This series is my excuse to satisfy my curiosity about what makes writers tick. The hope is that by exploring how writers got to their craft, how they interact with books and their process, I might learn a little more about my own.
For the third installment, I got the chance to interview urban fantasy writer Amy Boukhair. I met Amy during the Inkshares Nerdist contest, but it’s obvious from her writing that she’s an old hat at this whole sharing stories with others thing. First off, let’s learn a little about her.
About Amy Boukair
Amy L. Boukair is a short story author, published novelist, and an occasional poet. Her first self-published novel – the time travel romance INDIGO, was well received by readers and reviewers alike from around the world. When she’s not working on her new urban fantasy novel SHADE, she can be found working on a home improvement project, hanging out with her special needs son, or reading a novel with her golden retriever Abbey curled up next to her. You can visit her at www.amyboukair.com
1. What are you currently reading?
I hate to admit it, but I’m always juggling several books at once!
Just finished: Veiled, by Benedict Jacka (I highly recommend the Alex Verus series if you like urban fantasy)
Current audiobook (fiction): Magic Shifts: Kate Daniels, Book 8, by Ilona Andrews (Another great series)
Current audiobook (nonfiction): The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You, by Eli Pariser
Current Kindle book: All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel, by Anthony Doerr
2. Ereader or Traditional?
Both, but especially audiobooks. There’s something about a good story being read to you by a great narrator that can’t be beat.
3. What is your favorite book?
I have to pick just one??? I have so many! If I love an author, I tend to love anything and everything they write. I like to say that my favorite book is the one I haven’t read yet. There are even some books that I wish I could unread so that I could experience the first read through again – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman would be one; or all of the Harry Potter books.
4. Why do you think reading is important?
There are so many reasons to read – vocabulary expansion, imagination-sparking, escapism, general learning. Most importantly as a writer, reading inspires my own creativity and writing process. I can’t imagine not having books or stories in my life in some major way.
5. What is the one book (other than your own) that you would recommend to others?
The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. It’s one of the most lyrical books I’ve ever read. Neil has such talent of stringing all the right words together, in the right order. It’s enviable.
1. What made you want to become a writer?
I don’t think there wasn’t anything specific that inspired me to write. I’ve just always written. It’s part of who I am. I do know that my father read to me quite a bit when I was a child, and that triggered a deep love of stories, and the craft of creating them.
2. Why do you write?
Mostly for my own entertainment, to be honest. It’s almost a challenge to myself to see if I can finish out a thought, or craft a complicated story in a cohesive way. A lot of times it’s just to get the stories out of my head. If an idea sticks, it can be a bugger to get rid of until you write the story.
3. What was the first thing you wrote?
Ha! The first thing I wrote was a script for the TV show Fantasy Island. Of course, I never sent it in to be produced since I was only 10 or so at the time, but it’s a hoot to look back on now. Then there was a play about horses. Little girls have a thing for horses…
4. Which writers inspire you?
Again, so many! If I had to list a few in no particular order: Stephen King, Benedict Jacka, JK Rowling, Diana Gabaldon, Neil Gaiman, Dean Koontz, Ilona Andrews, Cassandra Clare, JRR Tolkien, George RR Martin, Robert Jordan… as I said, it’s a long list, and it grows daily. Pretty much anyone who has taken the time to write a story inspires me in some way.
5. Are you a planner or a seat of the pants writer?
A little bit of both, really. For my first novel, Indigo, it was mostly a seat of my pants deal. With Shade, I’m trying to be a bit more organized with an outline, but don’t let it impede the creativity. Everything is fluid.
6. What are you currently writing?
I’m still polishing Shade. I’d probably edit/revise ad infinitum if I could.
7. Why this particular genre?
I’ve always been an avid reader of urban fantasy, and I love the idea of creating my own magical world with its own rules. One of the wondrous aspects of being a writer is being able to create your own world for your characters to live in.
8. From where do you glean ideas for your writing?
Anywhere and everywhere. I remember coming up with one of the types of magic in Shade by seeing something on TV about empathy. I took that idea, turned it on its ear, and created a new form of mind manipulation magic that I’ve not seen before.
9. What advice would you give a fledgling writer just starting on the path to building their own novel?
Write for yourself, not for others. Don’t compromise your story or your ideas just to please an unknown and vague audience. Write what you would want to read. Otherwise, you’re pandering and not being true to yourself or the story. Critics will come and go, but if you don’t love what you’re writing – don’t expect anyone else to.
