Today I'm pleased to welcome author Amelia Atwater-Rhodes to Pink Fluffy Hearts to talk a little bit about her novels and being a writer.
What was the plot of your very first piece of unpublished fiction you ever wrote?
The very first piece I recall physically writing was a story of intergalactic cats. I was hand-writing it in a pink diary with a heart-shaped lock, which a well-intended relative gave me for a birthday or Christmas when I was five. I know I thought it was awesome at the time, but I wasn’t enough of a prodigy for my five-year-old self to write very well.
The first piece I wrote in the Nyeusigrube world, which was also the first book I ever finished, was called Red Moon. I started it the summer after fifth grade, and finished it sometime during sixth grade. It was mostly just a story of what would happen if my friends met a vampire. Red Moon wasn’t very good on its own, but it introduced me to the vampires of Nyeusigrube. I continued to write in that world, and completed several other stories before In the Forests of the Night came together as the first book that had real merit.
Do you have any superstitions or routines that you partake in before starting a new novel?
Except for NaNo novels, no I don’t. I’m likely to start books in the middle of the night by typing a sentence into my phone so I don’t forget the idea before I get to my computer, or on a scrap of paper – when I get the idea, I write it down.
I do participate in NaNoWriMo every year, which means I have plenty of rituals I go through before starting my NaNo, but they mostly exist to fill time so I resist the urge to start writing early!
Out of all the Young Adult books you’ve written, do you have a favorite series? What makes it your favorite?
Even though most of them are designed so they can stand alone, all my published work is technically related – even the Kiesha’ra Series can technically be considered part of the Den of Shadows Series, since it tells the history of the modern books.
What I love about the Den of Shadows series is how everything interacts, but is still independent. I never intended it to be a giant, epic series, where you need to read every book in order – I like that the characters’ stories stand alone. There are no stories that exist just to move the larger story-arc along. On the other hand, if you do read through the series from beginning to end, you see old friends, or recognize larger events that are happening behind the scenes.
The Kiesha' ra Series is one of my favorites, how did that idea develop and what went into creating that world.
Hawksong wasn’t the first book written about the avians and serpiente. The first book was called Birds of Prey, and took place in modern day. Later, I wrote a book in the Ebony Series (an unpublished series about the fall of Midnight) that further developed those two cultures. In Aureate, the second book of the Ebony Series, the main character referenced Danica Shardae – a woman seen by modern characters as a hero.
So again, the first published book came only after I had explored the characters and the cultures for a while. It also came at a time of national tragedy – I was revising Hawksong, and hadn’t started Snakecharm, during September, 2011. Suddenly I was living in a world where there were vivid examples of hatred, and violence caused by that hatred. I have always dealt with strong emotions by writing them, and at that point I wanted to ask the questions: What is hatred? Why do we fight? When two people fight, and hate each other, what does it take to bring peace?
Do you have a favorite character in the Kiesha' ra Series? Why?
I think Hai is probably my favorite character. She was a pain to write, but I also really enjoyed the challenge of viewing the world through her eyes, because her connection to reality is so tenuous.
If you had to choose one male and one female character out of all of your books that was your favorite to write, which characters would they be and why?
Xeke and… oo, female is harder. Xeke’s my favorite character, hands-down, which is why I am so excited that he finally made an appearance in Promises to Keep. He was supposed to be in several earlier works, including All Just Glass, but kept being cut out in revisions! As for females, I’m not sure I could pick just one. I really enjoyed working with Shevaun in Persistence of Memory.
Are you currently working on anything new?
Currently, I am actively revising the Maeve’ra Trilogy, which is due to be published after Promises to Keep. The fall of Midnight, in 1804, is a major event in Nyeusigrube’s history; it was referenced in several books, most prominently Midnight Predator and Promises to Keep. The Maeve’ra Trilogy focuses on this point in time, primarily from the point of view of the Obsidian Guild.
In addition, for the last two years’ NaNos, I’ve been playing with ideas for what to do after Promises to Keep. I’ve played with everything from dragons to zombies, and I’m still deciding.
When writing do you use anything for inspiration? Music? A certain location etc?
I almost always write with music on, unless I’m somewhere busy enough that it provides its own ambiance, like Starbucks. I usually write in my “office,” which is smack in the middle of the house and so includes plenty of distractions, including a good view of my bird feeder.
Read anything good lately?
One of the best collections I’ve read recently is the Newsflesh trilogy (and associated works) by Mira Grant. I’ve also been rereading The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, which is a favorite of mine.
Who are your top five authors and what draws you to their books?
Mira Grant is a recent favorite, though I haven’t yet read any of the works she published as Seanan McGuire. Her world-building and character-building are both incredible, and then she adds complex, engaging stories. She isn’t afraid to make you love a character, and then do something horrible to them.
Stephen King is a longtime favorite, again because of his characters. I’ve never been a big fan of black-and-white evil-for-the-sake-of-evil characters, which is why I love King. His good guys and bad guys are all people; no one is perfect, and even the most evil bad guy has a complete personality and back-story.
Robin Hobb is the writer who really brought me into fantasy, starting with Assasin’s Apprentice. Again, the mix of fascinating characters and bold world-building… this list may get a little redundant, because it’s pretty much always the characters that make me love a story, and therefore an author.
Two more…? I have other favorite books, but I’m blanking on other favorite authors right now. Obviously I need some suggestions.
Do you prefer hard copy books or e-readers and why?
I still tend to say I prefer hard copy books, but since work loaned me an iPad, I’ll admit I’ve been brought over to the dark side. I love having a physical copy of a book, smelling the paper and feeling the weight of it, but the instant gratification of downloading a book is tough to beat, as is the convenience of picking up my “book” and reading in the middle of the night without needing to turn on the lights!
I also like that, as long as I have my iPad with me, I have several books- unlike all those times previously that I had nothing to read in an unexpected break, because I simply can’t carry a half-dozen books with me most of the time. I also like that I can put manuscripts on iBooks and make notes in that program, which makes reading works written by others in my writing group much more convenient.
… I feel like I’m writing a commercial for Apple.
If you could give aspiring writers one piece of advice, what would it be?
Give it a shot. A lot of aspiring writers stay “aspirating” a long time, because they don’t know how to start, or they start but then get stuck because they keep going back to try to make their first draft perfect. Write first; edit later. Write first; publish later, if you decide you still want to after you’ve written and revised. Stick to that order, or you’ll lose your love of writing before you’ve even started.
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I want to thank Amelia for answering our questions and letting us into her world. I don't know about you guys, but I am super excited for her new books! Sound off bellow with any questions or book suggestions you have for her! And for more information on her current projects or old ones check out the links below!
I grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, where I matriculated through the public Concord-Carlisle school district from kindergarten until my graduation in 2001. The best part of school, from fifth grade until the year I graduated, was definitely chorus. I love music, and I love to sing, and though I never had the courage or the talent to participate in any of the high school plays as a performer, I enjoyed being involved at other levels; the music and drama community at CCHS was the highlight of my high school career. I was also on the fencing team for two years, an experience that actually inspired a couple storylines, and regret that I did not continue with that sport.
I now live in Massachusetts with several pets... as well as, of course, my family. I am a student at the University of Massachusetts, with an English/psychology double-major. I hope to work either as an English teacher at the secondary level, or in special education. I have strong opinions about literacy, education, and how our educational systems are treated- strong enough that most of my friends know not to get me started on the subject.