Interview (and Giveaway): Tessa Gratton, author of The Strange Maid (United States of Asgard)

Please welcome Tessa Gratton to the blog as part of her tour for THE STRANGE MAID, the 2nd book in her United States of Asgard series. Also, be sure to enter to win a copy of the book (details at the bottom of the post-US only!)

tessagrattonWill you tell us a bit about your new book, THE STRANGE MAID, and the United States of Asgard? What inspired you to write the series?
The US of Asgard is a USA like our own, but founded by Vikings and their very real gods. There are gods interfering in Congress and walking the Hollywood red carpets, Valkyrie taking over the media, trolls rampaging in the Rocky Mountains and a part of the military dedicated to eradicating them. THE STRANGE MAID is about a girl named Signy who wants more than anything to be a wild, dark, passionate Valkyrie like the warrior women in the oldest stories.

I chose to write this series because I wanted to write some books about American warrior culture, and religion and politics and how it affects the choices we make as teens.

Why do you think readers will root for Signy Valborn, and what did you enjoy most about writing her character?
Signy is passionate about everything she does, and while sometimes that can be off-putting, in the end, she is heroic and changing because of it. I loved writing her passion – she’s wild and deliberate about everything she does, whether arguing or fighting trolls or kissing or just getting dressed in the morning.

thestrangemaidWill you tell us a little about yourself and your background? What made you decide to start writing, and what’s one of the first things you can remember writing?
I’m from a family of voracious readers and because my dad was in the Navy we moved around a lot, so books were the thing that kept me connected to myself and to the world. I’ve been writing since I was 9 or 10 years old, short novels and stories about the characters in the books I was reading. We’d call it fan fiction now, but at the time I had no idea. The first original novel I wrote was the story of Robin Hood’s daughter who was orphaned in Sherwood Forest. I was 10 when I wrote that.

What kind of research have you done for the series, and what’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned?
I own 42 books about Vikings and war culture, Old English Poetry and analysis, PTSD studies, mythology, and guides to the American West, as well as all the other things I read about for the series. That doesn’t include all the library research I did or the internet articles I read! It’s been a 10 year process, since I first fell in love with the poem “Beowulf.”

The most interesting thing… wow that’s hard. I learned that most Vikings were farmers, despite their exploring and conquering natures, and I learned that the man who wrote down the vast majority of Norse myths, Snorri Struluson, did it for political reasons! He wanted the favor of the king of Sweden at the time and used the stories of Odin and Thor and Loki to build national spirit.

What do you enjoy most about writing for a teen audience, and what have you learned since becoming a published author that you wish you’d known way-back-when?
I love being able to write about whatever I want. YA is such a flexible genre, as writers we can do anything!

I’ve learned a lot of lessons about patience, and had to teach myself to love the whole process. If you fixate on goals you can’t control you’re bound for disappointment, but if you love every step of the journey, where you end up is less important.

thelostsonHave you read any good books lately? Are there any that you’re looking forward to this year?
I have a recommendation page on my website with all my recent faves.

I recommend everything Melina Marchetta writes, especially her recent Chronicles of Lumatere series, as well as Holly Black’s COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN, Rachel Caine’s PRINCE OF SHADOWS, and Robin LaFevers’ MORTAL HEART.

You’ve traveled extensively, but where would you like to go that you haven’t yet gone?
Morocco and South Africa are at the top of the list, as well as the Taj Mahal, St. Petersburg, and Lejre, Denmark.

What’s next for you?
Onward and upwards is my motto! 😉 I’ve got some USAsgard novellas coming out soon and the third book in the series next summer, and hopefully some brand new projects to announce in the near future!

Keep up with Tessa: Website | Twitter

Fans of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Maggie Stiefvater will embrace the richly drawn, Norse-influenced alternate world of the United States of Asgard, where cell phones, rock bands, and evangelical preachers coexist with dragon slaying, rune casting, and sword training in schools. Where the president runs the country alongside a council of Valkyries, gods walk the red carpet with Hollywood starlets, and the U.S. military has a special battalion dedicated to eradicating Rocky Mountain trolls.

Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of war, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that’s exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy’s destiny.

Fill out the widget below to enter to win a copy of THE STRANGE MAID and I’ll pick a winner on August 15th (US only)!
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