The Horror Tree Presents… An Interview with Amanda J Evans
Stacey – Hi Amanda, it’s great to have you here! Tell us a little about yourself and where you’re from?
Amanda – I’m Amanda, I’m an Irish author living in the republic of Ireland with my husband and two children.
Stacey – When did you start writing?
Amanda – I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first book, ‘The Little Elf Fairy’ when I was eight and have been writing on and off since then. I only began to take it seriously in 2016 and have been improving my craft ever since.
Stacey – What genres do you write in and what drew you to them?
Amanda – I love to write stories with magic and romance in them and stories that always have a happy ending. I love the idea of good versus evil and that good triumphs. I love stories of hope and worlds with magic and witches, wizards, evil demons. Anything that takes me out of the ordinary.
Stacey – What do you enjoy most about writing?
Amanda – For me it has to be the joy of watching the words fill the page and seeing the story emerge. I write as if I’m watching a movie in my head and I never know what is going to happen next. It makes writing more exciting for me and I get to be the first reader of a great new adventure.
Stacey – What scares you?
Amanda – Death and failure, and rejection are my big fears. Having lost my father to suicide when I was thirteen the fear of death is something that has gripped me very tightly and I worry about losing someone else I love.
Stacey – Where do you get your inspiration?
Amanda – That is a really difficult question to answer. I don’t know where my ideas comes from. I’m what they term a pantser in the writing world, where I don’t plan or plot. I literally pick up my pen and write the words that come to me. My brand is believe in happy ever after and a lot of my stories focus on death and grief and the suffering of those left behind and their unwavering belief in finding a happy ending. I guess you could say my father is the inspiration behind my writing and my belief that happiness is still possible even when you’ve lost everything.
Stacey – Which authors have influenced your writing along the way?
Amanda – I grew up reading Roald Dahl, Terry Brooks, Terry Pratchet, and Enid Blyton. I also loved fairy tales and one of my treasures is the complete book of Hans Christian Andersen tales bought for me by my grandfather when I was ten. Reading preferences have changed over the years but I still love books that have magic and supernatural elements in them. I love the new modern fairytale retellings that have become popular especially the darker ones.
Stacey – What’s your writing process like?
Amanda – I don’t necessarily have a process. I write every morning. I handwrite everything first so I literally just pick up my pen and continue my story from the previous day. I don’t plot or plan and prefer to let my characters tell me their story. I like to think of myself as a transcriber, putting down on paper what the characters in my head tell me.
Stacey – What was the first story you had published?
Amanda – Finding Forever was the first book I published on 31st January 2017. It’s a romantic suspense novella. My first traditionally published story was Moonlight Magic published by Owl Hollow Press in their Under the Full Moon’s Light Anthology in 2018. This was an urban fantasy story featuring a young witch coming into her powers and it was 7,500 words.
Stacey – Do you have a favourite character from your own works?
Amanda – I have a few but I think my favorite couple so far have been Kate and Drake from my novel Save Her Soul. Kate is determined to get revenge on the man who brutally murdered her sister and Drake is trying to stop her because she has been cursed. If she gets her revenge, she will unleash hell on earth. This book had so many great twists and turns and a love story that spanned 500 years. It was exciting to write, and Kate was such a strong character even when faced with making the most difficult choice of all. I’m also really fond of the couple in my new book, Winterland, who have a great many challenges to face as well.
Stacey – Has there ever been a book you couldn’t finish? Why or why not?
Amanda – I try not to do this and give every book a fair chance. Some books start slow and then pull you in half way through. I like to give every book at least 30% and if I do stop reading or can’t finish a book then it will be for a very good reason. If I can’t connect with the main character or don’t care enough about the outcome. It very seldom happens though.
Stacey – What’s the last Horror movie/tv show you watched?
Amanda – Birdbox on Netflix is probably the last one and before that, The Haunting of Hill house which was amazing.
Stacey – If you could go back in time who would you go back in time to see?
Amanda – That’s very easy. I’d go back and spend time with my father.
Stacey – What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone who is just getting started on their author journey?
Amanda – Take your time. There’s no rush. Don’t get sucked into thinking everything has to happen quickly. Write because you love to write and not to make money. Be gentle with yourself. There will be days where you don’t feel like writing and that’s okay. You don’t have to write a novel in a month or three months. You can take as long as you need, just always remember why you want to write in the first place. Never lose the joy. Ask for help and advice and read. Most writers are very generous with their time and will answer questions. Most of all, don’t give up. If becoming an author is your dream, go for it.
Stacey – Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share?
Amanda – Thank you. I’d love to share an excert from Hear Me Cry. This novella was published on the 16th May 2018 and won the Book of the Year Award at the Dublin Writers Conference 2018. It is a dark fantasy romance retelling of the Irish legend of the Banshee.
