Hey! Lupita here! I’m joined today by the amazing Amelinda Bérubé, a lover of YA and SFF, a passionate gardener, and the author of The Dark Beneath The Ice. The Dark Beneath The Ice is a spectacular book filled with suspenseful scenes. It’s intense, and it is beautifully written. The book will be out August so make sure to run over to your local bookstore. Trust me, you won’t be able to put this book down. Let’s get to today’s interview.
Hi Amelinda! I loved reading your new book The Dark Beneath The Ice, coming out next month. It's a wild, terrifying ride. Could you give our readers a sneak peek of what to expect?
I’m so delighted you enjoyed it! The Dark Beneath The Ice is a ghost story that mixes poltergeists and possession with a splash of ballet and awful fairy tales. Marianne, once a promising dancer, is now doing her best to stay invisible – but in the wake of her parents’ divorce, strange things start to happen to her. She doesn’t think she’s the one responsible for the broken objects and sinister messages, but with gaps springing up in her memory, she can’t be sure. Either she’s losing her grip on reality or something is after her…and she’s not sure which possibility is scarier.
I wanted it to be one of those books that gives you the shivers but leaves you thinking, too – that’s always been my favorite kind of spooky story.
The Dark Beneath the Ice is your first published novel, so congratulations! It's also the first book I've ever read that features ghost and exorcisms. Were there any horror flicks that inspired your writing process?
Thank you! There are definitely some parallels between this book and Black Swan (not a horror movie per se but definitely weird, tense, and creepy!) That film does such a beautiful job of blurring the line between reality and nightmare to express the conflicts that are tearing its heroine apart – all without ever explaining anything outright. I’d been nursing the idea for my ghost story for a couple years when I saw Black Swan, and it just filled me with excitement and inspiration; it captured so brilliantly what I wanted to do.
I know a lot of authors write several books before they're able to get one published. Did you write any other manuscripts before this one?
I have one previous novel stashed away in a drawer: a fantasy novel about three kids who get sucked into their own imaginary world and find it much darker and more complicated than they’d ever imagined. That was the project that taught me how to finish a manuscript. It took me seven years. I wrote about the (kind of mortifying) saga of writing that book and what I learned from it on my blog.
Marianne was a dancer, and she was placed under the pressure getting all her dances right. As a writer, how do you deal with pressure?
Like Marianne, I get super anxious, so finding ways to cope with pressure has been really important. Publishing has been a lifelong dream of mine, but it’s also pretty terrifying – the only thing scarier than the idea of no one reading your book is the idea of everyone reading your book. Putting your heart on the page makes you vulnerable in a way I didn’t expect.
The best coping strategies I’ve found are (1) tackling things head on instead of procrastinating out of fear – write a couple of pages (or paragraphs) of the story you’re struggling with, send that scary email. I always feel better if I can make some progress and worse if I put it off; (2) surround yourself with other creative people who get it and can lift you up when you’re biting your nails; and (3) honestly? Medicine. Sometimes you can’t get out of the panic spiral by yourself, and it’s OK to ask for help.
What advice do you have for teens who hope to one day be a published author?
Writing is hard and personal and scary, and sometimes you have to push through that – being afraid you can’t do it, being afraid of what other people might think, being afraid of writing badly, being afraid it won’t turn out like you want. Being afraid doesn’t mean you’re not cut out for writing. Just keep putting sentence after sentence until it’s done. Even a few hundred words at a time adds up. Getting it done is the key. When it’s done, you can make it better.
My favorite character is Rhiannon (Ron) because I relate to how she puts on her different personas. Which character do you relate to most?
As you might have guessed from the above, I probably relate most to Marianne. Like Marianne, I was pretty invisible in high school, and my parents also split up unexpectedly, though I was quite a bit older than her at the time. A lot of my own emotional landscape made its way into her story.
For some odd reason, one of my favorite parts of the book was when Marianne went to Ron’s house, and her mother performed some sort of ritual to communicate with the spirit. Have you ever had any supernatural experiences?
Nothing anywhere near as dramatic as the ones I’m writing about, fortunately! Ron’s mom is based in part on a psychic I got a tarot reading from once; her insights, in addition to being spot on, were delivered in this blunt and down-to-earth way that was actually really charismatic. I had a lot of fun writing about her, especially in combination with Ron’s bristly cynicism.
What are some other YA books you'd recommend for readers who enjoyed The Dark Beneath The Ice?
There are a number of delightfully creepy books coming out this year! The Hazel Wood and The Wicked Deep are both deliciously atmospheric contemporary fantasies that I adored. Devils Unto Dust has a more historical flavor, but its tension and sense of place are absolutely riveting. And I love Nova Ren Suma’s books, so I’m really looking forward to A Room Away From The Wolves, which comes out in the fall.
You have a future book coming out next year called Here There Are Monsters. What can you tell us about it?
Here There Are Monsters involves monsters made of sticks and bones, creepy woods, a missing sister, and awful secrets. I wrote it in an extended fit of cackling glee and I can’t wait to terrify everyone with it; a writing buddy of mine says it gave her nightmares. (#goals!) It’s slated for August 2019. I’ll be sharing updates through my newsletter as I get them!
That’s it for today’s interview with Amelinda. Before you leave, be sure to pre-order a copy of her book. And we’ll see you back here again next week when Julie Anne will be interviewing bestselling author Betsy Cornwell about her new gender-bent Robin Hood retelling The Forest Queen. Don’t miss it!