Amy Green:“There aren’t any good books left,” I told my librarian in fifth grade. “I’ve read them all.”
“Well, then, you’ll just have to write some,” she replied.
And I said, “Okay.”
So that’s how I became a writer.
Of course, it wasn’t really that easy. As a kid, I wrote pages and pages of messy, badly spelled, hilariously awful stories. When I was homeschooled for jr. high, I did the same, only I typed most of them, so the spelling improved.
In high school, I wrote longer things. Book-length things. I was never sure what to call them, since none of them were really books. Not yet. And a few were still mildly awful. But I felt like God had given me a gift, and I was determined to use it.
By the time I went to Taylor University to study writing, I had written several book-length things, including a fantasy youth novel that my twin sister Erika wanted as her birthday present. Along the way, I had learned what to do and what not to, so I decided to try sending one in to a publisher.
They liked it. Who knew? So, I got my first book contract at age eighteen, for Quest for the Scorpion’s Jewel. That’s the beginning of (a very, very short version of) my story. I’m still turning pages, but God’s the one doing the writing, and I know He’s got a great ending in mind.
Find out more about Amy Green and her books on her website.
You can also follow her blog: Just the Fiction, Ma'am.
Amy has joined us today for an interview and a giveaway. So please enjoy learning more about her and her exciting series, and do remember to check the bottom of this post for how you can enter to win one of THREE copies of her first novel, Quest for the Scorpion's Jewel.
Hi, Amy! Welcome to the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog. To start out this interview, would you mind telling us a little about yourself? Hobbies, personality . . . tea or coffee?
Amy: Hobbies…well, I enjoy helping out with my youth group, I’m a reader (obviously), and I’m on a personal campaign to save the US Post Office by writing lots of letters. It’s a dangerous thing to ask someone about their own personality, but I’d say it’s safe to say that I’m a strange combination of logical thinker and emotional dreamer, who really likes people and board games and theological discussions. I am making a valiant effort to like tea because it seems like a writer-like thing to do, and I have, on occasion, managed to drink a full cup. But not coffee, although I love how it smells.
What led you into the writing life? Were you always a storyteller?
Amy: There was this moment, around fifth grade, where I looked around my school library and realized, “Someone actually wrote these!” And I decided I wanted to do that, because I had noticed that real life was generally pretty boring and if you wanted to tell stories about exciting things, they were going to have to be fiction.
Tell us a little about your series, the Amarias Adventures. When did you begin writing them? Are they stand-alone adventures, or should readers pick them up in order?
Amy: The first book, Quest for the Scorpion’s Jewel, was a present for my twin sister’s eighteenth birthday, although it went through a lot of editing before publication. The series goes in order (although it wouldn’t be terribly confusing to start in the middle). The books follow the adventures of four Youth Guard members—Jesse, Silas, Rae, and Parvel—who are fighting a corrupt government in a highly personal way…by going on a mission to save some of their friends who have been condemned to die. My favorite thing to do is stack the odds ridiculously against them. They’ve faced assassins and a cave-in, been sold into slavery, solved a series of ancient riddles, and survived poisonous snakes, a sandstorm, a wild boar, and a really spoiled noblewoman. Sometimes even I don’t know how they’re going to get out of whatever perilous situation I put them in.
Can you pick a favorite character from the series?
Amy: Captain Demetri, who you meet in Chapter One of the first book as the assassin sworn to kill Jesse and his friends. Not exactly your typical choice, but I feel like it’s only fair, since he’s the main villain and there are several main protagonists. But also he’s really just my favorite, probably because I see so much potential in him and find his story very sad. A close second is Owen, a kid who shows up in Book Four, because he’s hilarious and a lot of fun to write.
What inspires your work? Where do you turn when you need a renewal of inspiration?
Amy: I love people. I love how we all have stories—that there are reasons for the things we do, good or bad. I love watching people and seeing their fears and failure and hopes and dreams and how all of those things make them treat others. This makes me a chronic people-watcher and also a better writer. I’m convinced that you can’t write well-developed characters unless you have spent a lot of time learning to care about others.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?
Amy: For me, the process of figuring out what happens next is even more fun as a writer than as a reader. My outlines are usually one vague paragraph long…and most of that changes by the end. As for a least favorite part…I’m one of those strange people who enjoys even the editing process, so I guess I would say when I have to delete large chunks of the story (usually several chapters) and start over. It’s almost always worth it, though.
If you were forced to pick a single favorite author, who would it be?
Amy: This…this is a terrible question. But since we’re talking fantasy here, I’m going to pretend this question is limited to that and say Brandon Sanderson, because his books often have a team-feel instead of being about one ruggedly independent protagonist, which I like.
