Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Novel Lady Interviews Author Amanda Bouchet

Okay, I have to admit that when I found out I had the opportunity to interview Amanda Bouchet and maybe get some super secret insider information about her fantastic new series (The Kingmaker Chronicles), I squealed and went completely fan-girl for a good ten minutes.

My neighbors think I'm nuts… but that's okay, they'd probably be doing the same thing if they had the opportunity to interview one of the hottest new authors. If you haven't had a chance to check out her new series, this is the best time to do it. The highly anticipated conclusion to the series is set to be released in January 2018… so you don't want to miss out.

So…. without further ado, let's get to it…

Scherry:  Hi Everyone!  Janna and I are here with one of our favorite authors, Amanda Bouchet, who was recently identified by Entertainment Weekly as being one of the top 27 female authors who rule sci-fi and fantasy right now.  Amanda, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed on The Novel Lady. We're huge fans of your work and thrilled you're here to talk to us.
Amanda:  Thank you! And thank you for inviting me.

Janna:  One of the things I loved about The Kingmaker Chronicles was how you incorporated mythology into the story in such a new and different way. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what made you decide to use mythological elements?
Amanda:  Funnily enough, I’m not even sure it was a conscious decision. I started writing with only a visually powerful opening scene in my mind and the basics of the heroine, like her looks and some of her strengths and weaknesses. Definitely her snark! The Greek mythology just kind of popped out as I was writing and still trying to work out the story direction in my head. It felt good, so I went with it. Part of the reason it felt good and natural to me is likely because I’m half Greek on my mother’s side (she’s first generation American), and I’ve been familiar with different aspects of Greek culture all my life, especially the mythology and the food! What was fun was taking the core of Greek mythology—the gods and different stories or events—and then incorporating them into a new world of my own invention. That kind of mash-up has no rules and leaves so much room for the imagination!

Scherry:  There's a pretty powerful love story in the series, but also lots of action. When you first started writing the books, did you envision writing more of a romance or more of an action-packed book? Or did you always see it as both?
Amanda:  I’m an inveterate pantser (I write by the seat of my pants), so my first vision of the series was mostly limited to the first scene of the first book, which sparked my imagination and interest in the story. Everything else grew from there. But I can say that I set out to write a fantasy, with all that entails: the epic action, the heroine’s journey, the band of friends, the road trips, the heroic undertaking, the adversity, and the triumphs. I also knew there would be a romance, but I didn’t expect it to become so central to the story or to the heroine’s development as a character. In the end, the Kingmaker Chronicles are equal parts romance and fantasy, and the romance and the hero are absolutely necessary to getting the heroine to where she needs to be.

Scherry:  So you consider yourself a more of a pantser (writing by the seat-of-your-pants) than a plotter? Did you always envision The Kingmaker Chronicles as being a three-book series?
Amanda:  Plotting is pretty pointless for me because I never stick to anything but the really big points. For everything else, I usually veer off course depending on what the characters are doing, where they take me, and what scene unfolds in my head next. As for the three-book series, I knew by the time I was about two thirds of the way into A Promise of Fire that I had more of a story than what I could reasonably fit into one book—especially a debut romance. Length was a concern, and I didn’t want to hurt my chances of interesting an agent or a publisher by announcing that I had an enormous fantasy romance debut. Luckily, since there are three realms in my fantasy world, the series splits rather naturally into three parts. I made an effort to not end any of the books on life-or-death cliffhangers, though, because I’m not a fan of cliffhangers myself.

Scherry:  Some authors have favorite characters, or characters they love to hate. Do you have any favorites or not so favorites? Which of your characters would you like to hang out with?
Amanda:  Cat, the heroine, is definitely my favorite. I’ve been living with her in my head for a number of years, so she’s already like a friend! Plus, I think she’s really funny—much funnier than I am. I love her humor and would have a blast hanging out with her. Of course, that would probably also mean that battles and mayhem and magic would ensue, so I’d have to keep an eye out for dragons, mages, three-headed beasts, evil queens… But if I were hanging out with Cat, I’d also get to hang out with Griffin, and who doesn’t want to meet a sexy warlord who’s all about supporting the woman he loves?

Scherry:  Yes, Cat would be my favorite too… especially if we’d get to hang out with Griffin too (fans self).

Janna:  With the release of the third book in the series in January 2018, will this be the final conclusion to the series? Or do you envision any other books written in the same world?
Amanda:  Heart on Fire in January 2018 will conclude Cat and Griffin’s story. I’ve always hoped to write books for some of the secondary characters in the Kingmaker world, though. Nothing is in the works yet, but it’s something I’m going to work on as soon as I can fit it into my schedule.

