Amy Miles has been a carbaholic since birth and is hopelessly addicted to Dr. Pepper. When she’s not chatting with fans on Facebook she can be found goofing off with family, traveling or stomping her husband at Scrabble. She is an obsessive writer and an avid reader and loves to chat about all things books.
Her teen paranormal romance books, Forbidden and Reckoning, have been on several of Amazon’s Top 100 lists as well as best seller lists in both America and the UK. Her highly anticipated final book in the Arotas Trilogy, Redemption, is due out 2013.
She is currently hard at work on a two new series, The Rising Trilogy and The Remnant Trilogy.
Danielle lives in Mid-Coast Maine with her two children and husband. She holds a BA in Theatre and a Masters in Writing and the Teaching of Writing. She has two novels currently out, Pulled and Pulled Back and is working on several others, including Pulled Back Again, releasing soon, and Netherworld which she is co-writing with author Amy Miles, which is due out in December, 2014. She also has a collection of short stories, brilliantly entitled, Short Shorts, and her work is also featured in several anthologies: GooseRiver Press 2012 Anthology and the Maine Writing Project’s anthology, Writious. Both titles are available on Amazon. When not writing, she can be found pouring her heart out on the stage.
Interview of both:
Amy, you’ve always wanted to be a writer, while Danielle came into the writing world a bit *cough* later in life. Do you recall the first thing you wrote?
Amy: I sure do. I began writing in grade school and had dragons attacking a fair maiden, who of course was later swept off her feet by a dashing knight. Kissing always ensued.
Even at a young age, I was obsessed with danger, adventure and torturing my main characters. My writing did eventually progress into writing my own version Nancy Drew Mysteries and then into the fantasy realms when I was in high school, but my passion for make-believe began long ago.
Danielle: The first real thing I wrote, honestly, was the first chapter of Pulled. I went to school to act, not write. Once I caught the writing bug though, I was hooked. It does mean, however, that I’m behind the curve in terms of learning about the craft so I’m trying to play catch up!
At what point did you start feeling it was okay to call yourself a ‘writer’?
Amy: Calling myself a writer was never hard. Thinking of myself as an author was a different story. At what point are you considered an author? When you write “The End” on your first rough draft, trudge through countless edits, and finally hit publish on Amazon Kindle? Or is it when you complete your second book? Third? A series?
I think this question is answered differently for every writer. For me, I didn’t feel like an established author until after my third book recently came out. Probably had a lot to do with the fact that I take great pride in Defiance Rising, because it was technically my first book. Now, I feel proud to tell people that I am a full time indie author.
Danielle: It took me awhile, actually. I was enrolled in the Maine branch of the National Writing Project, and I still couldn’t call myself an author. It wasn’t until I got in the mail a little white cup that said ‘Writer’ on it that I actually felt like I had the right to call myself a writer. So lame, I know!
Can you bring us back to the first book you published on Amazon. What was it and what was that experience like?
Amy: Oh my, it was a nightmare! Probably not what you expected to hear, huh? Seriously though, it was pure torture to figure out how to properly format a book, upload a book cover and do everything in-between.
People sometimes get the idea that being an author is glamorous, and trust me it has it’s great moments, but learning how to publish a book for the first time is not one of them. I distinctly remember wanting to bash my head against a brick wall for days on end as I tried to wade through the complicated jargon. I’m not exactly your most computer savvy person!
My first book I released was Defiance Rising. It had a different cover and a completely different storyline. It didn’t take long for me to realize that what I thought was a good book was far from marketable, so I pulled it off, did some more research and began writing FORBIDDEN.
It was a great lesson to learn and I’m thankful I learned early on.
Danielle: Mine was Pulled. I didn’t know Amy at the time. I actually met her by asking her to review my book on her blog page. We became friends on fb after that and started chatting everyday. But I digress; publishing for the first time on my own was terrifying! I really had NO clue what I was doing, to be honest and it took several months of tweaking Pulled before I was happy with the final product. I have learned a ton since that first publishing and will continue to learn with every book I write! There is a great support among Indie Authors who are, for the most part, eager to help new comer so that they don’t need to feel as lost as they did. At least, that’s how I’m seeing things.
