Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Interview with Amy Croall: Author of A Cure for the Condition

I met Amy on a writer's site in Facebook. She'd just been published, and was having some trouble with sales. So I asked her if she'd like to be interviewed, because it might help boost her numbers.
It's one thing to write a novel, another to get published, and another thing entirely to sell your books. 
In today's fast paced market, where books compete with video games, TV shows, and everyday tasks, authors must step it up. You've got to promote, promote, promote yourself. 

Below are the questions I asked her:

1.     You have a quote up on your website: I write therefore I am. What does this mean to you?
The quote was originally said by Rene Descartes: "Je pense donc je suis." or "I think, therefore I am." The meaning of the quote delves into a philosophical debate about what "I" truly signifies. It is the thought of a moment. A passing whim. My quote is a rather fun little play on it. "I write, therefore I am." To me, this means that writing is me. I am writing (and boy, do I ever!). The entire quote reads, "I write, therefore I am (obsessive and compulsive)." Which is...borderline truth. 

2.     How did you come up with the idea of a Queen with a heart defect?
I am asked this question quite a bit. The idea for A Cure for the Condition came to me in a dream. I dreamt of a gallant party with a poor Princess whose mother had been murdered. When I felt her emotions in the dream, I knew I wanted to write it down. So, I did. Catherine develops a heart condition which emulates my own. I have something called Premature Ventricular Contractions (which is a self-diagnosis). It's not serious, but can be if not monitored.

3.     Why did your father love writing? Why do you?
My father loved writing because he had too many stories to tell. He grew up in a rather small, uneventful town. His friends called themselves "The Orange Street Gang" because there really wasn't anything better to do. I remember him telling me this story about a house that no one ever wanted to go near because it was overgrown with brush and trees. The way he painted the picture was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Sometimes I wonder why he didn't go into writing as I have. He is my true inspiration, and he's always supported my dream.

4.     What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?
I love this question! On weekdays, I get up at 6:35am to go to my day job of being an Administrative Assistant. Typically, I eat breakfast on weekends when the time allows. I will make omelets, french toast, hash browns, you name it! 

5.     How much time do you spend "butt in chair"?
Let's forget for a second that I work in an office. So, when I am not spending nine hours in a chair at a desk, I am spending eight hours of my weekends on the couch, laptop handy, typing away. I once spent sixteen hours of a weekend editing a manuscript!

6.     Where do your characters come from?
Anywhere and everywhere. My characters are usually inspired by real-life people. Catherine is the only exception. She was a complete fabrication and has grown on  me. I feel as though she is a part of me (an ever-growing, incessant, excessive part of me). Malcolm is based on a mish-mash of people (one being my husband, others will remain nameless). I am currently working on a Young Adult series in which the main character, Katie, is myself at a younger age. All the people in the book are based on people I knew or know.

7.     What is the most amazing thing about being published? What's the hardest?
The most amazing thing about being published is exactly that: being published. It's such a high when you Google yourself and see your amazon page and a picture of your book. The hardest thing is (so far) is not getting any attention. I've spent the last six months gearing up to launch A Cure for the Condition, and when it happened, it wasn't a huge explosion of great reviews and tons of sales. They're trickling in, but not as fast as I would have hoped. 

Oh, and the other hardest thing is the down days. I think I have more of those than up days, really. There are just days where I feel like I can't do anything right; I feel like my writing is awful and I'm not cut out for it. But the support I get from those around me is enough to lift my spirits.

8.     Who had been your best writing teacher or coach?
Besides my father, I have to say that there are three people who really inspired me to do what I do. The first was my best friend in high school. Unfortunately, she and I are no longer in touch, but she is the reason I got back into writing after a hiatus of several years. We collaborated on a story together, and spent long hours just writing fan-fiction for television shows we liked. 

The other person was my Science Fiction Literature teacher, Mr. Cline. He was one of the best teachers I'd ever had. Whenever I would write something, he'd critique it. And he wouldn't be gentle, either! Again, he and I fell out of touch, but I hope he knows how much he inspired me.

The third is my husband. My husband is a brilliant writer and artist. We are entirely different as far as style and genre, but he has more intelligent ideas than a library! Without his support, I wouldn't be writing.

9. Did you use a professional editor before you submitted your work to agents/publishers?
I didn't with A Cure for the Condition. The book went through several beta readers and edits before being published. However, I am currently working with an editor and waiting to submit my new book to agents.

10. What do you think about publishing today? Will the huge houses fall? Will they change to meet the demands of the e-book?
Publishing is a lot easier and a lot harder than ever before. Self-publishing seems to work wonders for individuals who may otherwise never be published traditionally. I doubt the huge houses will fall because people still love to read, and they love to read new things. Getting an agent is extremely difficult, and it all depends on the mood of the day. 

11. What's so tough about promoting your work? Have you tried Facebook? Twitter? Book signings? Which is the best?
The tough part of promoting my work is getting my name out there. I've run ads on Facebook, sent my book to indie stores, offered to do signings and readings, posted blogs, promoted my website... I believe there are just so many great books and authors out there that it's hard to compete. But, Facebook is a great way to advertise because you can reach so many people. 

12. Why write?
I have to. It's just that simple. If I don't write, I feel incomplete.  

13. Ever want to give up? What kept you going?
I've wanted to give up at least a hundred times, as I said with "down days". I've been to the point of no return and somehow managed to bounce back every time. What kept me going was all the people who supported me. I am a part of "The Few, The Proud, The 238" group established after a major publishing house CC'd 238 rejected authors in one e-mail. And without their love and support, I don't know how I would be able to continue. 

14. Who is your biggest cheerleader?
My mom and dad. I went to dinner with them a few nights ago, and they couldn't stop showing my book to everyone. They showed the entire staff the author photo on the back, then pointed at me and asked, "Recognize her?" 

Now, I'm famous at La Maison Du Cafe

15. What one word best describes you?
I don't think one word can describe anyone. But, if I had to choose, I would say that I'm high-maintenance. I require a lot of fluff, attention, and encouragement. I'm not afraid to admit that.

16. Any words of advice for newbie writers?
I have received so much advice and read so many articles about published authors giving advice to rookies. I have to say that their advice only worked for them. Everyone is different. Some authors get an agent on the first try, others write for years and years before they're published. The only thing I would say is, "Get on the writing forums, get some beta readers, and persevere." As long as you don't give up, it'll happen. There are a lot of agents out there.  

17. What are you reading right now?
Currently, I am reading "Before I Wake" by Rachel Vincent. I can't put it down. I love the series, and I'm flying through these interview questions so I can go finish it!! 

18. Neat idea to come up with pictures your main character loves on your blog. How did this come about?
Catherine came up with it, really. She's a sucker for ethnic food, horror stories, and travels. I thought it would be fun to rotate some of her favorite recipes and books on the site. 

19. What is the oddest thing a fan has asked you?
You know, no one has ever asked me anything odd. I've gotten a proposal of marriage and two former classmates confess their "feelings" for me, though. Ah, the life of a published author! 

20. What are your writing goals? Best-seller? Awards? Movie? Anything big like that?
Honestly, I would happy to have a base of ten people I didn't know love my writing. Of course, being a best-seller with a few movies and awards would be great, wouldn't it? 

21. Any big news you'd like to share?
Just that I am hoping to begin submitting to more agents in the next four weeks for a new book. I'm confident in this one and hope to get some huge bites on it. 

Oh, and the sequel to my current published novel is coming out in October 2012. It will be called, A Cure for the Past. Look out for it!

Whew! Thanks! 

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