Existing in Irish folklore for centuries, Banshee, or bean sidhe, means “woman of the faery”. It hasn’t always been my name, and I haven’t always been the messenger of death. You see, I was cursed, so my mourning call now heralds death. They say love is the cure for all, but it was love that cursed me. You think you know about me, but it’s time I tell the real story.
Border patrol was always boring. Walking up and down along the veil, eyes peeled in case any human should cross. I hated it, especially the south patrol. Nothing ever happened. To make matters worse, I was alone. No one to chat with, the rustling leaves beneath my feet the only sound. It was just me on the border of the Summer and Autumn Courts, walking between the crisp leaves and blooming flowers. I wanted to be where the action was, where the rest of the warriors were stationed. The north. It was colder and rougher terrain, but at least they saw action. I was stuck here watching the leaves fall off the trees, the large branches shielding me from the blazing sun. Nothing to look at but forest and fields of flowers. Poppies as far as the eye could see.
“Why couldn’t I have been sent to the north?” I sighed as I kicked a pile of leaves. “It’s not fair.” I knew why. It was because I was short, slight, and female. But I could take any of the male warriors and they knew it.
I turned to march along the trail again, the sunlight bouncing off the rippling veil that kept the faery and human worlds separate. The humans couldn’t see or feel the veil, but to me it looked like a pool of clear water suspended in mid-air, rippled from the breeze that blew against it. It has a bluish tint to it as well. It was about the only pleasant thing to look at. The trees lost their appeal after an hour and the poppies, if I didn’t see one again for the rest of my life I wouldn’t care. Who needs fields and fields of them anyway? The Summer Queen must have run out of ideas. I scoffed as I marched through the trees. What’s the point in being a trained warrior if I never see battle, never get to kill a human?
I’d never seen a human, but I had heard the stories. Vicious beings who loved nothing better than to capture a fae and torture them to death or, worse, enslave them for eternity. I shuddered at the thought.
The shouts echoed. I jumped, turning on my heels to see where the noise was coming from.
“It’s coming from inside the veil,” I mumbled as I raced forward. My mind conjured up images of fallen fae, my brothers, trapped and pleading for help. Instinct kicked in and I jumped through the barrier between our worlds, awakening all my senses.
My feet sank into lush green grass and I crouched low, blinking rapidly as bright sunlight assaulted my eyes. I tossed my dark curls over my shoulders and turned my head left and right, looking for the threat. It was quiet. Tall oaks trees covered the ground on both sides, a short pathway through them where the veil had spat me out. In front of me was a vast expanse of water, surrounded by hills and mountains. The grass here was greener than I’d ever seen. I pushed to my feet, looking behind me at the rippling veil. I could only see a small opening from this side, the rest hidden in the canopy of trees. No wonder no humans ever made it through to the other side.
I spun. The shouts came from the water. Two hands poked up through the surface, waving frantically before they were swallowed, pulled beneath and into the darkness.
Running toward the embankment, I kicked off my shoes and plunged into the water. Fae normally weren’t very good swimmers…except for me. I loved the water. It called to me on a deeper level, obeying my commands. I don’t know why and no one seemed to be able to explain it either.
I opened my eyes to look through the darkness. Another of my talents. When I saw legs kicking, I forced my body in that direction. The water clung to my clothes, trying to drag me into the depths. The figure started to sink again, arms raised. I was too late.
I pushed myself as hard as I could. Grabbing a fistful of hair, I tugged upward so I could get a firm grasp on the body. I kicked my legs and we rose to the surface. My head emerged and I sucked in a deep breath, my arm secured tightly around the person’s neck. We weren’t too far from shore.
I pulled the body onto the grassy bank and bent over to catch my breath, refilling my lungs, coughing up the water I’d swallowed. I pushed my wet hair back off my face, forcing it behind my shoulders. The water dripped down my back as I tried to calm my breathing.
I looked down at the body. A male. His lack wet hair covered his face but I caught a glimpse of freckles across his high cheekbones. His full lips were blue. I brush the hair out of the way and gasped when I saw his ears. A human male. He was motionless.
I bent down, watching his chest for movement. Nothing.
I knelt beside him and placed my fingers on his neck. No pulse. It shouldn’t have bothered me, he was human filth, but it did. He wasn’t breathing. Death was taking him and I could save him. I shouldn’t want to, but it felt wrong not to try, not to give him a chance to fight.
Sucking in a deep breath, I leaned over and placed my hands over his checked shirt, pumping hard on his chest.
“Come on. Breathe.”
He remained still, his body cold.
“You can’t die. Not on my watch,” I said through gritted teeth.
