I can’t remember how long ago I came up with the idea for Americus, but I pitched it to Greg Means in 2007 when I saw him at MoCCA and he asked me for some ideas for a story for his anthology, Papercutter. I told him I had one idea that was basically my love letter to books. That’s a hard line for a librarian to turn down.

The main book in question in Americus is “The Chronicles of Apathea Ravenchilde, The Huntress Wytch.” The hype surrounding it is modeled after Harry Potter and its fandom during its peak popularity, but the series takes little source material from it, other than being about teenagers and magic.

Apathea = a friend’s internet journal name, spelled slightly differently
Ravenchilde = something I thought sounded like a good last name for a witch on the train.

In real life, when talking about Apathea, I almost always pronounce it differently depending on who I’m talking to and how they say it. (This is pretty much just from editors and friends I have asked to read the book and give me some advice.) It comes from “apatheia” and when I think of it in my head without someone else saying it first, I pronounce it “a-pah-thea.” But since it’s a made up word, it’s kind of moot.

Apathea owes at least some small debt to Hermione Granger, for being a heroine with a difficult to pronounce name if you haven’t encountered it before. Hermione gets shafted a bunch in Harry Potter, but maybe she gets redeemed in the last books? I’ve only seen the films.