Welcome back to another interview. I recently put out the hit for more of them and I have a few more up my sleeve.
. . .I sound like some kind of terrible mafia boss.
Today’s interview is with Elizabeth Hammill, author of the Amaranthine Inheritance series. Down below is a bio, her links and she even sent me an excerpt of the book! Go check it out.
E.M. (Elisabeth) Hamill writes adult science fiction and fantasy somewhere in the wilds of eastern suburban Kansas. A nurse by day, wordsmith by night, she is happy to give her geeky imagination free reign and has sworn never to grow up and get boring.
Frequently under the influence of caffeinated beverages, she also writes as Elisabeth Hamill for young adult readers in fantasy with the award-winning Songmaker series.
She lives in eastern Kansas with her family, where they fend off flying monkey attacks and prep for the zombie apocalypse.
Electric jolts burned down her spine. The muscles between her shoulder blades contracted with excruciating tension as images seared themselves into her brain.
Blurry views of the glass-fronted arena a couple of blocks over. Skyward facets of mirrored surface. The reflected outline of a dark-winged creature coming for her.
Callie blinked out of the petit mal seizure triggered by the vision’s aftermath as pedestrians with wary eyes edged around her. She had no idea how much time had passed while she stood frozen in place on the crowded sidewalk. “Damn it!”
Sweaty strands of russet hair escaped her ponytail and stuck to her face as she shifted the duffel bag back on her shoulder. She wiped them away and scanned the hot, blue-white sky glimpsed between concrete and glass buildings, searching for the airborne threat and listening to her internal early warning system.
It tracked her down again.
Two states’ worth of miles between her and that monster still wasn’t enough.
The compulsion urging her westward had driven her out of the relative coolness and shelter the Kansas City bus station offered, into busy rush hour streets where she hugged inner edges of sidewalks and hoped the downtown bustle would provide its own sort of cover. She merged in with a stream of liberated workers pouring from an office building.
When that irresistible force abruptly forfeited its tug-of-war with her insides, she was unprepared. Momentum arrested, she stumbled over her own feet. The overloaded duffel bag on her shoulder remained in forward motion and dragged her off balance, wobbling from the curb into the street.
“Shit!” With a backward muppet-flail to the sidewalk, Callie narrowly avoided being splattered across the front of an electric streetcar as it sailed past, a stealthy millipede with a black and white carapace. The frantic beat of her heart slowed as she forced herself to take a couple of deep breaths, the tug inside her replaced by a sense of anticipation. She took in the trendy-looking zone with glass-fronted bistros and drinking establishments.
So, this was the right place. She still didn’t know where she was going.
Looking around in bafflement at this hipster-magnet entertainment district, she wondered if this might be the first—and last—time the visions failed her. In a valley banked by high-rise buildings, busy side streets in five o’clock turmoil shimmered with waves of heat. Buses and traffic roared by on main thoroughfares. Although the street corners were crowded with commuters on their way home, she was too exposed. Time to find shelter. She stepped into the intersection with the rest of the herd, but her intuition firmly told her, No. Turn around, genius.
That never happened before. When did her inside voice get so snarky?
Callie ignored the dirty looks from other pedestrians and waded back upstream through the press of bodies. She examined the structure behind her with a dubious eye and waited for another clue from her newly sarcastic extrasensory radar.
A three-storied building loomed in pale, faded brick and mortar. With large windows on the ground and two upper floors, the architecture held a turn of the century feel rather than the contemporary establishments all around. It might have been photoshopped into the block, a tintype superimposed against modern business fronts. The plate glass window at street-level gleamed with gold-leaf letters in old-fashioned script:
NECTAR AND AMBROSIA
Bar and Hotel
Florian Pereira, Proprietor
Despite the spotless glass, the place appeared to be abandoned. The street reflected in the window made it difficult to see inside. Cupping her hands around her eyes, she stepped up to the panes.
A wave of dizziness washed over her and she swayed. Odd quiet enveloped her, the noise of the street behind muffled and far away. Callie steadied herself on the window. Cool glass promised air conditioning on the other side, but a weird buzz skittered across her fingertips. She snatched her hand away and backpedaled, the returning blare of horns and exhaust-fume smells of rush hour overwhelming her senses. Bodies shoved and spun her as she stepped back into the path of foot traffic.
“What the…” she muttered.
A small hand lettered sign, faded by sunlight, stood in the corner of the window: HELP WANTED. Smaller writing barely visible underneath drew Callie closer to peer at the notice.
