Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bookanista Feature: Interview with Aimée Carter, author of THE GODDESS TEST

Today, it's my great joy to be talking with Aimée Carter, author of THE GODDESS TEST! I first "met" Aimée on Twitter--and she was gracious enough to ignore my nerd-spazzing and do an interview here! Not only that, but...she's giving away a signed copy of THE GODDESS TEST--just read through to the bottom of the interview to find out how you can enter!

We can read all about your life from your bio in the jacket flap of your book. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?

Strangely enough, there is no bio in THE GODDESS TEST. There was an oops, and the first editions don't have any sort of bio or author photo in them (though the second printing will!). Does that count as a random fact? No? Hmm. In that case, I'm an extremely picky eater. Really, taste buds of a five-year-old over here. I don't think I've ever ordered an entree straight off an adult menu without some kind of modification, and I have a tendency to order off the kids' menu whenever a restaurant lets me.

As a kid, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?

As a kid, my favorite book was probably Black Beauty or Matilda. My tastes haven't changed too much, though I tend to be a more selective reader than I used to be. I still troll the middle grade section though, trying to dodge the kids and parents who give me funny looks. There's a certain kind of voice that most MG writers have that I really connect with, and a lot of my favorites - Harry Potter, the Percy Jackson series, etc. - tend to be from that section of the bookstore.

Your academic background is in film. Did that have any influence on your writing?

A massive amount. I fully believe the screenwriting classes I took at university are the reason I'm published. They taught me how to craft a proper story, about making every scene, character, and line on a page count, how to really grab a reader's attention, how to include conflict in every part - they were by far the best (and most useful) classes I took. I highly, highly recommend every commercial novelist take a screenwriting course, if only to learn about in-depth story construction. They are two very different formats, of course, but they're both all about telling stories, and I can't rave enough about how much I learned and how much my storytelling improved.

It's the inevitable question: what inspired THE GODDESS TEST?

-I've been asked this so many times that I'm tempted to say it all came to me in a dream, but really, the truth is much more boring. I've always loved mythology, from the moment I first read D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths as a little kid trolling the grown-up kids section of the bookstore (sensing a pattern?). The first time I read about the myth of Hades and Persephone, I was fascinated about his side of the story. Being kidnapped must've been awful for Persephone, but why did Hades do it? Was he really so lonely to risk the wrath of his brother Zeus and sister Demeter?

From there, that question sat in the back of my mind for years. I started writing original works around fourteen or fifteen - I wrote fan fiction before then - and that was one of the first stories I came back to. I couldn't make it work though, so I set it aside and, over the years, continued to develop it. Eventually I decided that the protagonist wasn't Persephone after all - that Persephone, who was such a strong woman in mythology, could have left Hades, paving the way for a new girl. The only question was, who was that new girl, and why would she ever want to be with the gloomy and moody God of the Underworld?

Many years later, while I was taking those screenwriting courses, I began to think about that story again, and it occurred to me that maybe she wasn't doing it for herself or for Hades. Maybe she was doing it for someone else she loved, to keep Hades from taking them into the Underworld. And at that point, Kate's mother, who is dying of cancer, popped into my head. I immediately began to outline it, and first chance I got, I started to draft it.

One of the great things about THE GODDESS TEST is the background in mythology. What made you decide to write about mythology?

It wasn't a conscious decision, really. I didn't pick through a book of mythology, searching for a myth to redo. That story had been been in the back of my mind for so long, working itself out, that when all of the pieces fell into place, I had to write it. It's very much a sequel of sorts to that myth - Persephone has left Hades (now called Henry), and he must find a replacement Queen before time runs out, or he'll fade and someone else will take his place. Only problem is, someone's killing off the candidate, and the protagonist, Kate, is his last chance.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process--particularly the timeline--of writing THE GODDESS TEST?

I got the idea sometime in the early 90's, as a little kid questioning why the God of the Underworld would have to steal a girl to be his Queen. Everything snapped into place in 2007, and I outlined it many, many times, trying to find exactly the right way to put the story together. In the summer of 2008, I was supposed to be a production assistant on the set of a movie called Youth In Revolt, which was filming in Ann Arbor. However, I had my wisdom teeth taken out a week or two before everything was set to start, and the dentist had to break my jaw in two places in order to complete the surgery. Not fun, let me tell you. I looked like a chipmunk for ages. While that lost me the chance to be a PA, it did free up my summer to write the story that I'd been obsessing over - and that's exactly what I did.

