Interview slots are now closed until September 1st, when I am opening the slots up for author book release and promotions.
I had the pleasure of meeting Amalie through twitter and her wonderful author live chats.
Amalie is currently working on the final instalment of the series entitled A Straw Man, with publication anticipated for mid-2015. Amalie has a fantastic offer on her series which you can find more information about at the bottom of this post.
When and how do your characters come to you? Is it in a moment of inspiration, an epiphany? Or do they grow in some murky recess of your mind?
Brooke, the main character in The Clay Lion was loosely based on a family friend who served as the bone marrow donor to her sister and my own daughter. She has a lot of my personality traits (an author can never truly take herself out of her work!) but eventually she grows to become her own person throughout the course of the book.
Most of my characters find their personalities in bits and pieces of people I’ve known throughout my life. They are sometimes the people I wish others could have been in my life.
My characters develop gradually and it usually takes me a while to really get to know them fully. I’ll often go back several times after a book is finished and rework areas that don’t seem right based on the people my characters eventually become.
There’s an acceptance that authors often write in traits or characteristics of themselves into their work, you have several books, is there any part of you in any of your characters?
Yes. There’s a lot of me all over my work. My values, my belief systems, who I am as a person. I’ve worked through a lot of my own feelings and issues through my writing. It’s very cathartic.
How do you develop your characters? Do you let them brew in your subconscious, use character interview sheets, or something completely different?
I develop my characters by writing them. I always have to go back to those beginning chapters and revise because my characters aren’t completely fleshed out at that point, but I find the only way I can really get inside them is to let them tell the story and see the plot emerge through their eyes. I give them a lot of freedom when it comes to taking a story where they want it to go.
Are you a planner, or free writer?
I think I’m a bit of both. I usually have an idea about the beginning, middle, and end before getting started. The ending is usually the hardest part and I give the characters a lot of leeway with regard to finishing the story. Among the Shrouded was my most carefully thought out plot because there were so many moving parts. The Clay Lion series went through a lot of revisions because of the time travel element. I would think a plot line was going to work and then would realize it would be impossible and so I’d be back to the drawing board!
When you are developing a book, what tools or techniques do you use, e.g. timelines, mood boards, character interviews, scraps of notes?
I have dozens of napkins and old grocery lists full of ideas and plot suggestions and dialogue that comes to me when I’m busy doing life instead of writing at the computer. I’m not afraid to let things sit and brew for a few days. I wait for the right ideas to surface and try not to force things too much.
Each story has presented itself differently to me but I think my writing process is pretty established at this point.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you actively look for it?
I take inspiration from emotions and the collective experiences that draw people together. At the end of the day, we are all much more alike than we are different and what we are all really looking for is acceptance. Capturing emotions and stories that resonate with all of us in our unique ways is my passion.
What kind of an environment do you write in?
I sit on my living room sofa with my blanket and my cats and I write during the day while the house is quiet and I’m alone. No music. No television. No distractions whatsoever. I can’t write when there are other people in the house. I use that time for marketing instead.
I’m 50 something thousand words into my first novel, it’s taking over my brain. What advice can you give me on completing it? Or maybe an easier question. What do you wish you had known about writing a book before you started?
Nothing to it but to do it. Force yourself to get something down. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You can always fix it later but just writing something will help get the creativity flowing.
The publishing industry is in decline across the board. Do you think things like the Kindle are bridging the gap, is there still the same love for the written word, or is it being diluted by the modern obsession with tech and gadgets?
There will always be readers as long as there are stories to be told. Reading provides an escape, allowing people to do things and experience facets of life that are unattainable and unfathomable. This is never going to go away. How we communicate those stories might change and that’s okay. People watch stories, listen to stories, and read stories printed on trees and tablets and phones. Is the publishing industry going to continue to change? Of course. Am I going to have to stop sharing my stories? Never.
50 Shades of Grey author EL James was reported to make around £100k a day at the book’s height, and the upcoming film will make her millions. Do you find it a shame that the most lucrative and famous book franchise of the moment is one so widely derided for its lack of literary value? Or is it just good to have a book going mainstream?
You know, I never, ever snub my nose at other people’s tastes. There is room enough in this world for every type of literature for every type of reader. Reading should bring pleasure. It should make you laugh and cry and feel things that are bigger than yourself. A story doesn’t necessarily need to be refined literature to be enjoyable and satisfying. So do I think the 50 Shades series is the most well-written trilogy on the market? Probably not. (And yes, I read all three.) But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have worth.
If a fascist regime was burning the world’s libraries, what books would you save?
I’m not a literary fiction girl, so I probably would let a lot of the great works of the western world go up in flames!
I’d save The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman. It’s my absolute favorite children’s picture book. I’d save Drowning Ruth by
Christina Schwarz because it’s the book that made me want to become a legitimate author. I’d keep the complete boxed set of Harry Potter and a couple Dean Koontz. Also, a copy of Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson because you never know when you might need a good cry, even with the evil takeover of a fascist regime.
