Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started writing?
Only after having tried a variety of unique jobs – from park ranger, grant writer, natural history curator, to archaeologist – did I start experimenting with writing fiction. Why? Simply put, I thought it would be fun. And I was right. Writing has been one of the few things that I do that doesn’t seem like “work.”
Last year, I published my debut YA Fantasy book, Strange Luck. The next book in the Strange Luck series, The Nightmare Birds, will be released August 2, 2016.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
What is one thing that would surprise us?
Something that might surprise you about me is that I seriously considered a career as a forensic anthropologist or mortician.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
I wrote three books before I wrote Strange Luck. I consider them “practice books.” Writing these books really helped me find my voice and learn more about publishing and writing.
The Nightmare Birds is actually an adaptation of one of these earlier books. I retained my favorite characters and the general concept, but rewrote it to be a sequel to Strange Luck.
What genre is it and what is it about?
YA Fantasy with a bit of paranormal and horror. It’s about a quirky girl named Daisy Darling who discovers a beautiful, secret world built using stolen memories. The more cherished the memories, the higher the risk of losing them.
She possesses the unique ability to destroy the world and set its prisoners free, but first she must find the courage to battle the dark forces at play before her identity is erased and she’s trapped forever.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write Strange Luck while passing a cemetery. I started thinking about memories, regrets, life, and experiences. Having as many experiences/memories as possible has always been a personal goal of mine (don’t even get me started on my mile-long bucket list).
Anyway, my mind wandered to the idea of collecting our most cherished memories and I thought it would be a unique concept for a book. And, because I’m a huge fantasy and magical realism fan, I decided to weave in lots of supernatural elements, too.
What authors have inspired you to write?
Joanne Harris inspired me to become a writer. Having only seen the movie, I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up a copy of Chocolat a decade ago, but I instantly fell in love with it. I absolutely adore the whimsical world that Joanne Harris creates, the hints of magic, and especially the sweetness she sprinkles throughout.
Years ago, I contacted Joanne to let her know how much she had inspired me and she actually responded! Not only that, she was super sweet and grateful, which made me love her even more. I also adore Neil Gaiman, Sarah Addison Allen, J.K. Rowling, Alan Bradley, and Mary Shelley. Growing up, I was influenced by The Secret Garden and Alice in Wonderland.
Are you a plotter or a pantster (writing by the seat of your pants)?
Definitely a pantser! While I do plot out loose ideas about the story and characters, I also allow plenty of room for the story to write itself and for discovery and surprise. There might be something that a character does or that the world possesses that I didn’t think of in the beginning, but as I’m enraptured in the story, it becomes more apparent.
Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
I tend to always root for the villain. Even when I watched Disney movies growing up I always wondered about the villain, why they were so vengeful, and why they didn’t deserve sympathy (Maleficent was my favorite by the way). That said, the entity in Strange Luck is my favorite character.
Since he is a dark wizard, his powers are limitless, so it was a lot of fun coming up with magical, evil, and strange things that he could do. I felt it was imperative to include a backstory about why/how he became the way he was, but I’m not one for giving away spoilers, so you’ll have to read it for yourself!
What could readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Reviews are the lifeblood of authors. They are a way to let us know exactly what you liked and why. A good review seriously makes my day, even if it’s only a line or two.
What is the most difficult thing about being an author?
Loneliness. The majority of the time you are alone, usually in isolation. I’m an introvert so I get a lot of my energy by being alone in general, but after a while it can become difficult being alone so often and for long durations. I try to force myself to work at a café at least once a week.
What do you wear while writing?
I like to dress comfortably, so I usually wear jeans, a t-shirt, and slippers. I’m also one of those people who are ALWAYS cold, so there’s usually a blanket draped across my lap too.
Growing up, my house was like something out of Dr. Doolittle. We had every kind of pet imaginable, and yes, we had birthday parties for all of them. Right now, I have a pug puppy named Loki. He is VERY appropriately named.
What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
To visit all 50 states. This is something I’ve always wanted to do from an early age. I’m more than halfway through (yay!). Every time there is an opportunity to travel, I try to strategize to visit states I haven’t been to before.
Amie Irene Winters is an environmental conservationist who’s had a lot of unique experiences – from participating in archaeological digs, camping solo in the Rocky Mountains, to designing natural history museum exhibits. But writing fiction has always been her passion. She’s the author of the Strange Luck series.
She’s a California native, but currently lives in a small western Pennsylvania town. She loves hiking, traveling, and spontaneous adventures.