Editor’s Note: Best known for Gothic horror and dark young adult mystery novels, April Genevieve Tucholke is taking a dive into the previously unexplored with The Boneless Mercies. This novel is a gorgeously written standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of glory. Throughout the novel, Tucholke portrays fierce women warriors in unapologetic friendship who refuse to quit their quest for glory. We had a chance to catch up with April recently and she was kind enough to answer some burning questions for us.
Your previous books, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Between the Spark and the Burn, and Wink Poppy Midnight are very different books from The Boneless Mercies. What made you want to write a more historical piece?
Fantasy is my first love. The words “sword and sorcery” still make my heart skip a beat. Fantasy is what I read when I want to truly escape into a fictional world. Spring and summer are for Jerome K. Jerome and PG Wodehouse or mysteries like Miss Marple or Brother Cadfael—but fall and winter are for fantasy, a retreat into something darker and grander and nobler than the world I know. It was my favorite genre as a kid and is still my favorite today.
Have there been strong women in your life who inspired the four Mercies?
I’ve actually had several meek women in my life—women who refused to take risks, refused to stay curious about the world, to go against the crowd. This is what fueled my desire to create strong female characters.
What influenced you to delve into Norse myth, and what kind of research did you have to do for this novel?
I visited Iceland three years ago—it’s such a raw, epic country- majestic and cold and wild. I returned with a thirst to study Norse culture and the sagas. My research was fairly diverse—everything from History’s TV show Vikings to Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, to Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead, to Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom, to the Prose Edda, to the video game Skyrim.
You portray powerful friendships throughout the novel, between the four Mercies as well as Trigve and Frey. What is it about Frey, in your opinion, that draws their loyalty?
Frey feels deep love for Trigve and the other Mercies. Love, and respect. In return, they give her their loyalty and trust.
What was your favorite part about writing The Boneless Mercies?
The epilogue. It was actually one of the first sections I wrote—writing it so early challenged me to bring the story full circle and to weave in reoccurring themes, culminating with a triumphant end.
Is there any advice you’d give to girls who feel the call to seek glory like Frey?
Don’t let fear dictate your path. Work hard. Be both proud and humble. Allow rejection to ignite your determination.
Which Boneless Mercy would you call your favorite and why?
This is a hard question. Some days I think it’s Juniper—the sweet, mystical Sea Witch—and some days it’s stoic Ovie, and some days it’s strong, skeptical Runa . . . it all depends on my mood.
What can we expect from April Genevieve Tucholke next?
I’m currently working on a gender-flipped fantasy retelling of another classic tale, one filled with heroes and heartbreak, quests and adventure.
April Genevie Tucholke is the author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Between the Spark and the Burn, Wink Poppy Midnight and The Boneless Mercies. Her books have been published in thirteen countries and have received seven starred reviews. They have been selected for the Junior Library Guild, Kids’ Indie Next picks and YALSA Teens Top Ten. When she’s not writing, April likes walking in the woods, exploring abandoned houses and drinking expensive coffee. She currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter.