Curbing curiosities, or an interview with Amanda McCrina author of Blood Road (and a giveaway)


blood road

Blood Road (Blood Oath #1)

By: Amanda McCrina

Publisher: Month9Books

Publication Date: April 25th, 2017


Nineteen-year-old Torien Risto has seen dissidents dealt with before. He knows the young local girl who just knifed him will hang for assaulting an Imperial officer, unless he can stop it.

Someone inside the provincial government is kidnapping Imperial citizens and selling them across the desert to the salt mines, silencing anyone who tries to intervene. The girl’s brother is one of those who has been taken. Rejected by the corrupt courts, she’s waging a personal war against the Empire.

Determined to save her life, Torien sets out in search of answers on the Salt Road, the ancient trade route running deep into the heart of a desert—territory claimed by the hostile Mayaso tribe.

Now, Torien is no longer sure where his own loyalty lies, or how far he will go to break the cycle of tyranny, political bullying, and social injustice in an empire that seals its borders in blood.

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1) If you emptied out your purse, wallet, desk drawer, pockets, backpack, beach bag, saddle bag, or fanny pack, what would we find?


In my backpack: laptop, half of a printed manuscript, student papers, wallet, phone, Bath & Body Works hand sanitizer.


2) What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster?


I’m a pantser on the rough draft and a plotter afterward; I don’t usually write a detailed outline until I’ve finished the rough draft. I do always keep a text file called “Scraps” where, at any point in the process, I can dump plot ideas, deleted scenes, and alternate versions.


3) Which came first: the novel or the title?


The novel. Titles are a struggle for me, so I put them off until last.


4) Which do you prefer: drafting or revising?


Revising. I spend most of the rough draft in a state of anxiety, convinced I’ve forgotten how to write.


5) What is your number one writing tip?


Read widely and well.


6) Describe your book in 5 words or less


Plots within plots. Also, knives.


7)  A book goes through a lot of different versions and rounds of editing before it’s complete.  What are some “fun facts” or behind the scenes info you can share about the characters from your book or the world you created for it that may or may not have made it to the final draft of the book?


Actually, the bulk of the novel stayed intact through the final draft—reorganized and polished, but intact. There isn’t a lot of deleted material. (My rough drafts tend to be very lean; for me, revising is usually more a process of beefing up than cutting down.)


That said, here’s some behind-the-scenes stuff to keep in mind:


  • The legal age of majority in the Vareno Empire is fifteen. That’s the age at which young men from noble families begin the four-year-long process of training to become military officers. (It’s also the age starting at which you can be executed for capital crimes.)
  • While we’re on that subject—the tradition among the Empire’s noble families is that the firstborn son inherits his father’s title and estate while the second son, the so-called soldier son, joins the military. (After that, any younger sons are free to choose their own livelihood.)
  • There’s a lot more to Valle than you get to see on the page. That’s all I’ll say, for now.


8) Do you have a special story behind your inspiration for the book?


Not really. I started with two characters (my main character, Torien, and the unnamed signo) and a setting (a desert outpost) in mind; everything else came as a surprise while I wrote.


9)  Who was your favorite character to write and who gave you the most trouble?


I enjoyed writing Alluin, Torien’s best friend. He’s a bit of a goofball but genuinely good-hearted. The villains were more challenging. It’s always difficult to humanize evil convincingly.


10) If you could ask a character of your choice from BLOOD ROAD one question what would it be?


I would probably ask Torien to tell me about the best day of his life. He doesn’t get too many good days, so when he does get one, it deserves to be commemorated.


11) What scene from the book are you most proud of (because of how you handled the atmosphere, characters, dialogue, etc)?


Toward the end of the book, two opposing characters finally meet. For most of the scene, they’re just talking, but I think the tension builds very effectively throughout the conversation.


12) Is there a scene that you had difficulty with and just had to “power through” to finish the book? Or a scene that made you very emotional?


Hard to answer without spoilers! A certain scene right at the end was very difficult emotionally. I explored all other options, trying to put off the inevitable, but I knew deep down that it had to be written the way it is.


13) What are the top five things we should know as a reader before starting BLOOD ROAD? (about the main character, their love interest, the antagonist, their world/home town, etc)


  • The world of BLOOD ROAD resembles the late Roman world, but the resemblance shouldn’t be taken too literally.
  • Except insofar as it’s a very violent and unpredictable place. No character is safe. I mean it.
  • To quote (500) Days of Summer, “This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know up front this is not a love story.”
  • Torien is constantly struggling to reconcile his two different identities: conqueror (as an officer in the Imperial army) and conquered (as a member of a subjugated people group).
  • There are antagonists and through-and-through villains in BLOOD ROAD, but part of what Torien realizes over the course of the story is that you can’t always assume you know who they are.


14) Are there any hints that you can give for what is next for your characters? If you could give us five words that would give us a hint of what’s to come, what would they be?


Snakes! Mutiny. Unexpected allies. Ultimatums.


15) What is next for you? What are you currently working on?


My current project is a YA WWII story set in Poland/Western Ukraine. It deals with some of the same themes as BLOOD ROAD—navigating between two conflicting identities, for one—but with the added bonus of snipers!

about the author

Amanda McCrina has studied in Italy, taught English in Japan, and currently tutors Latin in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her BA in History from the University of West Georgia, and is now pursuing her MA. She writes stories that incorporate her love of history, languages, and world travel. She drinks far too much coffee and dreams of one day having a winning fantasy-hockey season.

Find the author:

Website | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads


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follow the tour

Week 1:

4/24/2017- Rockin’ Book Reviews– Review

4/24/2017- Month9Books– Excerpt

4/25/2017- Two Chicks on Books– Interview

4/25/2017- Doodle’s Book Reviews– Review

4/26/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Interview

4/26/2017- Book-Keeping– Review

4/27/2017- A Backwards Story– Review

4/27/2017- Hazel West’s Character Purgatory– Excerpt


4/28/2017- LILbooKlovers– Interview

4/28/2017- Wishful Endings– Review

Week 2:

5/1/2017- Exploring the Inner Universe– Review

5/1/2017- So Few Books– Interview

5/2/2017- Book Review Becca– Review

5/2/2017- Bibliobibuli YA– Interview

5/3/2017- Reading for the Stars and Moon– Review

5/3/2017- I am not a bookworm!– Review

5/4/2017- YA and Wine– Guest Post

5/4/2017- Mundie Moms– Review

5/5/2017- Never Too Many To Read– Review


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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us. The author image, info, giveaway, and more were provided by Rockstar Book Tours.

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