Welcome! Please introduce yourself and tell us about your latest release.
First, I’d really like to thank you for this interview, it’s very generous of you! As for me, I’m Amy Corwin and I write historical romantic mysteries and paranormal romances. My latest book is Vampire Protector. It’s my first paranormal romance and I’m extremely excited about it. Nocturne Romance Reads just gave it four hoots (link: http://paranormal-romancejunkies.webs.com/apps/blog/show/5280210-vampire-protector-amy-corwin) and said this about it, “Vampire Protector is without a doubt one of the best paranormal romance novels of 2010, as it has all the makings of a great book, it has an original plot, interesting characters, and a well developed relationship between the main characters. Paranormal romance fans, who are looking for a paranormal romance novel that isn't generic should definitely read Vampire Protector.” I couldn’t be happier!
Have you ever had an idea for a story which scared you after you began writing it?
Absolutely. I frequently chose difficult characters who are not necessarily the nicest people on earth. When I start writing, I always worry about making these difficult people likable enough for the reader to continue reading. My characters frequently remind me of a teacher I had in High School. The students disliked her and always wanted to avoid her class, which was advanced History. She was very, very hard on her students and never hesitated to let them know when they messed up. But I loved her. She was probably the best teacher I’ve ever had—because she expected the best and gave the best. Sure, she was cranky, sarcastic, and could make you feel like a fool. However, if you did well in her class, you actually accomplished something. I learned more in one semester with her than years with other teachers. I’ll never forget her.
And in many ways, she typifies the kind of difficult, passionate, highly critical, yet caring person I enjoy writing about. It is challenging to make them likeable. I frequently doubt my ability to do what I set out to do, but as she would say, if you don’t make the attempt, you’ve already failed.
Excellence in any field demands you reach for things you may not grasp. It’s scary and frustrating, but it is truly rewarding.
Have you incorporated actual events from your own life into your books?
Not events, per se, LOL. I’ve never met a vampire. However, we all draw on our experiences and emotions for our stories. In Vampire Protector, Gwen is searching for lost memories of her family. Her memories carry the same intensity of emotion I felt as I tried to come to terms with the loss of both my parents. To a large degree, I wrote this book as a way to work through my own complex emotions of grief and love when in a very short period of time I got married for the first time, lost first my father then my mother, moved to a different state, and took a job two levels below my previous one. Such events are not uncommon, but having them all occur within a short period of time was challenging.
Writing this book was a way for me to work through the complex feelings, so poor Gwen has a very difficult time of it, coming to grips with her life and secrets from her past that won’t stay hidden.
Sometimes I wonder if all books are really various writers’ attempts to cope with the complexities of their own lives, LOL.
How much research do you do? Do you research first and then write, or do you write first, then research as needed?
Every book, even pure fantasy, requires a great deal of research. Sometimes it seems I spend an equal amount of time researching as I do writing. Even something as simple as whether a certain phrase was in use in a specific geographical location, or the species of birds you might hear, must be verified.
I use a hybrid form of research. It’s easier to plot if you have a general idea of the historical events that serve as a foundation for your novel. But I try not to go overboard and spend months on researching esoteric topics such as colonization of the Americas, even if I mention it in a book. Instead, I collect general information and sources, then as I start to write, I research specifics that will actually be included.
Here’s a secret: I seem to have a “sensor” that goes off after I’ve done a certain amount of research. It tells me that I have enough information to plot the story and begin writing. Any details can be further researched, as needed. It’s similar to feeling full after a rich dinner. When I get that “full sensation,” I stop and start writing.
Is there any message you want readers to take from reading your work?
There is always hope.
This is such a fundamental theme for me, perhaps because of my own life. At thirty-six, I had given up on the idea of finding anyone and getting married. I gave up hope and figured I’d spend the rest of my life alone. But my hobby of bird watching threw me into the company of an amazing man who asked me to marry him.
You never know where life will take you—and that’s a good thing. Never give up hope for change and your search for happiness. The future is wonderful in its infinite possibility.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? And have you ever had a story take on a life of its own?
Like research, I use a hybrid approach. Initially, I plan out the novel as an outline, with three brief points (or so) per chapter. This at least lets me get started and understand pretty much where the story needs to go. Since many of my books also include a mystery, it’s important to know which clues are going to crop up where and when. I try to know who the murderer is to guide the story properly, but I always allow a certain flexibility with this as in many stories, the murderer changes as the story is written.
Once you start writing the story, the characters take over. They…change things. This is where I end up being a pantster. Because after the first five or six chapters, the original outline starts getting…skewed. The murderer may be someone else entirely. Sometimes I’ll go through my outline and modify it to accommodate the changes, but often, I just keep working, letting the characters guide me as we get deeper and deeper into the story.
