Tag Archives: author interview

Triple A Book Blog Interviews Amanda Marsico

19 Mar


(Interview originally published on Triple A Book Blog in two parts and republished here with permission. https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTripleABookBlog%2Fposts%2F1361588037321439&width=500)

Shay: Amanda, thank you for being with us today. I know you met Corry and Lia at Authors Invade Columbia. So it’s been a few months and I know you’ve been busy; especially with the newest kids book you’re getting ready to release soon. We are so excited you were able stop in on the blog today.

Amanda: I’m glad to be here. It was nice to meet your team and they kindly invited me to stop in. I can’t wait to have your readers learn more.

TA: So we met you at an author event…logically we can start with: what was the first thing you say you wrote as an author?

AM: I was prolific as a child and teen. I was always a writer, and it would be hard to say which piece was my first. But the first time I wrote something that made me feel like an author, like a professional, was the publication of my first novel Humans In My House, which started out as my master’s thesis. This book wasn’t my first work published. There were freelance editorials, poetry, and short stories in web journals here and there. But, there was a distinct feeling of legitimacy that came with a book–something I might see on a store shelf that was mine from cover to cover.

TA: I read your Humans In My House to a third grade class and they asked the book. It may have been their favorite read I’ve done this year….Who are some of your favorite books and authors? Both now and for youthful readers.

AM: This isn’t an easy one to answer but I’d have to say that when it comes to adult and literary fiction, I’d have to say:
°River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
°The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
°Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
°The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Bradbury
°Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward

I occasionally enjoy true stories so for Non-fiction, Bio, or Memoir, it’d be:
°The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel
°Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz

Young/New Adult:
°The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare (and her other series)
°The Fallen series by Lauren Kate
And for children or the young at heart, my children’s and Middle-Grade picks are:
°Corduroy by Don Freeman
°This Is Not My Hat; I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
°One by Kathryn Otoshi
°The Geronimo Stilton series by Thea Stilton and released Scholastic Books
°The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

TA: Wow, you are really well read. I know many use reading to escape from work (or chores) Was there another field of work you saw yourself doing, other than writing?

AM: More like there were many fields of work I distinctly saw myself not doing. Writing was it. It was my sole purpose in the educational choices I made and how I spent my creative free time. I dabbled with ideas like international relations and translation as options that would incorporate language and writing with other interests, and I have varied subjects of interest outside of writing, but they were never viable career considerations. So, when I’m not writing, and to finance the novels, I teach composition at the college level, and I own Red Ink Enthusiast, a writing services company. Whether it’s my own text or someone else’s, it’s all writing all the time.

TA: That kind of determination and love is inspiring. Who is your biggest inspiration?

AM: The indie and self-published community as a whole inspires me to keep plugging away at my dream. To see authors like me become best sellers, some even multiple times, to see them get movie adaptations of their books, win awards, etc. is proof that there is just as much legitimacy in non-traditional publishing routes as any American Classic or traditionally published new release has.

[Come back at the half hour for part two of our chance to sit down with Amanda Marsico]

[Welcome back to our interview, where we’ll get to know more of Amanda]

TA: After that quick break to stretch our legs and grab fresh bottled water, let’s get back into this. Let’s start this part with getting to know more about you as a person…What is your favorite food and beverage?
AM: I love sushi and will never turn down an opportunity to have it. I drink mostly water, and tea and coffee (decaf only, sue me) if I want something with flavor.

TA: Shay is a big tea drinker. She says one of her favorite guilty pleasures is hot tea, Danish butter cookies and a good book to end her day. What guilty pleasure or quirky ritual do you have to have while you are writing?

AM: I guess I’m boring in this respect. I don’t do anything special or odd. At least, it’s not odd to me. I will write anytime, anywhere if there is something I need to get accomplished. I’m great at tuning out the world around me, so I don’t have a writing soundtrack or anything like that. Typically, it’s me, a laptop or notebook, and a cat or five on the couch around me. Netflix is usually on in the background, but I don’t pay it much mind. Coffee, tea, and chocolate seem too typical a guilty pleasure to consider as quirky and, well, I don’t feel guilty about those treats at all.

TA: You mentioned sitting on the sofa with the cats. What is your favorite place and time to write?

AM: I prefer to start writing first thing after waking up and to go straight through until my goal for the day is met. Typically, this happens on the couch. However, I found during a recent trip to San Diego that I am especially productive in airports and on planes, writing by hand because a notebook is much easier to travel with than a laptop. When writing by hand, there’s no constant word count reminder. It feels like I don’t write as quickly as I could in type, so I keep writing. By the end, I’ve written more in one sitting than I would have on a computer. Any instance where I’m unexpectedly productive is a favorite.

