Welcome my guest today, Amanda, a fantasy writer from the island of Newfoundland.
Amanda Labonté lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where she gets much of the inspiration for the characters and places about which she writes. As the co-owner of an educational business and mother of two she spends much of her day with kids of all ages. They give her some of the best reading recommendations.
1. Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a writer and business owner living in St. John’s, Newfoundland on Canada’s far east coast. I have two awesome kids and a husband who also doubles as my beta reader. My first novel, Call of the Sea, is a YA fantasy which has recently been picked up by Engen Books as a series. In addition to writing, I also enjoy reading and reviewing books, avoiding house cleaning, and discovering new shows to binge watch on Netflix.
2. What made you want to become a writer?
I knew I wanted to become a writer from the time I was in eighth grade. I had a wonderful English teacher who thought I had potential and encouraged me to write. Even though I didn’t always get positive feedback on my creative writing, this early interaction really helped set me on a path to wanting to share my writing with others.
3. Tell us something about how you write? i.e. are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have any weird or necessary writing habits or rituals?
Probably the weirdest thing I do is when I have really bad case of writers’ block or a plot point is really bugging me, I go take a shower. I know it sounds strange, but it can really help sort out my thoughts, especially when I am under a deadline.
4. Do you think people have misconceptions about the speculative fiction? Why do you think it is a worthwhile genre?
I think the misconceptions about speculative fiction come from within the writing community, rather than the reading community. Fans of speculative fiction are amongst the most dedicated and voracious readers. I love writing for this audience.
One of the main misconceptions about speculative fiction is that these writers don’t have to work as hard, since they are making up a new world or using magic as part of their plot. I would say that this might make speculative fiction more fun to write, but it doesn’t make it easier. Consistency is just as important, and just as problematic, in an alternate reality as it is in our own.
As for the value of speculative fiction, I think that’s most easily seen in how deeply readers feel about books written in genres like fantasy and science fiction. These stories resonate deeply with readers and have proven lasting power.
5. What gives you inspiration for your book?
My inspiration for Call of the Sea came from my surroundings. Though the specific communities are fictional, the setting of the story is a very real place. The Cape Shore is a beautiful area with breathtaking sea views. It’s exactly the sort of place you’d expect to find fantastical beings.
6. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
By far, the hardest part of writing this book was balancing my time. My daughter was very young when I was trying to get the Call of the Sea manuscript ready to submit. Then, when I did manage to carve out some time, I had to fight the self-doubt that I think plagues all writers. Is this any good? What if no one ever reads it? I still have to fight the self-doubt demons, I think it’s something all writers have to deal with.
7. Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Do you have any other books in the works?
I have been working on an e-book serial called Supernatural Causes. It’s a paranormal medical mystery about a university student who moonlights as an intern at a hospital for vampires, werewolves, and witches. Supernatural Causes will be released in four parts, which we’re calling ‘episodes’, starting in April, 2017. I am also working on Return to the Sea, the sequel to Call of the Sea, which will be made available April 2018 through Engen Books.
Where can we find you online? (please cut and paste links):
While twins Alex and Ben are at sea, they get into a fight, and Ben disappears suddenly from the boat without so much as a ripple in the water. Determined to find his brother, Alex begins the biggest adventure of his life, armed only with a mysterious musical talent and the help of a local girl named Meg. But his best hope for finding his brother might come from the alluring and dangerous girl he finds amidst the frothing ocean waves.
Come to me, she called, she called.
Come to me my one, my only…
The melody played at the edges of his consciousness. The gentle sound of woodwind instruments with the occasional infusion of something deeper, a low, sonorous percussion. He floated along on the feeling of a familiar dream — until it became louder, more pronounced, overpowering his other senses.
Come to me my one, my only…
Alex sat up in bed, his heart racing, and looked toward the open window. This was not how he’d envisioned his first night home after being away for almost a month. Knowing exactly where the sound was coming from and what he had to do, he ducked out from under the lower bunk and fumbled in the dark for a T-shirt. He pulled the stretch cotton over his head while sneaking into the hallway, making as little noise as possible so as not to wake the household.
He paused halfway down the stairs as the wooden clock in the living room chimed the hour. One … two … three … four. Far too early to be up. Moving on, he used the light over the stove in the kitchen to find his sneakers and was almost to the back door when he heard Poppy muttering.
Doubling back to the first floor bedroom, he listened outside the door and thought about checking on him but decided against it. Poppy frequently woke in the middle of the night, but he didn't wander. Anyway, the music was getting louder, giving him a headache. He needed to get moving.
He left through the back, careful not to let the screen door swing shut. The predawn air was pleasantly warm, and the walk would have been almost welcome if Alex wasn't hearing a song to which everyone else remained deaf. He followed the driveway out onto the main road and down the hill that led to the beach path.
Oddly, as he got closer, the music became softer, as though some cosmic power had been shouting for his attention, and now that he'd answered, it was all right for it to whisper. By the time his feet slid onto the beach rocks, the melody had blended so subtly with the sound of the waves that he might have imagined it.
Except that if he turned back now, he knew it would start all over again.
The tide was out, revealing the narrow strip of sandy beach that was actually a piece of the ocean floor. It made a path to the horned rock, nicknamed for the horn-like appendages that protruded from the ocean side of the boulder. The novelty of the rock was that when the tide was in it was surrounded by water, but when the tide was out it was completely accessible. The trick was not to get caught when the tide changed.
He sank down on the strip of sand, facing the ocean, and felt the sense of relief that came with answering the music’s call. It was a clear night, and he could see the stars and the crescent moon. He took a deep, cleansing breath, tasting the salt air. The music had completely dissipated now, and it was easy to think that it had all been an illusion. Closing his eyes, he listened to the natural, rhythmic sound of the waves.
He’d missed the ocean while he’d been away.
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