Sunday, 15 September 2013
Spotlight: An Interview with Amber Skye Forbes
Synopsis: Amelia Gareth's brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims in the snowy city of Malva. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.
Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They're searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch's signature. The shadows are after witches.
Now Amelia must decide what to do: should she continue on her path to profession knowing there is no redemption, or should she give up on her dream and turn away from Cathedral Reims in order to stop the shadows who plan to destroy everything she loves?
Mariah: You started writing this book when you were just fifteen years old. If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would you say?
Amber: I would tell myself not to expect publication for quite a few more years because you're still young and your writing and storytelling skills are still immature. But they're good for being fifteen--not so much for publication.
Mariah: When Stars Die is set in a fictional place named Malva, and much of the story happens in a convent named Cathedral Reims? How hard was it to fashion a world out of nothing?
Amber: It was incredibly difficult to start a world from scratch. I started creating this world at fourteen, and it was a monstrosity originally. I developed the entire thing over 180,000 words because I had no idea how to cram such a big world into far less words. Originally Warbele was going to be a continent among other made-up continents, so essentially it was going to be an entirely new world, but I began to realize how unnecessary that was. And even though I don't mention this in When Stars Die, Warbele is a country situated near Denmark. So it's in our world.
Mariah: There are witches in your book, but are they the kind of witches you would usually read about in other novels? If not, explain how your witches are different.
Amber: I haven't read about witches that are like mine. For one thing, mine are born of the Seven Deadly Sins committed by parents, so they're a punishment for parents who have sinned for too long. They also have only one power, which is fire, and that power's only purpose is to mark a witch and nothing else. It's rare that a witch can control his/her fire, but it is doable. When witches die, they also die into something else. They don't die into Paradise or go to hell or anything like that. And then when they die again, they die for good, into nothingness. They cease to exist.
Mariah: Where did the idea for the Shadowmen come from?
Amber: I can't even tell you, honestly. It was years ago when I came up with the concept for these these guys. All I can remember is I had a nightmare about a girl in a black cloak going around and killing everyone. She was paler than snow, had deep, black eyes, and she was ruthless. Now Shadowmen aren't inherently ruthless, but they do harbor a lot of hatred--and for good reason.
Mariah: You've mentioned before that you were inspired largely by the Victorian era while writing this book. Is there anything specific about that era that attracted you to it? Why did you want to specifically draw from that time period?
Amber: I primarily love the fashion and love all the intricate mannerisms and social interactions. Now I wouldn't want to be a woman during that time, but it's just interesting how regulated everything was among the aristocracy. I drew from that time period because it was a very restrictive period for women--they were second class citizens, trapped by the whims of their husbands or whatever male figures were in their lives. So Amelia is doubly restricted because she is both a woman and a witch, so the victorian era is very challenging for Amelia.
Mariah: What was the hardest part about writing When Stars Die?
Amber: The hardest part about writing When Stars Die was trying to make it dark. Sometimes I didn't think I was making it dark enough, and other times I thought I was making it too dark. But I am very much satisfied with the final outcome of the darkness of the book. I think it's just right.
Mariah: You explained the stars motif in a guest post recently. Did you originally plan to include that specific motif?
Amber: I did not plan to include that motif at all. It just happened because I am obsessed with relating life to stars. I have to be very careful though because I don't want every single book I write to be loaded with star motifs. In fact, I don't want the star motif to go beyond the trilogy because then I'll just be drawing from my own tropes.
Mariah: What piece of advice would you offer a young writer?
Amber: Write constantly. Read all the time and try to analyze how the author wrote the book. Don't listen to too much strict writing advice, either. Don't become enamored with Elmore Leonard, especially.
Mariah: What future projects can your readers look forward too?
Amber: I am working on the sequel to When Stars Die, whose title I actually changed to Stars Will Rise (and the third book will be The Stars Are Infinite). I also have a contemporary fantasy about a boy who can transcend his existence if only he can stabilize his mental health first. I also have a short fiction coming out in an anthology titled "I Am the Bell Jar" about two teens in a relationship and what happens when both teens are struggling with mental illness. I am also outlining a novel involving more mental illness.
Thank you for the awesome interview, Amber. Once again, congratulations on the upcoming release of your novel.
Remember, When Stars Die will be released on October 22nd. This is one book you don't want to miss out on. Don't forget to stop by and enter her Game of Thrones giveaway and stop by the book cover contest to choose your favorite.