Tuesday 18 September 2012

INTERVIEW: Amanda Carlson

Here at Falcata Times we love a debut author, so after reviewing Amanda's debut title Full Blooded (05/09/12) we were more than happy to have a chat to her via the Twilight Bark.

Here we discovered writing classes, who she'd want to have a pint with and of course how to a writer pants...

Falcata Times: Writing is said to be something that people are afflicted with rather than gifted and that it's something you have to do rather than want. What is your opinion of this statement and how true is it to you?

Amanda Carlson: I do believe it. I’m not sure it’s an affliction, but it’s a very powerful urge indeed. I’ve felt the pull my entire life. It’s taken me twelve years to make it here and it hasn’t been for lack of trying!

FT: When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

AC: I started writing around age thirteen. I still have the notebooks I wrote in as a young teen. They were all stories of giggling girls and cute boys, but they were actual stories. After that I enjoyed creative writing courses in high school and college.

FT: It is often said that if you can write a short story you can write anything. How true do you think this is and what have you written that either proves or disproves this POV?

AC: Well, I’ve written both, and even though putting together a short story is challenging, writing a novel is much harder. There is so much that goes into a novel: pacing, characterization, plot, storyline—my experience is that a short takes skill, but a novel takes mastery.

FT: How would you "sell" your book in 20 words or less?

AC: Selling or pitching the book is often the hardest thing an author has to do. But if I had to sell it quickly, I’d say: “If you’re looking for a new urban fantasy with a kickass heroine and a cracking pace, you’ve found your book!”

FT: When you sit down and write do you know how the story will end or do you just let the pen take you? ie Do you develop character profiles and outlines for your novels before writing them or do you let your ideas develop as you write?

AC: No plotting for me. I’m what American’s call a “pantser.” As in I fly by the seat of my pants. I let the story take me wherever it likes. After it’s finished, I go back and fix areas that are lacking and piece it back together. It’s easy to see what’s wrong and what needs to be put in its place once it’s on paper. I don’t see myself changing the way I write any time soon, I quite like it!

FT: What do you do to relax and what have you read recently?

AC: To relax I go see a movie. I love to get lost in someone else’s world. I’m currently reading Amanda Bonilla’s SHAEDES OF GRAY and I’m loving it.

FT: Lots of writers tend to have pets. What do you have and what are their key traits (and do they appear in your novel in certain character attributes?)

AC: We have one rabbit. It was a consolation pet after saying no to pets for fifteen years. Our three kids were begging, so we finally gave in. She’s adorable, a dwarf/lop mixed called Rosie. She sleeps and eats a lot, but will hop into your lap for a treat. She does not show up in the novels! I’m not keen on writing wererabbits, LOL!

FT: Which character within your latest book was the most fun to write and why?

AC: Jessica is the most fun to write, because I’m in her head all day. Marcy and Danny are equally fun because of all their snarky chatter. I actually love them all, but I’d have to say Jessica is still the most interesting.

FT: How similar to your principal protagonist are you?

AC: Not similar at all. I wrote Jessica as someone I’d love to go to the pub and drink with, not sharing my same qualities at all. She’d be the most kickass pal ever.

FT: Do you ever encounter writers block and if so how do you overcome it?

AC: If I’m not feeling the story I’ll challenge my fellow writers in what we call a #wordwar or #1k1hr on Twitter to get the words moving. The goal is to write as many words as you can in one hour. I’m not a huge believer in writer’s block, but I am a big believer in stepping back from your story once in a while to gain perspective. If I do that, when I return I’m always feeling ready to jump back in.

FT: Certain authors are renowned for writing at what many would call uncivilised times. When do you write and how do the others in your household feel about it?

AC: The summer with kids home has indeed been a bit uncivlised. Having three kids with their own agendas has been difficult. Now they are back in school, and since I write better in the morning, all is going well. It’s very rare that I write new words in the evening, but I will edit when I’m on deadline. For that I have a huge set of green industrial earmuffs to block out the household noise. They are very attractive.

FT: Sometimes pieces of music seem to influence certain scenes within novels, do you have a soundtrack for your tale or is it a case of writing in silence with perhaps the odd musical break in-between scenes?

AC: I usually only play music before sitting down to my computer to get me revved up. For the first book it was a lot of Kings of Leon. For HOT BLOODED there was a bit of rap and Old School rock, now for COLD BLOODED it’s been Florence + The Machine. I love music for inspiration, but I need to write in silence. (Hence the earmuffs!)

FT: What can you tell us about the next novel?

AC: HOT BLOODED is a journey for Jessica. She’s out to find her man, defeat her foe and learn about who and what she is. It’s filled with lots of mythological mayhem and it was so much fun to write. It’s a non-stop adventure from beginning to end.

FT: What are the last five internet sites that you've visited?

AC: Amazon, facebook, cheaptickets, twitter and caringbridge

FT: Did you ever take any writing classes or specific instructions to learn the craft? If so please let us know which ones.

AC: Yes, I’ve taken many different writing classes, lots of them at a local literary center in Minneapolis, MN where I live. They were very helpful. The best thing I received from taking the classes was finding critique groups to share my work with, and who in turn, made me accountable to write more. From there I joined a local fiction writing chapter and met many aspiring authors. I recommend taking classes and finding groups who support you.

FT: How did you get past the initial barriers of criticism and rejection?

AC: I don’t think I’m past them yet! I was lucky in the very beginning as agents began to request my work from the outset. I didn’t go through miles of rejection there. Once I signed with an agent, I sold to an editor in a few months. The biggest hurdle for me now—is the actual criticism of the novel. There has been very few bad reviews, which is so nice, but when they do come it’s hard. I’m not sure it will ever get any easier, but I will grow used to it. Logically any author knows their work won’t be for everyone, but in our hearts we are always hoping.

Thank you so much for hosting me today! It’s so fun to be in the UK, if only virtually. I hope whoever decides to jump into the series enjoys it thoroughly.

1 comment:

T. James said...

Another good interview, FT. Getting to know someone in a few words isn't easy, but Amanda was so open and I enjoyed the interview.

Good luck with Full Bloodied, Amanda.