Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Amy J. Rose David Interview
3/14/2011 9:27:07 PM
Author Amy J. Rose Davis discusses her novels and the writing life!
LTS: Once again, Twitter has proven to be a regular treasure trove of talented authors willing to share in their writing experiences. For today’s guest blog, I’d like to introduce you to fab indie author, the lovely Amy J. Rose Davis! I’d like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers.
AJRD: Thanks for having me, Lorna. I’m pretty boring, really. I’m a wife of 20 years (this month!), married to one of my best friends from high school. We have four great kids, two dogs, one cat, and a house in need of a maid… In addition to my fiction pursuits, I also work as a freelance commercial copywriter and editor.
LTS: You have been creating story since you were a wee child able to hold a crayon in your hands. I take it, becoming a published author has been a life long dream for you?
AJRD: I think so, although it was a dream that I put on hold for many years and really never expected to come back to. In a way, the recession was a godsend, because my commercial work slowed down and I took the quiet time to return to writing fiction. But it wasn’t until I realized how easy it was to self-publish these days that becoming a published author seemed realistic.
LTS: Your debut novel, ‘Silver Thaw’ has been receiving many 5-star reviews, but I see your latest title, ‘Ravenmarked’ is quickly catching up with the rave reviews. Let’s discuss your new book first. What was the inspiration behind ‘Ravenmarked’ and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Connor?
AJRD: The inspiration was really just a single image of a woman in white running for her life from an abbey. I thought about that image for about three years and toyed with the idea, trying to figure out why she was in danger. I had a totally separate idea, too, about a man who was half-fairy, half-human, and I tried to figure him out as well. Then in November 2009, I took the NaNoWriMo challenge, combined the two ideas, and Connor Mac Niall popped onto the stage.
Once I started writing, Connor sort of took over the story. He’s one of those rare Athena-like characters who springs fully formed from a writer’s head. He’s an angel of death incarnate, marked by a spirit of vengeance that drives him to kill. He works as a freelance man-at-arms because it gives him justification to kill. But he’s also a bit of a rake, and he takes whatever a woman will willingly give him. He’s not super handsome, but he is muscular and kind of a “sexy bad boy”—a little Han Solo-ish. Deep down, he’s a decent guy who had a noble upbringing and reluctantly does heroic things.
LTS: Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the reader when they crack open ‘Ravenmarked’?
AJRD: ‘Ravenmarked’ is an epic fantasy with interwoven plots that span two countries and several races of people. There’s a lot of magic, a fair bit of political intrigue and mystery, a little swordplay, and a good dose of romance.
LTS: What is the most striking difference between ‘Ravenmarked’ and your debut novel ‘Silver Thaw’?
AJRD: ‘Silver Thaw’ is a novella, so it’s short—less than 30,000 words. It’s also a stand-alone story, and it’s rather dark, straddling a line between high fantasy and horror. ‘Ravenmarked’ is a little over 150,000 words, the first in a five-book series, and more of an epic, supernatural fantasy than a horror story.
LTS: The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. Do you have any advice you’d like to share with the author struggling to find representation?
AJRD: I think the “road to publication” can mean a lot of different things these days. I completely bypassed the traditional route—I only sent about five queries before I decided I wanted to go indie. My advice? Investigate the indie model thoroughly before deciding against it, because it really is right for a lot of people.
LTS: With the changing landscape of traditional publishing and the options available to those wishing to go indie, what made you decide to go with self-publishing?
AJRD: It seemed to me that trying to figure out the right “formula” for finding representation and getting a traditional book deal would be like my own quest for the Holy Grail, and I didn’t want to spend my time that way. From what I saw, traditionally published authors had to do a lot of the same things indies had to do, and they didn’t have as much control or make very good royalties. I decided I wasn’t shy about promoting or running my own business—I’ve done both—and I wanted the creative control over things like covers, titles, character names, etc. And since even the lowest royalties for e-books are better than traditional publication royalties, the numbers made sense.
What it really came down to was, do I want to make money now or in MAYBE two years—if I’m lucky and I crack the code? I decided I’d go straight to readers and let them decide if my stuff was worth reading. Granted, I haven’t made much yet—but I wouldn’t have made anything if I were going traditional. I’d still be querying. I have no doubt that in two years, I’ll be in a much better position as an indie author than I would be if I were trying for a traditional contract.
LTS: I’ve had the opportunity to read excerpts of your books and I can only describe your style as beautifully poet and your words, visually stunning in terms of imagery! In the self-publishing world, books are self-vetted: The cream of the crop rising to the surface and the so-so ones that have given self-publishing a black eye sinking to the bottom. Not only are the stories wonderful, but you also have excellent book covers. Do you mind sharing who did your cover art?
AJRD: Thank you for such nice compliments! Well, the Silver Thaw cover was mine. A friend of mine, Paul Smith, took that photo. He has an amazing eye and takes some beautiful photos: www.bypaulsmith.com.
The ‘Ravenmarked’ cover and the cover for my forthcoming novella, ‘Servant of Dreams’, were done by Robin Ludwig of Robin Ludwig Design. I call her God’s Gift to Authors! You can see her work at www.rldprint.com.
