Friday, June 29, 2012

Every evil imaginable but hope as well: An interview with YA urban fantasy writer Nancy Richardson Fischer

Today I'm talking with Nancy Richardson Fischer about her YA urban fantasy, Pandora's Key.

Nancy has had an extensive freelance writing career in which she's written everything from sports biographies to a Star Wars Junior Jedi Knight Trilogy for LucasFilm, making Pandora's Key not her first foray into the world of YA writing.

Nancy is also giving away an eBook copy of her book. If you're interested, just leave a comment and a contact e-mail address. I'll pick a winner at random in two weeks.


1) Tell us about your book.

Pandora's Key is a YA urban fantasy that revolves around a young girl's realization that she's the descendant of Pandora, the first woman created by the Greek Gods,and that she's both a pawn in the Gods' revenge against Pandora, and a deadly game of acquisition by men and women who will stop at nothing to acquirePandora's original box. Here's a bit more about the story:

When everything you believed about yourself is a lie, how do you unlock the truth…

Evangeline Theopolis has nightmares about the violent deaths of women she has never met. Her single mother, Olivia, suffers delusions she can’t hide. And Malledy, a brilliant young man, may have a disease that will leave him paralyzed and insane. Their lives are about to collide.

On Evangeline’s 16th birthday her mother gives her a necklace with an antique keycharm—a family heirloom, though no one knows what the key unlocks. Everything changes. Her mom is hospitalized. Her godmother attempts murder. An ancient Order tries to kill Evangeline, and a lethal sect to kidnap her.

Nothing makes sense—especially Evangeline’s own face, which has morphed from geeky to eerily stunning; the ancient key that feels strangely alive against her skin;and the magical abilities she begins to possess. Evangeline must use her wits andsupernatural powers to fight her deadly adversaries and discover her true identity. But can she accept who she really is and save the world?

2) What inspired this book?

I love Greek mythology and, in particular, the myth of Pandora. Add to that my love of fantasy, magical realism, and the young adult genre (which is insanely creative)and I knew I wanted to attempt a YA urban fantasy of my own. From there, I let my imagination take over, started to tell myself stories, until I was finally ready to start writing. I began with a screenplay version of Pandora's Key - to figure out all the elements of the story - and then set my sights on writing the novel.

3) YA Urban Fantasy is popular right now. What sets your book apart from others?

First, I'm thrilled that YA urban fantasy is so popular! In a world of reality TV, which I find pretty darn depressing, it's encouraging that both young adults and adults want to read fantasy and are willing to let their imaginations soar.

What sets Pandora's Key apart from other fantasies is that it's very much a story of magical realism - meaning that it's deeply grounded in reality with magical elements so it feels... believable. In addition, I rewrote the myth of Pandora and brought the story to the present so that the myth and characters are accessible to readers.

All that aside, Pandora's Key is a non-stop, action packed ride with empathetic, layered characters and a twisted plot that is intricate and full of big surprises BUT can be figured out by careful readers (because I hate reading books with big reveals that are impossible to figure out)!

4) Tell us about your lead.

Evangeline is... average, at least at the start of Pandora's Key. She's a pretty typical sixteen-year-old girl. She's waiting to fall in love; she's hoping she doesn't get taller or her feet bigger; she thinks her mouth is too wide and her eyes too bulbous; and she doesn't quite fit into her own skin. Plus she wishes she was as smart and pretty as her popular best friend. And then everything changes for Evangeline when she's given an antique key by her mother and her entire world falls apart.

A lot of teenagers would crumble and look to friends and adults to help them make sense of their world, and that's where Evangeline differs. She realizes that if she doesn't play the hero in her own life's story she will lose everyone she loves. So, despite that fact that she's terrified, she rises to the challenge and discovers that she's tougher and more fierce than she ever imagined.

5) The original Pandora legend has been interpreted many ways, some rather chilling: an explanation for evil, an excuse for misogyny, et cetera. Did any particular interpretation of the original myth influence you when you thought of this novel?

The myth of Pandora as an excuse for misogyny probably influenced me most. The first woman getting the rap for releasing all the evils in the world? Come on! Totally unfair, right? But I have to say, from that starting point I tried not to read too many more interpretations of the myth because I knew I was going to turn it on its headand I wanted my own interpretation of what happened when Pandora was sent down to earth with a golden box (or urn) fashioned by the Gods and housing the Furies to be original. Hopefully I gave the myth a breath of fresh air and effectively brought it to the present day and gave new fans of Greek mythology a desire to learn more about the Greek myths that have influenced so many books and movies.

6) Your book recently won an award. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Pandora's Key won the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for YA Fiction. I was really happy to win, of course (and it was incredibly cool that the winners were announced at this year's Book Expo of America), but also very grateful to be acknowledged. Indie authors live in a world where they must take a leap of faith that their book is indeed good enough to publish, and then wait to see if anyone out in the real world agrees. The silence can feel deafening at times - and I count so much on readers, reviewers and bloggers to keep me going - so to be acknowledged by IndieReader felt... wonderful.

7) This is a trilogy. Can you give us a bit of insight into the sequels?

Sure! Book Two, The Key to Tartarus, has already been written and edited and will be published this Fall. You can read an excerpt on my website: (click COMING SOON).

The Key to Tartarus is much darker than Pandora's Key, which feels appropriate since the first book ended on a heavy but hopeful note. In a world where anything can happen; where there are forces bent on possessing the key and box... happily ever after isn't a given. In Book Two Evangeline is forced to discover the depth of her powers, descend into the Underworld, and rescue the people she loves from the inescapable prison that is Tartarus. Along the way, she must battle both her own personal demons and shocking obstacles that threaten her friends, her future, andher sanity.

Book Three is in the works, but Evangeline's world is constantly changing and until you know whether she survives Book Two, I don't want to provide any spoilers!!

*J.A., I just want to add a BIG thank you for hosting Pandora's Key and taking the time to interview me. And thanks to all the readers who have written to let me know how much they love Evangeline and Pandora's Key. Your support means the worldand all of you are the reason I keep telling stories:-)


Thanks, Nancy.

If you'd like to read more from Nancy, please check her webpage out:

Remember to leave a comment with an e-mail address for your chance to win a copy of Pandora's Key.


laura thomas said...

Thanks so much for the wonderful interview. I really enjoyed learning more about Nancy and her books. I have not read Pandora's Key yet. I better hurry if I want to review it before her second book is published!

J.A. Beard said...

Did you want to enter the giveaway? If so, just need a contact email.