With several novels between the two of you, what is some advice you might give those just starting out as an Indie Author?
Amy: The best advice I can give is to write what you love. Yes, it’s important to know your market, but you don’t have to follow the money train to stand out. Be yourself. Do your thing and people will notice.
I learned a hard lesson with FORBIDDEN on the importance of hiring an editor. In the beginning, I didn’t have the money to pay for an editor so I figured I’d do it on my own. Big mistake! Editors don’t just look for typos, they look for character development, holes in your plot and inconsistencies that you are too close to see for yourself. Find an editor that gets you and gets what you’re trying to accomplish and you will be thankful you did.
Another crucial point is your book cover. Pick something that captures the feeling of your book’s theme or character. I have met my fair share of “book whores” and they will be the first to tell you they only buy a book if the cover appeals to them.
Danielle: The best advice I ever got was summed up by writer Ron Carlson, who said that want-to-be-writers are often ‘distracted by things they put in their own way, all day, all the time: leaving the room to get coffee, checking the mail, get coffee, walk the dogs, go to the bathroom, get coffee, look something up, get coffee. The writer is the one who stays in the room.’ I never knew how hard just being at the computer and actively writing actually was until I had to do it!
Okay, now to the good stuff. You are currently working on a couple of projects. Can you tell us a little bit about them—spoiler free of course.
Amy: Oh my, I am always working on something. Usually more than one thing at a time.
I’m currently diving into the final draft of a new novella, FACELESS, that will jump start readers into my Cherished Hearts inspirational romance books. I’ve always had a passion for inspirational romance, but up until this point have always remained in the fantasy realm. It’s great to break out of that every once in a while.
I’m also obsessing over the completion of my Arotas Trilogy. REDEMPTION has a lot going on, with several POV shifts and tons of action so it’s kicking my butt right now! As soon as I finish with REDEMPTION, I will be jumping straight into the prequel, IMMORTAL ROSE. I hadn’t actually planned on writing this book but so many of my fans wanted to know Fane and Roseline’s tale, so I caved.
I’m also currently working with Danielle on NETHERWORLD. This joint venture has been a lot of fun, melding romance with fantasy and of course banshees ROCK! I’ve having a blast designing the underworld and playing around with some mythology. It’s a good thing Danielle loves writing about human’s cause there is no way I would give up working on the hot and steamy, Aed, god of the Netherworld!
Danielle: Amy and I came up with the idea to co-write Netherworld almost as a joke. A sort of ‘We should totally write a book together!’ But the more we chatted about it, the more it makes sense. We write in completely different genres, I do romance she does fantasy. So we thought what if we had a fantasy sort of character fall in love with a human character? We tossed out some ideas and soon the Netherworld was born. We’ve just started drafting the early scenes and I’m really excited about what we’re coming up with! The Netherworld puts us into the world of the Banshees, the mythical creatures sent to carry the dead to the other side. The Banshee’s are supposed to be unseen by the living, but one mortal sees a banshee. What happens when they fall in love? It’s soooooo cool! She writes the fantasy parts, I write the human parts! It’s perfect!
Between the two of you, you have a pretty large fan base. What would you say is the ONE question they want answered most, and are you willing to answer it here?
Amy: There are several burning questions that I hear quite often. Will Gabriel and Roseline end up together? Does Sadie live? Will Bastien return in the sequel to Defiance Rising? Am I Team Bastien of Team Eamon!
If you have read my books, you know that I don’t make romance easy for my characters. Life happens, people get hurt, hearts get broken. I love a happy ending just like the next gal, but I also like realism. If my characters are going to be happy in the end, they are going to go through some tribulation along the way. Also…I hate to be predictable.
Danielle: I think most people want to know if Pulled Back Again will finally deliver the happily ever after ending they are looking for. All I can say is…maybe? Ha!
You are both going to an event in Tennessee in January called UtopYA. Can you give the readers a little info about what this is and why it’s so cool?