TA: I hear you on how great it feels to be more productive than expected. I noticed that when I’m busy doing stuff is when i get some of my brightest ideas but by the time i get to paper, they’re gone. What is the oddest place or time that a book idea has come to you and you just had to stop and write it down?

AM: Most ideas come as I’m trying to go to bed, but I think that’s pretty normal for creatives. I use a memo app to keep track of ideas that come while I’m out and about. I’ll stop in the middle of the grocery store or during a hike if I have to.

TA: Hiking? That’s an interesting activity, i know some do it for fitness while others like the quiet communion with nature that’s possible during a hike. What do you like to do to relax?
AM: Hiking might not sound relaxing to some, though it sounds like you understand. I do love a physical challenge and enjoy routes that require mountain scrambling. I feel most at ease in the middle of the woods with a pack on my back. And, of course, if I’m just going to sit around, I like to read.

[Speaking of reading; next up is Shay’s reviews of Amanda’s two middle grade books, followed by the conclusion to our interview]

(Find the review of Humans In My House here and Humans In My House and the Stars Above It here.)


Smashwords Interview

28 Feb
Smashwords Ace 1 front page

I’m still on the front page for the Young Adult and Teen category on Smashwords. Oh, and did I mention Acephalous has a new cover? I’m in love with it. Official cover reveal coming soon!

Yesterday I joined Smashwords so that I can offer ebooks through more retailers. So far, it’s been a smashing experience. (Cue the groans that always come after a pun.)

Acephalous is now available for download on Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble Nook, OverDrive, Kobo, Gardners, and more. It is still available on Amazon Kindle as well. I plan to add Ontogenesis: Acephalous Book 2 to these retailers when it publishes. Due to the nature of the image files that comprise my children’s books, they will only be available in print and ebook via Amazon.

Read my Smashwords author interview below and visit my Smashwords author profile to purchase Acephalous on these new platforms.

