Gentle Reader, Amy Bai and I met on a writing forum, and almost from the first, I fell in love with her voice and energy. When it came time to build my interviewing muscles for Laura Kinsale and I needed a victim volunteer, she headed my list of candidates.
Well, she made my top ten, anyway.
Amy, thanks for being here. I’ve had the privilege of reading your work elsewhere, but many of our readers won’t be so fortunate. Can you tell us about the book that earned you your agent?
Flattery will get you anywhere, anywhere at all.
Sword is a coming-of-age high fantasy set in a fictional kingdom on the edge of war. The setup’s not too crazy-complicated: girl grows up different, sullen, and taking herself far too seriously; girl nearly gets assassinated and decides to alter the political landscape as a consequence; and the expected All Hell Breaks Loose.
Also, girl meets boy, they can’t stand each other, and there’s a lot of ass-kicking, magic, politics, bloodshed and angst in there. I love my angst.
I think I decided to write Sword because I had all these female characters I’d read/watched stuck in my head, and somehow out of the mesh of that I ended up with a main character. That probably wouldn’t have gotten me far, by itself, but then one day I was hanging out with a friend who collects swords, and he let me play with one of his. Clutching the length of it– feeling that hard, silken steel in my hands– well, everything just sort of came together, and there I was with a story.
And a freely bleeding cut on my arm, but whatever.
So what you’re saying is that you’re inspired by phallic objects?
Ack! *waves hands* No! Pretend I never said that, okay? Man, I have to learn to reign in this mouth of mine before the Laura Kinsale interview. Thanks for helping practice me, by the way. You’re a brick.
Amy: *rolls eyes* Always happy to help rehearse for the real act. I get it. I’m like your fluffer.
Somebody besides me gets to explain this one to my husband.
(Reader, if, like me, you’re Canadian and the term “fluffer” went over your head, let me save you the trouble of a Google search. And can I just say ewww?!)
Me, in stiffer tones: Okay… I’d love to know about your road to being signed.
It was paved with good intentions, and there was a river of Gewurztraminer running alongside it. And giant potholes filled with coffee. Every afternoon at three there was a hail of pistachios.
Which is to say: I wrote a book. I thought it was 100% awesome, as we generally do after writing THE END. I sent it to betas and found out shortly that it was not 100% awesome, that revising is harder than writing, and, shortly after that, that querying is even harder than revising. In the midst of that I wrote another book to kill time while I got a lot of rejections and some requests. Then SuperAgent [cue parting of clouds and a temporary hiatus of the pistachio hail] told me that the book was good, but needed work. So I did the work, and lo, it was good, and I did get an offer.
Me, to myself: She speaks of clutching hard steel, fluffers and now nuts, yet took offence when I reference Laura Kinsale??? It’s like she thinks I’ve become some kind of name-dropper…
How…fascinating. One of the things I most admire about you is how you seem to remain upbeat despite the months – no years – of rejection after rejection after rejection… Can you tell us your secrets to remaining resilient?
Er…you know I can see that internal monologue, right?
I’d tell you, but then—well. Then I’d have to invent a new drink.
So I’ll just say what everyone says: keep writing. Do it to distract yourself, to prove yourself, because you love it, and all of the above.
*Clears throat* Why don’t we try a completely different exercise – something that will give my readers insight into the depths of your creativity. I’ll say a word, and without filtering your response, you will say what next comes to mind.
Oh gosh, this should be just like band camp.
*Through gritted teeth* Ready? RITAs.
Amy! Be serious for five minutes, okay? I’m trusting you here. *deep breath* Stroke.
That’s more like it. Ninja.
Turtles. *fistpump* Kawabunga.
Um. Blowfish? No, wait—
*Yawn* —Oh, sorry. Where were we. Muffin bars! Blueberry oatmeal! Switzerland! no, wait, that’s not right…
Sounds like a really weird fetish. I don’t think I want to be your fluffer anymore.
NYT bestseller, multiple awards, etc.–that one? Will be interviewed right here on the 27th. And then I hear you’ll be giving away copies of the new book to commenters.
Slick. Very slick.
There you go with the porn talk again.
Regardless, Amy, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your willingness to be my interview guinea pig. May 2010 bring you a three-book contract, a two-thousand-dollar espresso machine, and many, many exposures to the silken steel of your choosing.
And to you, Hope, and to you. We could all use a little more coffee and steel in our lives. And guinea pig sounds so much more dignified than fluffer.
*camera pans to credits* I think that went rather well, don’t you? We were relaxed, fabu—Forget it. I’m not shaking that hand now I know where it’s been.