Amelia Gareth's brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face. