Thursday, May 1, 2014

Author interview with Amber Lynne Johnson

Please start by telling us a little about yourself (education, jobs, significant other, children, pets, etc.)
Hmm. Me. In a nutshell, I’m a Southern girl with Northern roots. I met my husband when we were seventeen and we have been together an astonishing seventeen years and married for 10. I know, right? He’s a drummer. I’m a writer. And my ridiculously awesome five year old son is a painter.

Tell us about your latest New Adult book and what inspired you to write it. 

Beatless is a story about getting left behind and learning to find your own voice and place in life. I started to write it as a sort of letter to a younger generation. I was thinking about life after high school and how scary it is to suddenly be without that security of the world you’ve always known. How, sometimes, the people that we give our all to are just not the ones who will last the test of time.

The New Adult genre is fairly new. What's your definition of it? How does it differ from Young Adult or just regular Adult books?
One word: sex. I think a lot of times writers of YA feel like they have to fade to black and make everything insinuated in order to not be slammed by the general public. With New Adult you can delve into the lives of people who are right in the middle of finding out who they are. Who they want to be. And you can be a little more heavy-handed in the smut department, ifyouknowwhatImean.

Do you belong to any critique groups and/or do you have other people read your work as you're writing it? Who's brutally honest and who's a cheerleader? Which do you prefer?
Oh, yeah. I find it imperative to have people read your work who are going to guide you through the process. I have a cheerleader who tells me I’m awesome even when I’m probably not. I have another who asks a lot of questions and gives very dry, straight forward answers. Another who makes sure that all of the medical stuff I talk about is legit. I think most people prefer a cheerleader, but every writer needs someone that will tell them when they’re acting like a lunatic. 

What are your all-time favorite authors/books?
I must confess that I loved The Fault in Our Stars, The Sea of Tranquility and Warm Bodies. I only recently started really reading fiction that’s directed at a younger audience. Sometimes I get really bogged down in it, though. Up until a few years ago, the only books I ever read on a consistent basis were true crime and books about serial killers. It’s been a big leap.

Do you outline before you write or just dive head-first into a manuscript? Do you maintain a schedule for writing, or is it more haphazard?It always starts with a scene and a conversation. Dialogue drives me. Beatless began a few years ago as a pretty different story. I sat on it for a while and one night, right before I fell asleep, I saw the entire scene in my head of Mallory and Tucker in the car while he asks her to describe the bass line of a song to him. This happened a few days into Nano where I had been working on another book. I pushed the other one aside and wrote Beatless in 27 days. I worked my way up to that scene and then got out of bed at 2am to outline the rest of the book and finished it in about a week.

Where do you do your best writing? (Ex: desk in your office, public library, under a tree in the park, in front of a Real Housewives TV marathon, etc.) Do you like music or some other background noise, or do you need quiet? 

I have to have a quiet house and music in my headphones. Period. Otherwise I will LOSE IT.

What are the best and worst parts of writing a book?
The best part is seeing that you’ve actually accomplished something that huge. Finishing a book is a HUGE deal. The worst parts are looking back and wondering what the hell you were thinking with that sentence or scene.

When you're driving and you have a sudden, brilliant idea for the new manuscript you're working on, what do you do? (Ex: pull over and fire up the laptop, keep driving while scribbling on a McDonald's bag, tell Siri, etc.)
I’ve usually got a notebook with me, but a lot of the time I will send myself an email from my phone. I get the best emails from myself!

Imagine you have a whole day free for shopping. Where do you go? (Mall, unique boutiques, flea market, antique shops, bookstore, home improvement store, etc.)
I’m not even lying when I tell you that I buy 90% of my clothes from Goodwill. So, I’d probably be there.

What are the top 5 titles in your Netflix queue? (Be honest.) Or if you don't have a Netflix queue, which books are on your bedside table? (Again, be honest.)
*checking my phone for my Netflix queue* Hold please…
Crap. Is it the five at the beginning or the five at the end? I’ll just go with this:
Not Fade Away
Kitchen Nightmares
Geography Club
The Great Outdoors

Do you prefer to read ebooks or print?
Nothing is better than holding a book in my hands. And smelling it.

Where is your favorite place in the world?
Austin, TX

Do you have any advice for people who want to write a book?
Do it. Start and see where it takes you. But, OMG, please have someone read it and pay for an editor. The biggest complaints I see in reviews on people’s books are about the lack of editing. It’s worth it. I promise.

Twitter: @WhereIsJakeRyan

And you can find Beatless on amazon here: Link to buy

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