Monday, October 28, 2013

The Awakener by Amanda Strong: Interview and Excerpt

How did you start your writing career?

As many of my close childhood friends can testify, I have been actively writing stories since third grade.  I completed my first full length novel, pretty much a regurgitated Mary Higgins Clark murder mystery, when I was sixteen. (It remains buried in a box where it rightfully belongs!)  Life got busy with college, marriage, and having three wonderful children.  Writing was shelved for another day.  It wasn’t until my friend Gail Wagner asked me to read her manuscript she was submitting for publishing, that I realized if she can do it with kids why can’t I?  Four months later The Awakener was written!  At least the first of many drafts ;)

Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?

The last question leads perfectly into this one!  I definitely was helped along in my journey as a writer!  My friend Gail Wagner published her book and I was fortunate enough to have her as a friend and mentor! She read my first, very long draft and she was sweet enough to not tell me to throw it away!  She saw the diamond in the rough and gave me wonderful feedback.  (And yes, it was painful at times, but very necessary for growth!)

When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

Like I said before, I wrote The Awakener in a frenzied four months.  Having a young baby, I was up every night feeding for hours!  During which time, my mind ran through scenes, seeing them almost like a movie.  When day came, I was frantic to get to a computer so I could pound the keyboard!  After I finished the first draft I slowed my pace, working on editing.  (That wasn’t as much fun for me!).  Now my writing time is whenever my three kids let me!!!  My youngest just started preschool three days a week, so that has become mommy’s sacred writing time!  

Tell us where you got your inspiration for your current release.

The inspiration behind the book came in a dream!  When trying to decide what to write I had a vivid dream of my two main characters Micah and Eden seeing Sage (a guardian angel) for the first time together.  When I woke up I told my husband, “I know what I want to write.”  When I began writing I wasn’t sure exactly where I was going, I just had to get the words out!  After a few weeks of just going with it, I knew I had to tie it together and give the plot purpose.  That’s when I stumbled upon some pretty awesome research in The Book of Enoch and it supported everything I’d already been creating!  I honestly felt like the story just landed in my lap begging to be told!

Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?

Yes! Definitely! Listening to music is a huge part of my writing process.  Songs can open up feelings, make me remember what it was like, or put me in the place I need to be to create a scene.  I listened to The Killers, Blue October, Snow Patrol, Kristina Perry, and many others while writing The Awakener.  

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

Oh that would be wonderful! Wonder if Clean Teen does that? ;)  I would definitely go to England!  I have a new series I’m going to work on once I’m done with The Watchers of Men and its going to be based in England.  :)

Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why?

Yes :) When I was in my twenties, single and in college, I took a stick-it note one day and jotted down names I wanted to name my kids one day. (Please don’t tell me I’m the only girl who did this!).  At the top of my list were Micah and Eden.  I was so excited now I just needed a husband…well, I got one, and unfortunately for me he didn’t like either one of those names at all.  When I wrote The Awakener I finally knew where those names belonged!  I specifically named Gabriel because he plays his Biblical role.  Fun fact, I had named him and decided on his roles as an angel long before I did research. When I began studying I was flabbergasted to see that everything I’d picked for Gabriel to be was supported by what I found in The Book of Enoch!   *goosebumps*

What are you passionate about these days?

Writing :)  Dates with my husband, spending time with my sweet kids, getting lost in a good book, dress up parties with my friends (any excuse to wear a costume!), busting a move on the dance floor (what can I say I have a weak spot for Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal!), trying new recipes out, going to the gym (yeah, I know I’m weird!), and laughing till it hurts!

Title:  The Awakener
Series: The Watchers of Men
Author:  Amanda Strong
Published:  October 2013 by Clean Teen Publishing
Word Count:  approx. 98,500
Genre: YA Mature Paranormal Romance
Content Warning:  Some violence and clean romance
Recommended Age:  14+
Seeing Micah for the first time in years, fifteen year old Eden wants nothing more than to run and hide, but instead in a moment of sheer embarrassment, she throws her arms around his neck; unaware she just changed her childhood friend forever.

With eyes’ opened to the realm of angels and demons, Micah discovers he has become the Seer, called to save the world from an impending fire.  Shy and awkward, Eden stumbles through high school clueless her guardian angel shadows her every move, keeping her safe while she unknowingly “awakens” others to their spiritual gifts.  Micah will need those Eden touched to complete his mission which began long ago in the ancient City of Enoch and its secret underground temple.

