Amy Blake and I spent a couple of years on a small critique loop, hashing out each others’ stories and commiserating over our unpublished state of being. I was intrigued by Amy’s fantasy series starring a brilliant young boy named Levi Prince, who happened to be homeschooled. Though the story was a good one, she faced an uphill battle, simply because of who it was written for…young adult boys.
I was puzzled. Do they not read? Mine did, and they loved fantasy, especially magical ones. But Amy Blake was not a quitter. She would not give up. And now her dream is a reality. The Trojan Horse Traitor, the first book in the Levi Prince series is now available! As soon as Amy contacted me, I set a date for an interview so I could share her story with you.
Amy, tell us a bit about The Trojan Horse Traitor.
The Trojan Horse Traitor is a young adult fantasy novel about 13-year-old homeschooled pastor’s kid Levi Prince. He heads off to summer camp on Castle Island in the middle of Lake Superior and instead finds himself in Terracaelum, a haven for mythical creatures that’s suspended above the lake.
How did you come up with your idea for this series?
I’m a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four. My kids and I all love fantasy novels, but none of the books we read have homeschooled heroes. When Levi and Terracaelum entered my mind (no, I don’t remember exactly what made me dream them up), it was only natural that Levi be a redheaded, homeschooled pastor’s kid like my own children. Camp Classic came into being because we follow a Classical Christian educational system for our homeschool, and I thought it’d be intriguing to incorporate a story from Classical mythology into my plotline. I also thought it’d be fun to make my runty main character tackle archery, fencing, canoeing, and wrestling, along with the torment of Latin verbs and History dates during summer break.
What is your target audience?
My primary audience is 9- to 14-year-old boys and girls, though older teens and adults who like YA fantasy would enjoy the story too. It can also be read aloud to younger children.
I think girls will definitely like it as well as boys. Any main themes or special interests you highlighted in this story?
The overarching theme is how God displays his strength in our weakness. I chose a main character who is skinny and short, redheaded and freckled, and doesn’t excel at any of the activities at camp–fencing, archery, canoeing, even art class. In his weakness, Levi knows he’s not the strong hero type, so when he and his friends face death at the hands of Deceptor, a shape-shifting demon sorcerer, he must depend on God’s strength to get them out of the encounter alive.
What’s up next for your main character?
In book 2 of the Levi Prince series, The Fall of Thor’s Hammer, Levi returns to Camp Classic the next summer. On his first night at the castle, he hears someone banging on the cellar door. He knows one of the camp’s firmest rules is, “Stay out of the cellar,” but Albert lets it slip that a storm may have driven a Lake Superior sailor into Terracaelum’s underbelly, and that he could be trying to get out through the cellar door. On the other hand, Albert tells him, it could be one of the Dvergar trying to lure some fool to his death. Levi has to choose—obey Mr. Dominic, possibly leaving some poor sailor to wander in darkness until he starves, or disobey and take the consequences if he opens the door to a Dvergar instead.
Tell us about your favorite place to write.
One summer I was able to do a Writer’s Retreat at St. Davids’ Christian Writers Conference. For five days, I had a dorm room to myself and unlimited writing time on the gorgeous campus of Grove City College in Pennsylvania. I wrote more in those few days than I’d been able to write at home that whole year. It was a treat.
Why do you write?
I write because I love to put the stories in my head onto paper (or computer screen). Through my books, I’m able to share enjoyable plots with my readers while also showcasing truths about God.
Do you have any other works (or ideas) in process you can tell us about?
I just finished a draft of The Fey’s Apprentice (the third book in the Levi Prince series). I’ve also done some work recently on my Women’s Fiction, Gabriel’s Gift. My top priority for the next few weeks is working on edits for my upcoming release, Colorblind (the second book in my On the Brink suspense series).
Who is your favorite author and/or genre, and how has reading (those) affected your writing?
My favorite genres are YA fantasy and mystery/suspense. In the YA fantasy genre, some of my favorite authors include Brandon Mull and Rick Riordan, mostly because they don’t write confusing “high” fantasy but engaging stories in a fantasy setting with relatable characters and lots of humor. My Levi Prince series is similar in that I’ve tried to make it fun and I’ve include some mythical elements without having too complex of a fantasy world. Unlike Mull’s and Riordan’s books, mine emphasize God’s sovereignty in all things.
My favorite suspense authors include Terri Blackstock and Brandilyn Collins. I love the way they develop their characters spiritually while providing edge-of-the-seat plot twists that make me want to keep reading to the end. I strive to maintain the same balance in my suspense novels. In fact, one of my favorite reviews for Whitewashed, my suspense novel that released in February of this year, favorably compared my writing to Terri Blackstock’s. Yay!
That’s wonderful. Nothing buoys our self-esteem like a good review. I really appreciate you taking the time from a busy book release schedule to answer my questions.
Readers, with Christmas rushing at us full speed, maybe you could use a gift for a boy or girl on your list. If you’re a parent or grandparent, Trojan Horse Traitor would make a great night-time read for the children in your life. See below for more information and where you can buy the book.
Left on Castle Island to attend Camp Classic, thirteen-year-old, scrawny, redheaded, homeschooler Levi Prince finds himself at the center of an enchanted world of amazing abilities, cloudy motives, and wicked beings that will challenge his very spirit. He begins to form friendships, but life at camp becomes more confusing as questionable activities and uncertain agendas bring about conflict that tests his character in ways he never expected. Finally, faced with a friend’s betrayal, Levi is forced to confront true evil. Will he find the courage to stand his ground, and to become the hero he was always meant to be?
The Trojan Horse Traitor is now available in both e-book and paperback formats. Amy is hosting a giveaway of two paperback copies of The Trojan Horse Traitor on Goodreads. You can enter now through December 14th.
Award-winning author Amy C. Blake is a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four. She has an M.A. in English from Mississippi College and has written articles, devotionals, and short stories for a number of publications. She’d love for you to visit her website at amycblake.com for tips on homeschooling, advice for the rookie pastor’s wife, and helps for the Christian life. You can also find more information on her website about her novels–Whitewashed, Colorblind, and The Trojan Horse Traitor.
Trojan Horse Traitor is available at the following locations: