Friday, August 24, 2007

Interview with the Author

Amy Lane
Author of Vulnerable, Wounded, and Bound, Amy Lane lives with her husband and four children in Northern California.

Tabitha: Why do you refer to your books as The Little Goddess Series, and what inspired that original concept?

Amy Lane: Although I wrote the books with a very specific God/Goddess mythology in mind, the epithet didn’t really emerge until I was halfway through with the second book. My heroine, who is insanely young and doesn’t always remember her manners, is trying to be gracious to a much older man (a vampire). The older man admires her ferocity, her power, and her attempts to be civil, and he calls her “Little Goddess”, sort of as homage to all of that. After I’d written that part, the idea of my strong female lead being a “Little Goddess” appealed to me so much that I named the entire series after that one moment.

Tabitha: Is there a particular, actual person or persons who inspired your lead characters?

Amy Lane: Well, Cory (my lead) started as a tougher, smarter, more open-minded version of myself when I was working my way through junior college right after high school. Of course, I started writing the book about 16 years after I graduated, so the more I wrote, the more of a separate character she became, but her initial defensiveness, her absolute certainty that no one could find her desirable, her anger at being pigeon-holed; all of that was mine, too.

As for Adrian and Green, the short answer is that my husband inspired them both. The long answer, apart from the blue eyes and the motorcycle jacket that still hangs in our closet (and is now several sizes too small) is that he actually inspired the difference between the two characters. I’ve known him since we were eighteen. I’ve seen him mature from a relatively angry young man with the communication skills of a puffer fish (sorry, Mate; I know you’ll read this) to a loving husband and father and the sanest person in our rather crowded house. I wanted a relationship between Adrian and Green to show that kind of change: young and self-destructive to older, wiser, and more concerned with the welfare of his people than with his own shortcomings.

Tabitha: The characters in your books seem to come to life as I hold the books in my hands, reading their conversations. Have you envisioned what a movie version would look like?

Amy Lane: First of all, thank you. That’s a compliment of the highest order. As for envisioning a movie, only sort of: I still haven’t seen the actor that can be Adrian, Green, or even Bracken, and I’d be afraid they’d make Cory too tall, too thin, too leggy, and with too small a nose.

Tabitha: We have always been advised as authors to show, not tell, the characters and storyline to the reader, and you have apparently taken this concept to heart. Did you simply begin composing in this manner, or was it a concerted, learned effort?

Amy Lane: It was both. When I look back at what I wrote earlier in college, I find that I did it naturally as a way of giving my reader my ‘damsel with a dulcimer’ as it were. As I kept teaching, especially when they let me teach creative writing, I found that the more I explained what made good writing and the more that I modeled examples for my students, the more I did it both consciously and unconsciously myself.

Tabitha: When Lou Grant meets Mary Richards the first time, he says he hates spunk, but I bet you admire spunk. Your characters and storylines are as spunky as a garage punk rock band. Are you trying to be the Queen of Spunk, or what?

Amy Lane: (Laughs!) Ah, if only…. As a person I tend to be a little bit passive aggressive. I figured, hey, it’s my book, it’s my fantasy, and I get to write a character who is as brave as I want to be and says exactly what she thinks.

Tabitha: Robert H. Rimmer is a recently deceased author from The Sixties who is best known for The Harrad Experiment. He is one of the few authors to have his early books re-released and his latest books released for the first time by iUniverse. Your characters seem to display some of the same think-outside-the-box sexual mores as his. Have you read any of Robert Rimmer’s books? Has he influenced the creation of your imaginatively promiscuous characters?

Amy Lane: Actually, no… although I have heard of the book. I think a really bad movie was made out of it in the early 70’s. My characters’ ‘fluid sexuality’ comes from a couple of places. One of them is Tanya Huff. Her bi-sexual vampire, Henry Fitzroy, was so old-world gracious that I could not help but be intrigued. The other place it comes from is just my generalized feeling that love is not easily contained, I guess.

Tabitha: Are you a fan of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles? There seem to be several obvious parallels between those books and The Little Goddess books

Amy Lane: I’ve only read Interview with the Vampire, actually. My real inspiration (especially for the first person Alpha-bitch narrator) was Laurell K. Hamilton. She pretty much inspired an entire generation of urban contemporary fantasy writers.

Tabitha: What sort of educational experience do you have, and is it relevant to your writing or the subject matter you have chosen?

Amy Lane: Well, to teach in California, you have to have a BA in your subject matter. Mine is literature. Then there’s my credential work (which takes more units than a Masters) and ¾ of a Master’s degree in creative writing and my CLAD…. I guess it all helped. I must say, there is considerably more truth in my writing about vampires in Nor-Cal than there has been in my credential work and there is considerably more bullshit in my credential work than there is in my work about a hill full of sexually fluid elves.

Tabitha: What about your work career? Has your choice of profession influenced your writing?

Amy Lane: Teaching helps you see people as people, not as what they label themselves as. California is on a testing high now. All students must do well on their tests or we have failed them and they have failed life. I hate that pigeon-holing crap. Some of my best and brightest and most promising students have been the ones that wouldn’t fit in an honors student box, and that sort of philosophy shows up a lot in the Little Goddess books. Also, although I read popular fiction, I spend my work hours not just reading but memorizing the classics. After teaching MacBeth for 12 years, I can quote big ol’ chunks of text by heart. And Hamlet. And Pride and Prejudice. You just can’t help but be a better person, or a better writer, for knowing things like that. (It also explains why Green is constantly quoting MacBeth.)

Tabitha: I see that your hubby has shot the photos used on the covers of all your books. What criteria do you use to select the photos? Are the photos taken specifically for the covers? Were the photos selected from a large number of alternate shots? How much of the cover design was your own?

