"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Okay, I’ve got a quote in my high school yearbook that says, “Most of the really cool places I’ve ever been are in my mind. No one would recognize them if they saw them.”
Considering that high school was twenty-three years ago, I think it’s pretty ironic that I’ve made my mark writing with books placed in the Northern California foothills I grew up in. I’ve been born, raised, and married here—I went to school at Sierra College, San Francisco State, and Sacramento State. I teach high school in Sacramento, and my hobby of knitting pretty much guarantees my top 100 ranking as most boring human on the planet. If it wasn’t for the four kids, I’d have no distinguishing features whatsoever.
An Interview with Amy Lane
PNR: Can you tell us a little about how you started writing; was it something you have always wanted to do?
Amy L.: Absolutely. I’ve ALWAYS written, fantasized, and dreamed. I got serious about it when I went into the Master’s program for Creative Writing. (All my friends were getting MA’s in school administration, and I was sort of tagging along—but me, being me, I couldn’t conform too much!) I didn’t finish the program—some idiot dropped a couple of airplanes on a couple of prominent buildings, and like the rest of the country, I reassessed my priorities. I came to the conclusion that I’d rather be more Mommy than Master, but I didn’t stop that habit of writing. The Masters project for Creative Writing is a full-length work. I took a short story called Vulnerable (25 pages) with a very ambiguous ending and turned it into my first novel.
PNR: Are you able to write as much as you would like? Could you tell us about your writing schedule? What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
Amy L.: No. I am never able to write as much as I like. It’s summer vacation, right? In the past hour minutes since I sat down to my computer I’ve moderated a dispute over possessions, changed a poopy diaper (AGAIN), made plans with my 13 year old daughter, answered my teenaged son’s questions about the Spanish Inquisition (thank you old Mel Brooks’ movies), read a story book, and kept the dog out of the cat-food, found a monkey shirt, saved my make-up from the toddler, and told my teenaged son that we’d talk about Cold Play tomorrow.
In order to write during the school year, I do the following:
Seriously—in order to get any writing done at all, I have to have everything I want to write already floating around my head when I sit down to the computer. I spend my commute, my shower, my exercise time, and boring moments of television writing. All the rest of that is typing, and I’m getting damned fast at it.
PNR: Who or what has been the biggest influence on your writing? Who has been your biggest support?
Amy L.: Oooh… my biggest influence writing is not a writer I read that much—but I totally dig his philosophy. Stephen King said, “Life is not a support system for art—art is a support system for life.” This quote alone helps me balance my need to write with my need to be an active member of a busy family. He also said “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the tools to write,” and this is one of the deeper truths of the craft. Even if I’m not currently reading a book (I am—I’m the last person on the planet to read Lover Enshrined) when I’m teaching, I’m always reading and analyzing something. I use that.
And as for my biggest support? Definitely my husband. Granted, he’s only ever read my first book, but he always believes my writing is important—and every time I ask him “Is it worth it? Is it worth the time it takes from the family? Should I stop?” He’s the voice who says, “Absolutely it’s worth it. Besides the kids, it’s what makes you light up inside.”
PNR: Most authors are avid readers; what is your favorite genre to read? What titles would we see in your TBR pile?
Amy L.: I’m all about the PNR and UCF—right now, I’m working on Lover Enshrined, Kim Harrison’s 6th Rachel Morgan book, the last two from Barb & J.C. Hendee, all of the Jacquelyn Frank books, the last three of the Immortals After Dark, three of Lara Adrian’s, the first of the new Gena Showalter series, and a five year backlog of Nora Roberts.
PNR: What do you feel are the essential elements of a great story?
Amy L.: Character, conflict, and setting—but the greatest of these is character. If you people aren’t real, if the conflicts don’t come from inside of them, then everything else is contrivance.
PNR: What influenced your decision to forego the usual route and self publish your series?
Amy L.: Complete impatience, and a lack of anything resembling a plan. I’d sent out a couple of queries, got back a couple of form-rejections, decided, “Hey—it’s not like I don’t HAVE enough to do—how about if I self-publish and then just treat the whole thing as a hobby, right?”
Except nice strangers bought the books and loved the books and said, “Great job except for the typos,” and I said, “Typos?” and the last three and a half years have turned into an exercise in me re-learning how to proofread, and learning for the first time how to run a small business, because that’s what it’s turned into. And the more I do it, the more I love it. Yes—if a big publisher dangled some financial stability and a chance to work two jobs instead of three (motherhood counts!) I’d take it. But right now, I’m sort of damned proud of what I’ve accomplished so far—especially considering how much I DIDN’T know when I started out.
