Today's spotlight is on another great author, Amanda Strong, who talks about her novel, Hidden Monster.
Amanda, what made you pursue writing? How old were you when you starting writing?
I’ve loved writing my entire life! I wrote my first complete novel at sixteen, which sits happily in a box, never to see the light of day. It’s just plain awful! I took a big break from pursuing my dream of being published as college, marriage, kids, and life happened.
In 2011, thanks to a friend, the writing bug bit me again, and I’ve been obsessed since!
There are so many incredible authors who have inspired me over the years! If I had to pick a few I’d go with John Bellairs, Mary Higgins Clark, Orson Scott Card, Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Cassandra Clare, Stephenie Meyers, J.K. Rowling, Gaston Leroux (Phantom of the Opera). There are many more!
How long does it usually take you to write a book?
I wish I could say three months, but alas, it’s more like six months to a year by the time I start to the time it’s polished and ready to be published. I need to get faster! Something I’m working on now ;)
I don’t know if it’s a quirk, but I have to use a mouse! I can’t stand using my laptop’s touchpad. When I write, I prefer to sit at my desk, with a big glass of water and/or cup of herbal tea, a few snacks (sometimes just chocolate). The other thing about me is, when I’m writing, I get so cold. It doesn’t matter the temperature in my house, or what season it is. I end up freezing! So after a minute or two of typing, I usually end up throwing on a hoodie, wrapping up in a blanket, and cranking up the pellet stove fire behind me. I have a pair of awesome fuzzy slippers that are more like booties (they go up to my knees). One day, while cleaning out the closet, my husband was like, “What are these? Can we throw these away?” I’m like, “No way! They keep my toes so warm while I write books!”
Step, step, breathe, breathe, step, step, breathe, breathe. My shoes kept a steady rhythm with my burning lungs. I veered off my regular path, opting to hear the crunch of the leaves beneath my feet. The image of my mom’s disapproving face was ignored as I leapt across a gurgling brook. Breathe, breathe, crunch, crunch.
If I wasn’t mountain biking, I was running. I craved speed and freedom. I had to escape the oppressive perfection of living in the Campbell home. Thinking of my two older sisters, one model and the other a star volleyball player, my legs lunged, lengthening their stride. Not good at team sports and terrified by cameras, I knew my family felt my height was wasted on me.
Even Jeremy gives me a hard time.
A stitch pinched my side. Breathe, breathe. I knew I was going too fast, not pacing myself right. Something was urging me on, pushing me to scale the hill before me, and plunge deeper into the woods. I refocused on my rhythm, my inhales and exhales, and my body realigned itself, goose bumps shooting across my arms. There it is. I’d hit my second wind and I surged on, not caring where my feet led.
It’s freedom! Complete and--
There was a rush of air, a whistling in my ear, and a sting to the back of my arm. Instantly, I tumbled to the ground, sliding into the damp morning dew. Cold dirt filled my nostrils as blackness enveloped me.
I heard my own labored breathing long before I realized I was somewhere in between awake and asleep. Forcing my eyes open, I gasped. My senses took everything in at once—the smell of wood shavings, the scratchy ropes on my wrists and ankles, and the pressure of the mattress beneath my body. I screamed, but the empty room with wooden floors and stacked logs for walls was empty. No one burst through the door in the corner.
Realizing it was useless and only making my throat raw, I fell silent. Panic flooded me. How did I get here? I pressed my thoughts to retrace my steps, but my mind felt sluggish. My last memory was running in the woods just before sunrise. I could still feel the burn from the autumn air hitting my lungs. Now the solitary window painted a yellow rectangle on the floor. The room felt stuffy. It’s probably late afternoon. But is it the same day?
The minutes rolled slowly into hours, the silence suffocating. What had my therapist said to do when I was scared? Breathe deeply and don’t panic. It was too late for that; all the years of therapy after my childhood accident were rendered useless. I’m drowning all over again. Only this time, it wasn’t water filling my lungs but pure fear and terror pressing down on my chest. I gulped in dry air, my eyes burning with tears.
No one’s coming to save me. A sob escaped me as the real horror of the situation washed over me. I’m tied up. Someone knows I’m here. What would happen when they came back? As the last rays of light were snuffed out by the shadows of the night, that someone came through the wooden door.
Amanda Strong is the author of two paranormal, young adult series: The Watchers of Men and Monsters Among Us.
Amanda has loved to spin tales since childhood. As a child, it was not uncommon to find her hiding in some random corner, scribbling away in her spiral bound notebook, with her bright pink glasses. You could say some things have not changed.
When she isn't writing, you can find her chasing her three rambunctious children around the house and spending time with her wonderful and supportive husband. On some occasions you can still find Amanda with her not-so-pink glasses, hiding in a corner reading her favorite latest fantasy novel, or working out only to blow her diet by eating chocolate.
To find out more subscribe to her Newsletter at: http://madmimi.com/signups/191809/join
Connect with her: www.authoramandastrong.com