I write fairly quickly, so by early July, I was done with the first draft. I edited it, edited again, edited a third and a fourth and a fifth time, and finally in August (I know, I know, don't make my mistakes - wait longer!) I queried agents. I don't know how I got so lucky, but my agent, Rosemary Stimola, signed me a few weeks later. During the submission process, I got a lot of "almost, but not quites", which were heartbreaking. I rewrote significant chunk of the story, including adding a prologue at an editor's suggestion, and finally almost a year after being signed, I received an offer from Harlequin Teen. At that point, however, I was so dissatisfied with the draft that after I received the editorial letter, I completely tore the book to shreds, rewriting a massive amount of it. So counting that, it took me over a year to really get it into anything close to resembling the story you read on the page now.

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from THE GODDESS TEST, what would you want it to be?

Interesting question! I've never thought about that. If I had to narrow it down to one thing...maybe that life goes on. For Kate, going through her mother's death; for Henry, who's lost the love of his life. Even the Greek gods in general, who in Kate's world have been reduced to mythology, but still continue to exist despite it all. There's still life after tragedy, no matter how difficult it might be to face.

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?

That the rejection doesn't stop with getting an agent, getting a publisher, or even when the book comes out. It's hard - a lot harder than most of the writers out there today make it look, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Beyond the typical--never give up, believe in yourself--what would be the single best advice you'd like to give another writer?

For a commercial novelist, take a screenwriting course, definitely. And in lieu of that, pick up a book on screenwriting (The Screenwriter's Bible is one, but there are a ton of terrific options at your local bookstore) and read it cover to cover. For writers in general, nothing beats butt in chair. Don't let anything get between you and your writing time.

What do you think are your strongest and weakest points in writing?

Strongest - plotting, I'd say. And I think I've grown a ton since I wrote THE GODDESS TEST as well. The stuff I'm working on now won't be seen for at least a year and a half though, so we'll see!

Weakest - I'm not a master wordsmith. I'll never write literary fiction or the books that win all of the awards. I also have to really work at description. Some writers are truly incredible with the way they can paint a picture with their words, and I could never in a million years do that.

Thank you for stopping by, Aimée! And thank you for offering the readers here a signed copy of your book! To enter, just leave a comment to this post letting Aimée know why you're excited to  read her book. I'll pick one random winner next week to get a signed copy of her book, THE GODDESS TEST!

Additional contest information:
  • Open to US addresses only (sorry!)
  • Entrants must be 13 years old or older
  • Only one entry per person
  • Comment to this post to enter
  • Leave an email address if it's not linked with your profile already
  • Contest closes on July 14th

To find out what the other Bookanistas are reading today:


Megan said...

I for real want this!! I read the egalley and LOVED IT but I don't have a copy of my own and I plan on rereading it often!!

Megan @ Amethyst Daydreams
AmethystDaydreams at zoho dot com

Maria said...

Oooh, this sounds fabulous!!! My daughter and I just studied Greek mythology last year and also loved D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. Can't wait to read The Goddess Test!

maria at dirtundermynails dot com

Matthew MacNish said...

What a fascinating premise. I love hearing how the idea evolved over the years.

Amazing interview, thanks Beth and Aimee!

Kristi said...

Thanks Beth and Aimee! I have been a fan of Greek mythology since I was a child, and I love stories that retell them.

Lori M. Lee said...

That's interesting about the screenwriting course. Never considered that :) Great interview and I'd love to win this book.

leemai82 at gmail

jayjay said...

This is just awesome! I have the love for Greek Myths :)

fallendream03 AT gmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

wow that's awesome. the goddess test just went up my list of to read to NOW reads!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to read book number 2. I loved The Goddess Test so much!

dashofnutmeg said...

I love Greek mythology and I really can't wait to read this book! Thanks for this contest!

Starcrossedlove01 at gmail dot com

Kaitlyn said...

squeeeeelll!!!!!!!!!! A SIGNED GODDESS TEST!!!!!!! now i'm really excited!!!!!!