If you can read this, find the door. Immediate employment available. Great wages and unbelievable tips. See Florian, behind the bar.
Where was the door? Right or left, the gold-lettered windows stretched unbroken for the length of the building. Her reflection stared back from the plate glass with uncertain eyes, the ghosts of cars and buses passing behind her.
A banshee scream echoed above the din of traffic and bounced between buildings in a ricochet of nerve-shredding terror. Breath turned to icicles in Callie’s lungs. The horrifying cry galvanized a flood of fight-or-flight instinct that scrambled her ability to think.
No one else on the sidewalk even looked up at the skin-crawling sound, oblivious in their after-work trek to cars and bus stops. They wouldn’t even see it, she knew.
It wasn’t there for them.
She needed to hide, now.
Her head whipped side to side to find an escape route from the street. In desperation, she lifted her hand to knock on the window—and the door was there, right in front of her. Brass, wood, and glass gleamed at her in the brutal afternoon sun and she reached for the knob with urgent need, not even thinking to question how it appeared as a shadow grew above her in the glass, like a hawk about to strike.
And we now come to the interview itself!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
I’m Elisabeth Hamill for my YA fantasy books, The Songmaker Series, and E.M. Hamill for my adult-aimed novels. I write all flavors of science fiction and fantasy. I can’t pick just one.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I am an unapologetic, seat of the pants writer. My characters will often appear in vivid dreams, and I have to write about them to figure out who they are. Sometimes they have a story to tell, sometimes not, but it’s a great exercise either way.
Tell us about your current project.
Nectar and Ambrosia will be published on June 30, 2018. It’s a snarky, irreverent urban fantasy that’s kind of American Gods meets It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This is the first book in a planned, ongoing saga.
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them! Each book will have dual POV, with one of them being Florian, the Doorkeeper of the threshhold between this dimension and the one where the former gods live.
In Nectar, the other main character is Callie, a college dropout who discovers she is the new Oracle Priestess. Callie is a classics major and uniquely suited to this role, but discovering that the mythology she loved all her life is a lie, and that the ex-gods are actually interdimensional travelers with attention-seeking issues, is a bit of a blow.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Learn your craft. Worldbuilding is not necessarily something that comes the first time you put the draft on paper. Cultivate relationships with other writers in your genre, because honest, brutal critique partners who have your back are absolutely essential. We’re an isolated bunch for the most part, we writers, but other eyes on your manuscript are irreplaceable. And write what you love, not to a market.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
I set the book in my hometown of Kansas City, although we don’t get to see much of it in this book. Most of it takes place inside the weirdest pub on Earth. I drew from our world religions, of course, and there’s quite a few represented in the crush even if the most familiar to me take the forefront in this story.
What inspires you to write?
Dreams. Other stories from writers who make me say, “Yes, that’s fantastic! But what if…” and I go off on my own tangent. Real-time scientific discoveries that pique my creative interest.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Good grief, I wrote this book for almost ten years. I submitted it to agents with some great feedback, but ultimately no takers. I kept putting it on the backburner because I write best when I’m obsessed, and I kept getting other ideas that sucked me down the rabbithole. I started back to college this year and haven’t had the mental energy to create entire new worlds, so I edited and revised this one, finally. It’s going out into the world as my first self published book.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I enjoyed the repartee between different characters, especially Hermes, who’s a bit of a smartass, and Puck, who is just obscene and funny. I am not witty in real-time. I come up with ripostes long after the conversations are over. When I’m writing, I can go back and insert the sarcasm.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
I learned that what is important is that I write what I love. It’s a bonus that other people liked it well enough to keep nudging me to get it done and out there. I attempted writing to a paranormal romance market, but it’s not me. I scrapped all of that aspect and went back to the way I wanted it.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
I try to figure out what motivates them, how their past experiences have shaped them, and research, research, research if it’s something with which I’m not familiar.
What are your future project(s)?
Currently, I am working on the second science fiction novel in my Dalí series, centered on my character Dalí Tamareia, a third-gender spy/diplomat. It’s tentatively called Third Front.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
I am an oncology nurse in my real life. I would love to be an author full time, but I can pay my bills in a field that I love right now. It makes my writing time extremely narrow, but I hoard it like a dragon.
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
I can be reached on Twitter @songmagick, on Facebook @EMHamill, and my website/blog is http://www.elisabethhamill.com