Hi guys! My Spring Break has finally started, and I am so glad to be off school for a week. I finally have time to catch up on needed reading, blogging, practicing, and studying. I’m still in a bit of shock that this semester is already more than halfway over; it seems like Winter and Spring always flies by so fast because there is so much going on! Speaking of flying by so fast, today I am interview Amy Trueblood, author of the thrilling YA historical fiction debut Nothing but Sky, which I loved and enjoyed so much. Please go check out Amy’s novel, and if you need a reason why to buy it, here’s my review of Nothing but Sky! I hope you enjoy this interview!
About the Book
Grace Lafferty only feels alive when she’s dangling 500 feet above ground. As a post-World War I wing walker, Grace is determined to get to the World Aviation Expo, proving her team’s worth against flashier competitors and earning a coveted Hollywood contract.
No one’s ever questioned Grace’s ambition until Henry Patton, a mechanic with plenty of scars from the battlefield, joins her barnstorming team. With each new death-defying trick, Henry pushes Grace to consider her reasons for being a daredevil. Annoyed with Henry’s constant interference, and her growing attraction to him, Grace continues to test the powers of the sky.
After one of her risky maneuvers saves a pilot’s life, a Hollywood studio offers Grace a chance to perform at the Expo. She jumps at the opportunity to secure her future. But when a stunt goes wrong, Grace must decide whether Henry, and her life, are worth risking for one final trick.
Nothing but Sky releases tomorrow from Flux Books on March 27th!
1. Your debut novel Nothing but Sky, which releases on March 27 from Flux Books, follows the story of Grace Lafferty, a post-World War I barnstormer, as she meets a young war mechanic named Henry Patton and attempts to bring herself and her team to the World Aviation Expo to win a Hollywood contract. How did you first stumble upon barnstorming and female wing walkers in the Roaring Twenties? What are some of the most fascinating things you’ve learned about the Prohibition Era?
The idea for the story came from a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. When I entered the museum, I saw a biplane tethered to the ceiling and went to take a closer look. Next to the plane was a placard with the name, Ethel Dare, and it mentioned she was a barnstormer/wing walker. I was immediately intrigued and wrote her name down in my phone. Later, I would discover through research that she and a handful of other brave women made barnstorming their lives and I knew I had to learn more.
The 1920s was a transformative time for women. While many look back on history and see them earning the right to vote in 1920, women would continue to battle for rights despite this victory. As you read through history, you see women pushing back against societal norms. This is demonstrated through both language and the changing length of hemlines. All subtle ways in which women at that time began to rebel.
2. Henry struggles and tries to cope with his PTSD after his deployment in the Great War throughout the novel. Why do you believe it is important to accurately portray mental illness in Young Adult fiction?
Our life experiences form who we are as a person. I wanted to specifically contrast Henry’s life before the war to the man he became after and how those experiences changed who he was as a human. For me, everyone has a backstory, A reason for why they make certain choices. I think it’s important in Young Adult fiction to not just show a character struggling, but to get of the root of the reason why. Sometimes you see a villain just as a villain. But a good writer will show you how that character got to that point. It goes back to the idea that we shouldn’t judge people without understanding their story.
3. Since Grace performs death-defying stunts every time she barnstorms, what would you say has been one of the riskiest decisions or actions you’ve taken in your life?
I once had a boss who was a real bully. She would scream and yell and throw things. No one would do anything about her behavior. One day, she literally picked up a piece of office equipment and threw it across the room almost hitting a colleague. That was the end of the line for me. I went toe-to-toe with her and called her out even though I knew she’d probably fire me. The president of the company got wind of the altercation and took care of the problem, but in those moments with that boss I was terrified.
4. How would you sort your characters in Nothing but Sky into Hogwarts houses?
Haha! I love this question!
Grace: She has traits of both a Gryffindor and a Slytherin
Henry: Absolute GryffindorUncle Warren: Ravenclaw
Alistair Rowland: Slytherin
5. You are the co-founder of the annual Sun vs. Snow Contest, which connects writers with great manuscripts to literary agents. How did you and Michelle Hauck get the contest started? What is it like being a mentor for these writers?
About five years ago Michelle reached out to me and asked if I wanted to co-host a contest with her. I’d been involved in mentoring and judging contests before but never hosted one. I thought it would be a fun opportunity, so I said “yes” not realizing how much work it would be – but it’s worth every single minute to watch writers improve and eventually go on to sign with agents, and in some cases get book deals.
During the contest I usually only mentor one entry I really connect with and think I can help. The mentor experience itself is exhilarating! It feels amazing to see the writer improve and hopefully go on to get agent requests.
6. When I was reading your bio, I was pleasantly surprised to see that you lived in Nashville for six years! I live two hours away from Nashville! Would you like to describe to us your experiences residing in the Music City and working for the Ingram Content Group? How is living in Arizona different than living in Tennessee?
I lived in Nashville for six years and adored every minute. Growing up on the west coast you don’t get seasons, so it was wonderful to actually experience a real fall and winter. My background in advertising lead me to working for Ingram. I really enjoyed working there and learned a lot from my colleagues.
7. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?
My entire life I’ve been a reader. Stories have always rolled around in my head and I knew I enjoyed writing. It wasn’t until I went to college and started my journalism degree that I knew it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
8. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?
I’m a big believer that if you write YA you must read YA. I read across all genres and I’m drawn to stories that transport me to different places through effortless world building.
Over the past few years I’ve found myself returning to books that I love for both the story and the genius of the writing craft. These books include:
Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap
Huntley Fitzpatricks’ The Boy Most Likely To
Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones and Clockwork Angel
April Tucholke’s Wink Poppy Midnight
9. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?
I worked for years in advertising and public relations but now I write full-time.
10. What are you most looking forward to as a debut author in 2018? Could you describe to us your reaction when you found out that Nothing but Sky was listed as a JLG Spring Selection?
My most favorite part about the debut experience so far is meeting readers. I love hearing about what touched them about my book and how they reacted to certain stunts or plot twists.
The JLG selection was completely unexpected. I cried when I read the email from my publicist. It has always been my dream to have a book I wrote in libraries, and the designation meant that my book would be in more libraries than I ever expected!
11. What could we expect from you in the future? Are there any secrets you would like to give to us? 😉
I’m currently working on a new YA Historical set in the late 1930s. It will share the story of another strong young woman trying to figure out her life path while navigating the changing landscape of a growing and changing San Francisco. There will be a ton of family drama and will again include real-life historical figures!
12. Before you go, would you like to share any advice you have to any aspiring authors or writers?
Keep your eyes focused on your own path. It’s easy to get down and discouraged when other writers around you are signing with agents or getting book deals. If you keep working and improving your craft, your time will come.
Thanks so much, Amy, for coming onto the blog!!! I’m so happy to have you!
About the Author
A devotee of reading and writing from a very young age, Amy Trueblood grew up surrounded by books. As the youngest of five children, she spent most of her time trying to find a quiet place to curl up with her favorite stories. After stints working in entertainment and advertising, she began writing her first manuscript and never looked back.
Her debut novel, NOTHING BUT SKY is a Spring 2018 Junior Library Guild selection and will be published March 27, 2018 by Flux.
Are you excited about Nothing but Sky? Do you like YA historical fiction?
Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!