A few years ago I met Amanda G. Stevens at a Susie May Warren, My Book Therapy retreat. I didn’t know Amanda well, but instantly liked her. Through FB we’ve kept in touch and encouraged each other, posting and commenting on each other’s status pages. Today, I’m sharing Amanda’s debut novel with you. I haven’t read it yet, but I will, and I’m looking forward to it. SEEK AND HIDE has great reviews at Amazon and is the first in a series.
Please comment below for a chance to win Amanda’s book!
Don’t you love this cover?
Here’s a little bit about Amanda:
As a child, Amanda G. Stevens disparaged Mary Poppins and Stuart Little because they could never happen. Now, she writes speculative fiction. Holding a Bachelor of Science degree in English, she has taught literature and composition to home-school students. She lives in Michigan and loves books, film, music, and white cheddar popcorn.
(Just in case you’re wondering how Speculative Fiction is defined, here’s the Goodreads definition:)
When did you start writing and what made you start?
I’ve been writing since first grade. I don’t remember a time I didn’t consider myself a writer.
Tell us about your latest book.
Sure! Seek and Hide is my debut novel, the first in a four-book series from David C Cook. Here’s the book blurb:
Six years ago, the government took control of the church. Only re-translated Bibles are legal, and a specialized agency called the Constabulary enforces this and other regulations. Marcus Brenner, a new Christian, will do anything to protect his church family from imprisonment–including risk his own freedom to gain the trust of a government agent.
Aubrey Weston recanted her faith when the Constabulary threatened her baby. Now released, she just wants to provide for her son and avoid government notice. But she’s targeted again, and this time, her baby is taken into custody. If only she’d never denied Him, maybe God would hear her pleas for help.
When Aubrey and Marcus’s lives collide, they are forced to confront the lies they believe about themselves. And God is about to grab hold of Marcus’s life in a way he’d never expect, turning a loner into a leader.
Did you learn anything about yourself or your writing while working on this book?
Writing the faith journeys of fictional people certainly reminds me what is and should be important in my own journey—prayer, Bible study, truth and kindness. I also have to take a hard look sometimes at Marcus’s reactions, the ones both Marcus and I want to justify, and weigh them against God’s standard. Typically, the scene itself doesn’t change (Marcus is stubborn that way), but I’ve asked myself needed questions about my own ethics through his. Also, writing this particular storyworld, in which the Bible on my coffee table would get me sent to prison, left me with greater appreciation and awareness of my own freedom and the treasure of God’s Word we tend to take for granted.
Which one of your characters would be the best to meet in real life?
I guess that depends on the situation. Aubrey would be friendly and have plenty to say. Marcus would tackle any situation, protect anyone who needed protection. So … if you’re stuck in an elevator for a few hours and need a chatting buddy, you want Aubrey with you. If you’re stuck on a deserted island and need a survival buddy, you want Marcus.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished Sway by Amy Matayo, which I really enjoyed even though I don’t read romance. I’m about to start Storm Siren by Mary Weber (YA fantasy, looks very cool) and The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (which I should have read a long time ago but am just getting to for the first time).
Besides the genre you write, what genres do you like to read?
I’ll read any genre but romance, as long as a book is character-driven and I like the voice. I gravitate most to crime/noir fiction. Some of my favorite authors are Dennis Lehane, Tana French, Raymond Chandler. But really, if the voice captures me, I’ll read anything from historical to speculative.
Are there any more projects you’re currently working on? Do you know when we might get to see those?
Right now, I’m drafting the fourth book in the Haven Seekers series. The second book will release February 15, 2015. I’ve just revealed the cover over on my website. Here it is:
How do you beat writer’s block?
If I’m stalled because I haven’t been writing enough lately to keep my momentum going, then the only way to get momentum back is to force myself to write. Bad, stilted paragraphs for a page or two or three, as long as it takes for better paragraphs to start coming out instead. If I’m stalled because I really don’t know what to do with the scene, I try free writing that same scene in first person/present tense until I’m reconnected with the character’s point of view. Later I change it all to third person/past tense (which is how all my books are written).
What secrets would you share with aspiring authors?
To create unique, realistic characters, I think you have to listen to people around you. Dialogue voice is one of the most important things about writing individual characters. Train yourself not to hear voices but to see them. What does actual speech look like on the page? After you know that, you can mold it into fictional speech. And the other thing is something I learned from an interview in my copy of The Outsiders. S. E. Hinton said she always knew what her characters liked to eat for breakfast. This really stuck with me, and after a while, I figured out it’s not broad personality types that make us care. It’s characters written with such intimate detail, we know them the way we know real people.
So yeah, if you’re asking for craft advice, there it is, half of it from S.E. Hinton. Learn to see voices, and know what your characters like to eat for breakfast.
You’re throwing a fiction character party. What fictional characters would you like to invite (name and where they are from) and why?
Ooh, what a fun question. My characters get an invitation automatically, right? So I would want Marcus, Lee, and Aubrey to be there.
First, I would invite Morgan Spencer (from Kristen Heitzmann’s A Rush of Wings Trilogy) and Jonah Westfall (from Kristen Heitzmann’s Indivisible and Indelible). As a Heitzmann fan, I already fantasize about these two characters of hers meeting somehow. They’re very different men, both driven to get what they want but they have different ways of achieving their goals. I think it would be great to see them interact, especially at cross-purposes. Also, I’m curious how they would interact with Marcus. Morgan is sophisticated and well-spoken, so Marcus’s lack of communication skills might exasperate him. Jonah is a recovered alcoholic like Marcus, and a bit more rugged overall, so I envision them developing a camaraderie, especially if they were working together for the same goal.
Second, I would invite Noah Seforé (from Charity Tinnin’s Haunted). Like Marcus, Noah lives in a dystopian storyworld. His is even darker than Marcus’s. Noah was forced into an occupation he never wanted—he’s judge, jury, and executioner for the totalitarian government. There’s a lot of blood on his hands, and he doesn’t think God can ever forgive him for that. I would love to see Marcus share the Gospel with Noah. Plus, they both appreciate a good cup of coffee, and they both have a very strong sense of right and wrong. Noah’s only twenty years old, so I imagine Marcus almost as an older brother role for him (since Noah’s actual older brother is about the worst brother in history).
I could keep going indefinitely, so I’d better stop with Morgan, Jonah, and Noah. J
Here’s where you can find Amanda:
Links: (website) Amanda G. Stevens Books
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