Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Gal's 2017 Halloween Frivolities Day 39: Among the Stacks with Amanda M. Lyons


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Amanda!!  Welcome to The Gal.  It's a pleasure having you here today.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Amanda M. Lyons:
I’m a creative lady and usually have all kinds of things going, some writing, some reading, some cross-stitch, drawing, photography, editing too. Mostly I’m an introvert and pretty private unless I really get to know someone. I’m also spiritual and mindful so you can catch me doing things that are about connecting like meditation or writing blogs about how to work on things. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Amanda M. Lyons:
I have CPTSD, I listen to music from every era and genre, I’m pretty much my own beastie as a creative INFJ, I’ve done one or two book covers, I’m 1/16 Cherokee and 1/16 Blackfeet. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Amanda M. Lyons:
Hmm, probably something like Arthur, Berenstain Bears, or witchy stuff. I’ve always been big on spooky, geeky, and “whimsical”.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Amanda M. Lyons:
I’ve got three going. The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (bummer, not really digging it unfortunately), The Death of Addie Gray by Amy Cross (liking it so far), and The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvanni (woah, one chapter in and I am all about this one!)

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked?

Amanda M. Lyons:
Hmm, probably a lot of them, I read all over the map. Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts is a favorite most wouldn’t expect a horror fan to be fond of, I think. I’m also a fan of Jennifer Weiner’s stuff, great writer.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Amanda M. Lyons:
Being a kid with a big imagination, I suppose it had to happen eventually. First moment of really getting it was with writing a short in 6th grade called The Last Lonely Christmas and getting a lot of appreciation for it from my teacher, he really encouraged me to keep writing. So I started at 12, that’s 25 years now.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Amanda M. Lyons:
Nah, not really. As long as the atmosphere is good I can write for a long time without much thought. It’s really more a matter of mental state and focus than location.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Amanda M. Lyons:
Just that a lot of my writing is processing. I didn’t really get that in the past but once I did I really started utilizing it to work through things. Fear, anxiety, past trauma all came up in some way and got transmuted into something cathartic and better. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Amanda M. Lyons:
Getting time and maintain focus. I’m a mom with two really smart and engaging kids who want my attention and at least two editing jobs on top of the regular mom stuff. I really love it when I can let go and just write.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the most satisfying thing you've written so far?

Amanda M. Lyons:
Hmm, not sure. Each story has its own quirks and needs, kind of like kids really. I really liked what I got with “Vast Oceans”, my short in Fearotica, for example, also “The Speed of Pain” from Extraterrestrial. Novel wise maybe Other Dangers.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Amanda M. Lyons:
It and The Stand by Stephen King, also Poppy Z Brite’s Drawing Blood and Exquisite Corpse, Gary Braunbeck’s Mr. Hands. Other than King, Brite, and Braunbeck, definitely Clive Barker, Anne Rice, Alice Borchardt, Jacqueline Carey, and Neil Gaiman. I’m all over the map as far as genre, mostly I do imagery and characters in trauma, sort of psychological.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Amanda M. Lyons:
Characters, a good plot, and striking imagery or ideas.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Amanda M. Lyons:
Someone I can get invested in. If I can connect with them on some level, if I care what happens, I am hooked. I try to make characters who convery things we all think about and then have them tackle some of the worst experiences of their lives, they live in extremes.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Amanda M. Lyons:
Katja Ademus from the Shades of Midnight series, and to some degree her lover Raven. They represent two sides of me, masculine and feminine.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Amanda M. Lyons:
Yes, I love a good cover and its honestly the hook that catches my attention. I’m lucky I get to talk to my cover artist and have input on how things turn out.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Amanda M. Lyons:
How to use the razor to cut away the chaff, how to build what is flat, and how much work there really is in things like foramtitng, cover design, and editing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Amanda M. Lyons:
The final scene in Wendy Won’t Go, when we finally see what makes her up and how it all plays out. I agonized over it so much. Will she have a say in what happens to her daughter? Will it all be brutal?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Amanda M. Lyons:
I’m a wee bit like a fairy tale writer for grownups, sort of a Guillermo Del Toro of the written word. I don’t worry about genre as much as I do about story and characters. Anything can happen. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is the book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Amanda M. Lyons:
I like to think it sets the mood of the book but it’s most important that it at least gives the reader an idea of what the book or story is about. I decide titles at random at any point in the process so I try not to stress over it and let it come. Other Dangers came out of wanting something that left a mystery in things and also said what if it isn’t just zombies and horror you have to face down when the world ends? What if there’s more? What if what you wanted was exactly the wrong thing and you had to make up for it?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Amanda M. Lyons:
A novel, while it’s great writing short stories it’s not as much work for me as the novels. I started on short stories and worked up to novels, so that’s probably a lot of it right there. There’s more work, more pulling at the reservoir, and I have to make everything stretch into broader themes and details. That means lots more time and energy invested so the payoff is that much sweeter.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from the stories.