PNR: BOUND was released in December 2006 from iUniverse; this is the third book in your Little Goddess series. Could you tell us what inspired this dark fantasy series and a little about your vision for the project? What direction will the series be taking?
Amy L.: Well, the original inspiration for Cory Kirkpatrick came from my own experiences working a nowhere job and going to junior college. No one in my family thought I’d could do it—I wasn’t smart or practical enough to work my way through school, and although I was pretty Pollyanna in my younger years, I gave Cory some of the residual bitterness that I remember as an adult.
But most writers will tell you that even a character based on themselves becomes someone completely different in short order. By the third chapter of Vulnerable, Cory was smarter, stronger, and far more compassionate than I ever was at that age, and she has continued to grow in wonderful and sometimes unexpected ways. I have tried to be very careful about the direction she takes—I want her to stay true to that surly Goth-punk bitch at the beginning, but to mature into Lady Cory, a name that still feels a little big for her, even at the end of book three.
And my vision is actually pretty specific. The series will be seven, maybe eight books, before it reaches a definite conclusion—that I’m not even going to hint at, but let’s just say this story has an arc, and some of the arc was predicted in book two. Book four (Rampant) has been nearly completely plotted in my head for the last year—one of the reasons I would like to write full time is that my brain is pretty busy—I always worry that what’s inscribed in the gray matter isn’t going to make it to the page! I will tell you that Cory and her guys will continue to mature, and that the challenges that come their way both on the personal level and the supernatural level will be natural extensions of who they are. In Rampant we’re going to meet some ghosts from Nicky’s past, a decidedly rougher kiss of vampires, and a have a visit from the cosmopolitan and very sexy Andres (who still wants Cory and Bracken.) And I’ll tell you that a mistake that Cory makes at the end of the book will alter everything that comes afterwards.
PNR: Could you tell us about the challenges you face in world building with paranormal elements and numerous supernatural beings and making it work with the ideas you have in mind for the progression of your characters and the series? How much research is involved?
Amy L.: Well, most of my research is my TBR pile—and gees, golly, that’s SUCH a hardship, isn’t it? The hardest part, though, is keeping it consistent. My next job is going to be to read my own books—as a reader, not as a critic or proofreader. It’s been a year and a half since I’ve been immersed in the Cory-verse. I want to make sure I get it right for Rampant—my readers have been so patient. I feel like I owe it to them, big time!
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Amy L.: Definitely character driven—getting to know people is my favorite hobby (besides knittingJ And as for balancing? I’m still trying to find that balance, I think. Most of the writing I do in my brain involves characters responding to certain situations—how they get into those situations, well, that’s the real work. I abhor contrivance, but I know that if I’m not careful, it’s a mistake I could easily make.
PNR: You write wonderfully complex characters; could you tell us about their development? Who has been your favorite character to write?
Amy L.: Thank you—that’s a lovely compliment!
So far my favorite two characters to write have been supporting players at the beginning, who have earned their place on the starter’s bench by being so interesting to me that they just deserve more playtime. Bracken, from the Little Goddess series, and Aylan from Bitter Moon, have both started out as minor characters, but by getting into what drove their misanthropic behavior (both of them are grouchy smart-asses!) I really got into what made them human.
There is a scene between Bracken and Adrian in the second chapter of Vulnerable that I really love. I added the scene when the book was done because Bracken had become such a real person by then that I had to see more of his complex, interwoven relationship with Adrian. Once I wrote that scene, his and Cory’s fate was pretty much sealed. Nobody that tough and that easy to wound gets to be a benchwarmer for long.
PNR: The folklore of the Fae has long captured the imagination of readers. Why do you feel it is such a popular theme in the paranormal romance genre? What is it about this genre that captures your imagination?
Amy L.: The Fae have always been so delightfully amoral. Sex? Oh yeah, they have it, they have lots of it, and they’re usually naked even when they’re not having it. Shakespeare’s Puck is mischievous, salacious, long-suffering and highly sensual. W.B. Yeat’s fairies spend their time making the lives of mortals miserable. And at the same time, they have a terribly intricate code to live by—don’t eat their food, don’t believe their words, but know that they can’t tell lies? The complex mixing of mythology that make up the Fae—from Fae as deities to Fae as innocuous (or not so) little people makes them a rich source of characterization and world building. The Daone Sidhe and Tuatha de Danaan were the children of gods and heroes. Kelpies and grindlylows were the misbegotten offspring of demons. It’s a diamond rich mine of imagination and imagery to exploit for my own lascivious purposes! (Buwahahahahahahah!)
