I’m so excited to have Amanda Carlson on the blog today! Amanda is the author of the just-released novella Blooded, and her full length urban fantasy, Full Blooded, will be out in September from Orbit! Amanda was sweet enough to submit to my interrogation, er, interview, so please welcome her to the blog, and be sure to snag Blooded and pre-order your copy of Full Blooded too!
Amanda, in your bio it says that you started writing during high school, and you have the notebooks to prove it. What’s it like to look back over those now, right as your new book is getting ready to come out?
I just got them out the other day to show my kids and it was so surreal! Who knew? I’ve been on a writing journey for years, but never really had an idea of where the road would lead. I am so unbelievably happy it took me here! Writing urban fantasy is a dream come true—and a dream I had no idea was lurking in my brain until a few years ago. I feel like I’ve finally hit my stride and it’s wonderful. Beyond words, it’s wonderful!
How did you celebrate when you found out that Full Blooded would be published? Was there dancing? Cake? Squeeing?
“The Call” was fantastic!! Life changing and thrilling all at once. I think I was in a haze for most of it, wondering if it was really true or not. Then I called my husband! That’s when the craziness began. We were so excited, there was squeeing and ohmigods. It was so wonderful to be able to share it with him. He left work immediately. Then I called my parents and said, “Put Dad on the phone, I have something to tell you both.” And my mom replied, “Oh my God, you’re pregnant!” I laughed so hard I choked. My youngest is eleven. When they found out it was the book, there was relief and jubilation! They brought over food, champagne & my hubby brought home flowers and chocolates. It was a wonderful day—and one I don’t take for granted. I am so very thankful.
Can you tell us a bit about Jessica McClain and Full Blooded?
Jessica was born the only female in an all male race of wolves—but she wasn’t supposed to exist at all, and for that the wolves despise her. In BLOODED, the novella, we get a glimpse of Jessica’s world as she tries to break free from her life on Compound. In FULL BLOODED, the book starts out with a bang. Her life takes a dramatic change, one that will alter her path forever. Things aren’t automatic for Jessica and the reader gets to take the journey with her, which I love so much! She doesn’t ever take things too seriously, which makes her sarcastic and funny. I can’t wait to introduce her to the world!
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
I think each book we read and love teaches us more about the craft. The biggest thing I value in a book is voice. If the voice pops, it’s such a treat to read. Applying the things you love about your favorite books into your own writing is a big key. I’m not talking about the plot or characters or world, I’m talking about do they use adverbs, is the writing linear or does it wander, are they funny, what kind of tags do they use? I’ve learned so much about editing and voice in the last year, and it’s caused me to appreciate voice on a whole new level. Writers who capture it well are so talented.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
I’m reading the lovely Amanda Bonilla’s SHAEDES OF GRAY and Sandy William’s THE SHADOW READER. Amanda & I have recently hooked up as critique partners. I’m also joining the Magic & Mayhem blog, at www.magicandmayhemwriters.com So I’m getting to know the lovely authors there. I’m so excited!
Have you ever “faked” reading a book, and if so, which one?
LOL, no! In the last year I’ve had very little time to finish any book. When I take time to actually pick up a book and read, I feel like I should be writing—those new deadlines stress you out and mess with your mind. But, ultimately, if I don’t connect with a book I’m reading, I set it down. If asked, I say I haven’t finished it yet—which is the truth.
If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
It would have to be Harry Potter. I know that’s a relatively pat answer, but the hair on my arms prickle when I remember picking it up for the first time. J.K. Rowling created something, to me, that was so magical and unique—the emotion of it took me by surprise. Every single book was an absolute delight. Watching all my kids read if for the first time, including my youngest last year, brought me so much joy. If you can’t rediscover it for the first time, seeing it through your kids’ eyes was just as good.
When you do manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
In a bubble bath with US Weekly! Seriously, scouting out those rare times when I’m home, but not working, or thinking about working, are rare. I’ve found the only real escape from “myself” is in the tub reading mindless magazines! The tub is the only place my laptop can’t go. If I leave the house, I love the movies or finding a great “foodie” spot with my husband. It also helps that my youngest daughter plays hockey & my oldest daughter downhill skis—going to their games/races this year was a great break.
If you could pack your bags and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
I’d go to Italy. There are a number of places on my “bucket list” including Bora Bora, but if I left tomorrow, I’d take the family to Italy. I’ve always wanted to go—in fact, I’ve never been to Europe! My oldest graduates high school in two years, and experiencing Italy as a family would be divine. It seems like a magical place.
I read that you’ve been very active in writing conferences, organizing book signings, and even writing a column in a local food and wine publication! What advice would you give a struggling writer? Did your experiences with these groups teach you a lot?
KEEP GOING! Finish what you start—and if you’re stuck, find something you like better. Over the years I had a number of unfinished projects that didn’t have my heart. Find what you LOVE to write, not what you THINK you should write. There’s a huge difference. Joining classes, attending workshops, signing up for your local writing chapter is invaluable!! Do it. Make yourself accountable. I teach a workshop called “Finding Your Voice” and I cover all of the sticking points of why we don’t finish something—and then when we do, how to make it better. The key to beautiful writing is in the editing. Most of us can put a story on the page, but what you do with the words is what makes it great. If any of your readers are interested, please check my website. I believe I’m going to be in Lake Mary, FL in October.
Is there any other news of upcoming events or projects that you’d like to share with us?
I’m going to be debuting my novel FULL BLOODED at the Authors After Dark conference in New Orleans in August. I’m so excited for that! I just got back from NYC and there will be some great surprises. If you can’t make it, but you know someone who’s going, you may have a chance to pick up my book for free. Check my website for details as it gets closer.
I had a blast coming here to chat! Thank you, Kristin! Can’t wait to come back.
Keep up with Amanda: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Read my review of Blooded
Snag Blooded: Kindle | Nook
Pre-Order Full Blooded: B&N | Amazon
Jessica McClain was born the only female in an all male race. The only problem is-she’s no wolf. Called a curse, a witch and the Daughter of Evil by the superstitious wolves, Jessica decides to fight for her freedom, at age nineteen, the only way she can-in the ring.
When she’s brutally attacked right after her fight, is it enough to finally earn her freedom off Compound, or will she be forced to endure the hatred even longer . . .