I reached forward, looking into his pale face. He looked so peaceful, so normal. Nothing like the stories I’d been told. In fact, he looked quite harmless with his rounded ears. I gasped aloud before laughing to myself.
“I’ve rescued a human. Me, one of the queen’s guard, sworn to protect, and I’ve rescued a human.”
The laughter died in my chest. “What do I do? Do I let him die? He’s probably dead already.”
I shook my head, my hands trembling. I couldn’t let him die. Not like this. Battles were different. In battle, I could cut him down in an instant, but he was defenceless right now.
I leaned forward and felt for a pulse once more. I thought I felt a flutter, but it was faint.
“You can’t let him die, Isla,” I whispered.
I knew I’d never forgive myself if I did nothing.
Pumping his chest once more, I waited for him to cough, breathe, something. It didn’t happen.
I inhaled deeply and steadied my nerves before placing my lips to his and blowing air into his lungs. My body trembled as I pulled back.
He suddenly gasped, water spluttering from his mouth. I grabbed him and rolled him onto his side so he could breathe easier. He was heavier than I expected. No sooner had I moved him than a searing pain shot through my body and I collapsed on the ground. Uncontrollable heat coursed through my veins, like fire ripping through haystacks.
I screamed and tried to fight it. He’d tricked me, poisoned me. I should have let him drown.
The pain started to recede, sweat dripping from my forehead as I brushed my dark curls hair away. My throbbing hands felt like red-hot pokers as I waved them through the air. My heart raced. Something was wrong. I felt different, changed. I ran my fingers across my face. It felt the same, strong chin, full lips, small button nose, and pointed ears. The lake danced in my vision, blurred and distorted.
“Go hálainn,” the voice croaked.
I shook my head. A spell perhaps?
“Go raibh maith agat,” he spoke again, but I couldn’t understand it.
My hands tingled as I held them out in front of me. Veins popped out on the surface of my skin, which was red and swollen.
“What have you done to me?” I shouted as I turned to look at the human. “What poison did you use?” My voice was strained, my throat closing in as I sat up.
“Ni thigim. Are you all right?” He sat up and reached for me.
I flinched, but as soon as his fingers touched my arm, the burning stopped, my vision clearing.
My gaze met his and I gasped. His eyes were so blue, so mesmerising. I was trapped in them. I felt a pull inside me. It was so strong, I couldn’t resist. My hand reached out to touch his face. I couldn’t stop it. The moment my fingers brushed against his skin, my mind exploded. Lights danced, magic flared, and I fell backwards.
“A Cailin, an bhfuil tu go maith?”
I forced my eyes open, seeing his face hovering over mine. “I c-can’t unders-stand y-you,” I stuttered, trying to regain control.
“I asked if you were okay,” he said, his voice like honey, soothing my body and mind.
I swallowed. “What did you do to me? What poison did you use?”
“Poison?” He shook his head. “I didn’t do anything. You saved me. You…” He paused.
My body slowly began to feel like mine again and I sat up to look more closely at this human.
“I don’t understand. When I touched you, something happened. I thought you poisoned me.”
“Why would I do that?” he asked, leaning toward me, my eyes focusing on his full lips.
I jerked back. He stopped. His eyes roamed my body before coming back to my face. Those blue orbs pierced mine, making me feel the pull again. The longing to touch him. It had to be magic, an entrapment spell.
“What did you say when you woke up? Did you cast a spell on me?”
“A spell?” He laughed.
“You spoke strange words.”
“I spoke my language. Irish. I said you were beautiful and I thanked you for saving me. You’re not from these parts, are you?”
My instincts warned me not to answer, so I pushed to my feet. “I have to go.” I looked around for my shoes, spotting them near the water’s edge.
“Wait,” he said, grabbing my arm.
As soon as he touched me, the heat travelled throughout my body. My vision blurred, my body swaying.
“I got you,” he said as he pulled me to him.
His touch felt soothing, my body melding into his. The heat intensified, and darkness took over.
Thank you so much for your time, Amanda! If you would like to find out more about Amanda and her work, check out the links below.
Amanda J Evans
Romance, Paranormal, and Fantasy Author
Believe in Happy Ever After
Find me on:
Books By Amanda J Evans
Hear Me Cry – A Fantasy Romance Novella
Winner of the Book of the Year – Dublin Writers Conference 2018
Save Her Soul – A Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance
Virtual Fantasy Con Awards 2017 Silver Award for Best Paranormal Book
Finding Forever – A Romantic Suspense Novella
Summer Indie Book Awards 2017 Winner for Best Thriller
Surviving Suicide – A Memoir From Those Death Left Behind
Nightmare Realities – Spooky Short Stories for Ages 9-16