Happy Monday, lovely people of the blogosphere! I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be bringing you another unofficial UtopYA Con author interview. You simply must check out some of the past interviews I've done with these wonderful folks. And, if you don’t have your tickets to the con yet, be sure you grab them soon! Time is running out! Just around forty days left. Get yours here. Let’s get this party started! Grab a cup of coffee, your comfy chair, and help me welcome author Amy Evans to the fun!
Jo: Hi, Amy! So good to have you here on the blog. I’m so excited to be interviewing you, I can barely stand it. Are you ready to get going? Are ya nervous? *grin*
Amy: Um, should I be???
Jo: Yes. Be afraid, be very afraid! Kidding... Sort of. Okay, let’s hold our breath and jump right in. Your novel, Clicks, centers on the pollution of the Earth’s oceans and how it impacts marine life. I read that you’re passionate (obsessed, actually) with dolphins. Where did that obsession come from and what made you decide to write Clicks?
Amy: I definitely got my ocean obsession from my dad. May 5th was actually his birthday, so it’s nice to talk about this. Growing up, I was more obsessed with aliens than dolphins, but you don’t have to look far to link up the two. So while I always liked dolphins, it wasn’t until I got hired for a couple project that that particular obsession grew. I started a mobile games and entertainment company and we were hired by a dolphin experience organization (before I knew more about them and realized they were not ok) to record dolphin sounds underwater, and then we went on a journey to study the connections between dolphins and Ancient Mayans. One day five years later, a woman walked into my office and asked me if I knew anything about dolphins and Mayan hieroglyphics and I laughed because it was such a random combination, and when you combined that with development of mobile games, I was probably the only person in the world who could help. She hired me to create a visual language that represented dolphin sounds. The project was based in fiction, but it definitely got me thinking, and I continued researching and obsessing over them long after the work was done, like they were in my head and wouldn’t let me alone.
Before I wrote Clicks, I had two books I wanted to tackle – a sci fi thriller about twins and DNA manipulation, and another about a quiet seaside town full of lifeguards who treated the ocean like a religion. Somehow, the dolphins snuck into my brain, linked them together, and Clicks came out.
Jo: Hmmmm! Not sure that was a coincidence. *grin* There must've been something in the air. How lucky was that lady? I noticed you changed the series title from The Dolphin Prophecy to The Pinhold Prophecy. What was the reasoning behind that?
Amy: Look at the two words: They are anagrams – you can unscramble the letters to create both of them. Pinhold is the name of the Island, and a big part of the story lore. I felt that added to the mystery. But I’ve learned that it’s much better to be obvious about things to reach readers who would be interested in the story so I’ve actually gone back again to using dolphin, simply for visibility reasons. But both words, and both prophecies are important. And anagrams are key in Clicks. All the twins have anagram names like CAMI and MICA and KALEB and BLAKE.
Jo: Makes sense to put the topic right in the face of potential readers. Would you consider yourself a YA author, NA author, or hybrid author? If hybrid, what challenges does that present? Is there a reason you decided to step over the threshold and publish NA?
Amy: I would say both. It’s a bit tricky – I would have made Clicks NA but I want to make sure it’s accessible for schools. My NA title, Jellybean Kisses, is definitely sweet NA, which is something that’s been missing so far from the contemporary romance genre for the category. So you could call it upper YA. I wouldn’t say it’s clean, like Clicks, but it’s not steamy by any means. Part of the reason was NAlitChat.
Jo: AHHH! I agree! Tia Silverthorne Bach was just looking for sweet NA for her daughter (who's between YA and Adult right now). Way to stick in a new path for the genre! Speaking of NAlitChat, you’re the host of that popular radio show. Care to share with us where the idea for that program came from, what you’ve gained from it, and where you see it five years from now?
Amy: I can’t take credit for the idea. E.J. Wesley started it as a Twitter chat right after I got back from Utopya that first year. I’d talked to a number of authors who were just beginning to publish it, and since I love evangelizing new things, and since I had a number of story ideas that fit, I jumped in. After about six months they asked me to help, and then to guest host occasionally when the audio part first began. I was more involved in the production side initially, coming up with topics and finding guests. Now I’m hosting, and I’m still not sure how that happened but I love it! I get to interview best selling authors and ask about best practices and I feel that we are really helping to shape this community of writers so that New Adult solidifies as a category that is still her five years from now. I’d like to continue to interview authors and develop a new community around EcoLit, stories that feature the environment as part of their driving narrative. There are a number of powerful stories that feature the oceans and the environment like a character, and much like Clicks, they blend sci fi, fantasy, spec fic and don’t fit neatly into any one specific genre. So building a community of writers, readers, and bloggers will ensure that these books don’t get marginalized, and get read. Environmental awareness is something I’m completely passionate about and I believe we can really influence people to help one word, one page, one story at a time. Because while facts can change people’s minds, fiction can change their heart.
Jo: That's true! Love that quote so much! Speaking of NA, tell my readers a little bit about Jellybean Kisses. Where did the idea come from, how long did it take you to write it, and what are your hopes for the book?
Amy: Jellybean Kisses is a more personal book. It’s based in a town where we spent summers for the past four years. Jacey’s story is much more reflective of my life than Clicks. Like Jacey, I grew up in a very homogenous town and struggled to shed my own prejudices when I left. And I’ve also had jellybean kisses, and an ex did put a goose in my car.
Jo: Always fun to write something more personal, huh? Time for the alien question of the interview! I don’t know a lot about Jersey City. Do you guys have alien stories to share from that corner of the U. S.?
