Friday, June 3, 2011

AMALIE HOWARD (INTERVIEW)


AMALIE HOWARD, SUCCESSFUL AUTHOR OF "BLOODSPELL"(AN INTERVIEW)


[image]


(1) You grew up in the Caribbean, a lot of people think of the Caribbean being a paradise. Can you tell us more about your life there and what it was like growing up in such an adventurous environment?

It really is a paradise—beautiful beaches, friendly people, tropical food and drink, and a very relaxed way of life. I grew up in a house on a hill with a gorgeous view and a large lush backyard full of coconut trees and all kinds of other tropical fruit trees like mango, orange, plum, and guava. We lived about forty-five minutes from most of the beaches on all sides of the island, so we usually went to one of them on the weekends—we had our choice of the more popular tourist beaches to less-known more pristine waters. Our family friends owned a house “down-the-islands” that could only be accessed by boat, and we would vacation there all summer long, which was pretty much year round! In all fairness, I must admit that while growing up in the Caribbean did have its perks, I should stress that I did have to go to school just like everyone else, and had to do homework and chores and extracurricular activities just like any other kid. So it wasn’t an all-day vacation, if that’s what you’re imagining! The idyllic part aside, the Caribbean is also an area of the world rich in occult folklore and mysticism, which undoubtedly shaped my interest in dark fantasy. Growing up, we had our share of spooky or “jumbie” (monster) stories—word of mouth tales of voodoo or West Indian sorcery called Obeah, tales of the Soucouyant, a supernatural beast disguised as an old woman by day and a blood-sucking creature by night—those stories thrilled and terrified, and I always wanted more. Put it this way, I had more than enough inspiration to develop an early and ongoing obsession with all things fantasy. Growing up in the Caribbean has 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.

(2) Was it always a dream of yours to become a writer? 

I’ve always loved writing. Even at a very young age, I was always scribbling some story or another into a journal. I remember writing a story about a young girl covered in magical tattoos when I was about nine. Seriously, what did I know about tattoos at nine years old? Still, I remember it being a pretty cool story. I had my first poem published when I was twelve and I won an award in a global youth writing competition when I was fifteen. 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. I took a bit of a detour after I graduated college to pursue a successful global sales career in corporate telecommunications for thirteen years, and I travelled the world building that career. In hindsight, one of my favorite parts of the job was corporate writing, which makes complete sense! With Bloodspell, now I feel like this is what I am meant to do—where I was always meant to be. This is it!


(3) You have a husband and 3 children, how hard is it for you to find the time to write and do you ever have to find a quiet area to just unwind?

Did you just say “quiet” area? What’s that and where can I find one? Just kidding! With three very active children six and under, finding time to write or unwind takes foresight, and sometimes, fortitude. I say that because it’s easy to let day-to-day life get in the way, which is why so many people ask, “where do you find the time?” The thing is, you have to make the time. My kids all have a routine and are in bed by eight o’clock most nights, so I can schedule some time to write after dinner. Even when my sons gave up their afternoon naps around age four, I still encouraged them have an hour or two of “quiet time” after lunch. That little sliver of heaven is my unwinding window—I can have a quiet lunch, do some writing, watch some television, or have a rest myself if I need it. I do have an office but I only ever sit at my desk if I need to print something or return phone calls. I’m far more comfortable writing on the couch with my iPod on. I’ve always been a multi-tasker so being able to manage multiple things is a particular skill of mine, which means that I’m totally capable of writing in a house full of screaming children! When I’m on a roll, I just go. I don’t stop, and I’ll admit that my kids don’t get bathed on time (thank you to my wonderful husband for picking up the slack!) Other times, I’ll take frequent breaks. It all depends on where I am in the process and on when those creative juices get going.

(4) Tell us about "Bloodspell" what was the draw to write this type of novel and what ages is it appropriate for?

Bloodspell technically started out as a short story. Actually, it was a pretty terrible story that I wrote about ten years ago … I recently dug it up and it literally had me snorting and laughing in tandem. Anyway, the good part about the story was the vampire so I used him as a loose framework for Christian’s character in Bloodspell. The heroine needed work and an interesting backstory, so as it turned out, her development really drove the direction of Bloodspell. What started out as a story about vampires evolved into a story about a young witch trying to face her fears and embrace what she is, and once I had that idea in hand, it literally just took over. The vampire element suddenly became peripheral and took a back seat to this unique twist that completely consumed me. I really identified with it because I loved the idea of having this monster inside of her that she had to overcome. Think of Victoria’s blood curse as a metaphor—for example, a disability or an eating disorder or self-image issues—something big and terrifying that any ordinary teenager may have to overcome in everyday life. The message of courage is the same. Bloodspell is Victoria’s story of becoming, where she has to find herself, face her fears, and only then, really own who she is. I personally like strong female characters, or characters who show growth over the course of a story. Heroines in books especially for teens become role models, whether we want them to be or not, and I think writers have some responsibility to be conscious of that. I'm a pretty avid reader of books, young adult books especially, and I wanted her character to be strong but relatable, because her growth in the novel has to be believable. As a reader, you have to connect with her and be willing to be a part of her journey. It has to be something that any reader/teen can accomplish themselves, even if they're not the most powerful witch in the world. I refer to Victoria as every-girl and no-girl at the same time—we can all find some part of ourselves in her, some little thing to identify with. She's likeable, she's funny, she's smart, she has a lot of empathy, but she also makes mistakes and does stupid things sometimes. She's a normal person who evolves into someone extraordinary, and that is what makes her strong … it’s the same strength that’s in every girl, the same strength that will inspire all of us women, young and old, to be unique, fierce, and fearless. She is not going to give up even when the odds against her to fail are so great. In the end, it’s about rocking who she is, no matter what. The core message of this novel is that being different sucks sometimes, but it’s not always going to suck—one day, you’re going to be psyched you’re the exception and not the rule. I’d probably say that Bloodspell is appropriate for ages 13 and up.


