Sunday, June 5, 2011

Interview with Amalie Howard

Welcome to Jagged Edge! 
Would you like to tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in the Caribbean—an area of the world rich in occult folklore and mysticism, so I had more than enough inspiration to develop an early and ongoing obsession with all things fantasy. Growing up, we were the family that saved money to travel, so I’ve been doing that from a very young age and continued it into my older years. It’s given me a great foundation for experiencing different cultures and understanding the true meaning of diversity, which I think gives my writing a unique edge and voice. I have a wonderful husband, and we have three kids, two boys and a girl. They’re a handful, but they’re my joy. We live in New York. My favorite thing about myself is that I have a quirky sense of humor and I love to laugh. Sometimes I make myself laugh. That’s never pretty. My least favorite thing is that I don’t give myself enough of a break sometimes. My favorite poem is Self-Pity by D.H. Lawrence, and I am completely obsessed with movies.

HERE ARE TEN FUN FACTS ABOUT ME:-

1. I’ve traveled to 141 cities in 18 countries.
2. I fenced competitively in college.
3. I lived and studied in France for several years (I still look back on them as some of the best, most self-defining years of my life).
4. I danced ballet for eleven years but stopped to focus on academics.
5. I have three tattoos.
6. I entered and won a beauty pageant when I was 16. 
7. I’m a closet gear-head. I love cars, bikes, boats and anything with an engine.
8. I bungee-jumped 765 feet off of the Macau Tower in China.
9. I’m a PADI-certified deep-water scuba diver. 
10. I once surfed on the coast of Australia and a 20-foot great white shark was spotted there the next day.

What was your reaction to getting the hard copy of Bloodspell in your hands?
A total SQUEE moment!!! I hugged it, I smelled it (book readers should all get this reference), I petted it, I stared at it, and I hugged it some more. And repeated this sequence about ten times in immediate succession.

Did you go to BEA as a author or a reader?
Author.

How was BEA (for those of us who had never gone)?
BEA was crazy and exciting. For a first-timer like myself, it was very overwhelming and the exhibition hall was full of throngs of people and tons of books. The signature area was insane with lines and lines of people waiting to get signed autographs! I didn’t go early enough to get special tickets to line up for autographs, but I did get signed copies of The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin during the Book Blogger Convention on Friday, which was AWESOME! The other really cool thing was signing ARCs of Bloodspell for readers. That was just incredible! I was glad to see this year though that Armchair BEA did a great job to include those who could not go to NYC for BEA. I met a lot of very interesting people, and all in all, it was a great experience.

What inspired you to write?
Reading great books, hands-down. I began writing when I started reading on my own, probably around six. I was always scribbling some story or another into a journal. I had my first poem published when I was 12 and I won an award in a global youth writing competition when I was 15. I wrote a ton of poetry during my teen years—for me, writing was cathartic, especially during some of those tougher teen times (first crush, peer and parent pressure, etc.,) and whenever I had any strife in my life—I just got it all out on paper. One day, when I’m brave enough, I’ll get those poems out there for all to see. In my writing, I really loved being able to create other worlds with interesting characters, especially magical ones. I liked being able to redefine myself in those characters. They were all different versions of me in different worlds with infinite possibility at their fingertips. Writing stories was and still is a huge form of escapism for me.

What authors influenced you as a writer?
J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S Lewis, Kristin Cashore, Judy Blume, and Enid Blyton.

Your favorite character?
Outside of Victoria, I’d probably pick Hermione Granger in Harry Potter or Fire in Kristin Cashore’s Fire—who wouldn’t want to be the smartest witch at Hogwarts or a beautiful half-monster/half-human with spectacular red hair? I’d do anything for a mane of fiery red tresses.

What is your favorite Quote?
Everything you can imagine is real by Pablo Picasso

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world, which would it be?
I know that Victoria is my creation, but if I could actually be her in her world, I think that would be crazy amazing, too. And not to mention Christian … *swoons*
But if I couldn’t choose my own book, I’d be Arwen in Lord of the Rings.

What is the one thing that every writer needs to do?
Believe in yourself and your work, and never give up. Don’t take no for an answer, and when all else fails, carve your own path. And don't let rejection hammer you – it's all part of the process, take in the constructive and make your work the best it can be. And keep going no matter what. Believe in yourself and you can't fail. Oh, and polish that manuscript like your life depended on it.

