Monday, July 31, 2017

Welcome to the FFBC: LEAGUE OF AMERICAN TRAITORS by Matthew Landis

League of American Traitors

by Matthew Landis
Publisher: Sky Pony
Release Date: August 8, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Historical
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Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. . . . 

 When seventeen year-old Jasper is approached at the funeral of his deadbeat father by a man claiming to be an associate of his deceased parents, he’s thrust into a world of secrets tied to America’s history—and he’s right at the heart of it.

First, Jasper finds out he is the sole surviving descendant of Benedict Arnold, the most notorious traitor in American history. Then he learns that his father’s death was no accident. Jasper is at the center of a war that has been going on for centuries, in which the descendants of the heroes and traitors of the American Revolution still duel to the death for the sake of their honor.

His only hope to escape his dangerous fate on his eighteenth birthday? Take up the research his father was pursuing at the time of his death, to clear Arnold’s name.

Whisked off to a boarding school populated by other descendants of notorious American traitors, it’s a race to discover the truth. But if Jasper doesn’t find a way to uncover the evidence his father was hunting for, he may end up paying for the sins of his forefathers with his own life.

Like a mash-up of National Treasure and Hamilton, Matthew Landis’s debut spins the what-ifs of American history into a heart-pounding thriller steeped in conspiracy, clue hunting, and danger.
**Stay tuned-- at the end of this post is an awesome giveaway of the book!!**

Hi Matthew!!  We’re so excited about LEAGUE OF AMERICAN TRAITORS and for the chance to ask you some questions!  Welcome to the FFBC!


Favorite Book? Ugh. So hard!

Three-way tie: The Likeness, The Magicians, and A Monster Calls.

Favorite TV show?

The Profit

Favorite movie?

The Hurt Locker

Your Favorite Song?

Our Last Night’s cover of Stay by Rihanna

Favorite Food?


Name 3 fictional places you would move to in a heartbeat.

Rohan (Middle Earth) because deep down, I am a nerd.
One of the Halo rings that hasn’t been invaded by the Covenant (again, see nerd)
Cloud City in Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back because it seems cool to be chilling out in the clouds, mining gases. 

What were your favorite books growing up? (I was into Fear Street!!)

Chronicles of Narnia, Hardy Boys, and this really cool series I couldn’t remember until a Goodreads group called “What’s the Name of That Book?” helped me rediscover it based on (2) random clues: Wings of Light by Sigmund Brouwer. 

 Favorite Quote?

“’Naught contents thee, who content’st not in Me.’’’

Francis Thompson, “The Hound of Heaven” 

What are your fandoms?


But mainly authors, which naturally increases when the communication goes both ways; Erik Larson and I tweeted back and for about In the Garden of Beasts and I nearly died from joy. Hampton Sides and Edward Dolnick are two non-fiction authors that regularly reply when I email them about their books, which is just so freaking cool because they’re genuinely interested in dialogue about the content. I love that, and hope I have enough time/stamina to do the same for my readers. 

Name a recent book that you read that you would recommend to our book lovers.

FEED by M.T. Anderson. Not new (2003) but seriously this book will change your view of technology. It forced me to rethink how I spend my mental and physical time on my phone/computer, and how the constant desire for stuff helps me ignore people in need around me, and how that’s something I need to war against.  This book is so so so good and is a must read for anyone struggling to balance Social Media and real life. Stop reading this blog post and go read that NOW!


Could you tell our Book Addicts a little bit about LEAGUE OF AMERICAN TRAITORS?

The heart of this book is inherited guilt—that what our forefathers did somehow impacts how we’re treated today. My characters descend from people who ended up on the wrong side of American history—Loyalists during the Revolution, assassins of American presidents, etc—and they’re being punished because of that. 

Jasper, my main character, is the sole surviving descendant of Benedict Arnold, and as the book opens we see him being sucked into this world after the death of his father. Unless Jasper can find the evidence his dad was looking for and prove there was more to Arnold’s treachery than we know, he’s gonna have to throw down Hamilton-style with the descendants of the heroic generations who still carry out duels in 2017 as a distorted way of “honoring” their ancestor’s greatness. 

What Hogwarts houses would you sort your characters into?

Jasper is Ravenclaw, no doubt; Tucker and Lacy are Hufflepuff, and Sheldon is Gryffindor.  Nora is Slytherin for sure. Then again, this is a book about treason, so maybe I’m just trying to trick you.

Tell us your favorite quote from LEAGUE OF AMERICAN TRAITORS.

“We all die. The question is: What will we die pursuing, and this that cause worthy of our lives?” 

