Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Q&A + Review Blog Tour: A Daughter of No Nation by A.M. Dellamonica

G'day readers! Today I have the pleasure of having A.M. Dellamonica on the blog. The second book in her Hidden Sea Tales series, A Daughter of No Nation has just been released. Alyx was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. So keep on reading for our Q&A, plus my review of A Daughter of No Nation.

A.M. Dellamonica

A.M. Dellamonica is a recent transplant to Toronto, Ontario, having moved there in 2013 with her wife, author Kelly Robson, after twenty-two years in Vancouver. She has been publishing short fiction since the early nineties in venues like Asimov's, Strange Horizons, and, as well as numerous anthologies. Her 2005 alternate history of Joan of Arc, "A Key to the Illuminated Heretic," was short-listed for the Sidewise Award and the Nebula.
Her first novel, Indigo Springs, won the 2010 Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic; she is also a Canada Council grant recipient.
Dellamonica teaches writing courses through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program. A Daughter of No Nation is her third novel. 


Q: "As a reader we all have our favourite worlds, even ones we love to read about but would never want to find ourselves thrown into. Like Sophie finding herself in a very new and different world in Stormwrack; how do you think you would fair if you were transported into your favourite book world?"

A: The first challenge here was to pick a favorite book world, and after a bit of time and pondering I decided on a place that lies very near to my reader heart: Connie Willis's Oxford time travel universe. 
Many of the Oxford stories follow a certain pattern: a historian prepares to go back in time to do primary research on some aspect of England's past. Then they end up getting sent to some other era, where they are completely unprepared for the local customs or whatever is about to befall them.
The wrinkle here is that as a university student, I was always much more into French history then English, so if I did end up in this universe, we'd have to assume that Oxford is studying France too. Alternately, there might have to be a comparable program at the Sorbonne, or someplace like that. Either way, the primary research I would want to carry out would be to see Joan of Arc as she oversaw the crowning of the Dauphin at Reims cathedral on July 17, 1429.
Where would I get sent instead? There are so many horrifying possibilities! But rather than contemplate my trying to survive any part of the French Revolution (not very likely) or even the especially bad bits of the twentieth century, I think I will choose to believe that this imaginary version of myself ends up in one of Connie's comedies. Maybe I could set myself up as a paint supplier and sell pigments to the Impressionists or something. A little more purple for those irises, Monsieur Monet?

Q: "You've definitely created a politically rich and unique world in Stormwrack. Is that what attracted you to writing this type of fantasy because that's the type of fantasy reader you are? Or maybe because you found our world as inspiration? In other words what inspired you to create Stormwrack?"

A: As a reader, I have always loved portal fantasy. I love Oz and Narnia and Wonderland; I love Straub and King's The Territories and anything about fairyland. I like time travel, with its branching timelines, and alternate history, which makes another world of the here and now. In short, I dig almost any book where a modern-day character finds a doorway into a parallel realm. But there had been a long stretch where portal fantasy, in its most down-the-rabbit-hole form, had fallen som ewhat out of fashion. I've heard two reasons for this. First, it's seen as a genre where the protagonists are always kids and their concerns lack a certain kind of maturity, or heft. Second, there's a critique of portal fantasy that claims that its characters come back home to the real world--where they have rarely even been missed!--and their adventure makes no real impact beyond whatever personal growth they experience along the way.
The complaint, then, is that the portal world has no effect on this one. Stormwrack is explicitly not like that. There are figures in the Fleet government who are well aware of Earth and believe us to present a significant danger to their society. Before Sophie Hansa, anyone who accidentally visited was liable to have their memory wiped before they were sent home… and this assumes they were allowed to go home at all.
What's more, Sophie discovers quite quickly that not only does advanced technology work in Stormwrack, but the magic operating there seems to function perfectly well in our world too. This means there's a pretty significant threat to us, if there's any real exchange of ideas between the two universes. These are people who can kill you at a distance with a correctly worded spell or sink a ship by naming it aloud.
Some of my inspiration for creating this world, then, has been to show that portal fantasy doesn't have to be some kind of no-impact grotto in the back of the genre, a thing tucked into a closet, reachable only by neglected and unremarkable orphans. But the biodiversity of the Galapagos islands and the voyage and work of Charles Darwin were also big influences. The land masses on Stormwrack are small, accessible only by sail, and each has a unique culture and a microclimate that determines what kind of magic its population can perform there. The result is a place with a little of everything: magic sailing ships, pirates, duelling judges, a curse on the race of cats, nearly immortal Empresses of the plains, magically tamed volcanoes and, strangely, a lot of unsolved crimes and lawsuits over the theft of natural resources and ownership of spells.
I was less interested in taking a character back and forth through a looking glass, in other words, and more into the idea of smashing the thing, taking mirror shards and making a big, glittering disco ball of a culture that would cast many reflections, have lots of sharp edges and, eventually, the potential to create a huge magical mess.

