I am so delighted to have the lovely Amanda Carlson on the blog today to kick off her Jessica McClain series Blog Tour! Amanda is the author of this great new Urban Fantasy series and I’m especially pleased that this is her first stop! Let’s give Amanda a warm welcome!!
The first full-length novel in the series, Full Blooded, is due out in September, however, Amanda is giving us a taste of what’s to come with Blooded – a novella that introduces us to the heroine, Jessica, and nicely sets the stage for the series.
I’m one of the lucky few that have had a chance to read an early copy of Blooded and you can click here to see my review.
Jessica McClain was born the only female in an all male race. The only problem is – she’s no wolf. Called a curse, a witch and the Daughter of Evil by the superstitious wolves, Jessica decides to fight for her freedom, at age nineteen, the only way she can – in the ring.
When she’s brutally attacked right after her fight, is it enough to finally earn her freedom off Compound, or will she be forced to endure the hatred even longer…
Smitten: Welcome Amanda! I understand that this is a debut series for you in this genre. How did your love of paranormal and Urban Fantasy start for you? Have you always wanted to write UF?
Amanda: I’ve been at this writing thing for about twelve years, and started writing contemporary romance when the term “Chick Lit” was still the “it” phrase! My love of the Fantasy genre started with Anne Rice many years ago, like many others, but I hadn't read much until my kids started bringing home great YA UF. After that, I was hooked. I read adult UF for about 3 years before I decided to write the story I wanted to read and I can't imagine writing anything else. Having a license to create a world is so much fun. I know I'm where I need to be. This is where my heart is.
Smitten: Would you tell us about the series and the novella?
Amanda: Sure! The series focuses on Jessica McClain, a lone female born into the race of werewolves unexpectedly. The novella starts us off with her fight to finally have a life of her own off the Compound. My wolves are very superstitious and there are many factors that have made them wary of a female. The novella is all about action and we get to see a glimpse of her world and some of the characters she loves and hates. The novel, in turn, starts us out with a bang, seven years later. Jessica's life takes a huge turn from the very first page. (The entire first chapter of FULL BLOODED is included in the novella, so readers get a sneak peak!) Then it's off on a wild ride I hope everyone enjoys. Jessica doesn't take anything for granted and she's full of spunk and sarcasm. And she's tough. Just the kind of heroine I like to read. I hope you will too.
Smitten: And what a sneak peak it is!! I’m stoked to find out what happens next.
Smitten: So, why werewolves?
Amanda: I love werewolves. That's the very first reason why, a few years ago, I began this story. I'd read a lot of "hero" wolves, but not as many females were out there (that I had read). There's nothing better than a hot-blooded supe for me. It takes so long for a book to be written, sold, edited and then to publication, that many times you miss what's "trending" at the moment. But, I strongly feel that a great kickass UF story in a joy no matter what the supe: vamp, witch, angel, demon or shifter. It's all about the world and the voice for me. Readers want a great story.
Smitten: You couldn’t be more right. It’s all about the story for us readers. Vamps, weres, demons and other supes have been around for some time and aren’t going out of fashion anytime soon. You’ve put a new spin on things with Jessica and readers will like. No worries there!
Smitten: Do you have a plan for how the rest of the series will go? How many more novels do you anticipate?
Amanda: I have a rough idea and an arc for 5 or 6 books featuring Jessica. Then I'd love to write some books featuring the secondary characters you will hopefully fall in love with. I am also working on two other UF series. So stay tuned! If I'm lucky enough, I'll be writing in this genre for a long while.
Smitten: Awesome news! There’s a certain flirtatious Brit in Blooded that I would love to know more about…
Smitten: So, what surprises you most about becoming an author?
Amanda: There were a lot of things! One was how long it actually takes for a book to be bought, edited and released. My journey for the first book will be roughly 15 months from contract to book! It seems like it's been forever. The editing process has been intense as well, but I'm thankful for that. I believe editing is where the true craft blooms, where you shape the words from something good to great. My first novel is a duel release in both the US & UK, so I've been working with two editors! Lots of back and forth. I've also been pleasantly surprised with the support of other authors! It's such a treat to chat with others in the genre & hear the advice they have. It's all been a blast!
