Today I’m joined by Ambelin Kwaymullina, author of the fantastic new futuristic Young Adult series, The Tribe. The first book in the series, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf was released last month and if you haven’t heard all the hype about it you can read my review here on the blog. I caught up with Ambelin to ask her a few questions about her hot new series.
- What 5 words would you use to describe The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf?
Wow, it’s really hard to describe your own work! I guess I can describe what I wanted the story to be…although I think it’s really up to my readers to judge. Here goes:
Mysterious. Dramatic. Thrilling. Smart. Hopeful.
- What inspired you to write The Tribe series?
Mostly, it was Ashala herself. She is such a strong character, that it would have been impossible for me not to tell her story. From the beginning, the first line of the book has always been the same – ‘He was taking me to the machine.’ Those words followed me around for a few days before I began writing, lurking in my consciousness and demanding that I write more. Then, once I started writing, I had to keep going until I reached the end – I certainly couldn’t leave Ashala trapped in the detention centre!
- The Tribe has a spiritual connection to the land and the creatures that inhabit it which, I think, makes your story unique. Is this aspect of the story from your own culture?
Yes, it is. Aboriginal people, and Indigenous people from all over the world, have strong connections to our homelands and the ancient spirits of our peoples. Ashala’s world is very different to the one we live in now, of course – the tectonic plates have shifted, creating a single continent, and people no longer make divisions on the basis of race. But Ashala’s ancestors were Aboriginal, so I knew she’d have a deep love for the forest that she lives in. And I knew that her connection to country would be a source of strength and courage for her, the same as it is for Indigenous peoples now.
- Do you know how the Tribe’s story will end or will you wait to see how the story evolves?
No, I know how it ends. Many of the small details are mysterious to me, but I know where all of the Tribe will be, at the end of the story. And, for this particular story, I think that’s important. I don’t think I could tell it the way that it deserves to be told otherwise.
- Will we find out more about the abilities of the Tribe and where these came from?
Oh yes. I didn’t have a lot of narrative space to explore this in the first book, but as the series goes on, readers will find out much more about how all the different abilities function, and what their strengths and limitations are. There’s some tough times coming for the Tribe, too – so they’re all going to have to push themselves, and be able to control their abilities a lot better than most of them can now.
- How did you find the experience of writing a novel, compared to creating a picture book?
Harder! Much, much harder…also, with picture books, I’d gotten used to being able to pore over every single word until I was satisfied the text was completely perfect. It takes much longer to do that with a novel, which was something I hadn’t realised until I was hopelessly overdue on a deadline. I think, though, that writing picture books, where you have to tell a complete story in not a lot of text, did teach me to be more disciplined with words than I would have been otherwise. That was helpful. On the other hand, I am going to have to learn to restrain my perfectionist tendencies, or I’ll never get the second book done.
- What books would you recommend to anyone who enjoyed The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf?
There’s so much great dystopian fiction, and sci fi/fantasy fiction, for young adults – here’s some I’ve particularly enjoyed: Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series, Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn series, Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, and Moira Young’s Dustlands series.
The next stop on Ambelin’s blog tour is with Celine at http://forget8me8not.blogspot.com.au/.