Jasper gets this dished at him when he’s having to decide if this quest is for him.

What is your favorite movie, book, or TV show that has a historical element to it?

I’m getting into Poldark and it’s pretty cool to see post-American Revolution on that side of Atlantic. You don’t get that too often, and it’s quite entertaining. Also, Poldark has epic faces that are just waiting to become memes.

What historical time period interests you most outside of the American Revolutionary period and why??

My History MA focused on the nature of Empires, specifically Antiquity, which is where my heart lies. I LOVE reading the boring histories of the emperors, particularly post-Gladiator stuff like Julian and company when things began to fall apart (or transition, as many nerdy historians love to debate). For those brave enough to venture in, Ammianus Marcellinusis is a great place to start. Not having the giant source material that we have today also makes this super mysterious, which also pulls me in.

Is there a specific scene that you had the most fun to write? Or which scene was the most difficult to get through?

Most fun by far were all the scenes were Jasper almost dies; my editor really helped me see that stringing the plot with tension—ie, people trying to kill him—would really move the story along. She was right, and it was a blast.

The most difficult writing laying out of the backstory once the reveal hits in Chapter Four. Setting up the scenario which these characters are born into—a world that still duels based upon 1780’s vendettas—was hard to do without boring people and slowing down the plot. But at the same time, I had to explain some to keep the suspension of disbelief. That was a hard balance to strike. 

If you had to pick one song to be the Theme Song for LEAGUE OF AMERICAN TRAITORS– Which one would you pick? 

This is a tough one. Definitely something harder and darker—maybe My Apocalypse by Escape the Fate as a sort of tragic tribute to Nora, a main character who’s not got some ancestral baggage but she’s done some things she wishes she could take back. I listened to a lot of screamo to get into her head, and that’s the first thing that comes to mind. 

But Jasper’s tune would probably be Addict With A Pen by Twenty One Pilots, as he’s sort of on this journey to process this dad he always hated, who apparently didn’t really deserve that hate entirely. 

What 3 hashtags would you most associate with your book? (Could be a word or phrase or anything that would instantly make you think of LEAGUE OF AMERICAN TRAITORS.)

#traitor #Nationaltreasure #duel

Is there any recommendations you could give your readers to be in the “perfect mood” to read LEAGUE OF AMERICAN TRAITORS (specific music, snacks…)? 

Go watch National Treasure, then read this. There’s a similar vibe, and it will set you up well. I’d also recommend (3) soft shell tacos beforehand to keep you sustained, as hopefully you don’t want to start once you stop. Giant bag of Frito Scoops optional due grease on page, but I’d green light it anyway.

What’s next for you? 

My second novel, THE NOT-SO-BORING LETTERS OF PRIVATE NOBODY comes out March 2018 from Dial/Penguin. It’s a Gary Schmidt-esque Middle Grade novel about a super awkward Civil War nerd and a class project gone wrong. My third novel, DOOMSDAY DERRICK, about a kid who turns prepper as an unhealthy trauma coping mechanism, will publish in 2019, also from Dial/Penguin.

Thank you so much for everything, Matthew!

Thank you for having me!


Also, I had a similar experience with a book title from my youth that I eventually found out through a librarians group that specializes in figuring out book titles from queries like "I read this book where the kids were putting on a Cinderella play and the main character was the set designer..."  (pretty much what I queried and they figured it out!!).

I love history, but not in the old, awful, kill-me-now-please kind of way. My passion is convincing my students that the past is actually hilarious, shocking, tragic, disturbing, and altogether UN-boring. While getting my graduate degree in History at Villanova, I realized that there was yet one more way to do this: write contemporary young adult books laced with history to convince my students that past isn't as awful as they think. That’s a huge reason why I wrote The Judas Society.

Some other stuff: I love poetry but don’t understand it; I want Gordon Ramsay to give me a fatherly hug at some point; I tend toward the unapologetically dramatic; and (to my great shame) I didn’t read the Harry Potter series until last year. I’m also really good at covering up patent insecurities with self-deprecating humor (like this joke).

  • 2 copies of LEAGUE OF AMERICAN TRAITORS by Matthew Landis
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  1. As soon as i read this synopsis, I put this on my must read list. I loved National Treasure and have seen it many times. I immediately thought of this movie while reading the premise. This YA debut author's history enthusiasm is awesome.

  2. This sounds like a really interesting—definitely adding it to my TBR!

  3. I'm so excited for this book! It's such a me book but hearing that there are near death experiences and tension-ie moments to move the plot along makes me even more excited!
    Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally