In accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Confessions of a Literary Persuasion. All books I review are either borrowed, purchased by me, given as a gift, won, or received in exchange for my honest review of the book in question.

20 August, 2007

Author Interview with Amy Lignor

Amy is the author of the books The Heart of a Legend(reviewed earlier this year), and Mind Made (review to be posted here soon). I recently had a chance to do an interview with her for Front Street Reviews, and thought I would share it with my readers here as well.

1. If you could give your book to one person who would it be and why?

Stephen King. And, oddly enough, not because he’s a famous author, but because I read a non-fiction book he wrote called, “On Writing.” This was at a time when I was ready to give up on the whole ‘dream’ because of rejection letters and non-belief in the fact that I really wasn’t cut out to be a writer – that I didn’t have the talent necessary to do this for a living. His book inspired me to continue, and I would love him to read any of my books. It would be a huge thrill for me.

2. What is your writing procedure?

It’s been said that there are two kinds of writers. The first, are able to sit down in front of a computer and just write, off-the-cuff, with no notes, no outlines, just the very basic idea of what they want to say – and then let the story unfold. I’m the other type. I need to have an outline prepared, even though I know that when I ‘get’ into the book, things have a way of going in a different direction. Because I use historical places a great deal, I also do a lot of research regarding the scenery, the people, all the way down to the imports and exports of the town, to make sure that I do the location justice.

3. What advice would you give new writers?

This is such a “form-letter” answer, but my advice is to write. Write as much as you can. If you have a limited amount of time due to work, family, etc., like I do – try with all your might to set aside time in the evenings after everyone has gone to bed, and write. Oh, and don’t take every agent and every publisher rejection to heart. Most of the time, guys, no one read your query letter in the first place. All it takes is one acceptance.

4. You’ve worked in the publishing industry as an editor, has this affected how you write?

The only thing I really took from being an editor was, of course, spelling, grammar, and structure of sentences (and I’m still learning.) Manuscripts, above all, have to be clean. Even if the story is outstanding and has never been seen before, if your letter or your manuscript is filled with mistakes, no agent or publisher will touch it.

5. Your books have very different styles; did you find yourself favoring one over the others?

I love the historical adventure stories that I’m currently doing. They give me the blank canvas needed to insert romance, science fiction, fantasy moments, historical figures, mystery, suspense - and still keep a modern-day tale going strong. I don’t want to pigeon-hole myself into one single genre. I am partial to combining everything I can into one, and making the story one you can’t put down. The suspense has to be there for the reader to continue.

6. What made you pick your subject matter for Heart of a Legend?

I moved to New Mexico about five years ago. Here, of course, Billy the Kid is a legendary figure. However, I was visiting his “grave” up in Ft. Sumner and I came across Paulita Maxwell in the cemetery. This led me on a quest of my own. There were many women in the Old West that were a HUGE part of history but they were overlooked for the popular male outlaws. I wanted Paulita’s story told because she WAS the heart of the legend and her voice, her struggle deserved to be heard.

7. You have very a very descriptive writing style when it comes to the locations your characters are in. Does your place to write in have an inspirational view?

I love this question, because I actually don’t. I wish I did. I have a very dimly-lit area with a window that looks out on practically nothing of interest. But, I have had the opportunity to see much of the U.S. and I always keep those pictures locked firmly inside my mind. I haven’t, unfortunately, gotten to see the historical places in Athens, Rome, etc. that I’m currently writing about, but I can see them through the windows in my mind. (And, of course, Google helps a great deal). I think without scenery, without the ability to make sure that your reader is standing beside you in a beautiful or, in some cases, eerie, setting – then the reader won’t really FEEL what’s going on with the characters. They won’t care.

8. Both Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made have strong romantic overtones flowing through the story do you consider love to be an important aspect of a person’s everyday life?

Actually, no. Sounds terrible, I’m sure. For the two first books I wrote, it just so happened that the romance between the specific characters was what brought out the loyalty, etc. that they needed to survive the situations they were placed in. I think that respect – more than deep-heated romance – is essential to believing that the characters are a true team. You route for them. Sparks of chemistry are always good, too. They make the readers come back for the sequel.

9. What’s next for you?

I have two series, actually, that I’m currently working on. The first is a trilogy called The Angel Chronicles, which are based on an angel/warrior team who are born in Heaven and placed on Earth in the bodies of the recently deceased to finish what they began. Going from 1800’s Ireland, through the Gilded Age of the early 1900’s. The next project I’m involved with is a historical/commercial fiction series. The main character is the Head of Research for the NYPL. She’s joined by an almost obsessed “adventurer/billionaire” who is searching for some of the most elusive artifacts known to mankind. Each book is a puzzle within a puzzle to be worked out, leading the reader on a roller-coaster ride through ancient places, a killer’s mind, and more. We’re also working on a screenplay for The Heart of a Legend, which is very exciting.

10. I just heard the good news that you’ve been signed on for a new series. Congratulations. Would you care to tell us a bit about it?

Thank you. It’s been a long time coming, but I am very lucky to have been signed by a top agent who saw the new series I spoke about above as something that had to be in the marketplace. The first book is called, 13, and the follow-up is titled, The Sapphire Storm. I’ve just begun the third which is tentatively titled, The Heroes Companion. I can’t wait to be able to share them with readers.

07 August, 2007

book review: The City of Ember

“In the city of Ember, the sky was always dark. The only light came from great flood lamps mounted on the buildings and at the tops of poles in the middle of the larger squares. When the lights were on, they cast a yellowish glow over the streets; people walking by threw long shadows that shortened and then stretched out again. When the lights were off, as they were between nine at night and six in the morning, the city was so dark that people might have been wearing blindfolds.”
-The City of Ember, Chapter 1, page 4.

When the city of Ember was first built, its builders left a plan for its inhabitants to find when they needed it most. Unfortunately, the box it was housed in was moved early, and the one person who knew of the importance of the box passed suddenly away before telling a successor about the box. Thus it was shuffled away, and lost to time.

In the city of Ember, everyone has a job to help keep the city functioning smoothly. The children of Ember attend school until age twelve when they join the workforce. On assignment day Lina Mayfleet, who want to run through the streets of Ember as a messenger, draws a job down in the pipe works. Meanwhile, her classmate Doon Harrow, who wants to learn how things work and fix things, draws a job as a messenger. Lina and Doon decide to trade jobs rather than being stuck with a job that they hate for the three year work period.

The city of Ember is becoming more and more unhappy. The generator providing the electricity for the city is failing more and more often. Leaving the city plunged into darkness for longer instances before it can be fixed. Supplies from the store rooms are running low. The mayor is a corrupt and greedy individual who is more concerned with his plan to keep his own life comfortable than with trying to find a solution for the survival of Ember and the people who live in the city.

When Lina finds the fragments of an ancient document, she convinced Doon to help her decipher it. They discover it contains instructions that seem to lead out of Ember. Can Lina and Doon find out where they lead, and convince the other members of the city to follow them before they run out of supplies and electricity for good?

The City of Ember was written for the young reader, however adult fans of children’s fantasy will find this an enjoyable story as well. Jeanne DuPrau has created a wonderfully intriguing world where sunlight does not exist. The story has high spirited main characters who believe in a good cause, and run up against obstacles that might make most people stop trying. I’ve seen a lot of web sites devoted to questions about the book for teachers to include it in their class curriculum. It was also announced earlier this year that a film version of the book is being filmed with a planned release of next year.