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Beyond The Bio: Jennifer Nielsen

Jennifer Nielsen The Traitor's Game

Hey guys! It's Amira! I am joined today by Jennifer Nielsen, who's a fan of Lord Of The Rings and the bestselling author of the new book The Traitor's Game. It's an amazing fantasy that will keep you on your toes. The book is out now if you want to get your hands in it. You can also enter the giveaway at the bottom of this interview to win a signed copy, along with some bookmarks and swag featuring original art. Keep reading to find out more!


The Traitor's Game features a country that's very different from our own. Different rules, new gadgets. How do you go about building a new world?

I started with the home country of Antora, simply to ask questions about it. I knew I wanted a land that was the point of collision for three forces seeking the throne. So then I began asking about who was in power, who was out of power, and who else wanted it for themselves, and why. The answers to those questions led to specific decisions about the nature of the land, the effects of magic, and the consequences of a constant battle for control.

Which character came to you first: Kestra or Simon?

Simon was first, but not the Simon of book 1 - it’s the Simon of book 2. I was captivated by the idea of this boy who has strong feelings for a girl who really never can be his, and maybe who shouldn’t be his, based on her own history and especially because of her enemies. Once I had Simon, I wanted to know more about this girl who had inspired such intensity of emotion inside him. And thus came Kestra.

Kestra's such a strong female character. Do you have any advice for girls who want to become more bold?

One of the finest compliments I ever received came from a friend who told me she had figured out the difference between her and I. She said, “You always assume you can do something. Even if I know you’ve never tried it before, you assume you’ll be able to do it.” I’d never considered that about myself before but I think she identified a key trait that has helped me in life. Because instinctively, I believe that if I jump (um..figuratively speaking), before I reach bottom, I’ll learn how to fly (um…super figuratively speaking).

For any girls seeking to be more bold, my suggestion is that they begin telling themselves that the goal they are pursuing, or the thing they want to do or to have or to become is within reach. The only question is figuring out how to get there, but they can, and they will. Once the girl truly believes it is possible, boldness is easy, because they already know they will succeed.

And by the way, we women are already incredibly tough and brave and capable. Boldness is a natural side effect for the girl who already believes it.

I alternated between swooning over Simon and wanting to kill him. Did you have a similar experience while you were writing him?

Oh absolutely! Simon is so stubborn, and can be entirely single-minded, which will only create increasing difficulties for him as he tries to navigate his own troubles in the story. But he’s got a good heart and really wants to do what he believes is right, something that will become an additional problem for him as the lines blur between right and wrong and his only compass to decide between the two is skewed by his feelings for Kestra. He definitely has some tough choices ahead!


Which of your characters do you relate to the most?

Kestra and I have our many differences, but I understand her well. Many realities of life in Antora sort of broadside her in this story and I’ve thought a great deal about how I would respond to her challenges. Even when I would make a different choice than she does, I respect her as a character because I know her intentions are good, even if her actions create a hot mess at times.

The creatures you created were really complex. Which one would you most like to have as a pet?

Hmm…not sure I’d be too excited about any of them since most were created by Lord Endrick as tools of war. But I suppose the giant condors would come in handy if my car broke down, or if my mortal enemy was charging at me with an oropod ready to trample me. I mean, just in case, right?

What books helped you first fall in love with the fantasy genre?

Absolutely the strongest series that made me love the fantasy genre was the LORD OF THE RINGS books. I was so captivated by them, and by such a comprehensive world that even though I knew it never existed, a part of me believed it might have existed. And Young Adult Fantasy is at its finest time in history, with so many remarkable books out there. It is an incredible honor to have a book that sits on the shelves alongside other stories that have been so inspirational to me.


That’s it for today’s interview with Jennifer, but don’t leave just yet. We’re giving away a signed copy of The Traitor's Game, and you definitely don’t want to miss out. Just click on the image below to enter. And be sure to come back again next week, when Lupita will be chatting with Irena Brignull about her spellbinding fantasy series, The Hawkweed Prophecy.

Jennifer Nielsen Giveaway

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