Interview with Amanda Marsico

When did you first start writing?
I was writing creatively before I could even spell. It was simple, silly, but I did it for fun and the habit continued. I always had journals and filled so many pages between the ages of 12 and 19. In addition to my daily journaling, I wrote poetry everywhere. On napkins, school papers, you name it. I don’t journal anymore, but this doesn’t mean I don’t write daily. I still have bits of poetry pop into my head at random times, too. Those I type out on my phone and finish later.
My first professional writing experience was a freelance job interviewing artists for a gallery and writing editorials for their website. I was 20. Since then, I’ve accumulated a large list of published pieces, but none of them felt so surreal or exciting as the first novel, Humans In My House, that published in 2015, and Acephalous, the story I started at 14 years old and finally finished in 2016. That one tops the list of most exciting moments of my career.
What’s the story behind your latest book?
Ontogenesis: Acephalous Book 2 follows the story of Breena and Atlas as Breena tries to clean up the messes she made in book 1 and Atlas tries to win her back. In book 1, Breena is a selfish, annoying person. She uses her dreaming to escape reality, and she yearns to be someone else. This inward focus causes her to steamroll her friends and family. She sees what she’s doing to them, but struggles to pull out of the addictions and relationships that keep her in such a mindset. I painted her in this light purposefully because, first, not every character in a book, not even the main character, has to be likeable all the time; and second, in order to redeem herself in books 2 and 3, she had to start at a low point. She needs room to grow, and heroic, likeable characters have less room for realistic development if they start out that way. They’re changes become caricatures, larger than life traits that paint them as perfect. Breena was never meant to be perfect. In book 1, Breena makes terrible decisions and struggles to put others first. While book 1 focuses on Breena’s downward (or maybe more appropriately, INWARD,) spiral, book 2 sees her accept reality, embrace her identity, and set out to take responsibility by sacrificing her way of life. Without giving too much away about books 1 and 2, I’ll simply say that Breena is going use her power and influence for others rather than herself. Some of the main mischief-makers of book 1 will get what’s coming to them, and those who still get away with their evil will see justice in book 3.
What are you working on next?
I’ve been working on Ontogenesis and a children’s picture book called Nova June: Inventor simultaneously. Nova June will publish first, and I’m aiming for April 2018. Ontogenesis will be out by summer. After those are finished, I’ll take a break for a week or so and then dive into Humans In My House and the Animals Beyond It (#3 in its series). In it, Kepler and his humans will take a family vacation and visit the San Diego Zoo. The book’s educational focus will be wildlife conservation.
How do you approach cover design?
Covers are usually one of the lasts things I take care of before publishing. One practical reason to wait until the end is because the word count and page count need to reach their final numbers in order to create the correct spine width in the cover image. Making the cover first would cause a lot of do-overs as the book grows (or shrinks) during editing. Practicality aside, I like the cover to convey a sense of the book in images, and I often don’t have a full sense of the book myself until at least the draft is done. I’m not a planner when I write, so to choose a cover image before the ending has resolved would be short-sighted.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
In-person events are always my biggest successes. There are fewer books to compete against than any marketing done online. Paid ads and blog posts get some results, but not always enough for the time or monetary investment, at least not at this point in my career. I’m still unknown, so people often disregard what they see because they haven’t already heard of me or enjoyed my work. It’s like shouting into a void. The upside is that if they see my name once and ignore it, they might take notice if it keeps popping up again and again. It’s important to show you have a consistent presence in your line of work. It builds legitimacy. Even so, marketing online is like shouting AT people that may or may not become readers. Doing conventions and signings is like speaking WITH people who are in attendance specifically to be readers. At the very worst, they aren’t at the event to spend any money but to browse, and you still get to make an impression and have your work seen.
Describe your desk:
My desk is whatever I set my computer on for the day. Right now, I’m standing at the kitchen counter writing this because there’s no glare on the screen and I’m so sick of sitting all day every day. It’s just unhealthy. My real desk, which I rarely use for writing work, is in a dedicated office room in my house and often littered with post-its, book illustration originals and concept art, and other works in progress. I use it to spread out when I’m packing swag bags, boxing merch and displays for events, etc. Nothing fancy, it’s a simple 6-foot, white, fold-out table like you’d use at a yard sale. It gets cleared, folded, and packed away for the rare outdoor events that I do (which is risky when you’re inventory is entirely paper).
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I watch more TV and play on my phone more than I should, but it’s a mindless activity that is sometimes needed after writing or reading all day. My favorite activity is hiking, though, and I try to get out of the house as frequently as I can. When you work from home, you have to make a point to go places. Even grocery shopping is a night out when you realize you haven’t left the house in 3 days.
What do you read for pleasure?
When I’m not steeped in my own characters or those of an editing client, I love to read fan fiction written by the talented authors on Tumblr and Archive of our Own. I’m also part of a local book club, so I read the monthly selection even if it’s not in my preferred genre. I think it’s important to read widely, and even when I didn’t like the book, I always get pleasure from the club meetings and discussion regardless. And as if I don’t strain my eyes enough, I have a stack of to-read books that I pick up on impulse almost any time I cross a discount book bin in stores. I’ve been reading a lot of those (various genres, but mostly memoir and non-fiction–it wasn’t a purposeful choice to stock up on nonfiction, just how it turned out) in order to surpass my GoodReads goal of 24 books in 2018. As of this writing, I’m at 9 books and it’s the last day of February. I’m well ahead of schedule.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I was using a Kindle Paperwhite until my water bottle leaked into the bottom of my bag and drowned it. Now I use my phone or ipad.
What are your five favorite books, and why?

I like all of the Cassandra Clare novels, starting with City of Bones. Aside from loving the story and subject matter, these books have a huge cast of characters, and they’re all fully realized people with unique personalities, flaws, and dreams. I’ve always hoped to be as good at characterization as her. If you like these books, Acephalous is probably right up your alley.

I really enjoyed Lauren Kate’s Fallen series. I rarely read something more than once, but I read the series 3 times. Again, the characterization and world-building are outstanding. The subject of fallen angels is a great one in YA lit. If you enjoy these books, I’m sure there are at least a few elements of Acephalous that you’d like, too.

From high school to grad school, Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea kept popping up in assignments. It’s a favorite not only because of the hours I poured over that book studying, dissecting, and researching it, but because the wild abandon of the setting drew me in, and the wild heart of its main characters kept me there. This book will always be on my shelf, with index cards of the notes I took over the years still stuffed between the pages.

I read The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Bradbury years ago, but it’s intelligence sticks with me. The characters are brilliant because the author is brilliant. The intersection of the characters’ lives makes for odd pairings and situations worth writing about.

The last on my list hearkens back to childhood. Corduroy was and still is my favorite book. I love it for its cute illustrations and its hopeful plot. My favorite line I still think about often. As Corduroy approaches (what he is unaware is) an escalator, he says, “I think I’ve always wanted to climb a mountain.” The little bear has the ideal metaphor for life.

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?


Published 2018-02-28.


%d bloggers like this: