.

“It’s all based on Kelly’s technology, which could revolutionize the drug development process, especially targeting diseases which are ‘vector-borne’ – carried by or caused by other organisms.” Matt nodded, thoughtfully.

I got to the key point. “So we’re pretty close to getting paid a lot of money, and our main challenge now is minimizing the tax impact.”

Matt smiled, “That’s my specialty.”

Now, I smiled, “Yes, I’d heard that. So maybe we could hire you to help out?”

Matt shrugged, “It would have to be through the law firm that I work for. We’d probably want to have an upside in addition to our basic fee. How much money are we talking about?”

I shook my head, “As it stands now, if we can close at the valuation the Japanese have offered, it would be roughly one point three billion dollars.”

Matt choked on his coffee and sat forward on the edge of the couch, “Did you say billion dollars?” I nodded and smiled. He turned to Linda, whose mouth was hanging open.

At that point, Kelly walked in, wearing her ‘Superwoman’ robe, and sat on the loveseat, her legs folded under her. “Did I miss anything?”

Linda put her coffee down and turned to Kelly. “Are you guys really saying that you might sell the company for more than a billion dollars?” Kelly and I nodded slowly. We could see Linda trying to catch her breath.

“And I have half a percent of the company?”

Matt swung his head to her, “So you might be worth six million dollars.” He raised his brows, “Less the taxes you’ll have to pay. If it’s capital gains, you might have to pay more than a million dollars in taxes.” Linda was shaking her head in disbelief.

I summarized, “So that’s the problem. We need some good advice on how to best structure the deal.”

Kelly chimed in, “I can’t even imagine having to pay two hundred million dollars in taxes!”

Matt smiled, “Let’s meet next week. I’ll present the opportunity to the partners. I think they’ll be very interested in working with you.”

Kelly finished her coffee, “Can we please go in the sauna, now? It’s Valentine’s Day, and this discussion isn’t very romantic.”

As we got up and headed to the sauna, Linda quipped, “Well, Kelly, I think learning that I may get five million dollars is pretty romantic.”

We knew she was kidding, but there was something to it. You couldn’t equate money with happiness, but an unexpected windfall was always nice, and could be a turn-on.

About The Author

DOMME EXPERIENCE is an intimate exploration of kinks and fetishes by an unlikely couple, with thoughtful and philosophical discussion by the characters, and graphic descriptions of their erotic adventures.
Kelly takes the upper hand – in a manner of speaking – exhibiting her dominant side, and impressing her parents and Sam, as roles are reversed. Her formal training as a dominatrix leads to new and unexpected experiences for Sam. Kelly and Sam explore new cultures, and enjoy further adventures with friends, as their world travels continue. Kelly demonstrates her technical and business prowess, and the company that she and Sam founded takes off, changing their lives forever. There are a billion reasons why they should be happy. But they are unaware that a storm is brewing on the horizon.
The Experiences series is an epic love story of erotic relationships and sexual desires. Written in a ‘literary realism’ style, the series introduces Sam in the prequel, and the blossoming of his intimate relationship with Kelly as the series progresses. Fantasies and real-world adventures coalesce to mold a unique bond between unlikely lovers. Where needs are mutually satisfied in an open, creative and trusting environment. Where physical and mental boundaries are pushed. Where the concepts of love and sex are never confused, but sometimes confusing. Where openness is required and intimacy is expected. And where fair-is-fair, regarding the punishment of transgressions.
Contemporary erotic romance: Suitable for mature readers, aged 18+ years. Experiences: Book 8 is 187,000 words, 18 chapters, 621 print pages
Acclaim for Simone Freier and the EXPERIENCES series: “Fun, intense, sexually erotic” “One of my favorite series in recent memory” “Simone Freier is a sexually charged and inspired writer” “It is quite a tale and a very good read that explores an intimate topic” “The writing is well-done, engaging, and erotic” “The characters are rich & believable, while the eroticism is thick & lush” “Freier writes some incredibly powerful scenes” “I have enjoyed this whole series and don’t want it to end” “Freier holds poignant insight into the complexities of interpersonal communications and behavior” “The desire crawls out of the pages and into my mind” “The writing style is relaxed, even playful, and always fresh” “Steams up the pages – very sensual and erotic” “Simone Freier entertains her readers with a story of love, trust, respect and exploration” “Unexpectedly thoughtful and intensely passionate” “Simone Freier has an intoxicating way with words” “Fifty shades greyer in this deep look at sexual explorations” “Freier’s attention to detail in her books is awe-inspiring!” “I have enjoyed this whole series and don’t want it to end” “Fine writing from an author who knows her genre” “If you love erotica, then you’ll love this series” “Definitely a five-star series!”

WARNING! This work contains mature content, including graphic sexual descriptions and scenes, and is provided for adults only. The Experiences series contains scenes of psychological and physical submission, discipline, and medical fetish. The characters explore various fetishes, which evolve throughout the series. ALL CHARACTERS IN THE BOOK ARE 21 YEARS OLD OR OLDER, and all activities are consensual.

About The Author
Simone FreierAn adventuress and traveler, Simone is a sensual being who loves to read stories that excite her. She takes exception to authors who promote their works as ‘dirty’, ‘filthy’, or ‘smutty’: She believes that sex is wonderful in all of its incarnations, and doesn’t shy away from graphic descriptions of realistic sexual experiences, no matter how messy. Her writing is mainly in the ‘literary realism’ style – i.e., it is wild (even outrageous) … but could really happen to you! She values openness in relationships and demonstrates this through her characters.

Prior to becoming an author, Simone was a nurse. One of her pet peeves is reading erotica that gets simple anatomy wrong! She is continually bewildered by women who haven’t explored their own bodies. Another pet peeve is the mostly hung-up Victorian society prevalent in the U.S. and U.K., and she tries to do her part to change that by introducing people to new sexual and sensual experiences through her erotic writing. The activities in Simone’s books are quite realistic, as she has participated in most of these in ‘real life’, as surreal as it may seem.

Simone is currently completing the Experiences series, which will run an estimated 1,000,000 words! That is why she refers to it as an ‘epic’ romance, although each volume is intended to stand on its own, with a ‘happy for now’ ending. Experiences combine literary style and philosophical discussion by the characters with a graphic portrayal of sex in all of its kinks and fetishes. You may not like all of the things Simone’s characters do … but neither do they. Their exploration of new experiences will hopefully motivate some readers to explore their own sexuality to a greater extent.
Simone loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to contact her. In fact, she hopes you will feel ‘free’ sexually and spiritually, as well. Please follow her on social media and her blog. On her website, you may interact directly with the main characters in her books, including asking them questions in order to understand their perspectives in more depth.

You can sign up to her mailing list to learn about new releases, and take advantage of promotions. All readers on the mailing list will be sent an excerpt from each of her next novels, prior to publication.

Visit Simone’s website.
Friend Simone on her Facebook page.
Or, tweet Simone on Twitter!

Links:
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Promotional picture Domme Experience—Power Exchange and the Making of a Dominatrix (Experiences Book 8) by Simone Freier

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