Friday, April 29, 2011

Author Interview: Christine Amsden

I would like to introduce you all to Christine Amsden, the author of Immortality Virus, which I reviewed yesterday.  First, let's get to know the basics.

Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. (You can learn more here.)

Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success.  They have two beautiful children, Drake and Celeste.

Now for some questions.

 Were you the kind of child who made up stories, or did writing come to you later in life?

I made up stories even as a child, usually about magic or aliens. The first story I ever wrote, at the age of 7 or 8, involved Cabbage Patch Dolls going to Mars. I found my mother's old manual typewriter in the basement, and I was drawn to it like a moth to flames.

If you could go back in time to visit yourself, what moment would you pick and what would you say to yourself?

Wow! That's a loaded question. Strangely enough, it's something I even daydream about from time to time -- usually I see myself as a teenager and tell her she's going to be okay. I suppose I'm supposed to say I would tell her about my novels, so she knew she had that dream come true to look forward to, but actually, I'm not sure I would. That's not exactly something I was ever going to give up. I was always more fatalistic about love -- "Oh, I'll never find anyone!" -- but my husband is wonderful and my only regret is how much time I wasted worrying that he would never come into my life.

In Immortality Virus, your protaganist Grace was a very strong woman going through some very dark times, yet she kept her witty, ironic sense of humor.  Does this reflect you and your usual style?

Yes. In fact, though my stories vary widely in topic and genre, the strong female protagonist working through tough times is very consistent. For example, in Touch of Fate, Marianne is trying to find a way to live with and control a prophetic ability that has always seemed more curse than gift. As far as the sense of humor, that's all me. It slips in there when I'm focused and on task, a little piece of me searching for the fun and hope in even a dark situation.

The book showed bad effects from human beings living almost immortal lives.  Do you think there are any positive effects of such long lives?

On an individual level, I can see the draw of immortality -- in part because of the fear/mystery of death, but even more because wouldn't we all just love the chance to see it all? Travel the world? There's so much to experience, and so little time....or so they say. :)

But for humanity as a whole, I'm afraid I see no advantages to very long life. In a way, I think we're already immortal -- humanity, that is -- we live on in the next generation. In this way we grow, change, and continue to learn with each passing year. We contribute to the health of the whole by caring for the next generation (not necessarily thorugh having children of our own), and caring for the planet on which we live. To use an apt cliche, it's the circle of life. We're born, we grow, we learn, we love, we nurture, and then we step aside so it can start anew. If we don't step aside, what happens to the next generation?

What was your favorite part/scene in the book?

This may surprise some readers, since it's a moment when the book kind of slows down, but I really liked the scene in which Grace meets Meg, and they begin a friendship. It was a real defining moment for Grace, and one in which she learns something from this much, much younger girl with stars in her eyes. Similarly, I enjoyed the scene in which Grace and Alexander get to know one another.

Will there be a sequel?  (hopefully)

I realize that while I brought the events in this story to a conclusion, I left the book open for a sequel. I will say that I did this on purpose, though without any clear plans to begin a sequel right away. In fact, since finishing this book, I moved onto another project that I hope to see in print soon (still looking for a publisher). Having said that, it is always possible that Grace will make another appearance, especially if The Immortality Virus does well.

What other books have you written, so we can get those, too!

My first published novel is called Touch of Fate, a paranormal suspense about a woman who can predict the future, but not change it. It is also available as a paperback or an ebook. There will be more in the future, of course -- writing is in my blood!

Speaking of the future, tell us a little about what you're working on now?

Well, I already told you I'm scrapping it, so let's see, what is going to be a fantasy romance novel about two people who can move in and out of other people's dreams. They first meet in their dreams, in fact, and don't realize for some time that they know one another in real life. (And please don't quote me on that years from now when the book comes out!)

How do you overcome writer's block?

I see writer's block as a sign that something isn't right with my story. In fact, I'm going through a bout of it this week, so I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing -- I'm reading more books, responding to this interview, taking long baths, and writing stream of consciousness journal entries designed to help me pinpoint what my subconscious is trying to tell me. This process usually takes a week or two, depending upon how big a change the story needs. (In this case, it's a doozy -- I'm scrapping 40,000 words and starting over. I *might* keep the prologue. :) )

Wow, that's a lot of change!  Alright then, you're reading more books...what ones?

A Heart in Sun and Shadow -- a high fantasy/romance by Annie Bellet, who I know from an on-line writer's group, and Test of Time by Jayne Ann Krentz, who writes very nices paranormal/romance/mystery combos under her several aliases. (Although this one is a bit different -- it's an older title I just ran across by chance.)

What question have you always wanted to be asked?  And what is your answer?

Question:  I know you say you write because you've always loved it, but why did you decide to get published? What do you hope for? Money? Fame?

Answer:  I hope people will read and enjoy my books. The rest is just gravy.

Thank you so much for interviewing me. You've asked a lot of thought-provoking questions, and I enjoyed answering.


It was a pleasure, Christine, reading your book and talking to you!  I hope everyone will go out and get their own copy of Immortality Virus, the book is released on June 15, 2011.

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