Hello Gemmies! I have some exciting news for you today. I am so thrilled to be able to share my interview with Amparo Ortiz for the Hear Our Voices Blog Tour! I cannot express how excited I am to be able to help spread the word and share some love for this wonderful book featuring a Puerto Rican protagonist and...ahem....Puerto Rican Dragons!!
GC: Thank you so much for allowing me to interview you, it is an honor! Blazewrath Games is so inventive, fresh, and new. What inspired you to start writing it?
Amparo: Dragons! I knew I wanted to write something that involved them in a big way. I just didn't have a clear understanding as to what that something was. In time, everything started falling into place, but none of it would've happened without my fascination with dragons first and foremost.
GC: Representation is so important and I really wish there had been a story like Blazewrath Games when I was growing up featuring not only Puerto Rico, but Puerto Rican characters. What inspired you to write YA instead of an adult novel?
Amparo: My main character, Lana, always appeared in my mind as a teenager, actually. Her voice sounded young from the very beginning, and I was drawn to how certain she was about a lot while also being uncertain about so much more at the same time. In terms of writing YA in general, I'm a huge YA fiction reader, so I prefer stories featuring characters discovering their very firsts and marveling at the endless possibilities before them.
GC: I love all of the dragons in Blazewrath Games and the Sol de Noches are my absolute favorites. Where did the inspiration for them come from and why did you choose them to represent Puerto Rico?
Amparo: The fact that they were Puerto Rican dragons came first, and I had to figure out what that meant. What would make a dragon from my country easily identifiable? Then I quickly realized that it wasn't about making it look like one of our endemic species, for example. I knew I wanted them to represent a contradiction somehow--their name, their abilities, how they behaved on the Blazewrath field vs outside of it. I also knew their scales would be black, which is my favorite color, and that this species was VERY powerful. So my main inspiration was thinking about contradictions, and how we can play with expectations vs reality when it comes to our identities.
GC: If you could go on an adventure with your dragon anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Amparo: Oh, the mountains, for sure. I'd like the ability to hop on my steed and disconnect somewhere far away for as long as I want, especially this year!
GC: Do you write while listening to music? If so, what was on your playlist writing Blazewrath Games?
Amparo: Sometimes I draft to music, but I rarely do so while revising. I feel like the theme song for this book is Monsta X's "Fighter." There are lots more on my playlist, but the confrontational vibes in this song are PERFECT for this book.
GC: There are so many pulse pounding scenes in Blazewrath Games. How do you get in the mood to write action scenes?
Amparo: ALL the music, lol! Also, brainstorming to the point where I feel like I'm in the scene. I need to see everything clearly. Otherwise I just sit down and stare at my screen with nowhere to go.
GC: I love, love, love Samira! Do any of the characters in Blazewrath Games hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
Amparo: I CANNOT ANSWER THIS QUESTION HOW DARE??? But also, Samira is soooo much fun to write and I desperately need her to be real so I can let her cast ANY spell she wants!
GC: If Blazewrath Games were made into a movie or series (fingers crossed....come through Netflix!) Who do you envision playing Lana Torres?
Amparo: No specific actress is coming to mind, but it would be AWESOME if she could channel Lana's unyielding determination to stand up for what she believes in. Bonus points if she can run really, really fast, lol.
GC: Are there any plans for more stories set in the Blazewrath Games universe? If so, what can readers look forward to?
Amparo: The sequel--and final book in the duology--is coming out next year! It's a direct sequel, so the story picks up just a few days after the end of Book 1. Readers can look forward to more chaos, lol, and also a deeper exploration of the magical community that provides said chaos.
GC: I am an unapologetic book cover ho and Blazewrath Games is beautiful! Can you tell me more about the process of coming up with the cover?
Amparo: ISN'T IT GORGEOUS?? Carolina Rodriguez Fuenmayor illustrated the pink cover of my heart. *flails* My team at Page Street Kids knew exactly what they wanted to feature on the cover, and they asked me which dragon species to include other than the Sol de Noche protecting Lana. We figured the Scottish Golden Horn would look super menacing in comparison, so we went for it. The pink was a total surprise, though, and I AM OBSESSED.
GC: Are there any behind the scenes secrets from Blazewrath Games that you can share with your readers?
Amparo: There were originally more Blazewrath matches in the first few drafts! Eventually, I combined events to stick with the matches you see on the final version. Also, in the first ever draft, Victoria Peralta from Team Puerto Rico and Andrew Galloway from Team Scotland were a couple!
GC: Are you working on any new projects at the present? If so, is there anything you can share about it with your readers?
Amparo: I have a few projects that I wish I could tell you about, but alas! Hope to do so soon! The one thing I *can* talk about (slightly, lol) is Book 2! I'm currently awaiting my editorial letter so I can start revising this and making it into an actual book. It's the very first sequel I've *ever* written, so I'm pretty emotional about it.
GC: Okay this one is just for fun. Let's do a lightning round...PR Edition!
Tostones or Maduros
Salsa or Reggaeton
Beach or Rainforest
Piragua or Limber
Neither, actually, but I do love Bad Bunny!
BOTH DO NOT MAKE ME CHOOSE OKAY??
GC: Thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions. There are so many wonderful themes throughout this book. What is one thing you hope readers will take away from Blazewrath Games?
Amparo: Nothing is off limits when it comes to canon fantasy tropes. Take something you love and give it your spin. Also, you are valid and worthy of respect/love whether your dreams come true or not!
I hope you all enjoyed this interview. Makes sure you purchase Blazewrath Games, published by Page Street Kids, and available from all major booksellers. Also check out the Hear Our Voices website or social media for their upcoming tour schedules. Are you looking forward to reading this book? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Happy Reading!