How long did it take for you to be published?
Way, way too long. Many years. It’s important for writers to keep working at it, even if they initially meet with nothing but rejection. For me, the five or so years were important as a way to experiment with writing and find the themes and characters that most intrigued me.
Many writers, myself included, initially try to “write what is expected” for a specific genre. For some, this works. For others (like me) it doesn’t. That’s what this initial period is for. It allows you to develop your writing muscles and discover what you really want to write about.
If you could go back and tell yourself anything when you first began your writing career, what would you say?
Be bold and write what you love to read.
I confess that I was terrified to even try to write a mystery. Frankly, I didn’t think I was smart—or good—enough to write one. But I’ve always loved mysteries, particularly the old Gothics by authors like Victoria Holt, Virginia Coffman, and Mary Stewart. I wanted to write stories that included a mystery, whether it was a historical or a contemporary paranormal. It took me a great deal of time to decide to “go for it”.
If you want to be a writer—don’t let self-doubt keep you from writing what you know in your heart you want to write.
Laptop or pen and ink? What are your ‘must-haves’ when writing?
I keep a pad of paper and pen next to my bed for those ideas that come to you when you’re trying to get to sleep.
However, my serious writing is done on either a computer (desktop or laptop) or my AlphaSmart. When I really want to get writing done, the AlphaSmart is the way to go. It’s nothing but a keyboard with a tiny, four-line display. It’s instant on and there are no distractions. You can’t do anything except write. This device is without a doubt the best thing for writers who need to get something written and are easily distracted by the Internet, etc.
Who are your favorite authors? Who would you say influenced you the most?
Georgette Heyer and Barbara Michaels are probably the two most important authors. Georgette Heyer wrote both Regencies and mysteries. Michaels wrote paranormal stories. I’m constantly re-reading their books, trying to unravel their amazing techniques for characterization, plotting, and characterization.
What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?
Perhaps that I grow old garden roses and currently have nearly 100 in my gardens. They are lovely, fragrant roses and I love the fact that some of them were grown by the Empress Josephine when she established her amazing rose garden during the Regency period.
Favorite Thanksgiving memory?
My favorite Thanksgiving will always be the last one I shared with my family and my husband’s family. It was wonderful. We had all the traditional foods: turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, green beans, sweet potatoes, Waldorf salad, and pumpkin pie. We were so lucky to have both my parents, my sister and her in-laws, and all the members of my husband’s family. We watched football, laughed, talked, and had a wonderful day.
Any special Thanksgiving traditions?
My husband and I always put a turkey in a smoker these days. He gets up early to stuff the bird with onions, celery and butter, and get it going. It’s wonderful to go out on the back porch and smell the mesquite smoke carrying the absolutely delicious scent of turkey.
Some years we have other family members, some years it’s just the two of us, but no matter how many people are around, it’s a day I always look forward to.
Pumpkin Pie or cake?
I’m a pumpkin pie girl. With plenty of fresh, homemade whipped cream. And we always add extra spices—I can’t stand a bland pie.
Thank you for being here today! Please tell us where we can find your books.
Here’s a little about my latest book, Vampire Protector
A frightened woman must unlock her memories if she's to survive the deadly company of her Vampire Protector and keep the past from destroying her future.
An anonymous note forces Gwen on a mission to remember an ancient family secret that may be hidden in her long abandoned childhood home. When she asks her handsome neighbor, John, to accompany her, she’s not expecting much, except possibly help if she falls through any rotten floors.
Unfortunately, that's her first mistake.
John is a vampire, and her house is not exactly empty. Secrets—and the dead—won’t always stay buried, and John’s extraordinary strength and determination may be all that can withstand what awaits them in the shadows...
Without warning, goose bumps rippled down her back. The hairs on her arms tickled like millions of insect legs dancing over her skin.
The shadows behind John rippled. In the darkness of the hallway, feral yellow eyes gleamed. She found barely enough energy to react. Throwing the box at John, she pulled out her gun again and shot at the figure in the doorway. Glowing rivulets like molten lava appeared, suspended in the darkness before exploding in a rain of fiery golden sparkles.
A scream of pure fury rent the stillness, reverberating through the thick walls of the house.
“Gwen, we’ve got to get out of here,” John said, tension deepening his voice.
She was dimly aware of him reaching for her again, but her attention was caught by a new set of eyes peering through the doorway.
John saw them, too. “Get behind me.”
Thank you again for having me! I enjoyed it tremendously!