Blog Tour & Giveaway | Interview with Erin Bow

Posted September 19, 2016 by Erica || 4 Comments


Welcome to my stop on The Swan Riders blog tour! Today I will be sharing the lovely interview that I had with Erin Bow. I hope you enjoy. Also, stick around for the giveaway at the end!!

interview time

Q1. Did you always think you were going to continue on or did you think The Scorpion Rules would be a standalone?

A1. I totally thought The Scorpion Rules would stand alone.  In fact I still think it could – it has an ending and it wraps up its own arc nicely.  But toward the end of my first draft, I wrote certain  (It’s the one called consent.) I both discovered an ending for The Scorpion Rules and found a whole new set of themes that I wanted another book to play with.


Q2. What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a sequel?

A2. The worst part is you can’t go back and rewrite book one to make book two better!  I’ve never had to work around a fixed text like that before.  As a writer who is bad with planning and outlining, and who believes that structure is a thing that emerges in revision, this is a real challenge.  I had to shake up the way I wrote.  The book is the only one I’ve ever done that follows its own treat meant pretty closely.  Usually I think I know then ending of a book I turn out to be completely wrong.


Q3. I am keen to snacking, what are some of your favorite snacks for writing?

A3. Is coffee a snack?  Probably not, right?  While doing the writing itself I like intense but nibbly things, like blueberries, or spiced walnuts.   I like little squares  of dark dark chocolate, maybe with orange or ginger or sea salt.  While reading, give me hot buttered popcorn.


Q4. How do you go about picking out the names for characters and/or places in your books?

A4. Characters normally come to me with names, so it’s hard to tell you much about the process.  The names do usually mean something, though.  For example, these below are four major characters from the first book:  Greta, Elian, Xie, and Talis:

Greta is named Stuart because she’s part of the house Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s house, an Scottish house with some claim to the British throne.  (The English don’t do well in the melted future, but the Scottish do fine.)   The name Gustafsen is mean to invoke one of the other lineages of her kingdom.  (The seven crowns of the Pan-Polar Confederacy are Canada, Iceland, Scotland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Siberia.)  Plus, Greta Gustafsen was Greta Garbo’s real name.

Elian might bring to mind Elian Gonazales, who as a child was used as a high-stakes political pawn.   His last name, Palnik, is the nom du plume of a prominent Jewish cartoonist.

I worked with a Manadrin speaker to create Da-Xia’s name, aiming for something like “hero.”  Her name is pronounced roughly “Day-sha,” but her nickname Xie is a different story.  It’s not Mandarin – because in Mandarin it would be pronounced “Shay.”  It was given to her by her fellow hostages.  I picked the sound “Zee” because I wanted it to sound like resolution, like peaceful rest, like ending.

Talis was named Talis in a roundabout way.  I created the Abbot before I created Talis, and eventually decided he needed a boss.  My husband suggested things like “Bishop” and “Patriarch,” and I hated all of those.   But then I remembered Canon Tallis, from Madeline L’Engle.  “Canon” is his title – it’s an office of the church – but it’s also an elaborate pun on the Tallis Canon, the name of a famous piece of early Renaissance church music. I didn’t look up how to spell it, and thus Talis was born.


Q5. What is your favorite part of the writing process?

A5. My favorite part is those rare days when you start with nothing and you actually create something new and real and good that had never existed before.  I also kind of like the satisfying craftsmanship of a good bit of revision.  And I love to talk to readers.

I hate copy edits (everyone hates copy edits), and those days when you want to chew off your writing paw it’s stuck in the word trap and you’re going to DIE HERE OMG. Or as it’s known in my house, Tuesday.


Q6. I always love to ask, what are some of your favorite tips to give to new writers?

A6. If you want to write, you should write.  Not only that, if you do write, you should feel free to call yourself a writer.  Don’t say “kind of,” don’t say “aspiring,” don’t say “just.”  The writing gods will never arrive with your laurels, nor the city with your poetic license.  Being published will not make it feel real.  Whatever validation you are looking for, it’s not coming.  But that’s okay, because you don’t need it.  If you write, then you are a writer.  Practice saying it out loud.

If you feel like your stuff is no good, watch this:

Commit to finishing at least, say, half of your stuff.  It’s normal to get stuck in the middle of a story, because middles suck.  Someone told me that it’s because they are farthest from either shore.  Most writers have a file folder full of half-done projects.  IT’s hard to learn to tell a whole story, but the only way to learn to do it is to do it a few times.  There’s no way through but through.

Don’t take too much advice from people.  Processes vary a lot, and you will have find your own.  No process that results in good words is a bad process.  No process that results in a miserable you is a good process.  Be kind to yourself.  Be as silly as you need to be.  Do what you need.

You have a voice that is different from any other voice in the world.   Maybe some people have tried to tell you that’s not true, but it is.  The world will be a better place if you write.


 A huge thank you to Erin for allowing me to interview her. Now guys, go get this book!


3 Finished Copies of THE SWAN RIDERS (US Only)

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:

Week 2:


About Erin Bow

Hi!  My name is Erin Bow — physicist turned poet turned author of young adult novels that will make you cry on the bus. I’m a white girl, forty-something, feminist, geeky enough to do the Vulcan salute with both hands — in public.  I live in Canada.  I love to cook, hate to clean, and yes, I do own a cat.

In the beginning, I was a city girl from farm country—born in Des Moines and raised in Omaha—where I was fond of tromping through wood lots and reading books by flashlight. In high school I captained the debate team, founded the math club, and didn’t date much.

In university I studied particle physics, and worked briefly at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva, Switzerland. Physics was awesome, but graduate school kind of sucked, and at some point I remembered that I wanted to write books.

Books:  I have six of them — three novels, and two volumes of poetry and a memoir (the poetry under my maiden name, Erin Noteboom). My poetry has won the CBC Canadian Literary Award, and several other awards. My two novels, Plain Kate and Sorrow’s Knot, also have a fistful of awards, including Canada’s top award for children’s literature, the TD.   The third novel, The Scorpion Rules, still faces its award season. No one read the memoir. Right now I’m looking forward to the publication of my fourth novel,  a companion piece to The Scorpion Rules called The Swan Riders, which will be out September 20 from Simon & Schuster.  I’m at work on an new an entirely different novel, and a book of poetry about science.

Did you notice I got to Canada in there somewhere?   Yeah, that was true love.  I’m married to a Canadian boy, James Bow, who also writes young adult novels.  We have two small daughters, both of whom want to be scientists.<

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4 responses to “Blog Tour & Giveaway | Interview with Erin Bow

  1. Danielle Hammelef

    Thanks for the interview with the encouraging writer’s advice. As you already know, this is something not to overlook and is necessary to rememeber when you feel like you’ve created junk.

  2. OMG. I’ve been wondering about this book. It looks like it has the potential to be something that I would really love, but then again, it’s something that terrifies me because it seems like something that definitley isn’t in my usual selection of books.

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