10. A new writer is suffering with writer’s block. What advice would you give them to break through?
Writer’s block sucks. Plain and simple. There are a few tricks to try to snap out of it – 1) Do a complete reread of the work so far. Sometimes going back over previous material sparks new ideas for a story. 2) Write something else. You may need to switch your mind to a completely new direction for a few before coming back to it. 3) Read something. Often the best inspiration can come from someone else’s words.
On your Book
1. Tell the readers about what makes your book unique.
Modern day mages can be pretty predictable nowadays. There is a standard of accepted magic, and its rules that, to be honest, is becoming boring. With Shade, I try to put a new spin on the magical world, while at the same time keeping in mind that mages are people too, with human relationships and emotions. Magic is just a bonus.
2. What do you love about your protagonist? What do you hate about them?
I love that despite her past mistakes, Shade is willing to take chances when she has to. I hate that she does tend to dwell on her mistakes, and it can shape her view of the world to her detriment.
3. Who would you want to play your protagonist in the movie adaptation of your book?
I’ll shoot for the stars and say the first choice would be Jennifer Lawrence – simply because I think she’s amazing and could really play anything. The second choice would be Chloe Bennet (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), as I think she can pull off Shade’s reluctant hero sensibility.
4. Are you planning on continuing the story with a sequel and/or series?
I would love to expand the world, and send Shade and Flynn on more adventures! I’m often asked to revisit Indigo, my first novel, and continue that series as well, so it’s nice to have options.
5. Is there anything else you want readers to know?
Just that I hope they take the time to check out some of my work. One thing about us indie authors is that we don’t have the support and backing of a huge publishing house – everything we do is grassroots, and all on our own. Any little bit of encouragement, whether it’s merely a retweet, a pre-order or purchase, or as grand as a glowing review, truly helps make it all worthwhile for us. It is a lot of unseen blood, sweat, and tears!
Summary: Shade Blackmore and her brother Flynn are Regulators for the Mage Guild, one of three magical guilds hidden in plain sight of our normal human world. A routine job goes awry and injures Flynn, leaving Shade a mystery to solve.
Excerpt from Chapter 4:
I give Jet a sympathetic look as I walk around the room. There is a walk-in closet on the wall opposite the French doors, and I can see a light is on inside from under the door. There could be someone hiding inside. I stop and silently motion to it, and Jet nods at me, allowing me to open the door. I tentatively pull at the shadows and can feel a slight breeze behind me as Jet also prepares an attack stance. My hand trembles slightly as I turn the doorknob and yank the door open.
Nothing. There’s nobody hiding inside. Clothes and shoes are scattered about the floor, but our attention is immediately drawn to a safe in the far wall, its door left wide open. I glance at Jet as we both silently approach the safe, neither of us has dropped our magic; unsure of the situation. For all we know, the safe could be booby trapped somehow. At this point, anything is possible.
The safe is empty except for a very old, thin wooden box. Runes are carved into the sides, but they’re not any that I recognize, and the top is open. The box itself is empty too.
“Oh boy…” Jet lets out a deep breath as she finally drops her magic. I hesitate but then do the same.
“What? What is it? What was in the box?” I don’t like the look of unease coming over her. This evening has been enough of a nightmare. I don’t need anything to add to it.
“If I’m reading it right, the box held the Stake of Banna.”
“Steak and banana, what?” I laugh nervously, unsure where the sudden urge to joke comes from. The events of the night are finally taking their toll on me, and I’m going insane. Jet stares hard at me, and there’s something in her features that scare me – she looks terrified. The hair on the back of my neck immediately stands on end.
“It’s Norse mythology, Shade,” she says, her voice steady even though I can see she’s almost trembling. “The Stake of Banna is rumored to be a sliver of the World Tree, Yggdrasil, used by the Valkyrie Kara on the battlefield to choose who lived and who died. Wielding it gives the holder access to a very powerful curse.”
“Okay, that’s definitely not cool.”
“And that’s not all,” her eyes shift back to the bedroom, “allegedly it can also be used to reincarnate the dead.”
I follow her gaze and peer out of the closet. I can still see Gary’s legs on the floor by the bed, and let out the breath I’m holding. I don’t know what I thought I’d see, but am glad he’s still there.
I don’t know about you, but I’m intrigued! If you liked what you read here as much as I did, preorder Shade today on Inkshares.