(5) We all know that Victoria and Christian are two of the most prominent characters in your book, though there's a cat by the name of Leto that I found extremely interesting. Can you tell us about him and where the inspiration came from?

Leto, the feline familiar in my novel, is one of my undisputed favorite characters. In the magic world, most witches and wizards usually have familiars—supernatural entities who protect young witches or wizards now coming into their new powers—for example, Salem in Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, or Hedwig in Harry Potter (although she doesn’t speak). In Bloodspell, Leto is not only Victoria’s teacher and guide, but he is the closest thing she has to any family, and the only real link between both her past and her future. As a character, Leto is a complicated creature with many different layers. He’s very old, and quite interesting, but he also has a quirky sense of humor. He has such a strong personality that at times I forgot that he is feline and not an actual person. I really connected with him because he truly cares about Victoria, almost becoming the parent she no longer has. His reactions, particularly in relation to some of her choices, are quite human. I think there’s far more than meets the eye with him, which you will all find out about in the … um … sequel. My own cat, a Maine Coon/Russian Blue mix rescued as a kitten, was the main physical inspiration for Leto, with her silver fur and green eyes. Both breeds are particularly intelligent cats, and mine is no exception. She’s the only cat I’ve known to walk on a leash, shake hands, sit and lie down on command, and hypnotize me into feeding her at will … probably why she weighs sixteen pounds!

(6) I know this can't be the end for Victoria and Christian, do you have plans for a sequel?

Bloodspell is the first in a planned trilogy, and I am working on the second book so 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!

(7) Will we see more of Angie in later books?

Angie is such an underestimated character. She’s really someone you don’t see coming, especially with her unique ability, which makes her coveted, although not exactly powerful in her own right. I don’t want to give too much away, but yes, you will absolutely see more of Angie in the sequel. Her gift is far too valuable (and awesome) to not leverage in future books!

(8) Do you have ideas for other novels in the future?

Yes I do, thank you for asking! Apart from the Bloodspell trilogy, I 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 post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel, as well as one in a more literary vein about a girl in the middle of a culture clash.

(9) If you had to choose between vampires, werewolves, and witches, which order would you put them in as far as most favorite to least and why?

1) Witches – I love the idea of having magical powers at my fingertips and being able to perform spells to make things happen. Plus, I have to have my girl Victoria’s back on this one, so they’re number 1.

2) Vampires – Hot, brooding, sexy, powerful, mysterious, immortal—what’s not to love? But, as sexy as it sounds when you read about them, who really wants to drink blood forever? This is the main reason they’re number 2—I love cakes and cookies way too much to forego them! (Yep, I’m totally that easy).

3) Werewolves – They’d definitely be third for me, not that I don’t enjoy reading about them, I just don’t find them particularly sexy. We’re talking about my version of werewolves that is, which are the hybrid wolf/human circa Underworld … basically big, hairy, beasty-looking creatures, so not exactly swoon-worthy.

(10) What advice would you give to the younger generation out there that are aspiring novelists?

For any aspiring young writer, I would definitely encourage reading as many books as you can get your hands on—the more you read (especially bestsellers), the more you’ll understand all the elements required to pen a great book. Develop and experiment with your own unique writing voice, and find what moves you. Which writing genres and themes are you passionate about? What drives you? Do you like stories, poetry or journalistic writing? Find your niche—people are usually better at writing about what they love or what inspires them because it comes from somewhere real. I would also advise young writers to get writing experience early, even if it’s something as simple with working on your school newspaper or starting a blog or getting a local internship. A good rule of thumb is that any experience is valuable experience, and if I’ve learned anything at all, it’s that this industry values credentials. Get yourself out there and write regularly—hone your craft. Lastly, the most heartfelt advice I can pass on to other writers is to never give up. 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. Sounds a little preachy, but it's true.
©2010, Kitty, all rights reserved.

Read more:http://www.greatmindsthinkaloud.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=interviews&action=display&thread=159#ixzz1OF8OYpnY

No comments:

Post a Comment