Today I’ve got an interview with Christine Amsden. Christine is the author of two novels, “The Immortality Virus” and “Touch of Fate”. I hope you enjoy reading more about Christine’s work.
JGA: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started writing?
CA: I’ve been alive for thirty-four years and have been a writer at heart for at least thirty-three of them. Some of my earliest memories involve lying on the floor in a patch of warm sunlight, studying picture books, and dreaming stories to go along with them. More recently, I have become a wife and mother to two beautiful children (not that I’m biased or anything).
I’m a reader, writer, daydreamer, and teacher. I teach workshops at http://www.savvyauthors.com/ and post tips for writers on my blog. This summer, I’ll be teaching a workshop on novel beginnings at savvy authors, and next winter, in January, I have a world building workshop scheduled.
I also post book reviews on my blog for the eclectic reader. You never know what will come up next!
JGA: How do you go about the actual process of writing?
CA: I write on a word processor because no other method allows my fingers to keep up with my racing thoughts. It also helps with editing. I have a study, a converted bedroom at the top of my house, where it gets pretty hot in the summer but feels nice in the winter. Since I have kids, I write around their schedule, and since I have young kids, that schedule has been in flux for many years now. I’m looking forward to this fall, when one will be in school all day and the other will be in pre-school half a day, four days a week. Then, I can tell you with confidence that I write in the mornings after I send my kids to school. For now, we have some quiet time in the afternoon.
I try to stick to a set schedule. I know from experience that I write better when I can count on a time to sit down and write, but it isn’t always possible. I do have a ritual I use to try to get me in the right frame of mind when I do start to write – it involved meditation, candles, mints, and music.
JGA: I think anything that helps a writer get into the right mood for writing is a good thing! How do you personally like to read your books these days?
CA: I’m almost exclusively an audiobook reader, but in my case it’s just a necessity rather than a choice. I am legally blind (not totally blind, but bad enough that I’m typing this in 36-point font). I do sometimes read ebooks on my computer, blowing them up to a comfortable font, but this is a strain and takes much longer, so I only do it when I can’t get a book any other way, or when I’m eager to read/review a new release.
JGA: That would create a lot of challenges! Which authors (or books) have had the most influence on your writing style, and why?
CA: Orson Scott Card, because I attended a by-audition “boot camp” with him in 2003. He’s a terrific teacher and really, a nice person. I kind of think of that experience as the beginning of my professional writing career.
JGA: How do you go about planning your writing?
CA: This is an aspect of my writing that has evolved over the years, as I try to find the right balance. Lately, I think I’ve realized that I do better with a solid plan and an outline, even if I don’t stick to it (and I never do). Beginning a novel before I’ve spent months planning, researching, characterizing, daydreaming, and outlining is a futile endeavor, bound to lead to a dozen revisions.
That’s how I wrote The Immortality Virus. It too me years, and I lost track of how many versions I wrote.
JGA: What gave you the initial idea for your novel, “The Immortality Virus“?
CA: A random search on Wikipedia. I was ready to try something new. I’d finish Touch of Fate, my first published work, and had played around with a few short stories, but since inspiration wasn’t hitting me over the head, I went in search of it. I believe I randomly happened across the article for DNA, which led me to remember some things about a genetic source or aging, which led me to do some research, and finally, led me to the concept of eternal youth for the entire human race. It seems to me to be something many people want, but I couldn’t help but picture the darker consequences.
JGA: Looking at the darker consequences of anything can be a great source of story ideas. Can you tell us a bit about the main character, Grace Harper, and some of the challenges she has to face as the story progresses?
CA: Grace is one of those strong women who has an internal soft spot. She really cares about people, but has grown cynical in her old age. (She’s 130, but doesn’t look a day over 25.) Even before the beginning of the book, she secretly believed the human race had taken a wrong turn when it stopped aging, and that they would be better off living a “natural life.” When she is presented with the opportunity to learn the truth behind The Change, and possibly undo it, she is undeniably curious, and incredibly wary. Any number of people would see her dead before seeing their potential immortality taken away, and she doesn’t entirely trust the man who hired her, either. She’s going to have to find a man who was old when The Change began, who is centuries old now, if he’s still alive, and she doesn’t have much to go on.
JGA: Who are the readers would enjoy “The Immortality Virus” the most?
CA: The obvious answer would be science fiction readers, but honestly, I’ve received good feedback from people saying they don’t normally like science fiction, but they like this. One of the things I try to do as a writer is to get close to a character – in this case, Grace. I show the world and the story through her thoughts, reactions, attitudes, and beliefs. I think this creates a genuine human element that makes this accessible to many readers. So I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to play the “What if?” game.
JGA: What other items are you working on at the moment?
CA: I’m working on an urban fantasy series right now. Actually, all four books are written, and I’m hoping to find a publisher for the first novel soon, but the books need revision. This is an entirely character-driven and character-based story about the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers. Each book has a self-contained mystery, but the series is a character journey.
JGA: I’m a huge fan of urban fantasy, so I look forward to seeing them released! If you could somehow change reality and become the author of any published book instead of the person who originally wrote it, which book would you make your own and why?
CA: That’s an interesting question! There are lots of great books out there, but for the most part, I like living in my own stories. When you read a book, you become part of that world for a few hours or days, but when you write a book, it’s yours for years. I suppose I wouldn’t have minded the money involved had I written the Harry Potter series, but then again, I would have written it differently, so who knows if it would have had the same impact?
I was recently very disappointed in “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” I almost wished I had written that, because the core concept was one I found very interesting, but the execution didn’t work for me at all. I could imagine myself writing that story, but now that it’s been done in such a popular way, I don’t feel like it’s one I can claim right now, even if I do take a vastly different approach.
JGA: Is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t asked?
CA: Not that I can think of! Thanks for having me here.
You can find Christine’s work on Amazon.