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Feb 08 2015

Writing superheroes: Amanda Shalaby

 Pajamas, fuzzy slippers and veggie vitamins keep this superhero going. Read on and find out more…

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If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?

Oh, yes, it is out there, I am afraid.  I wrote a children’s fantasy book when I was fourteen years old, printed it and gave it to several family members.  It was based on a dream – wildly creative and something in the line of the Narnia books – but not at all well written.  I have thought of revising it, but my style and taste in writing has clearly changed dramatically, so I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to that one.

 

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All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.

Office manager at a financial planning firm.  Who’s to say when I walk out those doors at the end of the day if I’m going home to a night of TV, a nice dinner out, or changing into my superhero pajama suit and  leaving for an entirely different country and era?

 

Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers? 

One of my best partners in crime is my dog, Isabella Jane. She sits with me through all my writing sessions and, if she doesn’t like the way things are going, provides me with her own suggestions as to where the story should go.  Subliminally, of course.  Also, my mom.  No one reads anything before mom reads the first draft.

 

Where do you get your superpowers from?

Vegetable vitamins.  I am not kidding!  I do not eat my vegetables.  Veggie pills are my only hope!  Oh – and the thesaurus, naturally.

 

Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?

I live in an old Victorian house built in the early 1900s.  It has lots of little rooms, and one of them I have claimed for my very own lair.  It is the only room in the house that looks like a time capsule, with a lovely chandelier given to me by my mother-in-law, an elaborately framed mirror, a painting of an English high-tea, a scroll-armed couch and, of course, my writing desk.  The saddest part is, I hardly ever use it in favor of writing on the coffee table in my living room with my dogs at my side!

 

What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you insure they are used only for good?

Organization is not my strong point, but I’m always working at it.  If I let my organization slip, chaos is imminent.  Chaos, in turn, leads to burnout – which can make anyone evil!  Life is a juggling act that most certainly requires superhuman powers – and the more organized you are the better you can handle the extra balls when they’re thrown your way.

 

Granted, you probably don’t get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?

Oh my gosh, can it look and feel like pajamas?  Fuzzy slippers?  I mean, a costume like that would throw any enemy off, right? 

 

What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?

Making the time – and then making sure the time I make is time that I have a functioning brain.  I used to be most creative in the afternoons.  That may still be the case, but working two “day” jobs, I have no afternoons to be home to sit and write.  So I have to do my best with early mornings & late evenings.  Whenever I’m feeling my most alert and in-tune to my characters, I have to go with it.  It may not be the most ideal time, but you can’t wait around for the ideal time.  TV is utterly out – and Redbulls are fully in. 

 

What was the supervillian that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?

A lack of motivation, actually.  Bleddyn Hall came to me in 1½ hours – the whole general story, beginning to end.  I had no problems starting the novel, but a month or so into writing it I lost interest in the research.  Normally, I love research, but I guess I just got lazy.  Fortunately, at the time, my novel Audra was coming out – and everything that goes along with a new release gave me the oomph I needed to continue. 

 

What important lessons have you learned along the way?

Trust your editors.  Hands down.

 

What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?

The best moments, the most memorable moments, are always when you get an offer for your novel.   To know that someone (other than dear old Mum) appreciates what you’ve done, and that maybe you’re not that bad of a writer after all because someone is willing and paying you to publish your book.  Oh, and positive reviews from people who you don’t know who just happen to love your stories.  That’s the best.

 

If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?

I would definitely try harder to keep the cat off the keyboard when I’m editing.  He’s added a few interesting additions to my manuscripts over the years.  And I would definitely continue sending my early drafts to my beloved critique partners.  Critique partners are paramount!

 

What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.

Jennifer Lawler, former editor and founder of Crimson Romance, showed me it’s OK to cut your first chapter or even chapters.  Sometimes we spend too much time preparing to tell the story without actually telling the story – and that can mean the difference between a publisher passing on your book or accepting it.

 

Tell us about you new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.

Putting all sentimentality aside, Bleddyn Hall is the favorite of my books to date.  After a whirlwind romance during the London Season, Lady Isabel Sutton finds herself quickly engaged to the handsome Lord Tresham Bleddyn, Earl of Dancy. But when his father passes away suddenly, Lord Tresham’s period of mourning delays their marriage and ruins the season for Tresham’s younger twin sisters, Annalise and Rosamund.

After the girls invite Isabel to their Yorkshire home, Bleddyn Hall, Tresham seems an entirely different man than the one she fell in love with in London. Not only that, but all is not well within the walls of Bleddyn Hall. The house’s dark secrets lead to murder, mystery and a gruesome discovery.

Was Isabel’s happy future with Tresham nothing more than an illusion? Will she survive her stay at Bleddyn Hall? Only one way to find out!

 

What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?

My most recent project involves a group of vigilante Victorians on their quest to bring to justice to those whose crimes might otherwise have been swept under the rug due to their positions and connections in society.  There’s some coming-of-age in there, a love story, naturally – and one of my bravest heroine’s so far!

 

    You can find Amanda at:

Amazon ~ Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest

 

9 comments

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  1. Julie

    Best wishes for big sales. Happy release day!

    1. Amanda Shalaby

      Thank you, Julie! And lovely for you to stop by!

  2. Neva Brown

    Lots of good advise in this one, with a touch of humor that makes it fun to read.

    1. Amanda Shalaby

      Hello, Neva! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I really do recommend those veggie vitamins! Thanks for coming by today and saying hello 🙂

  3. Katie O'Boyle

    LOL! I enjoyed this interview so much! What a cool site. Best of luck with your new release! –katie o’boyle

    1. Amanda Shalaby

      Hi Katie! I’m so glad you had a moment to visit with me. I hope you did so in your own superhero suit complete with fuzzy slippers!

  4. Amanda Shalaby

    Maria, thank you so much for having me on your Superheroes blog today. Your interview questions were simply the best & it has been a total pleasure!

  5. Susan B James

    Such a fun post. your books sounds great.

    1. Amanda Shalaby

      Thank you, Susan! So nice to have you visit today. Happy reading!

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