LTS: I’m curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
AJRD: I’m one of those writers who writes non-stop. J My best writing time is between 8:30 and 3:00 on weekdays when my kids are at school, but I snatch other times after they’re in bed or on weekends. I do usually do my best creative work when they aren’t around. If they are home, I usually try to do things like blog posts or e-mails. I find I’m not very good at focusing when they’re home.
LTS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
AJRD: I am an unapologetic pantser. I always start with characters. I say that writing is discovery, and I mainly put my characters down on the page and see what they do. I end up with a lot more work on the back end, because I have to go back and work with the plot quite a bit, but I just can’t do it any other way. I’ve tried outlining, and I’ve only ever been able to outline stuff I’ve already written.
That said… For book two of ‘The Taurin Chronicles’, I’ve been doing more of a storyboard plotting exercise. Another writer suggested it to me. I’m finding that writing plot points out on a big piece of paper with colored pens and arrows and such is helping make sure the book moves the epic along and sets things up for books three, four, and five. Still, it’s not detailed or intricate. I just have the basic points in place. The details will come in the writing, and I’ll probably have to adjust after the draft is done.
LTS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
AJRD: Not really… My biggest ritual is driving away from the school when I drop my kids off! I do occasionally write with my favorite red wine nearby in the evenings. For me, a bit of wine (or whiskey) shuts the internal editor up and lets the muse come play.
LTS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
AJRD: Well, I get flak for this, but I tend to think the best cure for “writer’s block” is more writing. I do get stalled on stories sometimes, but there’s always something else to write—a blog post, another story, something. I think writing begets writing, and even if I throw it away later or never use it, it still helps keep the creative furnace stoked.
LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
AJRD: Oh, gosh—I have so many! George R. R. Martin, Stephen Lawhead, David Eddings, C. S. Lewis, Orson Scott Card (the Ender books), Jim Butcher, Jennifer Roberson, Marion Zimmer Bradley… Yeah, pretty much all fantasy… I’ve been addicted to fantasy since I read ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ when I was a little girl.
I would say that my style is somewhat similar to Martin’s and Eddings’ in that my characters don’t sound like fantasy characters. They talk very much like modern-day people. Also, I love the way Martin weaves moral ambiguity and intrigue into his stories, and those are things I love. Roberson wrote strong romantic storylines, which always seem to creep into my stories. And Lawhead and Lewis are my Christian fantasy influences. I definitely have some biblical imagery in my book, although it’s by no means “Christian fantasy.” One reviewer also compared ‘Ravenmarked’ to Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth books in the way that I wove the romantic thread through it. I loved that, because I had ‘Wizard’s First Rule’ in the back of my mind several times when I wrote ‘Ravenmarked’.
LTS: What is the most profound discovery you’ve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
AJRD: I don’t think it’s been out there long enough to have made a profound impact yet. It is nice that reviewers haven’t said that I need an editor or I can’t write… I’m glad that my craft is holding up under scrutiny, even if people don’t like the story or certain aspects of the story.
LTS: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
AJRD: You have to tell the story you want to read. You can’t write for other people—to be authentic, you have to be true to the story in your head.
LTS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
AJRD: I just bought ‘On the Gathering Storm’ by another indie author, Jason C. McIntyre. I bought it because he had it on sale for 99 cents and for a limited time, he’s going to donate the proceeds to a charity that help abused women. And, I had an opportunity to read something else of his, and he’s really talented! I’m looking forward to diving into his book.
LTS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out into other genres? Can your fans expect a sequel to ‘Ravenmarked’ in the near future?
AJRD: I’m taking Joe Konrath’s advice and focusing on more titles! It seems to me that the authors who are having the best success at indie publishing are the ones who regularly write and release stories and books. So, within a month or so I’ll be releasing a new novella, Servant of Dreams. I’m hoping to publish a short story or novella every couple of months while I work on longer pieces. I’m also participating in a speculative fiction anthology called Twelve Worlds. We don’t have a release date yet, but it will be soon. All proceeds from that anthology will go to a literacy charity.
‘Ravenmarked’ is the first of a series of five books, ‘The Taurin Chronicles’. I am hard at work on book two of ‘The Taurin Chronicles’, and I will definitely have it published by the end of 2011. Book two is called ‘Bloodbonded’.
Overall, my plan includes a lot of writing and publishing. I am hoping to make a full-time—or at least a healthy part-time—living by the time I’ve been in this for five years or so. With at least one novel a year, I don’t think that’s an unreasonable expectation. I don’t plan to cross genres, but you never know… I just tell the stories that come to me. I sort of enjoyed the horror elements of ‘Silver Thaw’, so I could see going in that direction at some point.
LTS: Thank you so much for taking the time to share in your novels and your writing experiences, Amy! Can’t wait until I can make time to read your novels.
Thank you, Lorna!
For more information about Amy and her novels, check out:
Website: www.ravenmarked.com or www.modicumoftalent.com
Follow Amy on Twitter: .amyjrosedavis
Where to buy the book: http://amzn.to/ravenmark (Amazon)
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Ravenmarked/Amy-Rose-Davis/e/9780983226420/?itm=1 (Barnes & Noble)
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