Joining me around the campfire today and coming all the way from Australia is indie fantasy author Amanda Warne.
- Hi Amanda, tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?
Hello Matthew. Thank you so much for having me. I’m an Australian writer living in the western part of Sydney. I’ve been writing just on ten years now and publishing for two. When I’m not writing, I’m wrestling three kids, two naughty dogs and exploring the Blue Mountains in search of inspiration. I started writing after the birth of my first daughter when I could no longer practice the messy art of pottery and any creator will tell you, an artist must be creative. So I turned to books and literature and by the time I finished reading the first book, I had a pen in my hand drafting a story. Ten years later and my head is full of stories demanding to get out.
- What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?
Fantasy has no boundaries. Anything is possible and even though an idea or concept might not be present in our real life, it gives us the possibility of being real somewhere in the universe and I love that.
- Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?
The Reluctant Wizard was released early September and was a challenge for me because not only was I writing something now accessible for children, but I also placed an expectation on myself to write shorter stories. Ironically, it’s my largest book to date. So I’ve thrown out that belief that I can write shorter books and just allowed the story to do what it needs to.
- What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?
I don’t think of them as characters but rather real life people. I learn something about them but I know that isn’t a limitation or even a snapshot of who they really are. Instead, we cannot know a person fully, even ourselves. That’s why we surprise ourselves, shock even and I love exploring the depths of personality, what makes someone tick or react a certain way. It’s fascinating watching that in real life, when someone tries to mask their feelings or even the truth, but for a character, we can explore exactly why they do that.
- For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?
There is SO much knowledge out there. Everyone is an expert in something – opinions mostly. For me, I wanted to be a jack of all trades, master of writing. But all the writing advice went over my head. So I focused on researching topics that fascinated me while I practiced the writing as a craft or even art practice. Direct feedback from editors you respect is a must and that’s when your writing will evolve. Until then, enjoy it. Love it! Stories are magical and without the magic then the reader would love it.
- What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?
Pay the children to do cleaning – it’s cheaper than hiring a cleaner. Turn the phone off – you don’t have to answer every call. Social media isn’t real – deadlines are. We don’t have to be the perfect person and that’s totally unreal expectation of today’s society. Find your happiness, throw out the noise and then you’ll notice that deadlines are fun and exciting because it gives you a date that the story will head out of your hands and into the world.
- Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?
I’m both. I let the stories and characters determine everything. That is, the writing, tone, even how it’s structured. Once I have enough swarming in my head that it must go down onto paper, I write it out. In that mindset, I believe I’m writing the book cover to cover but in actual fact, it’s a summary. After a month or two, I come back and write it out properly. So that summary is full of telling and about 50 pages all up, but the re-write is all showing and can turn into 500 pages.
- What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?
I have been researching my mega-series for the last five years. It’s a life-long series that I will publish either 2022 or 2023. I don’t want to put it out into the world until I’m 100% ready to do so. My head is full of stories but this one is beyond epic. It’s so large that I will be writing it until I’m in my 90s. Until then, that’s all I can say. However, there will be more of The Reluctant Wizard and my editor messages me so often I think she forgets her other clients. She’s super excited to see the next part and I’m writing away nicely, preparing for all those twists to keep her on the edge of her seat.
- With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?
I love all stories so it’s hard to chose, but if I had to, I love a faulted hero, and heroic failure, I’m not a fan of labelling anyone good or evil because there isn’t such a thing, and I love dark stories that has light, light stories that doesn’t shy away from the dark. While the world is going through this stage, I want to be reminded how important humanity as a whole is. We are all on this ride together and our local community is who we hold hands with and walk beside however, we’ve been given this gift of global insight, so we can communicate, connect and understand each other as a whole. I want to see more of that. Community rather than individuality. Whole instead of single. Love instead hate.
- What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?
Star wars! I love Lord of the Rings and I’ve only see the first Harry Potter movie (I know, shock horror!) but there is something truly amazing with Star Wars. It’s a story that covers the universe and beyond. One scene that truly captured me was when Queen Amidala is sitting in a room discussing politics. The seating backs onto windows where we can see just enough of that planet’s life – flying transport, wild colourful outfits, etc. and they’re all there sitting and talking about politics. That doesn’t interest me. I want to know what food they’re eating, what types of work the people do, what does a day look like to them? There are only so many political stories that can be told, but the story of a regular person, a peasant, a person who falls between the gaps – that’s an interesting story because they can get to any part of society. I don’t want to know what a queen does or doesn’t do – she only has one role to play, but a person who has no label or position and yet has a strong drive to achieve something, is amazing to follow in a story. Those are the characters that I want to explore in my stories.