We're on tour again! (And again it's not the kind of tour that first comes to mind at the mention of the word.) This time around, the blog tour we're a part of concerns The Prophecy, the first installment in The Fulfillment trilogy,  and it is one of the rare instances where our recommendation can be summed up in one (relatively) coherent sentence:

If you're looking for the next good YA fantasy read, look no further.

Set in the fictional kingdom of Vanguard (and then  the kingdom of Etherea), The Prophecy follows:

- Layla, a seventeen year-old believed to be the key to fulfilling an ancient prophecy through marriage to her greatest enemy... with or against her will.
- Wilhelm, the aforementioned enemy with a firm prejudice against Layla and all she stands for.
- Nash, whose secrets can make or break the promise of peace after centuries of war.
- A veritable myriad of other highly relatable and highly entertaining characters. (A nod to Joffrey from Game of Thrones? Check. A homage to Percy Jackson's sense of humor? Check.)

We have an ongoing partnership with BookFish Books (and nothing but positive experiences to show for it) and this ARC came as no surprise. There's not a very high statistical probability for a publishing house to publish nothing but good books (without fail), but our experiences so far are a living testament that improbable doesn't necessarily mean impossible. From Ally Malienko's This Is Sarah, to T.C. McKee's The Bone Treaty, and all the way to Erin Rhew's The Prophecy, consider this our official endorsement. If there's a publisher-to-watch in terms of diverse, quality YA content, it's BookFish Books.

As part of this ongoing blog tour for The Fulfillment series, we've had a unique opportunity to do an interview with the author, Erin Rhew. We asked her about her inspiration for the books, her writing process, writing Young Adult fiction and combining fantastical with romantic elements in storytelling.

If you are unfamiliar with the series, we recommend checking out the Cover reveal post we did last month, with all the pertinent information about the series.

  • Our perpetual first question in interviews (but always with excellent reason, and to highly amusing results): where did the idea for The Prophecy come from?

One night, I was watching a movie, and the words “Vanguard” and “Etherea” popped into my mind. They were soon followed by the names “Layla,” “Wilhelm,” “Nash,” and “Samson.” From there, the story began to take shape in my mind. I wrote down my idea and emailed it to my friends to see if the story sounded like something they would read. They said, “YES!” I started writing right away. These same friends helped keep me on track and spurred me on to write more. They became my Dream Team.

  • Did you always know you wanted to be an author?

I always have been a writer. From the time I was very small, I enjoyed reading and writing (I wrote my first poem at age four). I wrote all throughout middle school and high school. I took a hiatus because I both attended college and held down a full-time job. After I graduated, I started writing plays and got to see them performed. I love that so much! My stage manager suggested I put my plays on a website so other theater groups could purchase them. When I started novel writing again, I decided to give publication a shot. I’ve always dreamed of seeing my novel on bookstore and library shelves, so what did I have to lose? ;)

  • Who are some of your biggest inspirations, in terms of authors?

I have a writer crush on Rick Riordan. I just adore the way he builds worlds and characters that totally immerse you. And his humor…oh man, love it! Percy Jackson is my all-time book boyfriend!

I’m also inspired by the work of George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice And Fire series), Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices series), and Richelle Mead (Bloodlines series).

  • Why did you opt for YA fantasy in particular? What is it about the YA genre that makes it more appealing to you than, say, adult fantasy?

The pace, for sure. For a long time, I only read adult novels. My friend Danielle (a member of the Dream Team) told me she thought I’d really enjoy young adult novels. We both have ADD, and she found the pacing in YA held her attention much better. So I started reading YA and never looked back. I love how the story takes off right at the beginning and keeps a high pace the whole ride through.

  • If people enjoyed _, they'll enjoy The Prophecy. What are some of the books that have inspired you to write The Prophecy, or which you feel have a similar vibe?

I call it the YA version of Game of Thrones. The novel shares some elements with stories like Graceling and Arthurian legend.

  • With National Novel Writing Month looming closer, we are more and more interested in hearing about the writing process of each individual author. Tell us about yours. Are you a planner or a pantser?

I’m definitely more of a pantser. The only reason I made an outline for The Fulfillment series was to see if I needed two books or three. I don’t like when book 2 is just a bridge from books 1 to 3 but can’t really stand on its own. I didn’t want to have a trilogy if I couldn’t ensure book 2 had substance. My “notes” for most books involves random scribbling—LOL!

  • Some authors like to "steal" the people they know and convert them into characters in their books. Others come up with purely fictionalized characters. Where do you stand on this spectrum? Will any of your friends recognize themselves in Layla, Wilhelm or Nash?

I love those shirts that say, “Be careful or you might end up in my novel,” but I don’t actually draw my characters from real life. There may be elements of certain people, as there inevitably will be, but the characters cannot be traced back to any one person.

