First of all, tell us a little about yourself?
I’m the author of the Strange Luck series. Writing YA Fantasy books never entered my mind until I completed by bachelors in anthropology and religious studies, masters in environmental leadership, and an eight-day wilderness solo in the Rocky Mountains. After having tried a variety of unique jobs - from park ranger, grant writer, natural history curator, to archaeologist - did I start experimenting with writing fiction. A few moves around the country, and some long international trips later, I published my debut novel, Strange Luck.
What inspired you to become an author?
This quote by R.A. Salvatore perfectly encapsulates it: “If you can quit, then quit, if you can’t quit, you’re a writer.” I can’t think of any other job that is more perfect for me.
What was the main inspiration for your most recent book?
I was inspired to write Strange Luck while passing a cemetery one day. I started thinking about memories, regrets, life, and experiences. Having as many experiences/memories as possible has always been a personal goal of mine (don’t even get me started on my mile-long bucket list). Anyway, my mind wandered to the idea of collecting our most cherished memories and I thought it would be a unique concept for a book. And, because I’m a huge fantasy and magical realism fan, I decided to weave in lots of supernatural elements, too.
Who influenced you the most in life?
It’s a toss-up between Simone de Beauvoir (an incredible feminist philosopher) and Henry David Thoreau (the author and naturalist). I have read and re-read everything they’ve ever written. They are both endless inspirational to me. My favorite Thoreau quote, which has motivated me never to give up writing is pinned to my bulletin board right next to my computer. It reads: “Do not part with your dreams or aspirations for when they are gone you will still exist, but you have ceased to live.”
What is the kindest thing someone has ever said and or done for you?
One of the best compliments I’ve ever received is that my dad (who is not a fiction reader at all, nor a reader of books in general) actually read my book! Not only that, he kept calling me for weeks after he finished it asking questions about the story and how I got my ideas.
Do you have a favourite author? (Or name a few)
H.P Lovecraft immediately comes to mind. He was not only a genius with creating a complex pantheon of gods, but his style of writing has a way of getting in your head. Lovecraft never really tells or shows you anything to evoke fear; instead, it subtly creeps into the story on its own. I also adore J.K Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Michael Ende, and Joanne Harris.
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Don’t ever give up! It's going to be difficult, it's going to be trying, but in the end, it will be worth it when you finally hold your book in your hands.
Did you always want to be a writer and if not what did was the first thing you wanted to be or do?
Yes. My favorite thing to do in school was write creative stories. I still have a lot of the ones I wrote in elementary school, which I post periodically as a Throw Back Thursday laugh on my blog (aiwinters.blogspot.com). Just last month, I shared my very first horror story I wrote when I was nine. It was freakin’ hilarious!
Do you like to listen to music while you write? If so, who are your favourite artists?
I prefer silence when writing. If there’s noise or music around, I tend to focus on that instead of my writing.
What helps you write when you're stuck and or have writer's block?
I’ll go for a walk, talk with a friend, or go see a movie. Studies show that distractions can actually be good for creative thinking. I also carry around a notebook with me at all times so if I do get an idea, I won’t lose it.
After a long day of writing etc, do you have a favourite tv show you like to watch?
I’m totally addicted to True Blood right now. It has every supernatural element you can think of (vampires, fairies, witches, werewolves), and they always leave you with a cliffhanger. I’m gearing up for the next season of Game of Thrones, Vikings, and Downton Abbey next. Whoohoo!
What are you working on currently?
Book II in the Strange Luck series called The Nightmare Birds. It will be very H.P Lovecraft meets The Night Circus. Muhahaha! It’ll be a little darker than Strange Luck and have more philosophical components. Look for it this autumn 2016.
When you're not writing, or working, what do you like to do?
I love everything outdoorsy like camping, hiking, and kayaking. When inside, I play keyboards, paint, and bake sinfully sweet desserts.
What are some of your most favourite books of all time?
Although I didn’t actually read The Neverending Story by Michael Ende until very recently, it is definitely one of my favorite books of all time (and it’s so much better than the movie). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chocolat, and Frankenstein are some of my other favorites.
Which of your characters do you love the most and why?
I tend to always root for the villain. Even when I watched Disney movies growing up I always wondered about the villain, why they were so vengeful, and why they didn’t deserve sympathy (Maleficent was by favorite by the way). That said, the entity in Strange Luck is my favorite character. Since he is a dark wizard, his powers are limitless, so it was a lot of fun coming up with magical, evil, and strange things that he could do.
Which of your books are you most proud of?
I actually wrote three books before I wrote Strange Luck. At the time, I thought they were great, but I was just being naïve. It wasn’t until years later that I came to realize that I was still finding my voice and they were in a sense “practice books.” I approached Strange Luck much differently by taking more time to develop and write the story, share it people for feedback, and follow my editor’s excellent advice. I’ve never put so much blood, sweat, and tears into anything in my life, and that’s why Strange Luck will always hold a special place in my heart.
What is the title of the last book you read/was it good or bad?
The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters (no relation.) The gorgeous cover is what initially drew me to this book. Something about the picture was just so irresistibly strange and creepy. My favorite J The Cure for Dreaming is a peculiar Gothic love story, seamlessly weaving in the complexity of gender roles in Victorian life. Cat writes so simplistically, yet her words carry deep purpose and beauty. I also love the old pictures and quotes scattered throughout the book (very Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children). The parallels with Dracula are also a nice touch. I’ll definitely be reading more of Cat’s books in the future.
Is there anything specific you'd like to try writing about in the future?
Perhaps a children’s book about my mischievous pug puppy appropriately named Loki.
What is an interesting or hidden talent you have?
I’m a classically trained pianist. I’ve been playing ever since I was five, and for a brief stint, I taught piano lessons to children. Currently, I play keyboards in a metal band with my husband.
If you could have one super power, what would it be and why would you choose it?
Ohhh, that’s good question. Definitely to fly! How awesome would it be to fly to the top of a mountain, or just go for a nice glide in the sky when the weather’s nice? I think this comes from my obsession with wings. I’ve always adored mystical creatures with wings.
Is there anything else you'd like my readers to know?
I’d love for you to check out Strange Luck and let me know what you think. Comment on my blog (I always respond), or connect with me on social media (see below). Thanks so much!
Where can we find you on social media?
Official Website: www.amieirenewinters.com
Check back later this year as I will be reviewing Amie's book Strange Luck!