Hey Amanda, how’s it going? How’s our new crazy reality treating you?
Hi Michael, Thank you so much for having me. Our world has been interesting, hasn’t it? But heading towards the end of the year, I’m noticing that people are reflecting and taking lessons. For me, it’s about over committing. You know I write way too many books at once, which is kind of my thing, but I took on other work that just wasn’t helping me in the writing and publishing world. So now I’m more focused and prepared to tackle 2021.
Yea it’s been crazy juggling so much time with my kids not in school, trying to balance work and family. I’ve had a ton of time to reflect on what’s important though and it’s been great having my wife around. I guess there are always silver linings.
I’m in Australia, so our schools only locked down for a few months and they’ve been back for a while now. I thank the quiet and cram as much work in before they get home, but it’s always a concern knowing that we could go into lockdown again.
So in an attempt to brighten our readers moods tell me when you knew you wanted to be a writer and what led to the publication of your first novel?
Writing started for me over ten years ago. I was a young mother to a hyperactive baby and I could no longer practice art. I was a potter and that is one very messy art practice but it wasn’t practical having a baby either. So a friend recommended that I started reading and by the end of the first series, I was brainstorming and coming up with my own ideas for books.
I didn’t rush into publishing because I’m strategic in my risk taking, however publishing felt so right about two years ago and I jumped in with two feet. I chose to go independent first because I learnt so much about the industry that I wanted to test my theories and become a master at my practice and it’s been a wild ride since.
So what have you enjoyed as a self published author so far? What do you find have been the biggest challenges?
I’ve enjoyed the community and now I was just called the other day that I’m the networking queen! ha!
I love helping people succeed and find their feet because I tend to learn my lessons the hard way. There have been some amazing people along my journey who have just helped out for no reason other than to help, and I love being able to do that for others now. The community is a real supportive one and there’s no competition at all, so when I’m having a hard day and reach out to ask for help, I’m surrounded by loving support. I mean, what industry does that?
The challenges I face is the uncertainty. It’s a little nerve wracking presenting a book to the world and not knowing if it’s going to be accepted or swallowed up by the wider industry. I tend to have this terrible habit of releasing books when famous authors dump a long-awaited book at the same time. Facebook and all of the social media blows up and of course, what little impact I had kind of disappears. So a crystal ball to look into the future is on my to-buy list.
So you have a few releases out, let’s start with The Reluctant Wizard. Tell our readers why it should be their next click!
The Reluctant Wizard is about Eli, a kid who hates the suffering that his community is going through because of the ongoing war between the wizards and the warlocks. There’s famine and homelessness and serious consequences on the community because the war never ends. Eli hates this and he believes that he can save the world. So he joins the wizards and attends their academy but he finds out that he can’t save the world, and the wizards have just as many issues of their own, some of which make Eli question his loyalty.
This is an epic book and I question just how many books I can get the story into! ha! I wrote it mostly for my children because they wanted to read my writing but all of my other books were adult focused and not appropriate. But at the same time, I didn’t write a story just for children. Instead, I developed a world that is more complex than any of my other books, and I presented it in a way that is layered. So a ten-year old will see what Eli sees, but an adult will see beyond those issues as well.
Sounds awesome. And you also have a co-written series with Michelle Crow. As the author of a co-written series myself, I’m always interested in how co-writing differs for different teams. can you tell me what that process is like for you?
Michelle and I are a strange pair because I’ve never met a co-writing pair like us.
First we live on the opposite side of the planet, so logistically when there are deadlines to meet, one of us is losing sleep.
Secondly, we write over one another. Our first book was trying to figure out how this was all going to work then the second book we fell into this weird routine. She remembers everything off the top of her head whereas I have to write everything down. So I’m the one that write a very basic draft and then we pass it back and forth, writing more, fleshing it out, changing it, but at the same time, we can’t figure out who wrote what and both our voices mesh into this combined writing voice.
I think you’ll be seeing a lot of books between us in the future.
Actually that’s not entirely dissimilar to James and I in the sense that I completely outline, and write a few chapters, he writes more chapters than I do but the end result is a mesh of our styles that blends well because I add a lot of my own stuff to his chapters and remove some things that don’t work. It’s been a lot of fun.
That’s amazing! We must be unusual because I’ve met so many co-writers now and when I tell them how Michelle and I write, they cringe. A lot of books I’ve read, I can feel the switch in writer from chapter to chapter and the transfer of magic (what I like to call the reading experience) is not quite there, it misses something.
How much of yourself and the people in your personal life make it into your books?
