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Today we welcome Amanda J Evans as we travel to Co. Meath and discover how a phoenix, Julia Cameron, He-Man, and the Grimm Brothers come together to inspire Amanda’s writing life. Grab your pen and paper. Let’s go ….
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a 41 (nearly 42) year old Irish writer, living in Co. Meath with my husband, two children, and our dog Max.
In which genre do you write?
I write paranormal and fantasy romance for young adults and adult readers.
How many published books do you have?
I have three self-published books and a number of short stories. I also have some non-fiction and a middle-grade book of short spooky stories, Nightmare Realities, published by Handersen Publishing in the US. Nightmare Realities 2 is due to be published in the fall. I currently have my new novel, Winterland, out on submission with agents.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
I think I was probably about 7 or 8 when I discovered my passion for writing and spent my time filling copybooks with stories and new episodes for whatever cartoon or TV show I was watching at the time. I wrote my first book at 9, The Little Elf Fairy, complete with illustrations and my parents had it typed and printed out for me. I also have very fond memories of writing a book called Ghostbusters in Mar 🙂
What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
I like to do things old school with pen and paper and I never plan or even know what I’m going to write until I pick up my pen. I have a funny little thing I like to do before I start writing and that is to say to myself, “Okay, let’s go.”
What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?
I think I’d choose a phoenix. Someone who rises from the ashes to continue to fight for another day.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
I currently write in my home office but if I could write anywhere in the world, I’d love to write on a wraparound porch in a rocking chair looking out over a lake with a forest and mountains in the background. It would have to be somewhere warm too. I love the idea of sitting in nature and allowing my stories to develop.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading VE Schwab’s A Gathering of Shadows. I’m a little late getting to these as I spend a lot of time reading ARCs for other writers. At the moment I’m reading an advanced copy of The Witch Who Courted Death by Maria Lewis.
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
I love to watch crime series on Netflix with my husband, and if I’m watching alone it will be something like Shadowhunters, The Chronicles of Shannara, or some other fantasy or sci-fi series. I love to go out to eat and of course scroll through social media to see what’s happening in the world. I’m very much a family person so most of my free time is spent with my children and husband.
If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I’ve always loved the idea of sitting with Roald Dahl, L Frank Baum, Hans Christian Andersen, or the Grimm Brothers and talking about their stories and the inspiration behind them.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?
I love being surprised. I tend to let the story unfold by itself and there have been many times where I’ve literally dropped my pen and gasped at something I’ve written. A character has done something so unexpected and I’m shocked. I’ve also learned that regardless of whatever happens, I am at peace and happiest when I’m writing. It does something to me, destresses, relaxes, and makes me feel alive.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot or to help you remember something if writing a memoir?
I can’t think of anything off hand. I tend to write my books as if I’m watching a movie in my head. There have been times where I’ve talked out loud to myself, but nothing unusual.
Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?
I journal every morning to clear out my brain so as to speak. I developed the habit after reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She talks about morning pages and I do this every morning. I usually tend to write about what I have planned for the day, what worked out well the day before, and quite boring stuff. Sometimes I will write about how I’m feeling. I think it helps to clear my mind and thoughts and leave me free to concentrate on writing.
What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?
I have to say, I’m a very boring person and I don’t tend to do a lot of crazy things. The most inspiring things for me are messages from readers and reviews for my books. I’ve received some wonderful messages from people and my mother loves to tell me about people who meet her on the street and remark about how great my books are. I tend to think I’m invisible, but little things like this make me smile and inspire me to keep going.
You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?
Song wise, I’d have to say, Christina Agulera’s Fighter. It’s motivating and would remind me how hard I’ve fought to get where I am. In other preparation, it would be deep breaths and telling myself I can do it.
What do you miss about being a kid?
I miss the sense of wonder, the belief in magic, and not being afraid of anything. I miss the naivety of childhood, of having my father as my hero and always knowing that I could do and be anything I wanted.
If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?
I’d probably choose He-Man or The Gummie Bears because these remind me of times when I was happiest, carefree, and hadn’t experienced the torture and sorrow that death brings. I also loved how these cartoons were all about the power of good over evil something which tends to play out in my books.
If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do? If you write non-fiction or memories, what fictional character would you invite into your story and why?
This is a tough one. I’m torn between Kate or Drake from my novel Save Her Soul. Kate because she’s determined and strong and believes in seeking justice. If I were her for a day, I’d enjoy sneaking around gathering evidence, and generally being a bad ass. If I choose Drake, I’d enjoy moving between worlds, being able to hide in plain sight and snoop on everyone.
What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
The last movie I watched was Avengers Endgame. My daughter was adamant we were going to see it in the cinema.
A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?
“Time to go, you’re needed.” A fantasy realm is under attack and they need their long lost hero (me) to come and save them.
Do you believe things happen for a reason? Do you have an example from your own life to share why you believe this?
I do. I believe everything has a reason, both the good and the bad things that happen to us. They often show us different aspects of ourselves and in many cases how strong we are. My father’s death destroyed me, but it has helped me to portray grief in my stories and share the emotions of my characters.
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
I’m very stubborn and I don’t give up if I believe something is right. I’m also a big softy and a romantic and all of these traits help with my writing. My stubbornness has seen me learn new things because I have to know how something works and how to do everything.
What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?
I’ve always loved Glendalough in Co. Wicklow. It’s serene and beautiful with amazing walks. I also love going to the beaches in Co. Wexford.
Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.
A secluded beach with caves and sand dunes in the early morning with the sun just breaking the horizon. It would have to be summer and I’d have a notebook and pen and relish the quiet time to write, walk, and explore. Perhaps even spot a mermaid or two.
Tell us about your most recent book.
My most recent novel is titled Winterland and is currently out on submission with agents. My last published book is Hear Me Cry, published on the 16th May 2018. This is a fantasy romance retelling of the Irish legend of the Banshee and it won the Book of the Year Award at the Dublin Writers Conference 2018.
Thanks Amanda for stopping by MTA! It was wonderful to learn more about you and your style of writing. I’m a huge Julia Cameron fan and journal write (along with writing morning pages nearly every morning). I find it incredibly helpful! –Camilla
Hear Me Cry Blurb:
A forbidden love, a torturous curse, and a loss so great it destroys.
Isla is a warrior of the Summer Court. She has one mission, to keep humans out of Faery. Kill them on sight. When she inadvertently saves one and triggers the mating bond, her life changes forever.
On the run and hiding from her own people, Isla must protect the one thing she’s been trained to hate. With magic now flowing through her veins, she must learn to control it if she is to survive.
The faery are coming. Her once commander leads the charge. Will Isla be ready in time? Can she harness her magic and resist the darkness?
As both sides clash, Isla learns that her kind possesses a cruelty she could never have imagined. Her loyalty will be tested. To save the one she loves, she must give up everything, including her life as she knows it.
Find out how the banshee came to exist in this dark fantasy retelling of an old Irish myth.
Praise for Hear Me Cry
“A fabulous, mystical read with an unforgettable ending.” Claire Allan Author
Where to find the book.
Hear Me Cry is available in ebook and paperback on Amazon and is free to read with KindleUnlimited.
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