Autumn Rose – Interview with Teen Author Abigail Gibbs & Book Review
It must be nice to wake up everyday as Abigail Gibbs!
“Autumn Rose” is the 2nd installment of the “Dark Heroine Series” by the British teen author. The first book in the series “The Dark Heroine: Dinner With a Vampire” was a resounding success on the Wattpad platform, which led to Gibbs landing a six-figure, two book deal from Harper Collins UK at the ripe age of 15 according to her publicist. Gibbs has put that money to good use, paying her way through an education at the prestigious Oxford University, which she currently attends.
Gibbs was kind enough to answer a few questions for us, and the interview is below. First, though, we wanted to write a brief review of “Autumn Rose:A Dark Heroine Novel.”
The book introduces a new heroine, an aristocratic 15-year-old magician (excuse me, Sage) named Autumn Rose. Her job is to protect the humans in her school against an evil group of Sages known as the Exterminos. Problem is, most of the students dislike her and her biggest supporter in life, her grandmother, was murdered. That’s a lot to take for a kid, and Autumn Rose’s gloomy teenage angst reflects this.
The novel starts with a bang, so fans looking for some action will be pleased. However, newcomers to the Dark Heroine Series might feel a bit lost at first, as Gibbs weaves a world which not only features a lot of complex sorcery, but also multiple dimensions which are occupied by different races (including vampires) and a fair amount of political intrigue. It’s a bit much to keep track of.
Also, while the book has its obligatory romantic subplot for the YA audience it is mostly intended for, it is rather boilerplate…of course Autumn Rose is going to fall for the rich, good-looking prince! But Autumn is quite an aloof girl, and her royal friend an aristocrat, so the sexual passion is not quite there in their interactions. This makes the most interesting characters the supporting cast. Edmund, the protector. Valerie, the bully. Gwen, the fan-girl. Nathan, the co-worker. It is they who provide most of the “spice” in this tale.
The action and wizardry doesn’t disappoint, however, and Gibbs moves the story along fairly briskly and generates that all-important interest in what happens next? As such, we look forward to reading the 3rd installment, and seeing this young writer’s talents develop even more. If you are a fan of fantasy or Twilight fan fiction, the Dark Heroine Series” is worthy of a read. Now, scroll down for the interview!
1. Are you personally more like Violet Lee or Autumn Rose?
There are aspects of my personality in both characters – like my vegetarianism and my slightly sarcastic humour – but on the whole, I’m not like either character (in fact I identify more with the protagonist of the third book in the series, which I’m currently writing). I’m not as reckless or strong as Violet, and if I had to pick, I would say Autumn because she’s quite shy and deep-thinking, and has to learn how to come out of her shell, something I went through around her age (sixteen or so).
2. What can readers expect from the next book?
Book 3 follows the third Heroine, Alexandra. Discovering that she’s been harbouring powers that make her one of the blood-magic users dubbed ‘the Damned’, she is shipped off to college to learn how to use them. But Alex is far from happy about it. The Damned are vilified by humanity because they see blood-magic as evil, and with politics in other dimensions angering the humans, the third dimension is becoming a very dangerous place to be different. With the help of her new-found friends, her magical mentor and a more-than-healthy amount of alcohol, Alex must adapt to her new life and avoid the radical and dangerous Extermino group, who are after her for reasons unknown…
There’s a love square too, but it’s definitely not what fans are expecting!
3. What is the biggest challenge you face as a writer?
Finding time to write! I’m reading for a degree at a work-heavy university, and sometimes it can feel like trying to hold down two full-time jobs. I’ve had to learn to write very quickly and in concentrated sprints during the vacations, which isn’t naturally how I like to work. The first book (pre-degree) took three years to write. The second, which I wrote in my first year, took just a few months!
4. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Everywhere! The books and films I read, the people and experiences in my life, snippets of conversation in the street… There is no one source of inspiration, as stories are always forming themselves in my head and thus are always being influenced by what’s going on around me. But I do find music (particularly soundtracks, trailer and epic choral) is useful when formulating specific scenes, descriptions or dialogue. Often I go on my trampoline at home with my iPod in – the combination of endorphins and music gets the creativity going.
5. There are quite a few YA fantasy tales involving elemental magic, vampires, romance, etc. What do you think differentiates your work from the others?
I think something that often gets glossed over in paranormal and fantasy works is the relationship between the fantastical and the human. Either that’s because the paranormal world is a secret, or because it’s taken for granted that humans and magical creatures get along in the fantasy world. But I really wanted to explore what would happen if the magical creatures and the humans do know about one another, and don’t have an entirely peaceful relationship. There is a villain in the series, but really the ‘bad guy’ – the most sustained and complex threat – is humanity. So the series is different because amidst this huge, multi-dimensional world packed with different creatures; the politics, the violence is all about ‘How do we stop the humans declaring war?’ It’s really interesting and fun to write about a world where you have all the creatures and magic straight from fantasy, the intrigue and backstabbing of a royal court from history and then all the problems associated with a modern, political, human world. Things don’t run smoothly, put it that way!
6. Did you construct the worlds (all the dimensions) and plot out the different character “races” or “classes” for lack of better words before you started writing, or do they all kind of spring to life as you write the books?
At first I only set out to write a vampire story. By the end of the first book I found that the world I was writing about had expanded and been populated with lots of different creatures from fantasy and mythology. Those worlds started to take shape when I started writing the second book, and from the third the world ‘opens up’ so we see lots more of the dark beings. Therefore I’m having to plan out the worlds and beings because I need to keep track of them all!
7. You are quite young and many would consider you are living a dream as a published writer…what keeps you grounded?
I am living my dream, that’s for sure! Being at university keeps me grounded. I try to do very little author-related work during term-time because I save it for the vacations, meaning I can then focus on my studies and social life at uni. Life isn’t hugely different from any of my peers, therefore (and I definitely don’t get treated any differently by tutors!). It’s only when I do publicity or go to one of my publisher’s parties where lots of famous authors attend that I’m reminded of how surreal my life can be!
8. The story behind your first novel, DINNER WITH A VAMPIRE, is pretty unusual. What inspired you to start writing in the first place, and to publishing your writing on Wattpad?
I’ve always enjoyed writing as a creative outlet for my overactive imagination and by the time I was fifteen and found Wattpad (an online community of readers and writers), I’d started many stories but never finished them. Publishing online was a spur-of-the-moment decision driven by a desire to get what I was writing at the time (the beginnings of Dinner With A Vampire) out to readers for feedback. I never expected the success it achieved (about seventeen million reads over three years) and at the beginning, I didn’t have thoughts about publishing my work more traditionally. Wattpad and writing online was a hobby, a welcome distraction from school, exams and general teenage life. I suppose writing at first also filled the void that good books kept leaving. When I was mourning over characters after finishing a book or series, I would throw myself into my own world instead. Over time everything has been inversed, and reading has become an escape from my own world!
9. What advice do you have to other teen writers out there?
Never take any writing advice! Write what you want to write. It’s your story.
10. 5SOS or One Direction? Be honest!
I’m looking up 5SOS (does that make me old now?) so I guess One Direction. I do like a lot of the remixes of their songs that play in student night clubs, so that’s counts, right?
Oh, so it turns out 5SOS have been chart-topping in the UK. I had no idea. Story of my life…
11. What do you do when you are not writing?
Study. Sometimes I sleep…
12. Anything else we should know?
Follow me on twitter for updates on the Dark Heroine Series, random university ramblings and medieval manuscripts (don’t ask…) @AuthorAbigailG