PNR: How would you describe the sensuality level in your books? Do you find it difficult to write love scenes?
Amy L.: That’s tough. Until people started tagging me with ‘erotica’ on Amazon.com, it never occurred to me that my books were pretty hot! (Self-unaware, much, Ms. Lane? Sometimes, why do you ask?) I guess the Little Goddess series is sort of NC-17, but I probably stop short of actual X. The scenes are hot, but I try not to make them too graphic, mostly because when a person is actually HAVING sex, the graphic words sort of fly right out the ear, don’t they?
And I LOVE writing sex scenes. My husband and I have been together for twenty-one blissful years of monogamy—writing sex scenes are as close to living young and wild as I will ever be.
PNR: You work so far has been in the paranormal genre; is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try?
Amy L.: Nope. Someone suggested ‘Women’s fiction’ once—but paranormal romance IS women’s fiction. It’s fiction for women who like some super-human man-gods in their fiction.
PNR: Could you tell us about your current projects, what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Amy L.: I am currently finishing up Bitter Moon II: Triane’s Son Reigning—I’m hoping it will be out in September. The Bitter Moon books are fantasy (with elements of shapeshifter romance) and I think they’re some of my best work—I’ve learned an awful lot about building some REALLY complex plots with them, and I’m hoping what I’ve learned will make the Little Goddess series even better.
As soon as I’m done with Bitter Moon II, I’m thinking about writing an erotic short story set in Green’s Hill, featuring two male shape-changers. I’ve been reading some Loose-Id stories this summer, and it would be along those lines—I may even submit it (since Treva Harte seems like she’d write very nice rejection letters, I don’t think the trauma would be too severe!) And then, by September, I hope to be eyeballs deep in Rampant—I’m dying to get back into the Cory-verse again, and since I’m teaching part time instead of full time this year, with any luck, I’ll have that puppy done by May/June of next year!!!
PNR: Thank you, Amy, for taking time out to talk to us. Where can readers find out what’s new and how can they contact you?
Amy L.: Thank you, Dee, for giving me a chance to blather on (and on and on!) My webpage (www.greenshill.com) should be updated in the next week (tomorrow, though—I’ve been a very busy writer/mom today!) and you can always give me a ‘Halooo!’ at firstname.lastname@example.org . I love to hear from readers—some days, when writing seems like the one thing I have to leave behind, a letter from a reader is what gets me back in the saddle again.
December 1, 2006
Humans have the option of separation, divorce, and heartbreak-for Corinne Carol-Anne Kirkpatrick, sorceress and queen of the vampires, the choices are limited to love or death. Now that she is back at Green's hill and assuming her duties as leader, her life is, at best, complicated. Bracken and Nicky are rivaling for her affections, Green is gone taking care of his people, and a new supernatural enemy is threatening the sanctity of all she has come to love. Throw in a family reunion gone bad, a supernatural psychiatrist and a killer physics class, and Cory's life isn't just complex, it's psychotic.
Cory needs to get her act and her identity together, and soon, because the enemy she and her lovers are facing is a nightmare that doesn't just kill people, it unmakes them. If she doesn't figure out who she is and what her place is on Green's hill, it's not just her life on the line. She knows from hard experience that the only thing worse than facing death is facing the death of someone she loves.
Because loving people is easy-living with them is what takes the real work, and it's even harder if you're BOUND.
January 26, 2006
Green: "If someone gives their life for you, it is because they can not bear to live in a world without you. This is a great gift and a terrible burden, and if you are going to live, you need to be grateful for the gift and prepared to bear the burden."
Cory: "I do fearsome things, when I'm touching people who love me..."
Cory fled the foothills to deal with the pain of losing Adrian, and Green watched her go. Separately, they could easily grieve themselves to death, but when an enemy brings them together, they find out what a great and terrible force love can be.
February 4, 2005
Working graveyards in a stop & rob seemed a small price for Cory to pay in order to get her degree and get the hell out of Nor-Cal. She was terrified of disappearing into the aimless vortex that awaited the lost and the young that haunted her neck of the woods. Until the night she actually stopped looking at her books and looked up. What awaited her was a world she had only read about—one filled with fantastical creatures that she was sure she could never be.
And then Adrian walked in—and she discovered that risking your life was nothing compared to facing who you really were. And then falling in love.
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