Sunday Spotlight- Amy Braun
Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action. She is the recipient of April Moon Books Editor Award for “author voice, world-building and general bad-assery,” and the One Book Two Standout Award in 2015 for her Cursed trilogy. She has been featured on various author blogs and publishing websites, and is an active member of the Writing GIAM and Weekend Writing Warrior communities. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, and struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction.
Amy’s current work includes the full length novels Demon’s Daughter, Dark Divinity, Crimson Sky, and Path of the Horseman, and the novella Needfire. She has short stories in various horror and urban fantasy anthologies such as Call From The Grave, Hotel Hell, Survivalism in The Dead Walk: Volume 2, Dismantle in The Steam Chronicles, Lost Sky in Avast, Ye Airships!, Secret Suicide in That Hoodoo, Voodoo, That You Do, Bring Back The Hound in Stomping Grounds, Charlatan Charade in Lost in the Witching Hour, and her award winning short Dark Intentions And Blood in AMOK!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m “a self-taught author (aka, all my “education” came from the inability to read less than 2-4 hours a day), so I have no degrees worth mentioning, though I have been honored with two independent awards: the April Moon Books Editor Award for “author voice, world-building and general bad-assery,” for my short story Dark Intentions and Blood, which was featured in the AMOK! Anthology, and the One Book Two Standout Award in 2015 for my Cursed trilogy. I’m an active member of the Writing GIAM and Weekend Writing Warrior communities. When I’m not writing, I’m reading, watching action movies or urban fantasy TV show, or proudly indulging in a D&D campaign with my friends.”
How did you get started writing?
I’ve always had an overactive imagination. I was born a daydreamer, and I love anything revolving around fantasy, especially The Lord of the Rings. A few of my friends were into writing, so I decided to give it a shot myself. I started with some fanfiction just to see if I could actually put cohesive words on paper, then moved onto helping my best friend write some of her own stories. It was a hobby of mine, but the more I did it, the more I realized that a) I really, truly, deeply enjoyed it, and b) I wasn’t half bad. It took me a few years, but I came back into writing full scale a couple years ago, just to try getting something published. When my first short story, Call From The Grave, was accepted by Mocha Memoirs Press, it was like the stars aligned and I realized I might actually be able to do this. After that… Well, let’s just say that I couldn’t stop writing now, even if I wanted to.
What books do you currently have published?
To date, I have around a dozen short stories in various horror, steampunk, and urban fantasy anthologies, as well as four self-published books and a novella. Needfire (my post-apocalyptic-vampire novella) was the first time I ever self-published something. The tester, if you will. Path of the Horseman, which is the story of the Four Horsemen living in the aftermath of the apocalypse they made, was the next full-length novel I released, and I was shocked at how many people enjoyed reading it. I gained a little more confidence and moved onto releasing my demon/angel urban fantasy novels, Demon’s Daughter and Dark Divinity, the first two books in my Cursed trilogy, both of which have been doing great and earned me an award. I just released the first book in a new series called Crimson Sky, which is a steampunk horror novel that’s been getting some fantastic praise from readers and reviewers.
What was the inspiration behind Crimson Sky?
I’ve always loved pirates and vampires, and when I was in my teens I wanted to write a story combining the two. Originally, it was going to be a high-seas adventure, just like the ones I loved to read as a kid. The story didn’t come together the way I wanted it to, though, so I left it for a couple years. That all changed when I saw the wonder that was steampunk. I fell in love with the genre/concept immediately, and saw the loophole I could use to create a new world for my story and my characters. From there, I built a new world, added the history, thought about my monsters, and got writing.
Do you have any current works in progress? If so, do you mind telling us about them?
I always like to have a couple things on the go, but at the moment my major projects are the Beta edits for Midnight Sky, the sequel to Crimson Sky and the second book in the Dark Sky series. I’m working on the formatting for Damnation’s Door, the third and final Cursed novel, and am currently plotting out two more urban fantasy series’. While all this is going on, I’m waiting to hear back from my editor about Storm Born, my next standalone release. Basically, I’ve got a ton of work ahead, and I’m excited to get started on all of it.
What is your favorite part of writing?
Everything. Literally, everything. I love the elation I feel when I’m inspired by something. I love thinking about new/alternate worlds and how I can make them unique. I love creating characters and the trademarks to make them distinguishable. I love starting a story and letting it flow out of me until the very last page. I love re-reading it and send it to Beta readers and editors for their reactions, then thinking about how I can improve on them. I love sending the story to reviewers and hearing enthusiastic responses. I love knowing that I created something out of nothing, and that there will be a reader out there who loves it as much as I do.
What part of the writing process do you struggle the most with?
Marketing and self-promotion. It’s a lot of work that’s hard when you’re a virtually unknown author, and no matter how much someone tries to help you, it doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to. That being said, I’m learning, and trying to improve as a businesswoman as well as an author. It’s a necessary, boring part of the job, just like formatting, but if I want my books to sell, I just have to grit my teeth and do it.
Do you have any favorite authors you aspire to be compared to? (i.e. the next Nora Roberts of romance?)
Indeed I do. I don’t want to be the next J. K. Rowling or Stephen King or Kelley Armstrong or anything like that, but I would love, love, to reach the success of authors like Jennifer Estep, Elise Kova, and Michael J. Sullivan. They’re authors with fantastic ability to tell stories, create worlds, and completely capture the readers attention. They’ve made lifelong fans out of me, and that would be what I want most– to have enthusiastic readers who are excited for my next story, and who I work hard to impress. I don’t write because I want money. I want to reach the level of success where I can write full time and live comfortably from it. I write because I live it, breathe it, and love it, and I’m hoping to establish a fan base that will feel the same excitement I do when a new book is released.
What are your thoughts on traditional vs self-publishing?
Funny you should mention this, because I just recently decided to try traditional publishing again. That was what I started out doing, but chose self-publishing/small publishers because I didn’t want to concentrate on the hope that one story I loved would maybe, eventually get chosen by a publisher. I literally have dozens of stories I want to write, and I didn’t want to sit around hoping that the next email would be the one that brings my dreams to life. That being said, I do want to write full-time, and the best way to do that is to find a large publishing house or independent company. I’ve learned that it all depends on what an author wants for his/her career. For me, I’m hoping to be a hybrid author. I would love to be traditionally published, but if I can’t find a home for my stories, I want the freedom to publish them myself. My advice for writers is to start off with self-publishing. Get some confidence, experience with readers, editors, and reviewers, and gain a little understanding of how hard you’re going to have to work. Then move onto traditional publishing. Both options are appealing, but it really is personal preference.
Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
The best advice I’ve ever gotten, and the best advice I can ever give is simple: Write. That’s it. Just sit down, put the words to paper or word document, and see it through to the end. It doesn’t matter if it all connects. It doesn’t matter if halfway through writing, part of the story changes or you get a better idea. Write it the way you want to write it until the very end. Don’t edit halfway through, don’t worry if something about the story isn’t sitting right with you. If you love your idea and you want to see it done, then write it down. Everything else– research, editing, covers, publishing, reviews– that comes after. The story is the most important part. It’s your idea, your dream, alive and out there for you to polish later. Rough drafts are never pretty. That’s why they’re called “rough drafts.” They’re supposed to be filled with gaps that will be filled later. Finish the first draft, and everything else will fall into place after that.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Only that I was very happy to do this interview, and that between finishing up Calamity by Brandon Sanderson and seeing the first draft of the cover for my upcoming novel, Storm Born, I’m pretty close to Cloud 9 right now.