Amy Lane: As I write a book I tend to get an idea for what I want on the cover. And then I have to rethink my budget (remember—four kids, two of them are teenagers and one’s still in diapers) and I have to choose something that we can actually do. My husband takes the pictures, because he’s good at it, but I usually tell him what I want. It’s not always what I can get. My idea for Wounded was originally a skyline shot of San Francisco during Christmas. We’ve got two children’s birthdays and several sets of grandparents to appease between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The odds of us getting on the road to take that shot are somewhere between anorexic and transparent. We had to settle for a shot that everyone from my area recognizes, the place in the road where you choose between the Sacramento area and the whole rest of the state. (We actually took a gazillion shots for that one, but I still wasn’t happy with the one I got.) iUniverse pretty much slapped the titles on it. I’m sure an artist could come in and do a better job, but that first picture, the one for Vulnerable? I don’t think any artist could top that. It’s pure Nor-Cal foothills at it’s prettiest.

Tabitha: Did you consider other publishers before you selected iUniverse?

Amy Lane: My husband did the research. I know that’s archaic, but I am simply not that organized.

Tabitha: How satisfying has your experience with iUniverse been?

Amy Lane: Both good and bad. The good is that they do answer your questions when you have them, and some of the people assigned to me have been very helpful and accommodating (especially when it comes to extending deadlines). The bad came with my first book. I signed up for the editorial review service, and you know how you give them a list of books that they should be familiar with before your reviewer reads your book? Well, the closest thing to my book that my reviewer had read was Dean Koontz and Clive Barker. I was told my character was abrasive, unlikable, and unappealing, and I was told that I should probably list the book under homo-erotica because that’s really the only audience that would like it. There was some good stuff in there, too: a lot of stuff about, oh, say, punctuation and proofreading, but I was too angry about some of the other things to pay as much attention as I should have to the constructive ideas.

Tabitha: What is the most significant thing you have learned as a POD author? Do you have any advice to offer to new or prospective POD authors?

Amy Lane: Proofread!!! And more important than that, get some good friends to proofread for you, and if you find a good proofreader, beg them, bribe them, kidnap them, whatever it takes. When I put out Vulnerable, I couldn’t find a proofreader to save my life. Now, I’m hip-deep in people who want to help. I’m taking every damned one of them up on her offer, because damn, do I not want to have to look at myself in the mirror again after having put out a product with as many problems as my first book.

Tabitha: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What genres do you like to read?

Amy Lane: Oooh…Fantasy, Romance, Urban Contemporary Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction: it’s all good. As for authors, I guess in no particular order: Laurell K. (the early stuff) Charlaine Harris (everything) Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip, Tanya Huff, Carrie Vaughn, Lilith St. Crow, Kim Harrison, Barb & J.C. Hendee, Joan D. Vinge, Melanie Rawn, Jim Butcher and Guy Gavriel Kay… to name a few.

Tabitha: What have you been reading lately?

Amy Lane: Not as much as I’d like. (lol) I usually spend part of my summers just totally immersed in literature. This year I had to take 12 units as part of my credential. I’m still bitter. On my plate right now are Guy Gavriel Kay’s Ysabel and the next Dante Valentine book by Lilith St. Crow.

Tabitha: When will the next release by Amy Lane be available? Will it be a continuance of The Little Goddess Series?

Amy Lane: That’s actually more complicated than it sounds. I have planned five more books in The Little Goddess Series. Cory has some very definite adventures in store. But the book I’m going to release in Feb./March is something different. My children asked for something that they could read at school that wouldn’t get them suspended. “Fine!” I said, “I’ll write a short, young adult novel. I’ve got an idea for it; it will be great!” Uhm, seven hundred pages later…. I’m about to finish part one of Bittermoon and send it out to my kind proofreaders for a shakedown while I work on part 2 so I can get it out less than three months later. And the book is not as Young Adult as I’d like it, either. My hero ages 12 years in the course of the novel. Apparently I can’t write about adults without adult relationships, and I guess my kids are going to have to live with that. At least I know from experience that it’s not nearly as bad as about a third of the books in our school library, so I can just chill and treat them like grown-ups-to-be and get my ass in gear and start part two, so I can resume my regularly planned sane publishing schedule. Bittermoon: Part I: Triane’s Star Rising will be out around February, ‘08. Bittermoon: Part II: Triane’s Star Reigning will be out around April, ‘08. Rampant: Book 4 of the Little Goddess Series will be out in early ’09, I hope.

Tabitha: Do you have any further books in the pipeline?

Amy Lane: Ooops, sorry! I covered that on the last question!!! I’m averaging about one book a year. Hopefully I can manage two next year and still release the next Cory book a year later on deadline. And after the Cory books (there should be eight total) are done, I have some other things in mind.

Tabitha: Do you have any final words of advice for aspiring authors?

Amy Lane: Besides ‘don’t underestimate proofreading’? Yeah, but I warn you, my ‘teacher voice’ comes out when people ask me for advice. Write everywhere. Write in the car. Write in the shower. Write when you’re taking out the garbage. You don’t have to be in front of a keyboard or a notebook to write. If you have your plot ready, if your characters have had their conversations in your head until they’ve said their lines to perfection, then when you sit down at your keyboard, you can work on the freshness of your language, and that’s important too. Oh yeah; and read Politics of the English Language by George Orwell.

Tabitha: What insightful thought would you like to leave with your readers?

Amy Lane: Know why you’re writing. The odds of being Nora Roberts or Stephen King are not great. The odds of putting out something that you’re proud of are considerably better.

Green's Hill - The Little Goddess Website
Yarning to Write - Amy's Personal Website

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