TPC Member, Haley, interviews The Boneless Mercies author, April Genevieve Tucholke
Haley: What is the very first story you remember writing?
April: I used to write plays, then I would make my younger brother and sister act them out. They usually were mysteries. I’d also write scripts and then we would do like a live audio version. So I’d tape us and I still have one of those cassette tapes actually floating around somewhere. I have a brother and sister. Yeah, they were really a really, really nice to do that for me.
Haley: Did you act in them, as well?
April: Yeah, we all acted with multiple parts. My younger brother did not like not playing the hero. Yeah, it was fun.
Haley: What do you think makes a good story?
April: Well, you know, my newest book is a retelling of Bael. And I think it’s a really good story. Because it has I mean, it has the classic things a hero, a battle, a tree, a tragedy, blood glory, you know, at least in fantasy. But for me, I also I mean, as a reader, I just really want there to be magic. I really want my stories to have magic and I like to see what others can do with their imagination and how far I can go and interesting places it can go. So for me, that’s what makes the story.
Haley: If you could choose one song to sum up The Boneless Mercies, what would it be?
April: Okay, no one will know what I’m talking about! So you know, the TV show the Vikings by History? So the band that does that the theme song and a lot of the music is this one band and it’s so dark and good. I think it’s great. I write with it a lot. I also really like the original Conan the Barbarian soundtrack, the one with Arnold. Okay, so way back. I’m going to play it. I want to play the song that really gets me going. I find it’s very dramatic. It’s what you’d want to hear before going into battle. I also listen to a lot of like, video games on tracks. These are really good for writing because it creates a really good mood. Like the Assassin’s Creed is great and rock and roll.
Haley: Where is your favorite place to write?
April: I bounce around between coffee shops. It’s all right. I’m like coffee. I go to the quiet study floor of a nearby University. Cool. It’s where I live. Yes, the people are pretty intense there. I mean, I could just sit there for I don’t know, four hours. And, and no one says a word. I mean, it’s dead silence for four hours. And by the end of it, I feel a little detached. But it’s really quiet. I like I like writing outside when I can. I once wrote in a tea garden in Cambridge, England. And it was raining and I was under a tree… the sounds were beautiful. Yeah, it was really inspiring. That might be my favorite place.
Haley: I went to Oxford a few summers ago. And it was so magical. Honestly, just the atmosphere.
April: I was just there the end of May. And I love the Southern thing. I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland for two years. Southern England has bad weather.
Haley: Do you have any writing rituals?
April: I mean, I drink coffee, sometimes I light candles, sometimes I’ll do a tarot reading. Yeah, it’s helpful. And you know tarot cards are so beautiful. And it’s inspiring. And sometimes I’ll cast a creative spell, which I can’t really talk about. Someone told it to me in confidence but you know, it involves essential oils.
Haley: Wow, that’s the most unique reading ritual list I’ve ever heard. That’s really cool. When you were younger, did you know that you wanted to be an author?
April: You know, I didn’t because I thought I just didn’t think I could. I mean authors seemed so… in this other world. Like I thought they lived in castles and you know, like, it just had no part in my life and I didn’t think I could ever aspired to be one, yet here I am. It’s weird, isn’t it?
Haley: That’s so cool. You have to feel so good about that. If you weren’t an author, what would your dream job be?
April: I’d be a literary detective. I want to go into the monasteries of Europe and find old manuscripts that no one’s looked at in 500 years. Is that a thing? I don’t know if it’s a thing. I think I will make it a thing. Like, just to think of the puzzle of it. And then the accomplishment of finding something, solving something. I like to play escape rooms, so that makes sense right?
Haley: What was your most embarrassing moment in high school?
April: Um, I was in theater in high school. I had to sing a song. I was at some point in some way sitting on the edge of the stage and the song was called “Little Miss Lonely” and that was the refrain. I did it, but I wasn’t too into it. But I did it and afterwards there was a boy in my class named Jeremy Roofer, who, for the next three years, would in the middle of a class start singing Little Miss Lonely. He never forgot. Neither did I!
Haley: How do you choose the names of your characters?
April: You know, names are hard. I think they’re really important and I’ll often change them midway through a book. Sometimes I’ll do research on name history. I did a lot of Norris research on names. But sometimes, you know, sometimes I’ll be in a signing line, and someone will come up with a really cool name, and I’ll take that and I feel it brings it all full circle. I’ll also go to cemeteries and look at names. It’s cool. Not so much for this latest fantasy. But for my other books, a lot.
Haley: If you were a flavor of ice cream, what flavor would you be?
Haley: What Hogwarts house would you be in?
April: I believe I’m Ravenclaw. Though, don’t we all have characteristics of all the houses? Yeah, it depends on my mood and what I’m doing, you know, but I think in general, it’s right. My favorite character was Luna Lovegood. And she’s Ravenclaw. So I figure that’s probably right..
Haley: What are you currently reading?
April: I don’t have a lot of time to actually read books because I feel guilty because I should be writing. But on audio, I listen to a lot of audiobooks when I’m just doing things. And I’m doing History of Dragons, which is a fantasy right now. Yep. I’m doing Botany of Desire, which is a nonfiction book about nature. And I’m doing World War Z. The audiobook is excellent. It’s just so dark.
Haley: How do you keep all those in your head?
April: My mom has been asked me that since I was in middle school. I don’t know. And I have the universes of my own books in my head, too.
Haley: Wow, you must have a memory of steel. So, how do you begin a book? Do you have a character, a scene, or a line of dialogue in mind?
April: Honestly, I just start and and usually I just get through a couple pages. And then I started figuring out who the character is and figuring out and then start building the world from there. So it’s like, you know, it’s like, if you’re gonna make a soup, I would put water in. You’re adding all these other things and then you see what happens. Is that a good analogy or a terrible analogy? You know what I should have said? It’s like making a potion.
Haley: Oooh, a magical elixir! So are you more of a pantser or a planner with writing?
April: Well, I prefer not to plan because my best ideas come to me spontaneously while I’m writing and listening to music. But I have to admit I usually have to depending on my contracts and everything but I don’t always follow my outline. I don’t know.
Haley: Do you prefer to write on your laptop or with pen and paper?
April: I type. I type so fast that sometimes I watch my hands like what are you doing? It’s like piano. Yeah, you know, you get to a point where you know a song so well you’re like I don’t even know what I just play. It’s like that with typing, and I rub the letters off and I have to get them replaced.
Haley: How long does it usually take you to write each book on average?
April: Mercy was probably a year. I think, forced, I can do six-seven months. It’s not fun.
Haley: What can readers look forward to next from you?
April: I’m going to do another retelling!