“Well, let’s see. Shady nightclub with nefarious characters lined up at the entrance? Check. Yup, looks like this is the spot,” Kat says as we both take in the building.
To anyone else, it would appear to be the exclusive night club, Utopia, that everyone’s been talking about. But we know it as the official hangout of villains. It’s also our destination tonight thanks for the invite of its owner, Ameriie, to talk about her new anthology – Because You Love To Hate Me.
“So do we just get in the line? Shove our way through? Punch someone?” I ask, half jokingly. I tried my very best to blend in tonight and dressed in my best Jedi Sith Lord robe. Kat came as, well, Kat.
“C’mon. Just stay close. I’ve got this,” Kat says.
I don’t exactly know how she’s “got this,” but I follow along anyway because it’s Kat and being left alone in dark places is probably not a good idea.
As it turns out, we do end up waiting our turn in line. I glance over the shoulders of the sinister fellows in front of me and see the bouncer ahead. He’s a big guy, with a no nonsense attitude and booming presence. He’s the judge, jury and executioner on the road to entry into Utopia.
“NO ENTRY,” the bouncer says to the guy in front of us.
“What do you mean?! I’ve been waiting for over an hour! You tell whoever’s in charge that they bet–” he starts as the bouncer quickly grabs him and tosses the poor unfortunate soul a clear ten feet from where he was standing. And then my palms start sweating.
“Umm… You know, I think maybe we should get out of here,” I whisper to Kat.
“What? No way! We have a date with Ameriie. Besides, we were invited. That poser was not,” she shoots back, pointing to the reject on the ground. She marches up to the bouncer with no fear in her eyes. Admirable, I think. I will miss her.
“Yo. We have an appointment,” Kat says to the bouncer. She’s somehow emitting this strange aura of
nonchalance and bravado and I’m equally impressed and concerned for her. I love Kat, but I know my limits. If it comes down to a fight with a Death Eater-looking fellow on steroids, I am not here for that. Sorry.
The bouncer gives a low guttural growl and I swear on my grandmother’s goldfish, his eyes momentarily flash red as he contemplates ways to make Kat pay for her audacity. Thankfully, a familiar face emerges from behind him and my fears start to melt.
“Ameriie!” I’m so happy to see her, I practically scream her name in relief. She doesn’t know it, but she probably just saved Kat’s life. Or maybe she does know it, considering she asks the bouncer, named Tiny (what???), to lower his fist.
“Hey, Ameriie! Good thing you showed up when you did. I thought I’d have to show Tiny here why I scored first place in the ‘roo wrestling match back home,” Kat says as she gives a strong one-two air punch.
I give Kat and incredulous look. “Seriously? Who are you?”
“Your worst nightmare and your sweetest dream rolled into one, babe,” she replies.
Ameriie laughs at our exchange, we hug it out and she ushers us into Utopia. And wow. It’s impressive, hopping with people who I would most likely never have over to dinner at my parents. But aside from that, it’s pretty upscale with a completely glass bar to the left and DJ in the back. She makes a beeline towards the lounge to the right and we follow naturally.
“Whoa, this is pretty cool, Ameriie,” I say. She thanks me and we take our seats at a booth farthest from the action, which is fine by me. Getting in a villain’s way while they are in the process of getting turned up is probably best avoided.
“Thanks so much for the invite and agreeing to the interview. This is all so exciting,” Kat says as she gets out her note pad. She is nothing if not always ready and she gets right to it. “First of all, why don’t you tell us briefly about the project and exactly why it’s so damn exciting?”
Ameriie smiles and says, “I’m glad you’re excited, because I’m ridiculously excited, too. Essentially, the project is a YA villain-themed anthology which pairs super-booktubers with super-authors to create super-villains that are super-intriguing. At least, that’s the aim. Each booktuber created several writing prompts from which their paired author chose one to act as seed for their super-story. Of course, these pairings and prompts, as well as the villains chosen/created, are, at the moment, super secret. I think there’s a trend here…”
“I super get where you’re coming from,” I say and grin at her. She grins back at my sad attempt at banter. But hey, I’m surrounded by bad guys and I’m flying by the seat of my pants. I’m allowed to be cheesy and nervous.
“You guys are both super adorable and I love you both,” Kat chimes in.
A waitress walks up and we each place our drink order. Just so we are all clear: Utopia‘s drink selection is boss.
I turn back to Ameriie and say, “So we kind of feel that this is an amazing idea, Ameriie. How did you come up with it? Tell us and don’t skimp on the details!”
“Thank you, ladies! The idea for the anthology came first, as I have always been intrigued by villains, the underdogs, the misunderstood, the gold-hearted, or at least gold-plated-hearted, baddies,” she says, gesturing around her.
“YAAAASSSS! These are my people,” says Kat. She and Ameriie share a fist bump and I shake my head. I can’t even with these two.
“But adding the booktuber/bookblogger element came shortly after, as my agent and I were tossing about a few ideas as to how bringing everyone together would work. Joanna Volpe is, by the way, a super agent, who isn’t just super because she’s a ninja-agent (more on ninjas later), but because she’s whip-smart, thinks out of the box, and is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” she finishes.
“I think that’s easily one of the best things about this entire project. I really love the element of combining creative outlets to be even more awesome than before. We’re really glad to be apart of it,” I say.
“Ditto. Thank you for asking us to contribute,” Says Kat. “Speaking of contributions, who else is involved in this project and what made you pick the people you did? Aside from us, we mean, since you had no choice but to include us.”
The waitress returns with our drinks and we each take a moment to get a sip in before she answers.
“I asked authors I admire, those who enthrall me with their prose and story, and I asked booktubers/bookbloggers I enjoy watching and reading as they break a book down to its bones and then build back up again with gifs and such.”