I see that books 3 and 4 both released this year, Curse of the Forbidden Book and Secret of the Giant’s Staircase. So what is next on your publishing horizons? Is there a book 5 forthcoming?
Amy: I certainly could write more in the series, although I haven’t signed a contract for a fifth book. Book 4 was my absolute favorite so far, which I hope means I’m getting better (of course, it could also be because the plot was basically a treasure hunt, and who doesn’t like treasure?).
What are you actively writing right now?
Amy: This is an extremely exciting answer for me: I don’t know. I plan on participating in National Novel Writing Month in November with a project entirely unrelated to anything I’ve done before…and I have no idea what that will be. It’s been a while since that has happened, and I’m looking forward to it.
Can you share a short snippet from the first book in your series, Quest for the Scorpion’s Jewel?
Amy: This comes halfway into the story, where Samar, Jesse and his friends’ guide through the desert, wakes them up in the middle of the night.
Quest for the Scorpion's Jewel
Outside the tent, Samar was waiting with Silas. “Come,” Samar said, motioning them forward. He carried a wicker basket lashed to his back, the kind that hung from the saddles of the camels, and a large water skin. “We must go on foot.”
“Where are we going?” Jesse asked.
“No more questions,” Samar insisted. “Just follow.” He shoved a thick palm branch at Silas. “You—wipe out our tracks as we walk. I fear they are already nearby, but if they are not, we will not leave them a trail.”
Jesse remembered that trick from one of Samar’s stories. But I never thought I’d been in one of them.
“Do not look back, and move silently,” Samar advised them. “Riangen da’ede. ‘Even the sand dunes have eyes.’”
Someone is watching us? But why?
Old as he was, fear had apparently made Samar quicker than his years. He hurried through the camp and over the hills near the oasis. Even with the use of his walking stick, it was hard for Jesse to keep his pace.
The moon on the white sand made it easy for Jesse to see where he was going. Which means that it will be equally easy for anyone to see us. The thought made him hurry to the top of the first of the hills.
“The Patrol did not know of the smugglers’ pits when I came last year,” Samar said, leading the way. “Let us hope that they have not learned of it since then.”
Even though Samar had warned him several times not to turn back, Jesse took one last look at the camp from the top of the hill.
There, three men with swords hacked their way into his tent.
There you go, my dears! Are you excited to dive into The Amarias Adventures now? Good thing, because Amy is giving away THREE copies of The Quest for the Scorpion's Jewel. So that's THREE of you who will be winners! Enter your name in the form below . . . and don't forget to thank Amy for her time today!
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0cd52417/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0cd52417/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway
Great interview! These books sound like an adventure. ^^ Thanks for the giveaway!
This looks awesome!!! :D
Where are you published? What time of day do you write?
Great interview! Thanks so much for sharing. I'm always looking for new fantasy to read (and, hey, I went to Taylor University, too, so... HI!) :)
I'm terrible at thinking up questions. Erm... okay, not book-related, but what years were you at TU?
Your books sound really fun!
Ooo, what a fun sounding adventure! It is funny how we authors love to throw the worst possible situations at our poor characters.
Which character would you like to actually meet in your stories? Is there something you'd like to be taught by one of your characters?
It's great that you were published at 18!
Congratulations, Ms. Green. Your stories sound fantastic. Since the villain is your favorite character, do you think there is a possibility he might have a change of heart? I love developing villains, too, the truly despicable ones and the ones you cannot help but feel sorry for. Keep up the excellent work.
These books sound so cool. I'll have to see if I can try them out.
Question: what's your strategy for defeating Writer's Block?
Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!
Wow! these look so amazing! How many books do you have planned?
Whoa these sound amazing! I love all the titles.
Did you have a favorite book growing up? (I mean, certainly you have favorites now, but I mean before you began writing)
I love your picture of you holding 'Quest for the Scorpion's Jewel'. It's just the sort of thing I would do but you pull it off better. ;)
This sounds exciting! You are definitely going on my to-read list.
Hi Amy and thanks so much for sharing on Anne Elisabeth's blog! I think it's so sweet that you wrote that first book for your sister as a birthday gift, SOOOO thoughtful and creative :) You're definitely on my TBR list, loved getting to know you here. Thanks for the giveaway, blessings!
First of all, that's great that you got your first book contract when you were eighteen. I am seventeen and have been working toward publication, so it was encouraging to hear that you were able to get published when you were so young (not to say that will happen to me, as every writer's journey to publication is different).
My question would be, how did you juggle college and being a published author?