  • Layla. Wilhelm. Nash. Vance. Vespa. Those are some unique names. How much thought do you put into the names of your characters? How is the decision to name them a certain way made?

Strangely, the names just come to me. You know how people say they looked at their baby and just knew his/her name was X? It’s kind of like that. I’ll start writing a character, and his or her name will just come to me. As if it’s always been…

  • Tell us about your critique partners. How many are there, how helpful are they to your writing process, and how exactly does this partnership work?

I have amazing critique partners!! They are Mary Waibel, Meradeth Houston, Deek Rhew, Michelle Pickett, and T.C. Mckee.

They are supremely helpful to my work. I write a piece and edit it to the best of my ability. Then, I send the work to them. They review it, making notes in the margins, and send it back. Mary always comments on my wordiness; she helps me be more concise. Meradeth challenges my thinking. She’s always like “why does this person do that?” Michelle pushes me to show instead of tell the story. She’ll say things like, “Instead of telling me he didn’t like what she said, show me with his actions.” Tammy helps me add pizazz to a piece. And Deek... well, he’s my ideal reader. He’s the person to whom all my books are dedicated. He’s the one who believes in me, supports me, encourages me, and challenges me on each and every story I write.

In this group, I’m the resident grammar nerd. They usually send their work to me to be polished grammatically, although I try to be useful with the content of their stories as well. ;) I’m most famous for notes like “passive voice,” “adverb,” and “this what?” LOL!

I also have a Dream Team of friends who helped me get this novel complete. Dawn served as my creative consultant. I called her if I got stuck on the execution of an idea. Danielle acted as my “at home” editor. She immersed herself in my world and made sure my characters and the world itself stayed consistent. Kim kept me on track. I have ADD, and she’s a former teacher. So, she devised a way to make sure I stayed the course and completed the story when I needed to. And sweet Ginny proofread my work. She’d send me email after email with notes to make sure my words weren’t too modern and my typos got fixed.

  • You have a love triangle quite a prominent part of the overall story arc. What inspired you to include romance? And with the boys so vastly different, which one would you pick if you were in Layla's shoes?

I am a romantic at heart. In fact, when I was younger, I read mostly romance novels. I love romantic movies too. If a story doesn’t have some sort of love in it, I often feel gipped. ;) I think too that falling in love for the first time, or at least the feelings associated with it, are a big part of the young adult experience.

You know I can’t answer the question about whom I would choose! Haha!! I will tell you that I *do* have a preference between the boys.

  • There’s a theme of ‘enemies’ and ‘stereotypes’ in this story. Is there a message you’re hoping to send out with The Prophecy?

Funny you should mention that! When I received my first set of edits from my content editor, Katie, said, “I really dig the message you’ve created here about prejudice and tolerance.” I was like “wha'?” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that message does exist on the pages. I didn’t set out to have a “moral” to the story, but I guess my characters had something to say! ;)

  • You've already shared the 12 random facts about yourself on your blog. But now in our twelfth and final question, we're challenging you to share 12 random facts about The Prophecy with us, in honor of its imminent release.

1) I wrote The Prophecy in about a month. Dream Team member Kim requested a chapter a day, so that made completing it within a month quite easy. Editing, on the other hand, took much longer. ;)

2) At the time, Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare was really huge. People compared my Wil to the Will Herondale in the book because their names are similar. Ironically, my Wil is more like Jem in that story than Will.

3) If there is a movie version of The Prophecy, I want to play Queen Sansolena because I want Joe Manganiello to play Rex. Heehee.

4) When I set out to write the book, I had a totally different ending in mind. The characters surprised me and thus changed my outline and the course of my novel.

5) I have spent so much time editing the book that I still haven’t read it in its completed form.

6) I found out I got the contract for this novel in the middle of a pet store. I may have squealed and jumped and down…

7) Layla was the hardest character to write. At first, she just wasn’t strong enough and required a complete rewrite. I didn’t want a wimpy female lead.

8) I so dig the names Nash and Rex.

9) Some of my characters are homages to character in other novels. For example, Samson is my attempt to be funny like Percy Jackson (not nearly as successful here as Rick Riordan) and Vance is a nod to Joffrey in Game of Thrones.

10) The idea of someone controlling my mind completely freaks me out.

11) I am a HUGE Shakespeare nut. So, the way Jesper behaves around his wife is my “hats off” to Shakespeare’s observations of uncontrollable jealousy within marriage from Othello.

12) My Dream Team is split right down the middle over Wil and Nash: two for Wil and two for Nash. ;) My critique partners are more Nash heavy.

Thank you so much for the interview, Erin, and thank you for writing such an exciting, fast paced story. We're already clamoring for more (which is soon to come, thankfully)!

Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police." A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side.