Thursday, April 21, 2011

Interview and Giveaway: Amanda Brice

Hello Amanda!
Welcome to Bewitching Books!


So your book Codename: Dancer is coming out in e-book today (April 21, 2011) and will be coming out in hard copies 30 days from now! How excited are you for that?
It's pretty surreal, actually. I've been writing with an aim towards publication for about 6 years now, and various manuscripts of mine have finaled in Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Awards twice, and won the Jasmine Award once, so I've definitely been waiting for this day. But I can't believe it's actually here! I have a feeling I'm going to be doing a lot of squealing and dancing around today, which is actually pretty fitting considering as my heroine is a dancer. LOL

How do you plan on celebrating on the release date (seeing as this is your first book!)
I'm playing hooky from work and taking my toddler to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Oh yeah, we know how to party in the Brice household. No, actually, it's a lot of fun. She loves seeing all the fishies. Oh, and of course my husband will be taking me out for crabcakes. Mmmm... Then next weekend I'll be at a writer's retreat.



What genre different from your own is your favorite?
Well, I write romantic mysteries for both teens and adults, so obviously I read a lot in those genres. But I also really love historicals. And suspense. Oh, and paranormals. And thrillers. And contemporary. And chick lit.  And classics. Yeah, I pretty much don't discriminate. If it's a book, I'll read it. LOL!



What authors influenced you as a writer?
Would it be too much of a cliche to say Jane Austen? Because it's the truth. Obviously her books are very much a part of her era -- you'd never mistake them for being set any time other than the 1800s -- and yet it's pretty amazing how contemporary they feel. Her heroines are feisty and smart and not afraid to show it. They're just very real, and are totally girls you'd want to hang out with. Actually, I bet Jane herself would have been a pretty cool friend. She was witty and snarky and I bet she always had the best gossip.
I also really love Meg Cabot. And of course, when I was a kid, I used to write stories about a cool crime-solving chick named Nancy Flew, so obviously Carolyn Keene was a big influence, too. But it was Alisa Valdes Rodriguez's Dirty Girls Social Club that actually inspired me to sit down and write a book for real, as opposed to all that Nancy Drew fanfic I wrote as a kid.


What is one book everyone should read?

Every romance writer should read Pride & Prejudice because it's just so perfectly plotted, and Jane Austen was the master of characterization and wit. And Mr. Darcy...oh, Mr. Darcy. Mmmm...



If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world, which would it be?
Wow, that's a good question. I love the concept of time travel (one of my unpublished manuscripts is calledParty Like It's 1899), and I am fascinated by the turn-of-the-century/late 1800s/early 1900s era. Depending on where you are, it's either the Victorian Age, the Belle Epoque, or the Gilded Age, but the clash of social mores would have made for an interesting time. If I jumped into a book, I'd definitely have to also be able to time travel to live in that world. So I think my choice would either be Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy or Anna Godbersen's Luxe series. Both those series totally hooked me and it would be a fabulous era to actually live during. But probably The Luxe, because in real life I'm a wimp. Some of the things those English schoolgirls faced in A Great & Terrible Beauty would have given me nightmares.


Is it hard to be a reader when you become a writer?
I love reading and always have. But I'll let you in on the dirty little secret that most writers don't want to admit. Once you start writing seriously, you read differently than you used to. You don't mean to, but you start noticing things like "head-hopping" that you might not otherwise have noticed just as a reader. So there are certain authors (I'm not naming names) that I just haven't been able to read since I started writing with an aim towards publication, but that's ok, because my TBR pile is big enough as it is. There are still plenty of books left for me to devour. I don't think I'll ever catch up, especially now that I'm a new mom (my daughter was born last year). There just aren't enough hours in the day! And I'm reading a lot moreBrown Bear, Brown Bear and Elmo's ABC's than novels these days, but that's ok!



What made you want to start writing?
I've been writing stories as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of writing puppet shows and plays that I forced my cousins and brother to perform in. I was a bit bossy back then. (Right here my brother is saying "was a bit bossy?" LOL)  And of course I always gave myself the best roles.
Eventually I listened to my dad's advice and went to law school rather than pursuing either a writing career or a dance career, but I didn't stop either hobby. I actually still take a weekly adult ballet class, and one day while working on a paper for my international patent law class I decided it would be a lot more fun to write a chick lit novel than the tedious work I was doing right then. I'd just finished reading Alisa Valdes Rodriguez's Dirty Girls Social Club and was blown away. That's when I thought "I want to do this." So I sat down and wrote the first 80 pages of my first manuscript, but had to ask my professor for an extension on the paper.
Students out there, please don't do that. I did end up getting an A- in the class, but it was really stressful there for a while. I wouldn't recommend it. LOL



What lead you to writing in this genre?
I sort of fell into YA. I started out writing chick lit and wrote a manuscript that had some fabulous characters, but like Seinfeld, they didn't do anything. It had no discernable plot, just a bunch of funny scenes thrown together as a vehicle for (hopefully!) memorable characters. (Please note that I am not comparing my writing to Seinfeld...I wish!) So that one is "under the bed" as we like to say (or more correctly, "on the hard drive") and will never see the light of day.
Then one day a teenage ballet student starting talking to me about solving mysteries, and I couldn't get her to shut up until I wrote her story. Fortunately it turned out I had a good YA voice, because I'm having a blast writing for teens!