My Thoughts

A Daughter of No Nation by A.M. Dellamonica
Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: December 1st, 2015
Pages: 352
Series: Hidden Sea Tales #2
Source: Publisher **I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
Rating: 3/5

The second novel in the Stormwrack series, following a young woman's odyssey into a fantastical age-of-sail world

All Sophie Hansa wanted was to meet her birth parents. Instead, she and her brother found themselves transported to another world made up of giant archipelagos and people who can magically alter themselves. With her business in Stormwrack finished, it looked like Sophie had seen the last of the Fleet, until she finds the captain of her late aunt’s ship, Garland Parrish, waiting for her at her parents' home.

Sophie finds out that her birth mother has been imprisoned by her birth father for hiding their daughter, and now Sophie must return to Stormwrack to talk the father she never knew into releasing the mother who wants nothing to do with her. Not only does she have to navigate the troubled social waters of her father’s home nation, she also finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy that could lead to open civil war in the Fleet.

Now Sophie, Bram, and Parrish must unravel a decades-old mystery if they hope to free Sophie’s mom and preserve the peace ensured by the nations united in the Fleet.

A Daughter of No Nation wastes no time in throwing Sophie(and readers) right back into Stormwrack. For the past six months, ever since Sophie has been back on earth, she has been preparing for this moment as well. It was only a matter of time before she found herself back in Stormwrack. So when Parrish and Verena show up needing her help she's all to willing.

A Daughter of No Nation is still a political fantasy. Which is very apparent when everyone seems to be a lawyer getting around the loopholes in the law. But I found A Daughter of No Nation to be more on the family drama side. Sophie is kind of forced to travel with her birth father to his home island where he can claim her as his child; and hopefully they can get to know each other. In exchange he will help to get her birth mother(his (ex-)wife) off on her many charges. Things aren't as easy at the for Sophie though. Getting to know the powerful man her father is leaves Sophie paranoid and distrustful.

For me, Sophie was very frustrating for a good portion of the book. She hates her father calling her child, as she's twenty-five, but the irony there is that she spends that amount of time acting like one. I understand that she's not going to be quickly taken with a man she's just met. And also learning that some of the life he's accustomed to and lives is against her morals is going to be hard to overcome. But Sophie's attitude absolutely sucked. Sophie was judgmental and distrustful of him pretty much right away. Than add on her very childish and insensitive behavior and I'm very surprised he kept his contract that long. For the most part her dad was quite sincere and excited to show her his home. Obviously in a place like Stormwrack Sophie is right to have some reservations about him, it's just her behavior was really inexcusable.

Besides my frustrations with Sophie, A Daughter of No Nation has some more awesome world expansion. With each island being it's own governing body there all going to be different and have different laws and ways. So this book offered more insight there. Like how regressed this world really is to modern day earth. I also thoroughly enjoyed Sophie and Bram putting their brains towards the discovery of how Stormwrack fits with earth. Is the past? The future? Another dimension? The whole mapping Stormwrack against earth speaks to the geography nerd in me. 

By far the world building is the strongest element of the books. Although a strong cast of characters is a close second. I still find Parrish mysterious. Verena is a great moody teenager. And Sophie and Bram have a great sibling dynamic. That's really the tip of the iceberg. It's a big world, so plenty of unique characters make appearances.

With one more book to go in the Hidden Sea Tales trilogy, I'm impatient to get more of Stormwrack. See how everyone fairs in a world rift with magic, politics, unrest and conspiracies. Or just you know, being antsy for the finale. 

I want to give a massive thank you to Raincoast for including me in this blog tour. As well as an even bigger thanks to Alyx for taking the time to answer my questions.

Happy reading!


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