G.Clyde said...

I've been DYING to read this book! I want to win!

marymunar said...

Thank you Beth and Aimee for this awesome giveaway! I love Greek mythology and would love to read Aimee's version of one of the most interesting character's in it.

Kristen said...

I love books based off of mythology! Fantastic interview and can't wait to read the book.

dragonzgoil at gmail dot com

Maia said...

My name is Maia, like the Greek goddess (the mother of Hermes), and ever since I knew my name was derived from a Greek goddess, I've always been fascinated with their mythology. I love to write retelling of the stories, and love to read them even more. This book sounds like a wonderful—as well as quite original and interesting—retelling, and I seriously cannot wait to read it! Sounds like just my kind of book!

Wonderful interview, too. Really interesting insight on a writer's life.

So excited and, crossing my fingers!

Kimberly Callegan said...

I've been looking forward to reading this book. It's on my TBR list. I've heard wonderful reviews about The Goddess Test and the cover is absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for the giveaway!

kristina shields said...

This book sounds really good. I would love to win it!

Julia said...


Sounds like an amazing book, I'd love to read it!


Carina L. Tai said...

Wonderful giveaway! I read a galley version of this book, and absolutely LOVED it! I'd love to take home a hardcopy! The cover, story, and characters are just so lovable!

GFC: Carina L. Tai

lexirylie said...

This book has been on my "to buy" list FOREVER!! It sounds so amazing I can't wait to get my hands on it!!!


lexirylie at yahoo dot com

Erinberry said...

This book sounds really good! Thanks for the giveaway.

erinberry12 at charter dot net

Elanor Lawrence said...

I've heard so much about The Goddess Test recently, and I've always loved the myth about Persephone. Also, this interview was super helpful. I'd love to win a copy of the book!

elanor_gamgee AT yahoo DOT ca

Drina said...

This book sounds like so much fun! I've loved Greek mythology since The Lightning Thief, and I'll definitely get this book from the library if I don't win it!

Theresa Milstein said...

Interesting that you took a screenwriting course. I wonder how many authors can say that.

I want to read it because I love mythology, but would like a mature version of the lightning thief. From the description, it sounds like the protagonist is going to face some moral dilemmas while she tries to pass the 7 tests.

tmilstein at gmail dot com

Alia said...

That book sounds like a real thrill! I doubt that I'll be able to put it down if I start reading it :) Great interview!

Anonymous said...

Oops! Forgot this: ilovehorses0721 at hotmail dot com

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Okay, now that was a fantastic interview! I'm really intrigued by Aimee's film background and how much it helped her. I've seen this book floating around. Loved the premise. I'll have to pick it up.

Unknown said...

Oh, I adored the idea of the book before, but now I adore Aimee too, so I can't wait to read it. :)

Anonymous said...

This is such a great interview. I've read about Hades and Persephone and it's an interesting story so I want to see how she put this story together!

Thanks for the chance to win!
My e-mail's in my profile!

Jessica said...

jessicaoyeager at gmail dot com

Vivien said...

I adore greek mythology and have been very eager to read this novel. It sounds fabulous!

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Ashley G. said...

I have been wanting to read this and winning it would be even better! Thanks for the chance!

Jordan Evans said...

I'm in the process of reading this book, and so far, I love it! The friendships I can see being formed are so complex, nobody's friends at first, which I like! Unfortunately, it's a library book, and I have a compulsion to take way more than I can read in the time given to me, so I hope I can snag a copy of my own to read on my own time.
If i win, please let me know at this email:

Susan Light said...

Heard lots of great things about "The Goddess test" and i cannot wait to read it!

Anonymous said...

I love the interviews you do, Beth. It's so interesting and readers really get to know who you're interviewing.

Thank you for the giveaway!

ashelynnsanford at hotmail dot com.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Awesome interview. I loved reading about how Aimee let the idea simmer before writing the manuscript.

I've read lost of good things about The Goddess Test and would love to win. Thanks for the contest.

melannie (: said...

I'm an EXTREMELY picky eater too! *high fives Aimee* :D I finally meet someone from my legue, I never accept restaraunt invitations, it's so embarrasing!

Thanks for the interview and giveaway, Beth!


Marieru said...