Danielle: I’ll let Amy handle this one!
Amy: UtopYa is one of many conventions that are being held this year to enable readers to meet up with some of their fave authors. For those of you who were lucky enough to get tickets before it sold out, you will get to attend panels, chat with authors, buy books and attend a fabulous award’s ceremony. I, for one, can’t wait to go dress shopping for this event!
Okay, time for some quirky questions, just for fun!
What is one thing you wish fans would ask you more about?
Amy: What my favorite food is. Seriously? I’m willing to take bribes for sneak peeks into my upcoming books. Haha.
Um…this is a hard one to answer because I’m pretty open about things happening in my life. If you follow me on Facebook, you know I’m rather vocal about my obsession with Game of Thrones, my love of movies/books and I’m always bragging on my guys. I’m an open book!
Danielle: I guess what I’m working on? This is a hard one.
Who do YOU like to read?
Amy: I write what I love to read. I can usually be found browsing through the YA section of my library and have been known to give out recommendations to random strangers. And no, I don’t shove my own book in their hands!
Danielle: I’m game to a lot of different genres, but I have a soft spot for books that hold some sort of love story in there. It doesn’t have to be Harlequin type stuff, but some yearning is good!
If you were trapped on a desert island with ONE of your characters and ONE endless supply of one type of food, what would they be?
Amy: Oh dear. How do I choose? My characters are all so much a part of me that it would be hard to pick just one, but I think if forced to I would choose Bastien. He’s hard core but compassionate. He makes sacrifices when he must for the woman he loves. Plus he’s H O T!!! Yeah, I would go with him. Food…oh goodness me. I would totally go with Ranch Doritos. Those suckers are worse than Chinese food filled to the brim with MSG! Oh phooey, now I’m craving Chinese food! Do you think they deliver?
Danielle: This is so not an easy question! I guess I’d wanna be stuck with Etash, so I’d have a warm body to snuggle up against! As for food…hmmm…I suppose wine doesn’t count as food, so I’ll have to go with egg salad. Love that stuff!
Now, onto the DEEP Questions (ha!)
Are you happy that you chose to self-publish or do you think you should have gone the traditional route?
Amy: I love being an indie author. I love the fans, the other authors and the overall sense of wanting to help each other succeed. I’ve been asked many times if I would someday look for an agent and I can honestly say that I have no plans to do so. If I were contacted I would consider an offer but I love having the freedom to choose my editor, design my covers and write exactly what I want.
Danielle: No. I like being in control of how I handle my books. How they look, what to price them, where to market them, when to release…full control. Sure it’s a TON of work, but it’s worth it for me.
What drives you to write?
Amy: I fully believe that writers are born, not created. Just like painters are born to move beyond stick figure people (which I have not!) or chefs are moved to create culinary excellence. The gift is within you. Sometimes it can take years to unearth it, but the talent is still there.
I write because I have to, I yearn to. Sound a tad dramatic? Trying living in my head. Haha. I’ve got four books worth of characters fighting to be heard at the same time!
Danielle: The tiny voices in my head of course! Seriously, I ache to make people feel something. Maybe that’s the actor in me, but there is something satisfying in making people react internally to something you’ve written. It’s magical.
Is there anything unique about yourself that you’d like your readers to know?
Amy: Washing dishes grosses me out. I have a different favorite color each day depending on my mood. I adore 80’s rock. I love to eat my mashed potatoes mixed with KFC coleslaw. I go to Cardinal’s baseball games for the food. I despise Opera music. I’m a firm believer that vampires don’t sparkle. I’m terrified of spiders, no matter their size. I’m not a lover of chocolate and I can spin an entire book plot in less than 5 minutes.
Danielle: Reading Amy’s list I don’t feel so crazy now! Um, let’s see. I suck at all things sports and math related, I have a really bad memory for important things but can tell you exactly where that balled up sock is you threw across the room two weeks ago ended up, and I’ll eat the chocolate Amy won’t.
What time of day do you write best?