Amanda M. Lyons:
I write genre benders that are genuinely more about characters than tropes or overarching themes. This means that I’m delving into the conscious and unconscious sides of people, the what ifs of these spaces, and pulling them out to look at. While I’d say most of it fits nicely in horror it also has snippets of other things like sci-fi, fantasy, and other themes that might not always be found in horror. I won’t go so far as to claim I’m really a Bradbury, but I do what he did back in the old days, writing for story and characters rather than for market or genre expectations. It means I stick out a bit, maybe have more moody elements and take more time with some things than some might expect. I guess I fit under gothic and literary horror for those reasons. My readers are the folks that like me fiddling about in all those spaces without worrying about fitting in, the oens that like remembering a scene or a character well enough that they think back to it later. I really hope that I make an impact like that, something that’s remembered for good or ill.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Amanda M. Lyons:
Haha, hmm, most of the cutting room floor things are repeated bits, superfluous dialogue, maybe something that doesn’t fit. I’ve gotten pretty good at writing a mostly clean manuscript so not a lot ends up needing taken out at this point. Granted I haven’t gotten to do a lot of novel work in the last year or so and that is a bit different. Generally if it’s a tough sell or an iffy scene I drive my loved ones nuts asking them to read it over, offer advice, or listen to me read it out for them. So imagine me pacing, frowning, and reading over the same bits over and over before I write more, sometimes for days. That’s not every bit of writing, but when its iffier that’s where I am.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's in your "trunk"?

Amanda M. Lyons:
I have a bunch of short story and novel ideas waiting to be worked on. I also have bits and pieces of work that need polish or to be finished. Years and years of picking up and putting down writing will do that, alas. I kind of wish I had finished a lot of it in the past, but then I’m better at the work now so maybe it just wasn’t time or I’m not the right author for the job. Time will tell. There’s definitely parts two and three of Other Dangers waiting for a final readthrough before they’re ready. Those are the most ready of the stack.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Amanda M. Lyons:
Other Dangers: This is How the World Ends and Other Dangers: Further Down the Spiral should be expected in the next year or two, hopefully sooner. Otherwise I’m a bit up in the air on what I might get finished. I would love to get the fourth book of Shades of Midnight, Hollow Black Corners of the Soul finished and out, hopefully Jodie (killer dolls and psychokenisis ) and Night is Falling (isolationist alien horror through an outcast’s eyes) too.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?

Amanda M. Lyons:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

Amanda M. Lyons:
No, but thanks for having me and for taking the time to read through this. I hope it gives a good idea of what you can expect with my books and stories so that you check them out in the future. *Waves*


About the author:
A longtime fan of horror and fantasy, Ms. Lyons writes character driven novels that, while influenced by the dark and gothic, can also be heavily laced with fantasy, romance, history, and magic.  
            Amanda M. Lyons has lived her whole life in rural Ohio, where she lives with her fiancĂ© and two children.  She is the author of Wendy Won't Go: Collector's Edition, Eyes Like Blue Fire, Water Like Crimson Sorrow, and Cool Green Waters, all available from J. Ellington Ashton Press.  She is also the co-author of Feral Hearts with authors Catt Dahman, Mark Woods, Jim Goforth, Edward P. Cardillo, and Michael Fisher and a contributing author to the extreme horror anthologies Rejected for Content: Splattergore, Rejected for Content 2: Aberrant Menagerie, Rejected for Content 3: Violent Vengeance, and several others.

About the books:
Billy and Sara are living a life of fear.  Every day and every night since Sara was small, they have been haunted by a terrible apparition.  She is cold and she is cruel, strange and frightening.  Her name is Wendy, and no matter where they go and no matter what they do, Wendy Won't Go.

Katja is a vampire who has lost sense of herself and her value in the world.  Lost, broken and damaged, she wanders the streets of Europe hoping to find some sense of purpose beyond the death and tragedy she has always known.  Betrayed by her sire and left alone in the night, she is startled to discover herself forming a connection to a young man who shares a close resemblance to her master and lover.  Though everything in her begs her to stay with him, she flees only to come running back to save him when a sadistic monster from her sire's past comes to destroy the only hope she has had in 300 years.
            Katja and Raven will face many horrors among them Renfield style zombies, ghosts and the undead.  This is also the first in the series Broken Edges.

Having discovered many of Anton's secrets, Katja must now seek out Raven and attempt to rescue him from the nightmare that his life has become.  As she seeks him out, Raven is being eaten up by the horror of his own past; a past full of guilt, pain and a terrible revenant who is more than she seems.  In time, these two paths will come to meet and a final confrontation that could mean the end of so many things will be in store.  Will Raven survive the monster who's come to take over his life and will Katja be strong enough to face it?

After the events of EYES LIKE BLUE FIRE and WATER LIKE CRIMSON SORROW, Katja finds herself tackling a very damaged and conflicted Raven.  Hoping to heal that damage on her own, she sends Zero and Michael to find the only other vampire she knows still lives after learning about Anton's past and destroying the monsters she uncovered there.  Divided, the two groups find themselves tackling more that they could have expected as Katja faces an unknown threat from a faceless monster, while Zero and Michael must face Mateo, and with him, their own dark secrets.  Not all is as it seems and the past is far from buried.


Henry is a man with trouble on his hands.  Setting up for this weekend getaway wasn't even his idea and now he's woken up from a terrible car crash to find himself in a strange place where nothing is as it seems.  Now his whole life has changed and nothing he knew to be true seems to matter, not when the world is filled with horror and still other dangers waiting in the shadows.  Worse, his wife is hurt and there's only one woman who can help them get home, a woman who is more mystery than truth and holds the road map to a world without rules... a map which comes in the form of a book hidden in the depths of the backpack in her possession.  A book that calls his name and the woman shows him she would do anything to keep out of anyone else's hands.

No comments: