What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
My name is Amanda Carlson. I was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN USA and I’m still here! It’s a great place to raise kids, but hubby and I are looking forward to lots of traveling once the kids are in college. The countdown is on.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, for as long as I can remember. I used to grab my yearbooks and pick out names and faces to go with my characters. If I wasn’t any good at writing, I’d always dreamed of being a singer—but my voice is awful, so it’s a good thing I can write!
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
I started FULL BLOODED in spring of 2009, so it will have taken me three and a half years from writing that first sentence to having a book in hand. It’s been a long journey to say the least! Nothing about writing is easy. It’s definitely a labor of love. It takes lots of hard work to get published, but I’m so excited to have made it here.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I was a stay-at-home mom until I got my first contract. Now I work sixteen hour days—but I’m still at home! I have three kids, so the mom duties have to fit into the day as well. It’s a juggling act, but it’s what most of us do. I feel so lucky everyday—so even if the dishes don’t get done it’s okay.
Who is your publisher?
I’m published with Orbit (US) & Little, Brown (UK), both are imprints of Hachette Book Group. It’s a wonderful company and I feel honored to be included as one of their authors. My novel FULL BLOODED, will be a duel release in trade size in both the US & UK on Sept. 11th, 2012. So exciting!
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
It took me over two years to complete the first book. It seemed I was always filled with worry about one thing or another, and then I let it sit for almost eight months without touching it! The second book took me about two months. I wrote in a continuous stream, a little everyday. Then I let it sit for a few months so I could get distance from it. When I opened it up again – that’s where the real work came in. Editing and shaping your words and story is the real exercise. From start to finish, including edits, it took about four months. Then once I deliver it to the publisher, each of my editor’s will have say to more changes. Then we volley it back and forth a few times to make changes before it goes into production. It’s a big cycle.
Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
The first one was the most difficult, mostly because I didn’t believe I could really do it. The next one was easier. Now I’m on the third and it’s a joy! I think I’m finally finding my stride, along with the belief that I can really do it.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I love, love the urban fantasy genre. I’m contracted for three books, with more options, in the Jessica McClain series, which opens with the novella: Jessica McClain: BLOODED. I’m excited to keep writing in Jessica’s world. But I’m also working on two other series ideas—both urban fantasy. So hopefully my readers will get a variety of heroines and worlds from me eventually, but all in the same genre for now.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
To me, there’s nothing better than creating a magical world according to your own parameters. It’s so much fun! I get to decide how things run, what kind of magic is available. My heroine can do exciting stuff. It makes it all the more fascinating.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I’ve actually found I need to change positions during the day or I feel like I’m not getting anything done. Lately I’ve been starting at my desk and switching to a couch or a daybed to edit with my laptop. I also just got a stability ball to sit on. It a big yoga ball and I bounce and move around while I’m writing. I kind of love it! We’ll see if the love lasts.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them? ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
I have three beta readers. Readers who go though early copies and see what they like or don’t like, ignoring grammar or mistakes, just looking at the story and plot. Author Amanda Bonilla is my critique partner, so we swap our material back and forth, giving each other helpful hints and advice. Then my husband takes a look once it’s more polished. He’s gotten quite good at spotting things like repeat words and phrases. Once I’m all done with that, I send it to my agent, Nicole. She line edits it (very hardcore—the ms is usually full of red lines) and we volley it a few times. Only after all these steps is it ready to send to an editor. If you’re an aspiring writer please know that it takes multiple revises and lots of work to polish a novel. I think FULL BLOODED went through twelve heavy edits. You definitely have to be able to let go and chop up your darling. Then once it goes to the editor, it starts all over again.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I’m just starting out as a debut and my novella, Jessica McClain: BLOODED is my first time out in the review world. I’m actually terrified to read the reviews! You work so long and hard on something, it’s hard to know not everyone will like what you’ve produced. I think I will refrain from reading in the beginning! I’m hoping my friends and family will cut and paste the positive ones. I think it will take me a while to ease into the negative ones. But, I am a firm believer in using ALL reviews to make yourself a better writer. They all add value. You just have to steel yourself against the hurtful ones.
Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
NEVER! Every single person is entitled to their own opinion. Always. I valued that as a reader, and I continue to value that as an author. As a writer you just hope the reviewers who dislike your story or voice, do it in a way that’s constructive and not a way intended to be hurtful. But, even so, I would never comment to it or ask anyone to change their views.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
My books start out with a very clear first scene. It plays out like a snippet of a movie in my head. The characters are not fully defined, but there’s a vivid picture and a general feeling to start from. They usually come with their own names and a basic setting. Everything else flows from there.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I’m a total “pantser” – meaning I fly by the seat of my pants! I love the way the story unfolds organically. All the characters and settings come alive and I follow the heroine on her journey. I write in first person, past tense and it works well to follow the heroine. I’ve recently started another project and I’m writing in third person, with two points of view. Much different! The writing is actually going well, but the story takes more time to get on the page. Maybe someday I’ll research the reasons why.
Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
I think authors suffer from mild panic, more than “writer’s block.” I know with me, when I feel like not opening the book, it’s only because I don’t know where the story is going, especially since I’m a Pantser. I’ve found that doing a “wordwar” or making myself accountable to others has erased that block, because I’m forced to write “something” down on the page – therefore the story must progress. Twitter is wonderful for that. There’s a great community of writers & authors hanging out there. If you follow the hashtag #wordwar or #1k1hr (one thousand words in one hour), you will find company and the needed accountability to finish. Having a deadline also eliminates the “writer’s block” as well. When you know it has to be done, you get it done.
What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
I love going to the movies. My husband and I try to do dinner and a movie most weekends. Inside the theater is a great place to let your brain get away from it all. I also love biking. Minneapolis has a number of lovely lakes right in the city center. It’s fun to walk and bike around them.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Keep at it. No matter what. Make yourself finish that project. It doesn’t matter if it sucks or not. When you’re done, you go back. Then you shape it. That’s what writing is—the shaping and molding.
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
I’m writing this series under my real name, Amanda Carlson, but I’d be open to using a pen name if I ever decided to write something off genre. Using a pen name would purely be for marketing reasons. If someone picked up a new series by Amanda Carlson, they would assume it was UF. If it turned out to be straight romance, some readers would be unhappy.
If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?
I’m assuming they can be dead or alive! I’d invite J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien & Georgette Heyer! Yes, they’re all English, and yes they are three of my absolute favorite authors of all time. I own all their works. I have a huge collection of Georgette Heyer books and I would love to chat with her. It would be an honor!
Where can readers follow you?
Your web site: My books, links and personal blog: www.amandacarlson.com
Your web site: My books, links and personal blog: www.amandacarlson.com
Your blog details: I blog at Magic & Mayhem, usually on Fridays: www.magicandmayhemwriters.com
Your facebook page: www.facebook.com/authoramandacarlson
Your Goodreads author page? Love to see you on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5049521.Amanda_Carlson
Your Twitter details? Follow @amandaCCarlson