Amanda Hocking is the best-selling author of the Trylle trilogy, the Watersong series and now the Trylle spin-off the Kanin Chronicles. She’s one of the most famous examples of self-published authors making it to the big time after selling over a million ebook copies of her books. Read on for our discussion of the difficulties of writing a spin-off series, why her trolls are losing their powers over the generations and possible future character deaths in her latest series.
1. What made you decide to do another series in the Trylle world?
Because Wendy was a newcomer who didn’t know much about the society, the Trylle series had such a narrow focus. There is so much more to the world of the trolls that I was only able to touch on in the Trylle series, and I wanted to be explore it deeper. I also got a lot readers asking me, “What’s it like to be a tracker?” So with this series, I wanted to show the troll world as on a larger scale, and to see the world through the eyes of a tracker.
2. Did you have the general world-building around the Skojare and the Kanin already worked out or was that something you sort of developed especially for this new series?
I had a few general ideas about each tribe, and I had outlined how the tribes originated and what brought the trolls over from Scandinavia. But I didn’t have too many specific details. When it came to writing the series, I spent a lot of time really fleshing out, and saying “How is the tribe different than the Trylle? How are the same? Why are they like that?” This series has the most extensive world-building I’ve done.
3. Who is your favourite character out of all of your books and why?
It’s a tough call, because it varies on my mood. I would say most of the time, my favorite characters are Marcy from the Watersong series, Loki from the Trylle, and it’s sort of a tossup between a couple in the Kanin Chronicles, but right now, I’ll say Bryn. For Marcy and Loki, it’s the same reason – I think they’re funny. They were a lot of fun for me to write, and they could get away with a lot of great one-liners. Bryn I love because she’s so fearless and determined.
4. What were some of the challenges you faced when writing Frostfire and Ice Kissed? Why?
I think what made this series the hardest to write was the fact that it was a spinoff series. I wanted to make this series stand out on its own, while at the same time being faithful to what made readers love the original.
5. In both the Trylle and Kanin series characters often mention how trolls seem to have lost their stronger powers throughout the centuries, perhaps because of the dilution of the bloodlines. However, in the Kanin series it’s speculated that it’s because trolls have lost touch with their heritage. Can you say why the more powerful abilities are becoming more rare?
It’s a combination of the two. The trolls used to rely on their abilities to survive, to hunt and gather, to avoid enemies and predators. But then they began using their abilities to scam the humans out of the treasures, and the trolls built themselves great palaces to hide in, so their abilities became little more than parlor tricks. They lost touch with who they were, and their abilities weakened. Diluting bloodlines caused it weaken further, and now the trolls have become obsessed with protecting their bloodlines – particularly the Kanin – so they don’t lose what little abilities they have left.
6. After the Kanin Chronicles, do you see yourself returning to the troll world again? Why or why not?
I don’t have any immediate plans to return to it, but it’s such a vast world, with so many tribes, it would definitely be fun to return to again. There’s so many other tribes and aspects of their world that haven’t even been really seen yet.
7. You mention that your trolls are based on Scandinavian mythology. Did you have any particular myths that inspired you or really spoke to you as you were creating the troll world?
Not any particular myths. I took loose inspiration from Grimm fairy tales and other classic depictions of trolls, like Rumpelstiltskin. It was interesting doing research, though, because the traditional American version of trolls as tricky little ugly creatures, isn’t the standard. Other cultures view them as giants or as helpful beings on a par with fairies or elves.
8. One of the things we see over and over again with trolls, both in the Trylle and Kanin series is the very rigid hierarchy. Do you think that more progressive leaders will eventually break down the barriers between the classes or will they be forced to do it because the lower class trolls can no longer stand it, particularly amongst the Skojare?
It’s my belief that many of the kingdoms will move towards a more egalitarian and even pseudo-democratic societies, but I don’t think they’ll ever completely do away with a monarchy. Maybe something like they have in the UK or in the trolls native land of Sweden.
9. Can you give us any hints about Crystal Kingdom?
Crystal Kingdom was the most exciting of the three books to write for a couple reasons. One, Bryn gets to go out and see much more of the world and the troll kingdoms than I’ve previously shown in books. Two, all the answers to the questions in the first two books are revealed. And finally, I made some bolder choices with this series than I have with previous ones, and not as many characters survive this time around.