Today we celebrate the release of Adi Rule's second YA novel from St. Martin's Press, THE HIDDEN TWIN!
For eighteen years a girl with no name, a redwing, has been hidden away in a small attic room within a city of hissing pipes and curving temples perched on the side of the great volcano, Mol, while her sister, Jey--identical except for her eyes--has lived her life in public as an only child. Their father had hoped the hidden girl would one day grow up to be a normal human girl and not the wicked creature mythology promised, so he secretly spared her life as an infant.
But when the redwing switches places with her sister, striking up a flirtation with the son of the Empress while working in the royal gardens, and getting attacked by two suspicious priests on her journey home, she is forced to call forth fire to protect herself, unleashing her previously dormant powers and letting her secret out. She soon catches the attention of a cult with a thousand year old grudge as well as a group of underground rebels, both seeking her for their own gain. But when her sister goes missing and the redwing uncovers a great plot to awaken Mol and bring fiery destruction upon them all, she is forced to embrace her powers.
Now the girl with no name must finally choose a name and a path for herself, drawing a line between myth and history to prove herself more than a monster if she is to save both her sister and her home.
Welcome, Adi! Since this is your second book, I thought it'd be fun to have you do a venn diagram showing us the differences—and similarities—between your two books.
(OMG this was so fun.)
Fans of STRANGE SWEET SONG, take note! Adi, who was your favorite character to write and why?
There’s a crusty old lockpick named Teppa the Fowl who I just love. She’s so awful. She has no shame and no filter. She should have her own book. It was also a lot of fun writing the main character, the redwing. When I’m drafting, my characters think lots of things they don’t actually say, which, in the case of Sing in Strange Sweet Song or the rather quiet MC of my current WIP, is often true to their personalities. But the redwing is more confident than that, so I went back and switched many of those thoughts to saids. It made the book funnier and gave it more tension, I think. It’s an exercise I’d highly recommend!
Oooh, bonus writing tip! On that note, what's your writing superpower?
I can survive indefinitely on Red Bull, pistachios, and cat hair.
Tell us about something special you keep on your desk/wall as you work.
I live in a studio apartment with three cats, a blue and gold macaw, and a personal trainer. The upside to this arrangement is that we really can’t have anything we don’t love; there isn’t space. So, looking next to my bed, which is where I work, I see a stack of 1930’s thriller novels, an Ancient Egyptian relief my dad carved, a photo of my cat, a Gerard Way action figure, and a My Little Pony. All inspirational in their own way.
You've got a real knack for worldbuilding. What kinds of details do you like to think about when you're crafting the "where" of a book?
It’s important to really live in the world. Worldbuilding can get pretty epic, especially in fantasy, but stories are about characters. The secret to authenticity is in the mundane, I think. What is the protagonist’s day-to-day like? How do people around her fill their days, and why? The Hidden Twin takes place in a city perched on a volcano, so I started there. What is it like to walk the streets? What does the sky look like? How does the air feel and smell? How does this environment affect plant and animal life? Art and architecture? Fashion? Colloquialisms? Religion? People living on my volcano are going to value and demonize different things than, for instance, people living in a dome at the bottom of the sea, or on an asteroid, or in Concord, New Hampshire.
Who were your advisors at VCFA?
Alan Cumyn, Sarah Ellis, Leda Schubert, and Ellen Howard. Rock stars all.
What was special about your VCFA graduating class?
Like all VCFA graduates, the Thunderbadgers are the kindest, smartest, funniest, best at games, noblest, sweetest, fiercest, most attractive humans to walk upon this planet. If you see one in the wild, greet her or him with a hearty, “Kek, kek, kek!”, for this is the cry of the Thunderbadger.
Who are your favorite fictional twins? You can name more than one set!
Hands down, He-Man and She-Ra. They were all about vanquishing evil with swords, being effortlessly cool, conflict resolution, and embracing their feelings. Plus, they had that awesome futuristic-caveman thing going on. He-Man wore a fur loincloth and rode a laser-shooting space jet-ski. She-Ra had a rainbow winged horse and gold boots (for kickin’), and she fought robots. And their mom was an astronaut! From Earth!
I also have to give a shout-out to WilyKit and WilyKat from Thundercats. They weren’t my favorite characters (hello, Cheetara and Tigra), but they were kids! Who were Thundercats! So maybe that meant I could be a kid who was also a Thundercat.
Adi writes YA novels and humorous essays. Look for a sneak peek of her novel Shoes in the Spring 2016 Hunger Mountain journal of the arts. She lives in New Hampshire with three cats who hate each other.