“I’m so touched, Ameriie. That means so much,” I say as metaphorical tears well up in my metaphorical eyes. What? These aren’t real. I refuse to believe this ocean in my eyes is real.
She reaches out and gently holds my hand. Okay, so maybe these emotions are real. Whatever.
“So who else is included?” prods Kat, clearly not concerned over this moment that Ameriie and I are sharing.
“Ah, this list is long so here we go—and of course I had to include you two! After a few slashed tires and several bouquets of dead flowers, I got the hint…” She says and gives a nervous laugh.
I give Kat a quizzical look. “Slashed tires?”
“Shh, Sinclair. We’ll talk about it later. Please continue, Ameriie,” Kat says and I scowl at her.
“AUTHORS! Renée Ahdieh, Ameriie, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, Nicola Yoon.”
It’s like a dream cast of amazeballs.
“BOOKTUBERS! Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes), Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia), Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels), Tina Burke (ChristinaReadsYA blog + TheLushables), Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl), Jesse George (JessetheReader), Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe), Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes), Sophia Lee (thebookbasement), Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07), Regan Perusse (PeruseProject), Christine Riccio (polandbananasBOOKS), Steph Sinclair & Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery blog + channel).”
“That is a fine group of awesome individuals,” Kat says as she sips her drink. I’m in full agreement. “The most obvious question, Ameriie, is why did it take so long for you to ask us? I mean, it’s US. I thought we were tight.”
“Omg, we are so tight. And you ladies were at the top of my list,” Ameriie says, leaning in. “But then there were those slashed tires and strange bouquets and I had to make sure I would survive it.”
“Seriously, Kennedy? Dead flowers? Slashed tires?” I ask.
“We here in Australia have a very different way we measure ‘persuasion,'” she replies all cooly.
“I see,” I say as I mentally remind myself to scatter the door way to her bathroom with tiny legos. Revenge is sweet and it shall be mine.
Ameriie gets us back on track. “Seriously though, Cuddlebuggery is among my favorite book blogs, one of the first blogs I found when I discovered talking books online was a thing, and I knew I just had to have you—your insights, your musings, the echoes of your fingertips against the keyboard…Okay, now I’m the one sounding creepy…”
“No, please. Don’t stop,” Kat says.
“Flattery will get you everywhere,” I add. I’m obviously digging this conversation and the avalanche of compliments is doing marvelous things for my ego when I sense a disturbance in the force. You see, I am a Jedi.
Kat and Ameriie notices the tension shortly and two badass looking characters stand to face off. One’s dresses in an all black leather ensemble, while the other looks like she fell in a garden and decided to go roll with it. I’m sure I’ve seen them somewhere before but shit is going down and my brain can only process punches and kicks. Man, what was in my drink?
Ameriie excuses her self from the table and Kat grabs my arm. Why she wants to go towards the confrontation is beyond me, but this is Kat. She laughs in the face of danger. To my surprise, she continues to interview Ameriie as we make our way across the club.
“What made you join the online book community? Was it your fierce love of introverts who refuse to wear pants?”
Ameriie gives a hearty laugh and says, “How could I not join? It’s booknerdsgeeknerds united up in this piece. And contrary to what some might think, I’m an introvert with extrovert qualities, so I found my perfect online hidey-hole. I do advocate pants though, at least when leaving the house. Or not.”
She smirks and pulls out a small object in the form of a tub the size of lipstick. Almost immediately it extends into a full blown whip. One of the fighters backhands the other and she flies right towards where Ameriie is standing.
“Ameriie, lookout!” I yell as I turn on my lightsaber.
“Put that thing away. You’re going to poke your eye out,” Kat hisses.
Expertly, Ameriie does a backhand spring, and I swear time slows down as her whip reaches out and wraps around fighter before she collides with anything or anyone.
“Wow. What just happened?” I ask.
“A+ level of badassery,” Kat says, starring at Utopia‘s Queen Villainess.
She has the troublemakers escorted from the bar and just like that, it’s over. Sure, it might be a villain club, but that doesn’t mean Ameriie tolerates them breaking her shit. House rules and all.
She turns back to us and begins to apologize for the interruption, but I take the opportunity to monopolize the situation. “This is a super important question that our readers are dying to know: Ninjas or pirates? Friendships may hang in the balance of your answer.”
Her eyes light up and I know exactly where it’s going. “Ninjaaaaaas!!!” she exclaims. “Zombies give me sweet dreams but I digress…Here’s the thing. I used to have a recurring dream in which ninjas raided my parents’ house and set it on fire and I had to use my I’m-a-ninja-too skills to fight them through the flames.”
“I knew it! I mean, there was just no way a pirate could achieve that level of flexibility!” I say. Kat is not impressed.
“On the other hand, I used to write about piresses (don’t think that’s a word but that’s what I called them at the age of ten) and they were a single family, generations of women who sailed the high seas and had many exciting, sexy adventures. They were always “tempestuous” because I couldn’t wait to grow up to be a tempestuous woman.”
“There is hope for your redemption, after all,” Kat says.
Ameriie looks at us both and says, “So, you tell me Steph and Kat: ninjas or pirates?”
“Ninjas.” “Pirates,” we say at the same time.
Kat grins. “Looks like the only way to settle this is over drinks.”
Ameriie whoops and I mentally groan because I am so screwed. Everyone knows a pirate can drink anyone under a table.
We want to give a huge thank you to Ameriie for the interview!
ICYMI: YA Villain-Themed anthology that Steph and I are a part of! Titled Because You Love To Hate Me and is releasing July 2017 from Bloomsbury! Check out the official announcement on Publisher’s Weekly.
You can see a video for more information about it below: