AdriAnne Strickland: WORDLESS

We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. Today we’re talking to AdriAnne Strickland, author of WORDLESS, coming from Flux in 2014. One author, four questions. Here we go!

So, you’re getting published! How’d that happen? (aka, what was your path to publication?)

My husband landed a fellowship for us to live in rural fishing villages in Africa for a year, and I figured, this being the first time I’d ever not been in school or working since I was four, that I should finally embark on that writing career I’d been dreaming since about that age—okay, maybe not in such terms as “writing career.” But before I’d even learned to write my ABCs, I told my mom I wanted to make up stories when I grew up (since I was a habitual liar), and she was the one who first planted the word “author” in my brain.

Maybe rural villages were a bad place to bring a laptop (which became infested with ants), but it powered on and so did I. I finished my first novel in Cameroon in 2009, and it… well, it sucked. It was 250,000 words, no joke. After my husband and I returned to the States and moved to Alaska later in the year, I wrote a YA novel next, hoping that would help curb my word addiction. Even though it was shorter, it sucked too. I revised and revised both novels until the only thing I could do was scrap them entirely and start over. I rewrote my first (adult) novel, but was struck by a new YA idea, and thus WORDLESS was born.

My agent actually signed me for the rewritten version of my first novel, but she ended up loving WORDLESS as well. She sold it to Brian Farrey-Latz at Flux (along with book two in the series), and here I am! It only took three novels, a total rewrite, and four years. Easy career choice. Minus the sarcasm, it’s been the best career choice. Thanks, Mom.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

Here’s the short version: In a world where the masses are illiterate, 17-year-old Tavin Barnes, a wordless orphan, must do everything he can to stop a ruthless group that knows how to control the “Words”—an elite few with the power to turn their words into reality.

And here’s the longer version (which has a few more details that I hope are cool): In Eden City, the Wordless, or illiterate poor, would never even dream of meeting one of the all-powerful Words who run the city-state. Much less running away with one.

When a drop-dead gorgeous girl literally falls in his lap during his routine trash run, seventeen-year-old Tavin Barnes isn’t sure if it’s the luckiest day of his life, or the beginning of the worst. Because Khaya is also the Word of Life, meaning that she could either heal a wound with a touch or command an ivy bush to devour a city block, depending on her mood.

By helping Khaya escape the seemingly idyllic confines of Eden City into Europe beyond, Tavin unwittingly throws himself into the heart of a conflict that is threatening to tear the city apart… if not the world. Eden City’s elite will stop at nothing to protect the shocking secret Khaya hides, and enlists the help of the other Words, each with their own frightening powers—like the ability to spark a fire, raise a flood, or kill with a touch—to bring her back.

To survive, Tavin must confront the mysteries of his past… and risk sacrificing what he cares about most.

What are you most excited about in the debut process?

Mostly typical things: getting professional jacket copy so no one has to read the above description anymore, seeing my cover for the first time, finally holding my finished book in my hands, finding my book in a bookstore. I’m also so excited that after this first installment, the rest of the Words Made Flesh story gets to come to life. I get to write a sequel! Without a debut, I never would have let myself do that.

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

—When I’m not an author, I’m a commercial fisherwoman, returning to Alaska every summer to catch red salmon. My husband and I own and run our gillnet boat (named the Catch-22—that’s what you get with an English-lit-nerd like me on board). If you don’t mind being frozen, sleep-deprived and coated in fish slime, it’s the second best job ever, after being an author. Besides, it lets me write for the other ten months of the year.

—I make my own kimchee. As in, a lot of it, fermented in five gallon buckets. I’m addicted to it.

—I speak a reasonable amount of Mandarin Chinese and French. I sometimes confuse them and speak both at the same time.

—I don’t watch much TV, so my favorite shows are still the X-Files and Firefly.

—If I could be a character in any book, I would be an otter in Brian Jacques’ Redwall series. I’m pretty sure that says a lot about me.

AdriAnne Strickland shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, but has spent two cumulative years living abroad in Africa, China, and Europe. While writing occupies most of her time, she commercial fishes every summer in Bristol Bay, because she can’t seem to stop. Her debut YA sci-fi/fantasy, WORDLESS, is coming in Summer 2014 from Flux Books. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.
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19 thoughts on “AdriAnne Strickland: WORDLESS

    • You’re more than welcome! I love feeding people my kimchi(/kimchee, I spell it both ways, hah), but most people are scared of it!

      I hope you like WORDLESS! 🙂

    • Haha, thanks so much! I’m flattered–though I’m pretty sure people would get bored watching “my show.” Between writing, kimchee-making and fishing, there’s a lot of sitting and waiting around. It would need a very creative editor. 😉

  1. Don’t forget to bring home some of this famous kimchee of yours (and salmon too, goes without sayin’ haha) next time you are home. –and I’d watch your show too! 🙂 ❤

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever had Kimchee (dare I admit it?!?) I’m looking forward to WORDLESS, and I’d watch your show, too. 🙂 (Hi to your mom!)
    (Maybe you should just have a webcam – like when they film birds’ nests, or flowers growing 😀 )

    • Ooh, I’ll have to make you try some, sometime. Haha, I’m telling you, the writing/fishing life is not pretty, so I don’t think webcams are the ticket… 😉

      And I’m so glad you’re looking forward to WORDLESS! 😀

  3. I’m still stuck on the fact that your laptop got INFESTED WITH ANTS! What do they even think they’re going to find in there? And I’m trying to imagine what a day in the life of a commercial fisherwoman is like…have you ever blogged about that?

    Your book sounds exciting! Can’t wait to read it! 🙂

  4. Yet another world traveling, multi-lingual, multiple-careered One Four Kid Litter. Color me impressed! And yum to kimchi! Your book sounds great (and I soooo agree on the flap copy thing!)

    • Thank you! I hope you like WORDLESS! And, seriously, I can’t WAIT until someone who knows how to write blurbs tackles my book. I stink at it. 😉

  5. Awesome, another OneFour who has spent time in Cameroon! You probably don’t miss the bugs, but maybe the beans and beignets? And do you still have dreams about the squid from the Limbe fish market like I do? 🙂

    Anyway, great to “meet” you–I’m looking forward to Wordless!

    • I definitely miss Cameroon, in spite of the bugs! Especially the fooooood… my personal favorites were the braised fish in Kribi (where we were most of the time when we were “in town”) and “soya” (those grilled meat sticks) and fried plantains and chili sauce and ndolé and fufu… and… and…. 😉

      Awesome to “meet” you too! How long were you in Camé? So glad you’re looking forward to WORDLESS! 😀

      • I loved your blog posts! So cool seeing shots of Cameroon and Yaounde, especially. What an amazing trip you guys had. Thanks for sharing!

        I’ve blogged a bit about our year in Africa, mostly odd stories, though, nothing comprehensive: http://www.adriannestrickland.com/category/true-story-time/ …If you scroll past the first few entries about fishing, it gets into some of our wackier times in Africa. I plan on writing more about it.

  6. What an incredible woman you seem!
    My dear, I hope one day we will cross paths- perhaps be thrown together in some small cold place for a few months… if only.

    I am so excited for WORDLESS !!!
    and of course the Marsupial tales!

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