Smitten: I hear the camaraderie in this industry is second to none. Authors are very fortunate in that regard. Perhaps a follow up question for another time, but why would there be a different editor for UK? I warned you about my curious mind…
Smitten: Do you usually base your characters off people you know, yourself or do you just let your imagination run wild?
Amanda: No, none of the characters are based off anyone I know. They are definitely a mash up of personalities & mostly become characters I'd love to sit down and chat or drink with! The closest I came to having an actual person, was the voice of Marcy, who you meet in the novel. I'd already written her, but when I heard a particular voice, I knew it was hers! So does that count since I didn't know her before? LOL. I'm not sure.
Smitten: One (of many) things I’m curious about – when you start off a new project, do you plan or map out the entire series before starting to write or do you leave it open to your creativity as the series progresses?
Amanda: I am a total "pantser" meaning I fly by the seat of my pants and I love it. I do have a very rough arc, meaning I know how the books want to open and end, but I'm constantly surprising myself and that's the very best part! Having a character or scene pop up out of the blue is fantastic. I write in first person, so I'm going along with my heroine, figuring out the world as she does. Since she has no notion what's going on, it makes it easier because we're both finding out at the same time.
Smitten: What is your best advice for aspiring authors?
Amanda: Keep going and finish! I know that sounds easy, but the biggest problem I had was finding the courage to finish. I put down this very book for 8 months because I thought it wasn't good enough and I thought I didn't actually have a story in me. I can promise you there's a story in there! The way I finally finished was I became accountable. Get on Twitter and find a #wordwar or #1k1hr challenge (write 1,000 words in an hour) or promise your pages to someone -- a chapter a week, or tell someone you will have a book for them on a particular date. Make promises and keep them. My first draft was shitty! Most are, LOL, so embrace editing. I must have edited this story 12 times and each time it got better and better. Writing is not for the faint of heart. It takes work. Lots and lots of work. If you're not scared of the work, and are willing to take the edits and criticism, you are well on your way. Keep at it!! Dreams do come true.
Smitten: Incredible advice Amanda. Similar to your becoming accountable point, an author friend of mine has set up a charitable donation strategy with her writing. So every time she publishes a short story, people who’ve sponsored her, donates to a homeless youth shelter in the city she lives in.
Smitten: More curiosity/nosiness…if you weren’t an author, what would you be doing instead?
Amanda: I'd be a singer in a rock and roll band! My dream as a child, but I still think singing in a band looks like a ton of fun. But my voice sucks!! Good thing I stuck to writing. So if either of those didn't pan out, I absolutely love photography. It's a passion of mine, and actually contemplated going back to school to become a food photographer. You know those delicious dishes on the cover & pages of your favorite mags? I'd love to do that. But I'd have to say, writing is in my soul and it's the perfect job for me. I wake up and feel so lucky I get the chance to do it everyday.
Smitten: Really!! Interesting that you say that. Did you happen to sign up for the Karaoke party at AAD Con in August? If so, I am so blowing the whistle on you and your secret singing fantasy. LOL! Just kidding.
Smitten: Are there any appearances, conferences or tours planned that you’d like your readers to know about?
Amanda: I will be at the Romantic Times Convention (RT) April 11th - 15th. I'm also debuting my novel at Authors After Dark in August in New Orleans. Orbit has agreed to give a free book to all the attendees! So if you're going, look for me there. I also have a few more events in the fall. The best place to look for those is on my website… Amanda’s website
Smitten: Would you tell us about what you are working on now (besides calming nerves and anxiety)?
Amanda: I'm working on writing book three, COLD BLOODED, and it's been a blast! It's fun to write new after editing 3 projects for four months. I'm also working on a "sekrit" project, one of the books in a new series. The best place to find out the latest on what I'm doing is to "like" me on facebook, or check back in to my blog. I'm also trying to calm all those "new author" jitters! It's so strange to bare your soul to the world.
Smitten: Thank you Amanda for being so generous with your time! I loved having you here and really wish you all the best today!
Amanda: Thanks for hosting me, Kat! I had a great time. I hope you all enjoy Jessica McClain and all her adventures. Stop by and say hello, I'd love to hear from you.
Smitten: Well there you have it! Be sure to get your copy of Blooded today and be prepared to get hooked on the fearless and kickass heroine, Jessica…