With angels and demons fighting around them, both Eden and Micah must find their own personal courage and faith in order to know what to do for the battle that awaits them, one they must triumph or risk losing everyone they love.

Pre-Order on Amazon | GoodReads

Eden’s feet sloshed through the damp grass, which got longer the further back they wandered.  Snow in January was rare in Richmond and its suburbs, but cold, drizzly rain was not. The trees were getting closer together as they trudged on, the fading light of day harder to see.  She stayed close behind Micah, preferring to follow his path through the woods. 
When he paused abruptly, she collided into his backside. 
“Sorry,” she mumbled.
He turned around part way and she saw why he’d stopped.  “The tree house!” she gasped.
“Remember all the good times we had in there?” he asked, grinning.
“Yeah.”  His smile was infectious and she beamed back at him.
She stepped forward, resisting the urge to fly up the ladder.  The square fort nestled in an old oak had been there as long as she could remember.  When she and Micah were about three and four, their dad’s had built it together.  Being engineers, they crafted a two bedroom tree house with a pitched roof, four windows, a ladder ascending into the middle of the larger main room, and a fireman pole and tire swing off the sides. 
She gazed up at the rusted telescope poking through one of the many spy holes. 
“And I remember you made me play the dragon every time too.  I never got to be the princess or damsel in distress-”
“What?” he cut in, “A knight needs something to fight!  Besides, you hated princess crap anyway.  Don’t lie,” he stated, when she scoffed at him, “You loved being the dragon because you got to kill me.”
“You’re right. I did like killing you over and over again.”
 “Hey, as I recall I wasn’t that bad.”  He gave her a crooked smile that left her insides feeling like jelly.
“Think it’s safe?” she asked, touching the ladder.
“Only one way to find out.”  Micah was bounding up the steps with her right on his heels.
Something magical about this place, she thought as she playfully pushed him out of the way once they climbed inside.   When he shoved her back with a mischievous grin she corrected herself, no there’s something magical about Micah.
He peered through the telescope.  “Pretty dirty, but still works.”
“See any monsters?” She moved behind him.
He turned unexpectedly, bringing his face close to hers. 
His eyebrows knit together.  “Eden, can I tell you something?”
He exhaled and she waited.
“I do see monsters.”  She surveyed their surroundings and he added, “Not now.  I mean, I see them in my sleep, in visions.  I guess that’s what I’m calling them.”
“You do?”  Her skin crawled.
“Yeah.  It’s kind of freaky.” His eyes searched hers.
“Totally freaky.  What are they?”
His shoulders hitched up as his brows relaxed.  “Don’t know.  They look black, sort of human. They’ve got arms and legs.  All I can ever make out’s their red eyes though and,” he frowned, “they’re always chasing me.”
She stared back at him, his expression almost pleading.  He needs to tell someone, she realized.

Born in Dekalb, Illinois, Amanda Strong has called Utah, Arizona, Hawaii, Virginia and now New Mexico home. Amanda has been spinning tales since she was a child. Her family still remembers finding young Amanda with her bright pink glasses, hiding in random corners of the house while scribbling away in one of her many spiral-bound notebooks. You could say that some things never change since Amanda is still writing today. Amanda began her writing career when she uploaded The Awakener, her first full-length novel, on Wattpad where it received over 430,000 reads in four weeks. She was blown away and humbled by the reader support and feedback she received. Because of The Awakener’s success as a non-published book, she was asked to talk on 1400 KSTAR about her story.
In September 2013 Amanda Strong signed with Clean Teen Publishing for publication of The Awakener, which is scheduled to release in late October of this year. The Awakener is the first book in an all-new young adult paranormal romance series called: The Watchers of Men.
When Amanda 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 young adult fantasy novels or working out only to blow her diet by eating ice cream.

Clean Teen Publishing Links:

Giveaway Details:
There is an international tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • GRAND PRIZE:  A Clean Teen Publishing eBook of the reader's choice, bookmark prize pack, and a $10 Amazon gift card. 


1 comment:

Amanda said...

Thank you so much for featuring The Awakener on your blog today! It looks fabulous! Enjoyed the interview too!