I'm looking forward to taking a look at your books!
Do you like Doctor Who?
Three cheers for more fantasy books! Nice interview - here's hoping I win :)
Oh my! I am so excited about discovering this new fantasy series. Thanks for sharing!
I noticed a bit of foreign language in the excerpt. Did you create your own language?
Wow, so many comments! It's great to hear from you all! I'll answer them all, I promise. But one at a time. :)
@Anna B. asked, "Where are you published? What time of day do you write?"
The Amarias Adventures are published with Warner Press. And since I did almost all of my writing in college, I wrote during breaks, over the summer, and sometimes even in the library when I probably should have been working on a paper. But I've never been much of a late night writer.
Hi, fellow Taylor grad! So many cool people out there in the middle of nowhere. I just graduated in 2013.
@Hannah asked, "Which character would you like to actually meet in your stories? Is there something you'd like to be taught by one of your characters?"
Ooh. So hard. I think I'd like to meet one of my minor characters, Noa, who shows up in Book Two. Basically, he's an outcast for refusing to bury the truth of something terrible that happened in the past. I've always felt like he would be a great storyteller. Plus, I want to give him a hug.
As for being taught something...wow, I'm not even sure if this actually comes up in the books, but Silas can throw his voice, and I've always wanted to learn how to do that.
@Meredith asked, "Do you think there is a possibility your villain might have a change of heart?"
I'd say so, yes. Because, when you think about it, all of us are capable of doing some pretty awful things. And I believe all of us can be redeemed. So no villain should ever be totally beyond hope.
@Sarah asked, "what's your strategy for defeating Writer's Block?"
Hey! Guess what...I *just* wrote a blog post about this last month. (My friends laugh at me because since I've posted on it twice a week for two years, I've almost always written a blog post about whatever they're talking about.)
If you want the long answer, it's here: http://justthefiction.blogspot.com/2013/08/writers-block-strategies-to-beat-it.html
For a short answer, I try to do something related to the project I'm working on, but in a way that shakes up my brain a little to get it unstuck.
@Queen Ali asked, "How many books do you have planned?"
Good question. I've been taking a break from writing for a while with a new job and a move, but I have ideas for three more books in the series. We'll see!
@Molly asked, "Did you have a favorite book growing up?"
There's the Canadian author, Sigmund Brouwer, who wrote a ton of kids' book series in different genres: mystery, fantasy, science fiction, and sports. And I loved them all.
@Grace asked, "My question would be, how did you juggle college and being a published author?"
(First of all, SO EXCITED that you're a writer. Keep it up.)
Two things, both of them probably more serious than you were expecting: People are more important than writing. One semester, I was extremely overcommitted, including writing projects, and I was not there for two people in my life who needed me. I never made that same mistake again.
And, second: I had to learn that my worth was not in what I did. My accomplishments--either terrible first drafts or book contracts--did not define me.
Learned those things the hard way...but they were still good to learn!
@Galadriel asked, "Do you like Dr. Who?"
Part of being a writer in college meant I had no time for TV...except for Sherlock and a few Dr. Who episodes! One of my coworkers is a devoted Whovian who is planning to recruit me. Also, apparently I have the same Myers-Briggs type as David Tennant's doctor (ENFP)
@Jennette asked, "Did you create your own language?"
Not in the Tolkien-I'm-going-to-be-super-correct-and-detailed-about-this sense. But yes, I did sprinkle in a little Da'armon in there. It was a lot of fun.
And feel free to keep the questions coming! I love talking to other readers (and writers). You could throw a dozen of them at me and I wouldn't mind. :)
Since I didn't ask a question earlier, I think I will now... And my question is: How difficult was it emotionally to submit your manuscript to a publishing company?
@Allison, it was so difficult. I didn't even tell my family that I was submitting it, because I didn't want them to know if it was rejected (I had experienced rejection letters from other freelance writing projects). I realized, though, that I really wanted to show the story to someone, and I knew that just taking that step would be good for me. So I gritted my teeth and did it.
While I'm thinking about it, I'd love it if you checked out my blog. I post twice a week...which no one who knows how scatterbrained I am ever thought I'd be able to do. It's http://justthefiction.blogspot.com/
Hi Amy!! I miss living down the hall from you :( But I'm always very excited to read your blog each week- it's my favorite blog to read over my lunch break :)
What are you reading right now??
Very nice blog post!
Thank you for the giveaway. It's always exciting to have the prospect of a new fantasy book to read.
Omgosh you are one of my absolute favorite authors in the world. And to ask you this question is super important. How do you end your books? Seriously. Whenever I write, I have Beginnings and middles, but never ends.
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