Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am pleased to introduce the very talented, Amanda Crozier, creator of the fantasy novel, Ride the Wind. Amanda has selected the self-publishing route with her work and I’ve enjoyed hearing her take on the pros and cons of taking that particular road.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Born in London, I have lived in Middlesex, Essex and Derbyshire before finally settling down in rural Suffolk. I am married with three grown up children and a grandson. A springer spaniel and a mini lop rabbit complete my family. They say never work with children or animals – I have done both in addition to working in customer service with the public. I am an avid reader, have a sense of humour, enjoy rock music and love to dance. I have a love for dragons and a tale to tell.
2. What do you do when you are not writing?
As well as writing, I enjoy stitch work. I have many bespoke tapestry and cross stitch pieces that have gone to customers worldwide. I believe the furthest travelled pieces are two chair seats that went to New Zealand. I love making jewellery and my favourites are bead woven necklaces. Other interests are photography, gardening, and, of course, reading.
3. Do you have a day job as well?
I retired from working in early years childcare (2 to 4 year olds) three years ago and now do occasional bar work for events. I also earn from my stitch work.
4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
Whilst in High School, English was my favourite subject and all my essays were way above the requested word count. Since September 2000, I have been volunteering at my local Primary School, hearing children read, where they need extra support. I work with all ages from Foundation Stage (4 years) up to year 6 (11 years). One lunchtime, in the school library, I had an idea for a children’s story but it was years later that I actually did something with it. A Nativity poem that I wrote for Pre-School was published in an anthology in 2013 and a short story “The Inheritance” which was originally written for my ‘O’ Level exam, was published in 2014 in a new anthology. Ride the Wind was completed in 2017 with a final pre-publication edit early in 2018.
5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
Having been around horses for most of the first half of my life, as a young adult I progressed from “pony” books to westerns. Whilst having to lay flat following an injury to my back, a friend introduced me to Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragon Riders of Pern” books. I was immediately hooked! A dragon was so much more than a horse and my allegiance changed from a lover of equines to a lover of dragons. Since then, with a few author exceptions, Sci-fi/fantasy has been my favoured genre to read.
I do not know where I get my ideas. The story flows from within me and I am often surprised when I read back. The number of times that things tie in to clues that I did not even know at the time would be a clue never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes I will see a person for the first time and think to myself that they are exactly as I already imagined a particular character – it then makes it easier to describe them and bring them to life. I also once saw a fellow passenger waiting for a train who had the most amazing carved walking stick/staff, so I just had to write it in somewhere
6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
No, never. I guess I have been lucky that way, but then I do not write if I am not in the right frame of mind for it.
7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
When I started, I had a good general overview, because it was intended as a shorter children’s story. However, when I got to the concluding dragon hatching, I realised that this was not the end but merely the beginning of something far larger. I rewrote the beginning and 400 pages later, I came to the realisation that there was too much for one book. Turning my thoughts to the sequel, I decided that it could be split into three and become The Dragonlore Trilogy. Once I started on the larger story, it simply flowed as I typed. When I write, I see a picture in my mind as if I am watching a scene from a film, and I write what I see. Now and again I will see a specific scene that I have to write down, even though I may not have got to it yet – but these have been in the second book rather than the first. I do know how the second book will end, and one event that will conclude the trilogy. Meanwhile, I await the words appearing on the page from the image in my mind to truly know what will happen.
8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I have always loved books. I was read to by my father at bedtime every night before I could read and later loved reading for myself. The three authors who have inspired my love for dragons are Ann McCaffrey, her son Todd McCaffrey (both together and separately have penned the Pern series), and Robin Hobb.
9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (self-published or traditional)?
I was lucky to have the support and advice of a very good friend who is a creative writing teacher and has worked in publishing. So getting self-published was not as challenging as it would have been had I been in the position to try and do it alone without advice and support.
10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I would not have had the first book on an online site, but instead, would have self-published straight away. I was happy with the take up rate for readers, except for the fact that very few leave a review whether it is positive or negative, which is frustrating to not know how it had been received.
11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
My book has not been out long, and I have had a steep learning curve, learning to use social media platforms. I have designed A6 handouts and A4 poster which I keep with me when I am out and about so I don’t lose an opportunity to promote or advertise it. In some ways, though, you cannot beat the old fashioned word of mouth, although online recommendations are also a great help. I have several other ideas for promotion, but it is early days and I need to take one step at a time. I also have my own website. One problem with the Sci-fi/fantasy genre is people either love it or you get the reaction “Oh no, I don’t read that” even when you know they never have tried the genre.
12. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
My first book has recently been self-published and is available in large format paperback and Kindle editions and is available from Amazon, your local bookstore or local library. Ride the Wind is the opening book in the Dragonlore Trilogy, written under my pen name Amanda Crozier, which also happens to be my birth name (I was adopted from birth so it was only used for a few weeks). The trilogy is suitable for any age of reader including YA.
The back cover blurb reads:
Zysal was the only person who truly believed in dragons, the ancient guardians of the peace. A War Lord has invaded, subjugating peaceful folk and taking all in his wake. Zysal’s sire, Zimadon, returns from his travels with this news for the village Elders at the Kevii Hall.
Zysal is drawn to return to a cave where he gains access to a hidden way, leading him to discover a large egg from which a dragon hatches. Magic has frozen time allowing the pair to mature together before returning to the village over the sacred waterfall.
He has to adjust to his new status as a Rider with help from two guardians who are as old as the mists of time, and whilst his sire agrees to return to the coast to gather more information, the pair need time to grow in strength, but what can they do to help the situation that is so far from their remote village?
They discover that the Kevii’s apprentice, Axen, can communicate with his dragon, Opalina, so what part will he play in the adventure that unfolds, and what will Zimadon learn when he travels down the coast with two fishermen?
13. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
I draw from life observations; after all, emotions are the same whatever the setting – whether real or made up. I also draw from half a lifetime spent with horses and most of my life living in a deep rural setting to create the type of world in my book. Place and people names are made up – I will see a name and think if you change a letter there and another there, that would give a good name. Mostly though, it is the product of my imagination.
14. What project are you working on now?
I am halfway through the second book of the trilogy “Weather the Storm”.
15. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
Hopefully, Weather the Storm will be ready to publish late Autumn/winter 2018.
16. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I would like to do a prequel with the back story of Opalina’s dam Carnelia and Zysal’s ancestor Kethraine.
17. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest was receiving a rude post in response to one of mine in an online book group from someone who had never even read my book. The best was when a friend who does not normally read the genre came to me after she read it saying that she had really enjoyed it and could see everything so clearly.
18. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Believe in yourself, especially in those moments of self-doubt! Don’t rush the end the story; let it evolve at its own pace. I find that keeping a time line helps with continuity, especially when events occur in different places.
19. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
To anyone who has taken time to read Ride the Wind – thank you for helping the dream become reality, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. It was only becoming an author that made me realise just how important reviews are to an author. So, please, always leave a review, even if it is only a few words such as “I liked it” or “good book”.
Please join me in thanking Amanda for her comprehensive answers and for sharing her experiences of the modern day publishing landscape. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Amanda via the following links.
Ride the Wind by Amanda Crozier ISBN 9 781975 939373
Amazon Author page:
Social media contacts:
Cover photo (waterfall) by Bernd Hildebrandt (User: Barni1 http://www.pixabay.com).