Which publishing route have you taken? Did you always know you were going to go down this route, and if so why? And will you continue using this route?
I spent a lot of time researching the path I wanted to take and knew without a doubt that I wanted my work independently published. I learned pretty quickly that unless you are an “A list” author at a Big 6 house, there isn’t a lot of money in anyone’s budget for marketing. I knew there was a very good chance I was going to be pounding the pavement to establish my brand, regardless of where I ended up and decided to maintain my copyrights, control, and royalties instead of handing them over to an agency. I’ve never regretted my decision for a minute and am proud to say that I’ve found great success in the path I’ve chosen. But, if Penguin showed up with a six figure deal for The Clay Lion, I might just be willing to let it go.
What do you wish you knew about the publishing process before you started?
I wish I would have known how dynamic the industry is, always changing the rules just when you get the hang of it. I wish I’d been told how much time and effort I would need to spend on marketing outside the hours I spend writing. And I also wish I’d known from the beginning how isolating it was going to be.
What is the best advice you could give to aspiring novelists like me? Or what was the best advice you were ever given?
Trust your gut. Be true to yourself not only in your writing but in your marketing as well. Surround yourself with great authors who understand what it’s like in the trenches and will help pull you up by your bootstraps. Know that your books won’t be liked by everyone and that’s okay. Just because a few people don’t like meatloaf doesn’t mean others won’t think it’s delicious. Find an editor who isn’t afraid to be brutally honest. And above all else, keep reading and keep writing.
Is fanfic to be welcomed as it broadens interaction and the readers experience or a scourge that devalues the ability of an author?
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I can’t imagine what it would be like for another writer to love my characters so much that they would imagine other stories about their lives. I think we should always encourage all forms of writing and should never discourage anyone from sharing their stories. I don’t think FanFic devalues the author’s original work as much as it enhances it.
I am finding more and more, that writers often have several creative outlets. Do you? Or is writing your one source?
My other outlets tend to be more physical than creative. I’m a triathlete. I swim and bike and run a lot. I dig in the dirt. I keep busy being a mom and running a household. I’m always going… at least when I’m not writing.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
No doubt I would be an interior designer or an organization specialist. “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always been a writer. I’ve been writing stories since I was old enough to put pencil to paper. I decided I wanted to become an author in my early twenties. It took me many years to achieve that goal.
What authors do you admire, and why?
There are many prolific writers I admire. Dean Koontz is one of my favorites. The sheer volume of novels he’s written in awe inspiring. I love authors that make me think about the world in a different way or make me feel strong emotional connections to their characters. I’m honored to know Melodie Ramone, author of After Forever Ends personally, and that book haunted me for weeks after I read it.
Celebrate the Award-Winning, Critically Acclaimed, and Best-Selling Clay Lion Series starting May 1st in three very special ways!
1. Reserve your digital copy of the final book in the series, A Straw Man, for the bargain pre-oreder price of just $2.99 from May 1st until its release date on June 9th. At that time the price will increase to the standard retail price of $3.99. Pre-order your copy of A Straw Man from Amazon from the first of May.
2. Also, from May 1-8, snag a digital copy of the The Clay Lion, first book in this amazing time travel saga, for only $0.99!
Pick up this countdown deal on Amazon.
3. Finally, you can register to win a FREE signed paperback copy of book two in the series, Tin Men, on Goodreads.
Enter the draw from May 1st by visiting Amalie on Goodreads.
To find out more about Amalie Jahn read her bio below:
“I spent my childhood writing journals about the boys I loved, especially the ones who never loved me back. I never imagined I’d be channelling those emotions into full-length novels later on in my life.” – Amalie Jahn
Undeterred by fickle teenage boys, Amalie won her first literary award in seventh grade for a fictional short story about a girl struggling with accident-induced hearing loss. She’s been writing ever since.
After briefly setting aside the creative writing of her youth to pursue a career in education, she found that creating lesson plans for her elementary school students cultivated a desire to write for young adults. However, it would be many years before her first full-length YA novel, The Clay Lion, written as a tribute to a pair of siblings who were close to her heart, would eventually be published.
The Clay Lion’s Best-Selling March 2013 release was followed by the publication of Among the Shrouded in November of the same year, the first in a series of novels exploring real-world issues under the umbrella of paranormal suspense. Tin Men, the second time travel book in the Clay Lion series was released in July of 2014, and Amalie is currently working on the final instalment of the series entitled A Straw Man, with publication anticipated for mid-2015.
Masterful character development and story lines woven with the common threads of human experience make Amalie’s novels relatable to both young and old alike. Her ideas are born from the passions of her own heart which she uses to share her vision of the world with her readers.
When she’s not at the computer coaxing characters into submission, you can find Amalie swimming laps, cycling, or running on the treadmill, probably training for her next triathlon. She hates pairing socks and loves avocados. Amalie lives in the United States with her husband, two children, and three extremely overfed cats.
She is also very happy time travel does not yet exist.