Today we sit down with author Amie Gibbons. She is an author out of Nashville, Tennessee with an interesting background and very interesting work. She is going to share her inspiration, background and a bit of her work with us in this edition of 20 Questions.
Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve made up stories since I was little, but didn’t actually start writing until I was in college. I didn’t know what would come of it, just sat down and said, I’m going to try writing. It went from there. I honestly don’t remember when I decided to start submitting to publishers, but I think it was about a year in after I finished two books and the second one wasn’t half bad.
Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?
That depends. My first book was a 300K word monstrosity that took almost a year. The second one took me five weeks. After those early efforts, I’d say a first draft usually takes me a few months, and then editing, after taking at least a month’s break from that manuscript, is another few weeks to months.
Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I don’t know quite what you mean by this. If you mean what the writing schedule is, like how many words per day, I usually aim for a thousand words a day on average, but I do Nanowrimo every November and then I get 50K done in the month.
Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Not sure this is appropriate to say in a public forum, but if I’m blocked, I write naked. I think because it’s metaphorically freeing and thus frees up my brain.
Q5) How are your books published? (traditional, indie, etc.)
Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Oh man, everywhere. My first story ideas would come to me when I was playing with toys (again, started making up stories really early on), like what would the toys be doing in their own little worlds. And then when I was older, my imagination would wander off while I was walking home from school, or bored in school. Now I get ideas from the mind wandering off still, from dreams, from friends’ drama and stories, and from other works.
Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book?
I was 19 and it took me almost a year. Again, it was a monstrosity. I call it my drunken cat plot and one of these days I will go back and gut it for parts.
Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
A: I love to read, what writer doesn’t? And I love to go dancing and sing. I’m not a good singer, mind you, but even in Nashville, people don’t boo you off the karaoke stage.
Q9) What is your favorite book?
Do not have one, could not choose. My favorite genre is urban fantasy though.
Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?
They think it’s cool. When I first started writing, my sister would give me crap about it, a lot along the lines of, why are you wasting your time, go get a life. But my mom and dad were extremely supportive and thought it’d be perfect for me since I was always coming up with stories anyway. My baby brother was my first reader, he actually asked to be since he thought it was so cool his big sister was writing books. When you tell friends you’re a writer, they either nod and smile and are like, let’s talk about something else, or they think it’s really cool and quiz you. After that wears off though, it’s just part of who you are.
Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That writing is a lot like acting. You are slipping into someone else’s skin and telling their story, complete with their voice, facial expressions, backstory, ect…
Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?
Hahahahaha, I have to pick one? There are times when I have the idea and just can’t get the words out, so I stare at the computer screen. Then trying to edit and polish gets old real fast.
Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
A: I have almost three in the first series, two in the second, almost two in the third, and then over a dozen short stories and novellas. Some are published, or at least publishable with some editing and some really just are good for being scrapped for parts. My favorite is still my first series even though it’s the one that needs to be scrapped. I’ll go back and scrap it and try to make it into something readable when I have time.
Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?
I have a ton, that’s a good chunk of the articles on my blog, but quick tips off the top of my head?
Basic newbie mistake is to write themselves into the story, don’t do this, it makes it harder for you to develop the character because you think of them as you and don’t put the details and nuances in because you already know them and it’s very hard to recreate yourself.
Plot beforehand. If you work well as a pantster, then stick with that, but I think everyone would benefit from at least outlining, because then they know where they want to go next.
At the very least, know how the book is going to end. Even if you have nothing else planned, know who the bad guy is, what the big answer, fight, solution, whatever your ending is, will be. That way, you are writing towards something and can sprinkle in the hints as you go. If you write without a plan, you end up with the drunken cat plot (again, this doesn’t go for everyone, there are some pantsters that do just fine and have a perfectly coherent plot at the end without knowing where it’s going.)
When writing a rough draft, do NOT imagine anyone reading it. No one will read your first draft, you’ll edit it so much that the first one won’t recognize it, and if you picture people reading it, it could give you performance anxiety.
Don’t assume that any writing advice is the magic elixir that will suddenly make you write well without any effort from you, or that any writing advice is the writing bible that you must follow. What works for some won’t work for you and there is no right way to write, except the way that works for you.
Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?
Yes, I have beta readers whose job it is to give me feedback. And then obviously readers in reviews, which usually are more about if they enjoyed or not as opposed to writing feedback. From betas, the number one critique I get is to put in more scene and description. I love dialogue and action and moving the plot, scenery slows it all down so I don’t naturally put it in. I’m one of the few writers I know who actually adds bulk during editing, most usually end up cutting about ten percent, because I have to fill out the scenery more.
Things that I’m good at and most betas like are dialogue and characterization.
Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?
A: Again, not sure what you’re asking. If you mean the target audience for my work, usually it’s women in their twenties to forties. If you mean who do I want to read these, anyone who would like them.
Q17) What do you think makes a good story?
Believable and relatable characters. If you don’t care about the characters and can’t picture them as a friend you’re chatting with over drinks, then you’re not going to care about the plot.
Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was about five, I think. I blame my dad. I was making logical arguments and debating daddy since I could form full sentences and he kept telling me I should be a lawyer. So that’s my day job.
Q19) Where can we find your books?
I’m on Amazon. My author page is http://www.amazon.com/Amie-Gibbons/e/B01651YIZU/ and my books and shorts are all there.
Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?
I’m assuming you mean from one of my books, so here’s one from The Gods’ Appeal, the second book in the Laws of Magic series, the first of which is The Gods Defense.
I went through the door and felt more than heard Apollo follow. The white light that always accompanied a trip to the gods’ dimension faded as soon as the “door” closed.
