Today I am excited to share my interview with Amie Winters author of Strange Luck. I’m looking forward to reviewing her book The Nightmares Birds as part of my Women in Horror feature. As an environmental conservationist, Amie has had a lot of unique experiences – from participating in archaeological digs, camping solo in the Rocky Mountains, to designing natural history museum exhibits – but writing fiction has always been her passion. She’s the author of the Strange Luck series. Book II in the series, The Nightmare Birds, is scheduled for the fall of 2016. She enjoys chocolate, Bela Lugosi, bad 80’s movies, and hiking. Amie currently lives in a small western PA town with her pug Loki and philosopher husband.
The Scary Reviews: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from? What propelled you to start writing? When did you start writing?
Amie Winters: I’m originally from the San Francisco Bay area, but I currently live in a small town in western PA. Writing books never entered my mind until I completed my bachelors in anthropology and religious studies, and masters in environmental studies. After having tried a variety of unique jobs – from park ranger, grant writer, natural history curator, to archaeologist – did I start experimenting with writing fiction. Why? Simply put, I thought it would be fun. Writing has been one of the few things that I do that doesn’t seem like “work.” Last year, I published my debut YA Fantasy book, Strange Luck. The next book in the Strange Luck series, The Nightmare Birds, will be released August 2, 2016. I can’t wait!
TSR: What are the themes you like to write about?
AW: Magic! Writing about magic is, well, magical. It’s so much fun because anything is possible. Wizards, evil spells, talking animals, fairies. Throw ‘em all in!
TSR: What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
AW: Don’t ever give up even if you’re rejected or receive negative feedback. The path is going to be difficult, it’s going to be trying, but in the end, it will be worth it when you finally hold your book in your hands.
TSR: How did you come up with the title?
AW: I think that my working title was THE MEMORY COLLECTOR or something like that, but I never really felt connected to that title. Since Book I in the series is centered around an oddities antique shop called Strange Luck, and there’s a lot of peculiar, yet lucky things that happen throughout the story, the title ‘Strange Luck’ seemed much more fitting.
TSR: Can you share with me how many books will make up The Strange Luck series?
AW: I’m planning four books in the Strange Luck series. There’s going to be a prequel in there somewhere, but I haven’t decided yet if that will be book three or four. Stay tuned.
TSR: What is the significance of the cover art and do you design your own book covers?
AW: For the Strange Luck cover, I really wanted something that was different from other YA books. I wanted a combination of whimsical, transcending, and you guessed it, strange. Like, you have to look twice at it to see all of the hidden things. I used 99Designs. I included a description of the book and some general ideas of what I wanted and the rest was up to the individual artists. The only requirement I had was that the girl on the cover had to have red hair. I was expecting to receive 15-25 designs, but received over 100 submissions. It was crazy! It was really neat seeing what people came up with just from reading the book’s description though. I enlisted the help of family and friends to help me whittle down the list, and although it was tedious, the process was really enjoyable and I couldn’t be happier with the result. My favorite thing about the cover is that she’s seemingly swimming, but in a forest. Strangeness achieved.
For The Nightmare Birds, I’m hoping to work with the same graphic artist so that the look and feel is consistent.
TSR: Can you tell me who your favorite authors are? Which author(s) had a significant impact on you growing up?
AW: Joanne Harris inspired me to become a writer. Having only seen the movie, I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up a copy of Chocolat a decade ago, but I instantly fell in love with it. I absolutely adore the whimsical world that Joanne Harris creates, the hints of magic, and especially the sweetness she sprinkles throughout. She remains one of my favorite authors. I also adore Neil Gaiman, Sarah Addison Allen, J.K. Rowling, Alan Bradley, and Erin Morgenstern. Although I didn’t actually read The Neverending Story by Michael Ende until recently, it’s definitely one of my favorite books of all time (and it’s so much better than the movie). Growing up though, I would have to say that I was heavily influenced by The Secret Garden and Alice in Wonderland.
TSR: What book or books are you reading now?
AW: Don’t judge me J I switch up my book genres to keep it interesting and ten to read a lot of random books. I just went from H.P. Lovecraft’s The Lurker at The Threshold to Anne of Green Gables. Nothing says interesting like slimy monsters busting through another dimension followed by an innocent Disney adventure.
TSR: What inspires you to write? Music? Other books? Real life events? Just an incredible imagination?
AW: I’m inspired to write really anywhere at any time from anything. It could be from a song, movie, painting, or doing absolutely nothing at all. I was inspired to write Strange Luck while driving by a cemetery on the way to work one day. I actually get a lot of my ideas while doing random things like taking a walk with my dog, cooking, or showering. I think it’s because I’m relaxed and not forcing ideas.
TSR: If you could write anywhere in the world – in a fictional or nonfiction place – where would you write?
AW: Hogwarts! I can’t think of anything cooler than living in a castle while learning about magic and spells and then writing about it.
You can connect with Amie Winters at the links below.