Amy: I’m not sure but probably. We have the most diverse population in the country, with folk from all over this world, and probably from some others.
Jo: I read that you have one daughter and one son. How do they feel about your writing? What do they want to be when they grow up?
Amy: My daughter is definitely my number one fan. She’s read Clicks four times and she’s obsessed with turtles. She talks about being a vet or a marine biologist when she grows up. My son isn’t quite as impressed, except when I use my animal communication skills to translate for our family pet. He’s inherited my passion for roller coasters, so he wants to become an architect and an engineer so he can build them when he grows up.
Jo: Wow! Your kids sound awesome. *high-five* I was poking around on your Pinterest page and saw a couple of pins about MNN articles. Would you mind sharing a bit of back-story about those for my readers and why they should check them out?
Amy: Mother Nature News is a fabulous website that covers a broad platform of topics that are important to me: ocean health, environmental recovery, sustainable living. My favorite project was interviewing the founders of some great new environmental businesses and causes, like charitywater.org.
Jo: Sweet! What a great cause. Quick! What’s your favorite snack food?
Amy: Popcorn, all kinds but especially Kettle Corn.
Jo: YUM! What fictional character would you date, and what book are they from?
Amy: Gale from the Hunger Games.
Jo: Great choice. He was a good guy. Is there some reason you gave up on Blogger and decided to just keep a Tumblr blog? I have both, and I find I get a different kind of follower on Tumblr than I do on Blogger. What are the downsides and upsides?
Amy: I agree Blogger and Tumblr have totally different audiences. I actually switched to wordpress www.amyevansbooks.com so that I could have a more traditional looking website. I’m trying to be better about blogging, which to me is very different than what I do on Tumblr.
Jo: I can't get the hang of Wordpress. Kudos to you for being able to manage it! I have to ask! What was the prank involving the goose, car, and the guy you dated?
Amy: Read the book. It’s pretty much it exactly. Except that the guy who came to get the goose out of the car was named Howard, and he was dating my close friend.
Jo: I plan to. I found a bit of really cool information. You met Veronica Roth? Wow. Tell us about that encounter and what you took away from it.
Amy: Yes, last year at RT. She was signing and asked what I wrote. I’ve always struggled with the pitch for Clicks because it’s so many different things. But because of who she is and what she writes, I didn’t want to say that it was about paranormal dolphins and hot lifeguarding twins, which are the most obvious. To me, Clicks is about instincts, and all the important things in this world that you can’t see, or prove, you just have to believe. So I told her that Clicks are the sound the universe makes to tell you what’s going to happen next, and she told me it was the best pitch she’d every heard. I laughed an asked if she was making fun of me, which was really not too cool! It was a small moment in a book signing line, but it gave me a really big inspirational boost at exactly the perfect time.
Jo: That's amazing. So great to have someone of her caliber verify what you're doing, huh? You’re a mobile app developer? Tell us about the challenges that line of work presents.
Amy: I was, and still do a bit of consulting. Right now I’m evaluating a new writing platform. But apps have really grown beyond mobile since I began developing in the year 2000, way before there was an app store, or even color phones. It was challenging to work within the limits of the existing technology, while learning and planning and adapting for an industry that changed every second. The biggest challenge was how I spent my time – just a small amount was on development and the rest was talking engineers at companies like Verizon into letting our tech plug into their systems. I’m fortunate to spend most of my time these days as an author. But I love evangelizing new technology, trend spotting, and thinking about what’s coming next.
Jo: Neat job! What kind of games have you worked on? Any we would recognize?
Amy: Not like Angry Birds, or Flappy Birds or anything like that. I did create the first wireless Book of Shadows, though I’ve got no idea where that’s ended up.
Jo: Well, that’s all the time I have for today. I can’t imagine how you do all that you do in a single day and my hat comes off to you. Anything I didn’t discuss that you’d like to throw out there for my readers?
Amy: Just that I feel really fortunate that Clicks was nominated for best debut and best supernatural cover in the Utopya awards. It would really mean a lot to me if everyone could go vote. So many amazing authors, bloggers and fans are nominated and it’s an easy and fun way to show support for the hard work and all the books we love so much! Thanks so much for having me.
Jo: Congratulations! Guys, go VOTE via the link above! Thank you ever so much for taking the time to do this interview, Amy. I look forward to meeting you at UtopYA!
Now it’s time to tell you about the featured book of the week!
Author: Amy Evans
Genre: Urban Fantasy, I suppose is the closest. I call it EcoLit – a blend of sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal with a focus on the environment
Length (print): 300 pages
Buy links: Amazon Kindle $0.99 ~ B&N $0.99 ~ iBooks $0.99
Synopsis: Clicks are the sounds the universe makes to tell you what will happen next. Truths you hear in your heart that you can't explain.
For sixteen year old Cami, the clicks won’t stop. They’re telling her to fall in love with the wrong twin, that her family is hiding something, and that Pinhold, her pristine Island home, is in danger. It's hard to trust them when they go against everything she knows.
But then an ocean mystery makes people sick, sinking the best swimmers to the seafloor and, while they're not dead, they're barely alive.
Modern medicine and island legends have no answers for Cami. Can she trust her instincts to find a cure, or will she lose the most important people in her life forever?
While your fingers are in the clicking mode, why not give Ms. Evans a follow on social media?
Facebook: Amy Evans Books
Blog: Amy Evans Books
I hope you all enjoyed this interview. Questions for Amy? Ask them below!
Well, that’s all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!