The first thing I noticed was the noise, a buzzing fit for horror movies about bugs ragging war against humankind filling the background.
The second was the heat.
“Where are we?” I asked, looking around.
Green. Not foresty, springtime in Nashville kind of green, a bright, poisonous green.
Heat pressed down, thicker and more oppressive than any summer even the South could whip up. The trees, vines and undergrowth were so dense around us I couldn’t see more than ten feet in any direction and the canopy above turned the world on the ground to dusk.
This wasn’t one of Olympus’s forests. This was a fucking jungle!
“Apollo?” I tried to keep the panic out of my voice.
He took my hand. I let him. “I don’t know.”
We’d crossed over into the gods’ dimension without a problem, so why…?
I took a deep breath through my mouth. It tasted like bad breath and old lady perfume. I took another, trying to suck enough oxygen out of the wet air to think, and pushed my half soaked hair off my forehead. My heart was already picking up like I’d slid into a hot tub.
“We’re not in Olympus?”
“No.” Apollo scanned the mass of vegetation around us and I followed suit.
Didn’t know what the hell we were looking for, but it was better than standing here sweating.
Fat flowers like purple slugs inched up a tree to our right and in the middle of them…
Was a bright red stuffed dog that looked strangely like my favorite toy that I’d misplaced when I was eight.
What. The. Fuck?
I walked towards it without thinking and Apollo pulled me back by my hand.
“Cassandra,” he said in a low voice, “is that yours?”
“It was, I think.” I shook my head to clear the muggy air out. I couldn’t breathe! “It looks like the stuffed animal I lost when I was a kid. I was devastated for a year.”
“Anagolay. She’s a goddess of lost items from what is now the Philippines. She has a nasty habit of using lost items to lure humans into traps. We must be in their part of the dimension.” He held my hand tighter, taking lay of the land with quick jerks of his head. “Concentrate your speed. When I say, we run. No matter what, do not let go of my hand.”
“What? Run where?” I gestured at the veggies from Hell surrounding us, hands shaking so hard I couldn’t even point.
We ran, crashing through foliage like spoons through frozen ice cream, painful pressure on all sides.
But we were. His godly powers and my gift of super-speed meaning we at least had a chance of momentum defeating the density of the world fighting to hold us back.
Heavy green world swished by, the leaves, branches, vines, and brush a sweaty mess. The living green things caught my feet; vines slapped my face.
And still we ran.
The world flew by. Tree trunk. Branch. Duck! Vine.
It was too much. Too much noise. Too much heat. Too much around me. It was like Vegas got the idea for a jungle themed hotel and we’d crossed the lines off the path into the themed scenery. Except this never ended.
I felt dirt on my chin and palms before I realized I’d fallen flat on my belly.
“Cassandra!” Apollo grabbed my arm and hauled me up like a toddler.
Eyes. Tiny beady things reflecting malice blinked around us. Almost glowing. The permanent twilight of the jungle floor giving them a ghostly quality.
“Shit,” Apollo said with so much feeling he may as well have been staring on Broadway.
I wanted to peel off my jacket. We were obviously not going anywhere and it was sweat filled and dirty anyway, but no, had to keep it on. Could save my life.
You know, if the heat didn’t kill me first.
We just had to see our attackers. See what was coming after us and hit them when they thought we were down for the count.
The yellow eyes blinking from the shadows gave me the impression of wolves hunting as a pack, only much smaller than your average canines.
The world held its breath.
The noise stopped. No warning or winding down. Just gone with a switch of something I couldn’t begin to guess. No buzzing or rustling of vegetation. Nothing but our breathing.
It may as well have been plastic jungle in Vegas now for all the life it showed.
I squinted, calling on my Sight.
Yellow light like sickness solidified blinded me and I slammed it off again. Magic, sticky and salty as sweat on a lover’s back permeated everything. This place was magic.
I had the strangest urge to squeal, “Bright light! Bright light!” I squished it.
The buzzing turned back on and the eyes rushed us like someone yelled, “Charge!”
Apollo dove, almost knocking me down again as he wrapped his arms around me and a shield of purple light flew up around us. A protective bubble.
At least for now.
The first wave hit the shield and bounced off. My brain couldn’t even figure out what they were at first. It was too horrifying to comprehend at once.
About Amie Gibbons:
Amie was born and raised in the Salt Lake Valley. She started making up stories before she could read and would act them out with her dolls and stuffed animals. She started actually writing them down in college, just decided to do it one day and couldn’t stop.
She took an unplanned hiatus from writing when she went to Vanderbilt Law School and all of her brain power got consumed by cases, statutes, exams, and partying like only grad students in Nashville can. She graduated and picked her writing back up as soon as her brain limped back in after the bar exam.
She loves urban fantasy and is obsessed with the theory of alternate realities. Whether or not she travels to them in the flesh or just in her mind is up for debate.
She spends her days living the law life and her nights writing when she’s not hitting downtown Nashville to check out live music or inflict her singing on the crowds at karaoke bars. She lives with a cat trapped in a man’s body, who doesn’t complain about being trapped since it allows him the use of opposable thumbs to work his camera, and his best friend, a man trapped in a cat’s body, who complains about his lack of opposable thumbs daily.
We Investigate Zebras: https://www.amazon.com/We-Investigate-Zebras-Ariana-Ryder-ebook/dp/B018D8I6R4
Evie Jones, The First Four Stories: https://www.amazon.com/Evie-Jones-Stories-Anthology-Shorts-ebook/dp/B01AQGKMP0
Evie Jones and the Rocky Roulette: https://www.amazon.com/Evie-Jones-Rocky-Roulette-Novella-ebook/dp/B01D6YS48Q