What happened while writing one of your books that you did not expect?
I had a baby!
No really, it was about 6 weeks before my daughter's due date, and I decided I wanted to get a good start on a first draft of a new book -- and possibly even write the entire first draft. I made a deal with an author friend that we would both write at least 1000 words per night (and hopefully more) and send it to each other to keep ourselves honest. I sat down one night and banged out more than 10 pages (roughly 3 times what I'd promised) in about 2 hours. It was just crazy, the words were flying. I was so impressed with my output.
Once I reached the end of that chapter, I sent it to my friend, then realized I hadn't felt the baby move in a few hours, which was kind of disconcerting. At that time in your pregnancy, they say you're supposed to feel at least 10 kicks in the course of an hour, and normally I would feel 10 kicks in about 20 seconds. So this was pretty weird.
I went to bed, but woke up in a panic at 3 in the morning, still not feeling the baby move. My husband drove me to the hospital, where I underwent a series of tests. After several hours and lots of wires hooked up to my tummy, all of a sudden I felt a kick! Except it wasn't a kick. Apparently it was a contraction. About 12 hours later, my daughter was born 6 weeks early. I joke that it was all that creative energy that jump-started labor.
Needless to say, I didn't keep my end of the bargain with my author friend. I didn't send her any more pages after those first 10. *hangs head in shame* But fortunately we're both back on track now.



What inspires you the most when you write?
It used to be that I did my best writing while sitting at a table at Panera, people-watching, and covertly eavesdropping. (I know...) But now my writing time is pushed to late at night, after the toddler has gone to bed, so my new writing "soundtrack" is hearing her on the baby monitor. It's conforting. She falls asleep while listening to an ocean wave CD, and I can hear the waves on the monitor, too, so in a way it's almost like I'm in a beach house on a writing retreat. Almost. But not quite.



Favorite:

Color
Duke Blue!

Animal
My beloved Chow-Lab, Bailey, may he rest in peace.

:] Ice cream topping
Chocolate and peanut butter sauce

Drink
Diet Mountain Dew

Movie
Do I really have to pick just one? I have several favorites, depending on what kind of mood I'm in. But I guess the movie I've seen the most times is Dirty Dancing.  I was in 5th grade when it first came out, and it was a big taboo. Nobody I knew was allowed to go see it, but right around the time it came out on video (yes, I'm old!), my friend Becca had a sleepover birthday party. Her mom said we could watch it as long as we got permission from our parents. Needless to say, we all told little white lies, and we must have worn that tape out from all the rewinding. Um...we watched it 6 times that night. *blushes* But hey, nobody puts Baby in the corner.

Book
The one I keep coming back to again and again is Pride and Prejudice. No matter how many times I read it, it still shows me something new. I also really love Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Author
So many. Besides the ones I mentioned a few questions back, I also love Gemma Halliday, Rhonda Stapleton, Gwen Hayes, Diana Peterfreund, Rosemary Clement Moore, Melissa FrancisSarah Dessen, Michele Scott, Elizabeth Scott, Sophia Nash, Victorine Lieske, Courtney Milan, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jenny Crusie...I really can't name them all! And I don't want to try. LOL

Word
Twitterpated. It means lovestruck, as in "Everyone gets twitterpated in the springtime." Owl said that in Bambi.


What is the worst job you have ever had?
Oh wow. Hmmm...let me think. I actually haven't had any horrible jobs. I can't say I've *loved* all my past jobs, but I've been pretty lucky to have jobs that I could at least tolerate, if not love. Now, bosses...that's a different story. LOL. And I plead the Fifth, there. 
Instead of my worst job, can I tell you about my coolest job? Hands down, that would be the summer during college that I worked in the Protocol Office at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta (1996). We dealt with issues of deciding priority. Certain VIPs got free tickets to any event they wanted, just because of who they were. But other people had to put in a formal request. For example, Bill & Hillary Clinton could just walk right up to the VIP entrance at any venue without any warning whatsoever, and obviously we would have let them in. But Chelsea, on the other hand, had to request her tickets to Gold Medal gymnastics or swimming or basketball that morning. Psst...she always got them. Did you really think I was going to deny the President's daughter's request?


Giveaway:
Her book! Codename: Dancer She is giving out an E-book copy!
Rules:
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5 comments:

Amanda Brice said...

Thanks for having me today, Kati!

Diana Quincy said...

Crab cakes and National Aquarium sound like a great way to celebrate your book release. Congrats!

Gemma Halliday said...

I'm LOVED this book, Amanda. Congrats, girl! (P.S. My first "YA books" were about Dancy New. Totally different than Nancy Flew.)

Amanda Brice said...

LOL, I wonder how many authors grew up writing Nancy Drew fanfic. I bet lots of them!

Diana Peterfreund said...

congrats, Amanda!

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