In which Amanda, a new author who is looking for some crazy-ass way to promote her debut book, forces one of her main characters to do an interview with her.
Amanda: Hi Ilyas. I appreciate you doing this. I thought this would be kind of interesting, you know, me as a new author and and all.
Ilyas: (offers a small smile) Was there a choice in the matter?
Amanda: No. Not really.
Ilyas: (smirks) Shall we begin?
Amanda: Let’s do this.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of him, so I hand him some index cards with ideas for questions. I catch a sighting of a single, quirked brow, and I smile to myself.
Ilyas: Why are you grinning?
Amanda: Your expression. I know it well, but I’ve ever been the cause of it. I think Amalia would appreciate my reaction.
His expression subtly softens at the mention of Amalia, and I bite back another resulting grin.
Ilyas: First question. (he eyes the first index card) What inspired you to write this story?
Amanda: Why are you scowling?
Ilyas: It’s a predictable question.
Amanda: But one people would be interested to know the answer to.
Ilyas: I think a better question would be why did it take you so long to write it?
Amanda: (sighs) What’s the matter, Ilyas? Didn’t you like being stuck inside my head for nearly ten years?
Ilyas: You move at a snail’s pace, woman. And you have a nasty habit of stopping in the middle of action sequences.
Amanda: (laughs) Like riding on horseback while being chased by armed soldiers?
Ilyas: Longest damn ride of my life. And that’s just one example. What about the one where you left me on my knees with a weapon over my head?
Amanda: I don’t hear you complaining about the love scenes, and I seem to recall those taking particular time for me to write.
His head cants slightly in consideration and he grins.
Ilyas: Touche. Why did those take you so long to write? Not that I’m complaining. I appreciate your dedication.
Amanda: Truthfully? It took me awhile to build up the courage. I’m not a prude, but for me there was a tangible difference between reading sex scenes and writing your own. I felt silly and almost bashful.
(Ilyas scoffs at this). You’ll recall it took a few drafts to get me to the point where we finally ended up.
Ilyas: Yes, I remember. I applaud your bravery.
Amanda: I’m sure you do.
Ilyas: But you managed your way through it.
Amanda: It was a learning process. Still is, in fact.
Ilyas: So you say it took you about ten years to write this story. Why?
Amanda: It was an evolutionary process. Your story branched off from another story I already had established in the world of Aren. You were the first character to come to me, and I had to find your story within that world.
Ilyas: I was the first?
Amanda: Yes. Don’t sound so pleased.
Ilyas: As someone who knows me so well, you’re aware of just how pleased this would make me.
Amanda: What’s your next question?
Ilyas: But ten years?
Amanda: You’re not going to let this one go, are you?
Ilyas: Ten. Years.
Amanda: All right. Here’s what it is. I enjoyed writing since I was a kid, but I never really took it seriously. It was an escape for me. I’m a dreamer – my head is always off somewhere else thinking of other things. I work a “normal” 40hr job, and I have a bunch of other hobbies that keep me busy, too. Finding the time and discipline to make myself sit down and write was a real bitch. So…it took ten years.
Ilyas: How did it feel when you finally finished it?
Amanda: Wow. That’s a good question.
Ilyas: Yea of little faith.
Amanda: I felt pretty damn proud of myself. I was excited. And a little scared. And sad.
Ilyas: Scared and sad? Why?
Amanda: Scared because I had kept my personal promise to finish what I had started, and it meant allowing others to read it. And sad because the story was over! My time with you and Amalia had come to a close.
Ilyas: Ah. I see. So no more stories of us?
Amanda: (I have to smile at this. It’s a trick question, though I don’t think he intends it that way) I’m not saying never.
Ilyas: So you have other ideas for Amalia and myself?
Amanda: Oh, tons. I know pretty much exactly what happens to you. And your descendants. And I know your past, too. Your story isn’t necessarily relegated to the future, you know.
Ilyas: (the man becomes very still in a manner I recognize as being uncomfortable)
Amanda: This bothers you, doesn’t it?
Ilyas: Of course.
Amanda: Have faith, Ilyas. (I wink at him)
Ilyas: (he smiles) You’re using my own words against me. Well done.
Amanda: Next question?
Ilyas: (reads from card) What was the inspiration for Ilyas san Merin. Really?
Amanda: Aren’t you the least bit curious?
Ilyas: It would mean nothing to me, as I have no idea who these people would be. But fine. Go ahead. Amuse me.
Amanda: I think you would get along very well with Ezio Auditore.
(I have a good giggle at Ilyas’ expense and he just impatiently shakes his head)
Amanda (cont): You’re not based on any one thing in particular, but you definitely have roots in Assassin’s Creed, a video game series by Ubisoft. Dominant heroes who kick ass in the shadows to defeat evil. Lots of cool action. Slick one-liners. You know.
Ilyas: No. But I get where you’re going.
Amanda: Amalia came about as the yin to your yang. I needed a heroine who was in a powerless position, but not powerless herself. Smart, quick, and brave. And perhaps a little bit foolish.
Ilyas: Why did you make her a singer?
Amanda: All of my characters have a tiny bit of me in them. I sing. I actually have a degree in theatre. So this was my way of giving Lia a bit of flair.
Ilyas: You sing?
Ilyas: What does Amalia’s voice sound like to you?
Amanda: I hear her sound a bit like Adele. A rich sound that, when people hear it, it forces them to stop and take notice.
Ilyas: I think I would like this Adele.
Amanda: Everyone likes Adele.
Ilyas: Next question – what was your favorite scene to write?
Amanda: UGH. I was just thinking about this, and I was having a hell of a time picking. I think I figured it out, though. I’m going to go with the hot spring scene.
Ilyas: (chuckles) Why that one?
Amanda: Because the banter between you and Lia cracks me up. She isn’t afraid to challenge you, and it’s enjoyable seeing you get flustered. And also because it’s when she realizes the depth of her attraction to you, and how dangerous it is.
Ilyas: I didn’t find our banter enjoyable, at first. It was exasperating.
Amanda: But you appreciate it now, don’t you.
Ilyas: I appreciate that you wrote someone who matches me so well.
Amanda: What was your favorite scene?
Ilyas: Mine? Easy. Guess.
Amanda: No way, dude. I’d probably guess a sex scene.
Ilyas: Close. The Red Dress.
Amanda: (laughs) Not a sex scene at all.
Ilyas: Might as well have been.
Amanda: Next question. We gotta wrap this up.
Ilyas: Ah. (flips through index cards) Here’s a good one. What’s next?
Amanda: No. Next question.
Amanda: Because I don’t want to make a liar out of myself. Next question!
Ilyas: That’s not ominous at all. (draws another card) How many books will be in The Dynasty Saga, and how are they all related?
Amanda: A two-fer! Nice. My goal is three books, all stand-alones. They are all related by being set in Aren over different time periods. Your story is a prequel, of sorts, what I think of as the Early Dynasty of Aren. Reign will be set in the middle dynasty.
Ilyas: And will there be any references to Lia or myself or the events of Keeper?
Amanda: Subtly, yes. My goal is to make each novel independent of the other, but for those who read them all, they will pick up on nuances. You know…little nerdy moments that make you go, “…OH! I get it! That’s cool.”
Ilyas: Anything else to add?
Amanda: Just a big thank you to the readers! I’m really excited to share this story. I had a lot of fun bringing you and Lia to the page. I’m looking forward to sharing you with others.
Ilyas: So we’re done?
Amanda: Yes. Thanks for your help.
Ilyas: My pleasure. (chuckles)