Are your books different to your personal favorite books by other authors?
They are different, but I hope that they’d make readers feel the same way I do when I’m reading my favorite books.

What lead you to writing in this genre?
Honestly, pure love for these genres. I’ve always loved fantasy and science fiction, and I really enjoy writing for young adults. My favorite books come from those genres so it’s really no surprise that that’s where I feel most comfortable exploring my own voice. In fantasy, I love that you can create whole worlds, with characters that may not exist in real society. I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal and the supernatural, and anything not of this world. In terms of voice, I just feel like YA is where I belong.

What inspires you the most when you write?
Music! The right piece of music can make a scene flow magically, whether it’s a romantic scene or an action sequence. Sometimes, I’ll have a certain song on repeat depending on the scene I’m writing. I played Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis over three hundred times while writing Bloodspell! Check out my playlist in the back of the book, which is lined up with corresponding chapters/scenes/characters.

How long does it normally take you to write a book and go through the whole process?
The actual book took me about three months to write—we're talking about three months for the—in Anne Lamott's words, the crappy first draft—and then came a few more months of editing, then some time off, then some more editing. I’d probably say give or take a year or two to really polish the manuscript into ship-shape, and then another year or so to sell it. It's definitely been a labor of love.

What are you most excited about this year?
Bloodspell’s official release this month, and seeing books on shelves in bookstores!!

What book do you wish to see come out as a movie? (of course all authors want to see their movie on the big screen but what other book would you like to see?)
I would actually love to see Graceling or Fire by Kristin Cashore as a movie! I think it would be very cool to see either of those worlds Cashore describes on the big screen, and of course, see the amazing Katsa or Fire in action. Cashore’s so visual in her writing that I think it would be incredible to experience either of those books as a movie.

Funniest question you have ever been asked?
“How old are you? No, really?” Giant emphasis on the “are” and the “really.” Let’s just say I look far younger than I actually am. And yes, I totally still get carded!

What happened while writing one of your books that you did not expect?
In terms of the overall process, I really didn’t expect the publication path to be so long. I mean, people said it was long, but I must not have paid any attention. Note to new authors: when they say it’s long, understand that to mean it’s freaking loooooong.

Do you read the review when they are good and/or bad?
I know that many people say you shouldn’t read reviews, both good and bad ones, but I feel like I at least owe it to the person who took the time to write it and express their thoughts, especially if it’s a good review, and a detailed one. In a way, they’re putting themselves out there too, and the least I could do is to validate that. On the other hand, with negative reviews, I’ll try to stay away, unless it’s truly constructive criticism and not a hate rant. I try to keep negative energy and unnecessary stress to a minimum in my life!

What's next in life for you?
Apart from selling the heck out of Bloodspell, it’s the first in a planned trilogy so I am already working on the second book. You’ll be seeing a lot more of Christian and Victoria, plus some of the other characters like Leto (a lot of him!) and Angie, and maybe some new ones. The sequel is set in Paris so I’m really excited about that, and it really delves into Victoria’s past and how the curse started. Readers will also learn more about the Reii, the Vampire Ancients, and will come to understand more about Christian, how he was turned and why he is so important to the vampire society. In the third installment, Victoria actually becomes consumed by the blood curse so it’s going to be the story of how she survives it. Very excited about the next two books! I also have a completed novel for a completely different urban fantasy series incorporating angels and demons (although definitely not the warm and fuzzy kind of angels) with a very interesting and fresh mythological twist! I’m also working on a YA semi-dystopian novel, as well as one in a more literary vein about a girl in the middle of a culture clash. So hopefully, lots of really good things!!

LAST QUESTION:
Was their a question you wish I would have asked but didn't?
Team Edward or Team Jacob?
I’m so kidding. I’m Team Kickass-Girls. Period.

Ok, seriously …

I keep getting this question about the on again/off again relationship between Christian and Tori in the novel. There’s a very specific reason for that. Readers have to separate and appreciate that this is a 175-year-old vampire slash 19-year-old boy who is trying to have a relationship with a girl. Everything has to be stilted because he's torn between being two people at the same time—the older guy who knows better, and the teen who's ruled by his emotions. Imagine his own mental process? It’s tough enough not second-guessing yourself as a teenager … can you imagine being mature enough to know what’s right yet being constantly undermined by your hormones? It’s the vampire boy dilemma.


1 comment:

Andrea said...

Great interview! I am looking forward to reading this one.

Andrea @ Reading Lark

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