Scherry:  Can you give us any hints or teasers about what we can expect in the third book?
Amanda:  Pretty much all hell breaks loose! I’m not even kidding 😉 To answer your question more seriously, though, we’ve waited two books to actually see the big bad (Andromeda) in person. Heart on Fire gives us more than one epic showdown with Cat’s nemesis. I can also promise major reveals about key figures from Cat’s past and important insight into Cat and Griffin’s fated union.

Janna:  Wow!  I can’t wait to read it!  Do you have any plans yet for any other future works? If so, can you share any information?
Amanda:  I’m trying my hand at sci-fi romance next! Think: Robin Hood meets Star Wars with a steamy romance in the mix. And of course, action, adventure, danger, and suspense. If that sounds like fun to you, then I hope you’ll stay tuned for my next series.

Scherry:  Everyone seems to have a publishing story. Would you be willing to share yours? What made you decide to take the leap?
Amanda:  Like most writers, I have a few unfinished or unpolished manuscripts hanging around. They were what I consider practice and learning experiences. The craft of writing was mostly self-taught for me, so I can’t ever regret the time I spent honing it on those books that will never see the light of day. A Promise of Fire was the first book I wrote that I felt had that spark, that indefinable quality that made me want to work harder than ever before and get the manuscript out into the publishing world. It was the first one where I thought, “This could be the one!” Luckily for me, it was! One of my most hoped-for agents offered me representation shortly after I began querying, and I had a three-book deal just a few months after that. It went really fast, which was amazing and gratifying.

Janna:  Most writers have some unusual quirks. What's yours?
Amanda:  I’m really only productive when I’m in my usual work spot—a desk with a desktop computer. Stick me on a laptop in a different room, and my writer’s brain seems to go offline. I stare at the computer like it’s an alien. I also like quiet, and seeing as I live in a city with a playground right below my office window… Quiet can be in short supply. My other quirk—I will do anything to avoid writing by hand. If there was no word processing, I very much doubt I would be an author, even if I had stories to tell.

Scherry:  What's the strangest thing you've ever researched for one of your books?
Amanda:  I love this question! This didn’t actually make it into my books, but you’d be surprised at the amount of information that comes up when you google “Does a severed head float.”

Janna:  Okay, give us a minute for Scherry to stop laughing… She apparently loved that response.  Amanda, do you have any advice for new writers?
Amanda:  Polish, polish, polish. Both your manuscript and your query letter. There are very rarely second chances in publishing, at least not with the same manuscript, so you’ll want to have the absolute best version of your book before you send it out into the world. Entering Romance Writers of America chapter contests is a great way to gather feedback from experienced judges (many of whom are published authors) on your first thirty to fifty pages. It’s also a great way to get requests from agents and editors.

Scherry (still thinking about the severed head answer):  Can you tell us some of your favorite books or authors who inspired you?
Amanda:  I have so many favorite authors! Here are a few who have inspired me with their strong heroines, wit, humor, steamy scenes, intriguing plots, and amazing writing: Kresley Cole, Darynda Jones, Karen Marie Moning, Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Eloisa James, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, and the list goes on and on!

Scherry:  Amanda, thank you so much for chatting with us.  I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the Kingmaker Chronicles… AND I’m looking forward to seeing you in Daytona Beach in February 2018 for the Coastal Magic Convention.

And if any of my readers have not had the opportunity to check out Amanda Bouchet's novels in the Kingmaker Chronicles, here they are!

A Promise of Fire


Kingdoms will rise and fall for her...
"Cat" Catalia Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods—and her homicidal mother—have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.
But not if she can help it
Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm—until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin's fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.

Breath of Fire


Breath of Fire
She's destined to destroy the world...
"Cat" Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat's tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what's a girl to do when she knows it's her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.
But not if she can help it
Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world—for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin must embrace their fate together. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom...or not at all.

Heart on Fire


Heart on Fire
Available January 2, 2018
Who is Catalia Fisa?
With the help of pivotal figures from her past, Cat begins to understand the root of her exceptional magic, her fated union with Griffin Sinta, and Griffin's role in shaping her destiny.
Only Cat holds the key to unlocking her own power, and that means finally accepting herself, her past, and her future in order to protect her loved ones, confront her murderous mother, and take a final, terrifying step—reuniting all three realms and taking her place as the Queen of Thalyria.
What doesn't kill her will only make her stronger... We hope.


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