Thursday, August 16, 2007
Ask Five with.....AMBER GREEN...and a book giveaway!!!
Most people I've met have read at least one Secrets book and they're still as hot as ever. Amber Green is one of the authors and I've met her off and on in chats. She's a very nice lady and I'm thrilled to have her as the interview subject.
Plus, she is giving away to one winner their choice of either Secrets Volume 13 or 20 or a download of her upcoming Loose Id ebook Lights Out!
Meanwhile, sit back and meet....Amber Green!
1 . What is the title of your latest release and what’s it about?
The Subject, a novella in Secrets 20: Surrender to Passion.
Tyler, cheerfully single and the hottest game designer in North America, has everything she wants. When it's all snatched away, she must learn to depend on someone else. She chooses Esau (don't-call-me-werewolf) Kirkland, despite her well-founded suspicions. Esau has buried his entire existence in his duty to his pack. When his duty requires him to track down Tyler and deliver her to her enemies, he plots a counter scheme to bring her home as his Captured Bride, exploiting the strongest traditions of his heritage to save her life at the cost of her freedom. But Tyler, master gamer, reserves the right to turn the tables on everyone. When all forces gather for the showdown, Esau must give up everything he thought he had, and become more than he ever thought he could be.
2. Which comes first, the characters or the story?
Usually, neither. Either can change, and change the other, as the writing progresses.
I normally start with a scene, or part of one, from a scrap of a dream that sticks with me or comes back to me. This seed-scene is normally first person, intensely emotional, and so deeply internal that it could take place on a space station, a ranch, or a medieval castle with only minor alterations. Sometimes that seed-scene is pretty clearly from somebody else's book, but with a twist. Then I have to get a second scene (or partial scene) from a POV that complements the first one. Putting these together gives me an idea of how part of my story will work out, showing a couple of events and how they affect the protags (and how the protags shape the events). Those events suggest a premise, a skeleton of a story arc, and a couple more scenes. But not nearly the whole story.
Once I have that much, I can put the scenes in a setting and work out what kind of people would act/react in that way in that situation. Certain settings (say WWII) suggest certain personal histories (a childhood in the Depression) which suggest an array of characteristics. Where characteristics established in the seed scene conflict with the array suggested by the setting and the personal history, I have to figure out what gave rise to each of those characteristics. What kind of people the protags are will affect what happens, how they shape their world and are shaped by their world. Also, some mind-sets are entirely incompatible with some settings. Getting the characters firmed up can necessitate scrapping the setting and starting over. Since I'm a pantser more than a plotter, each scene is written separately and fitted in, like a color chip in a parquet floor, and most of them are pried out, reshaped or re-colored, and put back several times to get the right effect. (This is not at all efficient, but not living by my pen I don’t have to be efficient.)
On the other hand, each story seems to have at least one waitaminnit! moment: I suddenly realize -- or someone in my crit group points out -- that this character is too goal-oriented (or reckless, or hard-nosed practical) to plan/act/react that way. But the plot requires it. I'll spend a while trying to tweak the plot, and if I can't make that work I have to change the character. And changing the character essentially changes the plot; this character acts, reacts, and engenders reactions based on her new personality instead of the discarded one.
3. How do you stay motivated?
Money helps. Feedback from readers gives an immense boost. I also keep framed poster-sized prints of my covers in my office at the day job.
4. Which authors or friends have influenced you over the years, whether for their writing or for their friendship?
I could spend the rest of my life making this list. Everything I've ever read has influenced me, one way or another. If I'm not writing, I'm probably reading. That's what I do. MaryJanice Davidson wrote about a guy, trapped in an elevator with the heroine, who could save himself but instead saves the heroine by violently shoving her out of the elevator. Morgan Hawke also wrote about a guy thrusting the heroine out of an elevator, saving her while dooming himself. The stories are very different, but in each, the push altered the guy's status from villainous to heroic. I wrote a parallel scene for Lights Out!, but I couldn’t make it fit and had to discard it. I still have the image...eventually, I'll use it.
Everyone I talk to affects me as well. The premise for the current work in progress, Bareback, came from what Gordie Dickson told me the night he found out someone close to him had been shot, and that was more than 25 years ago. While I was writing The Subject, Tyler Blackwood gave crucial feedback at every turn. When my heroine had to be renamed, Tyler even let me steal her name. Then my editor, Alicia Rasley, explained why some emotionally overwhelming elements (like Esau's son dying in the earthquake) had to be scaled back. Members of my primary crit group, Romance Writers Unlimited, kept me typing when I really had other things to spend my time on. All in all, I've been extraordinarily lucky in the people who have reached out to me and helped me along.
5. What’s coming up in the near future for you?
Right now I'm nose-deep in Bareback, my first attempt at a contemporary or at a m/m. In this one, contrary to my usual pattern, the protags' personalities crystallized in the seed-scenes--Brian in the doorway taking charge of his own life, Joe turning away in the Dark Moment. Points like which of them is human have changed repeatedly, but the premise and the characters remain the same. I hope to send it to my Loose-Id editor, Judith David, before Labor Day.
Thanks, Amber! You can learn more about Amber by visiting her website here.
Post away to enter the contest. Ask Amber any questions or make comments. I will draw the one lucky winner on Sunday evening around Midnight Eastern time...so....post away.