Hello there! Thanks for having me here today at Reading Romances. I’m happy to share a little bit about me and my new book Claws and Effect with you today.
Who are your influences as a writer? What do you look for when deciding to read a book?
I am in love with Neil Gaiman. I think his American Gods is probably the best book this century and I will constantly strive to create a world as intricate as his. As far as romance, my first and always favorite is Jude Devereaux. I have always loved her quirky heroines and her happily ever afters.
When I’m deciding to read a book (and I will admit that I don’t get to read as much as I want), I look for an interesting premise. I’m a sucker for good world-building and a loveable but realistic heroine. I’ve come across a few books lately where I don’t like the main character and it’s really hard for me to keep reading it. But if you’ve modernized a fairy tale to include cyborgs, I will probably give it a chance.
Are you coming to romance writing from another job? Please tell us about your road to publication.
I’m a medical secretary by trade. I still type away at work from 9-5 and then come home, put on my writing cap, and type for another four hours. That’s after housework, hubby time, and puppy playing. It’s made my road to publication a little slower than others. I started out with a class at a local community college in 2007, then found an amazing program at Southwestern Methodist University. During the coursework, I wrote, rewrote, edited and re-edited the first book, Diaries of an Urban Panther and was able to go to New York to meet with agents and editors who told me to re-edit it. I sent it in to Avon in December of 2010 and they accepted it in March 2011.
What kind of research was involved for Diaries of an Urban Panther?
I’m a bit of a homebody so I set it in Dallas because I thought it would require less research. Nope. It actually made me leave my house more. I got to know Dallas pretty well and the neighborhoods where I could see the main character Violet living.
And then there was the fighting stuff. Good thing that my husband knows Jujitsu and Jeet Kun Do. I had to write a pretty detailed gun scene in the first one, so I went to a gun range and fire off a few rounds. It was nothing like I’d imagined and I think it really helped my writing. There’s another scene where Violet gets in a down and dirty fight and I had my husband act it out with me so I would know what she would do and what it really felt like to get thrown onto your back and the wind knocked out of you.
There’s a Tazer scene in my next book, but I don’t think I’m going to research that one too much.
What are five fun facts about Claws and Effect, that readers would love to know?
1. I watched A LOT of wild animal attacks on You Tube to write some fight scenes.
2. I cast my books like a movie, so if you want to see what I see, I’ve created a Pinterest page.
3. Café Brazil (the location that Violet and Jessa eat lunch) really does have 12 different types of coffee and I’ve had each and every one.
4. There’s a scene at the end where I cried my eyes out every time I edited it.
5. There are two characters in Claws and Effect that have their own epic story lines and hopefully will be coming to print or at least to my website.
Who is your favorite character in this book, and why?
In Claws and Effect, I really fell in love with Tucker Briggs, the reformed Labrador from the evil Haverty pack. He was one of the most formed characters when I saw him in my head and I loved that he started out the book without enough pride to even look Violet in the eyes and ends the book as one of her strongest companions. I love that he sacrificed everything for his family and becomes the confidence that Violet doesn’t have about her own abilities. He is the strong older brother that Violet needed and its probably why he’s my favorite in this book.
How do you like your heroes and heroines to be?
I need a heroine that is relatable to my very mundane lifestyle. I can’t do the half vampire-half werewolf with a touch of fairy blood who kicks ass and takes names all day long. I’m not like that. I haven’t kicked ass a day in my life. Even though my brain lives in a world of non-humans, I need a little humanity in my characters. I like heroines that are a little klutzy or need to organize their M&M’s by color before they eat them, something that I know a little bit about. I’m okay with a flawed heroine as long as it’s a flaw that makes sense: low self esteem, trouble trusting men.
Like the next girl, I like my heros hunky, but they’ve got to have a heart under all that muscle. I love rakes, as long as there is a reason behind it. Guess I like my men with a heart of gold. Explains a lot about Chaz Garret, the romantic lead in the Urban Panther series.
Is there another sub-genre aside from your primary sub-genre that you would like to write for and why?
I’d love to tackle a sci-fi novel with space travel and epic galactic battles. I have an equally strong Star Wars and Star Trek back ground. I think in Sci-Fi novels because the setting is so foreign, the writers are allowed to explore very intimate philosophies. Think of Battlestar Gallactica: the creators were able to explore some pretty existential topics about the nature of humanity but because it was set in space with no set laws, the topic could be really explored. And you can really blow stuff up in space.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I was told by an editor never to quit my day job. I was also told that the whole shapeshifter thing had been done.
I love it when readers tell me they stayed up all night reading it and had to get a triple latté the next morning to make it into work.
What’s the most surprising thing you learned in creating your books?
I think I learned a lot about how I define family. I think it was best put by Nash that a pack will protest you from the world and from yourself. A pack will know when you are hurt and will comfort you and they will know when you need to be angry and give you space. The more I write about the pack, the more I see those traits in the people that I call family.
If you could be any paranormal creature. Which one would you be and why?
I really like the fey in my series. Changing the way you look, jumping through mirrors, being able to see anyone in the world at any time. I could get into SO much trouble!
What makes a romance novel a great love story and how would you define “romance”?
For me, a good love story means you know that the characters are meant to be together forever. They have supporting flaws and strengths and you can see them 10 years after their happily ever after. Where Violet needs to sometimes reign her temper in, Chaz is the calming force always by her side. When Chaz avoids dealing with problems, Violet is one to just get everything out in the open so it doesn’t fester. Romance itself is the process of finding and developing those complimentary characteristics.
In real life it is as simple as this. My husband and I both have massive sweet tooth’s. We both like Chewy Lemonheads. I like the red but hate the purples. My husband loves the purples but can’t stand the yellows. Together, we can eat the entire box in one movie flat. Jack Sprat and his wife knew how to keep the romance going.
Thank you guys again for having me here today and Don’t for get to comment to be entered to win a $25 gift card.
Amanda was born in Illinois, raised in Corpus Christi, lives in Dallas but her heart lies in London. Good thing she loves to travel! The summer of second grade, she read every book in the young adult section of the library, so she started making up her own stories and hasn’t stopped.
She has a husband who fights crime, one dog who thinks he’s a real boy, and another who might be a fruit bat in disguise. When not writing, Amanda often dreams of co-opening an evil bakery and sell despicable desserts. Her particularly favorites are larvaceous lemon bars and sinful cinnamon streusel.
She spends her weekends writing at coffee shops, practicing for the day that caffeine intake becomes an Olympic sport, and plotting character demises with fellow writers Wolvarez, Killer Cupcake and Keith (names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent).
You can also find her on Twitter: @pantherista
Claws and Effect: A Diaries of an Urban Panther Novel
by Amanda Arista
December 27th 2011 by Avon Impulse
Violet Jordan Rule #2 of being a superhero: Find reliable sidekicks
Once I took down Haverty, the Primo of the city, I thought life was going to get better. After four assassination attempts, I’m thinking not so much. Haverty’s pack needs a new leader and I’ve just about run out of reasons why I’m not right for the job. Besides, having loyal followers would definitely help me fight off whoever’s out for my blood. Especially since my boyfriend is always busy playing White Hat to every wanderer except me. It’s nice that he thinks I’m tough enough to handle my own business, but a little extra back up would be nice.
So now I just need to figure out how to mentor new shifters, run a pack, keep my “real” job, and have some sort of personal life. I guess it’s all in a day’s work for this horror movie writer-turned-shapeshifting panther.
Ends Jan 6th
Amanda will be giving away a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter (no need to leave your email)! Follow the tour and comment; the more you do, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here
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