The people in my life never make it into the books, other than a thank you quote at the back. Myself, well that’s hard to say because I’m a fluid person that morphs into all sorts of moods and emotions and I can really lean into that when I need a character to express something. But recently I started hypnosis and I’m learning so much about the human condition, the pain, the emotions that weren’t expressed and the difficulties that causes on someone. It’s made me realise that the individual experiences we go through are just a piece of a huge puzzle that is life. Nothing I’ve been told in hypnosis will end up in the books however my perspective is expanding and I’m allowing characters to push those boundaries and jump into emotions that I’ve not experienced myself.
That’s fascinating. I actually used to study hypnosis scripts and was able to turn my friends into chickens. This sounds far more profound and complex.
Oh wow! That sounds like a drunken night gone wrong. Ha! So for me, I technically put the body to sleep and talk to the soul. It sounds complex but the process is amazing. I highly recommend anyone who would love to know more about themselves.
Do you write with an audience in mind or do you write for yourself and hope people will come along for the ride?
I would have to say both the audience and myself. I love world and planet stuff and I’m a natural world builder. I need to know all sorts of things about plants, and movements of community, to how much oxygen and water there is. But the audience doesn’t need to know that and most likely would bore them. So I write the characters for the audience and there’s a nice pattern where I allow the audience and myself to get the best of both concepts. So while the audience is focused on the character and get to know them, trust them, empathise with them, I get to throw that character into situations and test the world, see how they react and effetely adapt to their situation.
Awesome. Who are some of your own influences on your work. I’m talking authors, books, films, even music?
I always mention Karen Miller because she’s a heavy weight champion in the fantasy genre and I love her books. George R R Martin is another great and I love his style of writing. For the last several years I’ve been discovering translations of ancient texts that were on tablets and clay stones. Although the translations are fragmented, I’ve been allowing all of those stories to come into my mind and steer me into the direction on the ancient world so that is influencing my future worlds greatly.
For movies, I love movies and can’t go a week without watching them. I love action, and fantasy and cannot believe how good the Mandalorian is!
Music I’m all over the place. Mostly listen to indie world because it’s raw, fresh and I can feel that creative magic whereas the popular radio stuff tends to be refined and perfected but at the same time loses a bit of magic. So hats off to Imagine Dragons and 21 pilots.
First…apparently Baby Yoda (Grogu) ate an omelette and it caused quite a stir on social media, and second, as a life long musician, I agree that there’s very little Rock music these days breaking into the public consciousness, and aside from The Weekend and very few others, there has been a lot of magic lost in the music industry.
I missed the social media stir about baby yoda, but man can that baby eat!
I sit there and go oh no, he’s going to do it, and with one eye shut as I watch, yep he does it.
Music isn’t necessity saturated, it’s more about gatekeeping – I’m loving streaming services like Spotify because I can discover a hundred new song a day and never have to listen to the same track twice. This is empowering because it jumps the business and the radio stations that decide what we can listen to and when. So the future is bright for creatives, it’s a matter of showing the love back to them so that we can insure they’ll continue to make more for us.
So staying in the same realm of questioning, can you recommend some recent indie fantasy to our community?
Of course, wow where do I start?
Fellow aussies would include Ross Kingston and he has The Elementary Chronicles; Serene Conneeley; Alan Baxter; Dionne Lister; and Christopher Cartwright. Then going around the world: there’s Beth Hodgson and she has The Spectrum of Magic; Philip Smith; L. Steinworth; Joselin Toftlund; Jessica Flaherty, and so many more great indies that are up and coming in our world.
So how important is reader interaction to you as an Indie author and how do you most enjoy networking with readers?
I love attending cons and getting to talk about the stories and the world of writing. It’s a magical conversation because I get to meet like-minded people. However, I’m limited to my local area so I jump online as much as I can. It’s been really great doing the live interviews where people can throw a question in and I can answer it straight away, and then there is also places like goodreads where people can add a question where it’ll be answered publicly. There’s so many ways to interact now and I’ve been doing it more so this year with the authors that I appreciate.
So what comes next for you? What can readers look forward to in 2021?
I feel like the last two years were me warming up. Ha! 2021 is going to be a power year. I’ve set the bar high and want to release the stories I’ve been sitting on for too long, out into the world for readers to have. That said, Concealed Power 2 is in the world and so is The Reluctant Wizard 2 and they are confirmed for 2021. The rest, you’ll just have to wait and find out.
Sounds like a great year! What one piece of advice can you offer to new and aspiring authors?
There is so much noise out there – so many experts and rules and writing advice. Eventually I tuned it out and turned it all off. Then I started to write for real. I made my own rules, gave myself advice and leaned into my own ability because at the end of the day, those people who were giving out advice wasn’t there when I needed them. That’s when my writing flourished because I trusted myself and I proved to myself that I was capable.
Words of wisdom for any writer, new or established!
Awww, thank you.
Well it’s been absolutely fantastic talking to you and my final question is: Who’s the best writer of seal and beer fantasy not named James?
Oh you’re going to make me pick! Ha! Thank you Michael, it’s been great chatting.