Hi guys, today I’m really excited to be part of the blog tour for Amy Alward’s MADLY. I first heard about Madly from the Simon & Schuster Canada team and it sounds like a super fun magical romp. Check out more about the book and my Q&A with Amy below (if you’re interested in working in publishing, definitely read to the end)!Madly Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books | Audible
Samantha may be falling for the beloved of the princess she is sent to save in this start to a hilarious, adventurous, and sweetly romantic trilogy.
When Samantha is summoned to the royal court of Nova for a secret mission, it’s her chance to put her training to the test: Princess Evelyn has taken an illegal love potion with disastrous effects, and Samantha, like her ancestors before her, is great at mixing potions. She may not be one of the naturally Talented—those who can heal or transform at the wave of their hands—but she is skilled nonetheless, and determined to find an antidote and cure Princess Evelyn.
The problem? Princess Evelyn took the love potion to make her best friend Zain fall for her—and it’s Zain who Samantha keeps encountering on her hunt for antidote ingredients. As forbidden sparks between them fly, Samantha is forced to wonder: will curing Princess Evelyn doom her own chance at love?
Q&A with Amy Alward
Tiff: Firstly, can you describe Madly to me in ten words or less?
Amy: Magic, science, adventure, a touch of romance – with added unicorns!
Tiff: I’m all about the playlist! What’s one song that describes Sam, Zain, and Princess Evelyn (respectively)?
Amy: Ooh, what a tough one!
For Sam: ‘Elastic Heart’ by Sia (‘And another one bites the dust / Oh why can I not conquer love?’)
For Zain: ‘Radioactive’ by Imagine Dragons (‘I’m waking up to ash and dust / I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust / I’m
breathing in the chemicals’)
For Princess Evelyn: ‘Black Magic’ by Little Mix (‘Take a sip of my secret potion/ I’ll make you fall in love’)
Bonus track: Emilia would definitely be ‘Bad Blood’ by Taylor Swift! (‘Cause, baby, now we got bad blood / You know it used to be mad love / So take a look what you’ve done / ‘Cause, baby, now we got bad blood’)
Tiff: Ooh, great choices! I love Taylor Swift, and I’m currently obsessed with Elastic Heart, so I’m definitely a Sam fan.
So I haven’t finished Madly yet, but what I’ve read makes it sound like a hilarious, modern fantasy romp…which you don’t see in YA too much (more in middle grade). I feel like we see a lot more high fantasy or serious fantasy. How does Madly compare with, say, the movie Enchanted? Would you say that’s a good comparison? Do you think we need more light fantasy in YA these days?
Amy: I think Enchanted is a great example! I do find it hard to find comparison titles to MADLY – I kind of like to describe it as a mash-up of The Princess Diaries meets Indiana Jones meets Harry Potter. I wanted to write something that was light-hearted, adventurous with just a hint of romance – because that’s what I liked when I was a teen. I don’t think every YA book has to be ‘issue’ based, super-serious or super-violent. I love all those kinds of books too and I think there’s room for all kinds of reads! Sometimes you need something light-hearted, sometimes something serious. And light-hearted with magic… those are my favourite, which is why I wrote MADLY!
Tiff: I totally agree with you, Amy – I like to mix it up with fun and light-hearted reads. That’s what I read when I was a teen – probably with a lot more romance than you liked, though! Speaking of romance, hate-to-love is a classic romance trope. How does Sam and Zain’s romance fit into that trope, and how is their romance different from others?
Amy: Yes, there’s a bit of Romeo/Juliet ‘falling in love on the wrong side of the tracks’ as far as Sam and Zain are concerned! They come from very different worlds, but they actually have a lot in common: they both share feelings of obligation toward their family, and feel the weight of expectation on their shoulders. They understand each other. And what I love about their relationship is how it is rooted in them helping each other out. They face down some pretty terrifying experiences, and that’s bound to give people a pretty deep bond.
Tiff: That is a romance I can get behind…and I love the fact that they’re both scientists! I love science in my YA/NA books. Tell me a little about the research you did around potions and alchemy, and how that fits into modern science of the book.
Amy: Yay, a fellow science lover! I was such a science nerd when I was a teen – I entered lots of science fair competitions and loved the experimenting aspect of it.
I’ve always loved the weird and wonderful history of alchemy, so it wasn’t hard to do a lot of research! I wanted to root all the potions ingredients that I mention in the book in some aspect of the real world – whether that’s a real property that a plant/ingredient possesses, a myth or legend or history. Being based in London, I took advantage of getting a British Library
card, which gave me access to some incredible archives. I have lists of potential ingredients and unusual magical creatures that I refer to whenever I need inspiration.
Tiff: You’re a Canadian author and editor who works in London (basically, my dream). Can you tell me a little bit about how your career and publishing journey?
Amy: It has been a bit of a dream come true, and I feel so lucky. I graduated from University of Toronto with a degree in English literature, and I knew I wanted to be a writer. But that didn’t seem like a very viable career (I was so sensible) so after a year off to travel, I moved to the UK to pursue a career in publishing. Unfortunately, I moved in 2008 – right in the height of credit crunch, recession, publishing-houses-closing-recruitment, no-jobs-anywhere madness. I was pretty terrified that I would never get a job.
I ended up doing some work experience with a small independent publisher who specialized in non-fiction, and I was so lucky that they happened to have an opening as an editorial assistant at the end of it. Even though I wanted to work in fiction, I wasn’t going to turn down that first foot in the door! Being open-minded (and not holding out for that perfect job) was the right attitude: I learned so much at that indie and it set me up for the rest of my career. It meant that when a job opened up at HarperVoyager (the UK publishers of George RR Martin), I was primed and ready! I spent three years commissioning awesome science fiction and fantasy before moving to Penguin to be editorial director of Penguin Random House Children’s. That was definitely a dream job, working with authors like Zoe Sugg, Marie Lu, Sarah Dessen, Holly Black and so many more.
Of course, throughout all that time, I was also juggling getting my writing! I knew I would kick myself if I didn’t also giving my books a chance too. I signed with my agent while I was at HarperCollins and then had a book deal with Random House at the end of my first year. It was all quite amazing. I can’t quite believe that I’ve been able to work at two dream careers, and I know that I’m going to treasure that experience…even if now, I’m going full time as an author, officially!
Thanks so much, Amy, for sharing your experiences and your thoughts about this book! MADLY is out now in bookstores – are you interested in reading this YA fantasy romp? Let me know in the comments, and check out the rest of the blog tour (including a giveaway from the wonderful Giselle at Book Nerd Canada) below!