Amy: I have several theories on this actually. My “work day” is scheduled from between 9am-4pm but do you think my brain agrees with that? Heck no! I’m usually up at 4am scribbling furiously as I teeter on the edge of my toilet with a notebook! I write when I can’t stand the voices in my head any longer.
Danielle: I also work a part time job in addition to writing, so when I’m not working that, I write best in the morning. After the kiddos are dropped off at school I typically work from 9 until noon, then do the house work, part-time job work, and if time, sneak in more writing time before the kiddos get home. After 5 is family time so the writing stops then whether I want it to or not.
How do you handle criticism?
Amy: Plug my fingers in my ears and hum? Haha. Um…criticism is something that can be both fantastic and destructive for a writer. I love getting constructive criticism. Emphasis on constructive. If you love my book great, but I want to know why. If you hate it, then give me all of the gory details of how I butchered a perfectly good plot.
Without those details, authors can’t grow. I thrive off critiques now but there were some days in the very beginning that I shed a few tears on some of the nastier comments. It’s all part of the writing industry. You aren’t born with thick skin, it’s developed over time.
Danielle: The way I look at is that the one star reviews aren’t who I write to. They picked up a book that they were bound not to like. I personally never give one star reviews for exactly that reason. It’s not their fault I wasn’t their target audience.
Are your characters based on a real person?
Amy: Yes and no. I have never chosen a specific person to emulate, but I have used phrases, facial expressions and quirks. I typically hop on google, select an image that calls to me and begin to hear their specific voice before I even write the first word.
*Disclaimer* If you think you resemble anyone in my books, I can assure you that it’s completely accidental, but we should totally be friends!
Danielle: Perhaps shadows of people I know. None of my characters are dead on in terms of people I’ve met, but I might pick up a characteristic or hair style or some small tid bit of a person I’ve met before.
Do you outline your books or do you freestyle?
Amy: *hangs head in shame* I rarely outline a book. I always know the beginning and the end but the middle is always up for grabs. I like it that way. If I really wanted to, I could easily plot it out, but I find not knowing what is coming to not only be very freeing but it’s also fun. I love going on a journey with my characters.
People mention all the time that my books are unpredictable and I believe a lot of that is because I don’t know the twists and turns until I write them. Some of the best scenes come unexpectedly.
Danielle: I’m gonna steal my writing method from E.L. Doctorow, because when I read this, I literally screamed out loud and said ‘That’s exactly how it is!’
“writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
What is one goal yet unaccomplished in your life?
Amy: I want to see the pyramids in person. I have always been fascinated by mythology, no matter the race it pertains to and Egypt is on the top of my list. As a kid, I used to write notes to a friend in hieroglyphics. Yes, I was that child!
Danielle: I want to go to Greece. I want to walk on the first stages!
Do you believe in love at first sight or a slow burning love?
Amy: I’m a slow burner, all the way! I like building tension, making readers squirm just a tiny bit, but I also like to hold back on the sultry romance. People see and feel love in different ways. For me, I love security, affection and sacrifice, so that’s what I write about.
Danielle: Um, romance writer here! Love at first sight AND slow burn!
Do you believe in soul mates?
Amy: I honestly believe that each of us are created to be with one specific person. Someone molded to fit you, to become your partner in life. That doesn’t mean they were created to bend to our will though. Haha. Love in real life is all about give and take. Compromise. Sacrifice. Learning and growing together. I wake up each morning beside my soul mate, but that doesn’t mean we are without faults.
Danielle: Since my novels are about soul mates, guess I need to say yes, right? Ha!
Do you relate in any way to your main character?
Amy: Roseline (Arotas Trilogy) and Illyria (Rising Trilogy) are both very strong gals. They make the decisions that are necessary, even when it seems to cost them everything. They love, fight, survive and are fiercely loyal. Both of them have attributes that I have. I always joke around about how Illyria is my alter ego.
Danielle: My characters, unlike Amy’s are typically weaker at first and work to find their strength. I think a lot of people have felt weak or unworthy at some point in their lives, especially at a younger age when you’re questioning everything.
I enjoyed getting to know both of you! Good luck in the future!