Thank u so much for the giveaway Beth and Aimee!! Greek mythology is always regarded as a serious 'adult' manner so I´m very curious how YA style and adult fiction mix without making a 'Percy Jackson' out of it, don't get me wrong I like percy but I'm looking for something else and I think THE GODDESS TEST have the right ingredientes!
Good luck to all!! :D

Valia Lind said...

This interview is adorable!!! :-)


Z. Taco said...

Great interview, and thanks for the awesome contest! I've been dying to read The Goddess Test for months; Greek mythology in YA is growing on me!

twizzlerowl said...

ahhhhh thank you for the wonderful giveaway :L (<please use THIS EMAIL)

starryeyedjen said...

Dude, that interview was made of awesomeness. I've been wanting to read this forever! I love all the mythology-themed books out right now!


Anonymous said...

Count me in!

Christa Desir said...

Wow! This looks amazing!

Bekka said...

I absolutely love the idea of taking a screenwriting class. In movies, you don't really get too much backstory: the plot is constantly moving forward. I would love to take a class to combine the two techniques. Great advice!


Jackie said...

Thanks a bunch!! :)

wvmtngrl07 said...

Hi Beth! I've been wanting to read this book for a while...would really love to have a copy =)


Katie said...

I want to read this book so badly. thanks for giving away a copy.

Raychelle Steele said...

I am taking a film class right now actually! =) I think a screenwriting class would be awesome. Thanks for the giveaway!

SteeleReviews AT gmail DOT com

Jessica said...

I am in love with this book & can't wait until the next one comes out! I look forward to reading a lot more from Aimee Carter!! (quickly became a favorite author of mine)

Thanks for the contest!
My Email:

Jessie Humphries said...

This sounds like a great read. I loved the interview. I find it fascinating how all the up and coming authors got their starts. Good luck with everything.

Sarah said...

I loved this book!

saraht at swbell dot net

cegluna said...

I shall now recommend a screenwriting course or book to my unpubbed pals.


Jessy said...

I've heard great things about The Goddess Test and I can't wait to read it.

findjessyhere at gmail dot com

Melissa/welachild said...

Thanks for the giveaway and interview. Interviews always make me want to read the authors book, especially knowing how long the process of getting the story down was for Aimee. I've always been interested in mythology so I know I would love this book.

Krystal Larson said...

I loved the book and would love a signed copy :) The interview is really fun because I love to get to know authors better and hear their perspective on their books. Thank you! edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom

Ashlee Frame said...

Greek Mythology interests me, and The Goddess Test looks like a great book. I can't wait to read it!

Miranda Hannah said...

I'm excited to read this book because there aren't a lot of books on Greek mythology in the YA section. Everyone is excited about vampires and werewolves right now, and frankly, I'm getting pretty tired of them! So Greek mythology? Oh, yeah! Especially Henry. He sounds hot (: haha

lugia710 AT aol DOT com

Claire Dawn said...

I enjoyed this interview! I see a lot of writers who recommend screen writing. It's something I think I'll have to try.

Susan @ The Book Bag said...

I LOVE mythology also! Great interview and thanks for the chance to win the book! This is going on my TBR list - sounds wonderful!

Gabi said...

I've read the Goddess Test, and I love it! My favorite of 2011 so far, I think. I can not wait for the next one.

Gabi - teddycavygal AT yahoo DOT com

Kassidy said...

OMG YAY! i have been OBSSESSING over many many boooks and the goddess test is one of them! also i sawe the cover of a million suns and I LOVE THE NAME!!! and THE COVER IS SOOOOO BEAUTIFUL I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL IT COMES OUT! i am waiting and excited for so many books i think my heart is going to BURST hence the captiol letters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lindsey said...

I've had this book on my Goodreads list for a while! It sounds great!!

veganlinds AT gmail DOT com

jpetroroy said...

Butt in chair. So true. I love mythology books.

jpetroroy at gmail dot com

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Victoria Dixon said...

I'm in the process of reading this book, and so far, I love it! The friendships I can see being formed are so complex, nobody's friends at first, which I like! Unfortunately, it's a library book, and I have a compulsion to take way more than I can read in the time given to me, so I hope I can snag a copy of my own to read on my own time. If i win, please let me know at this email: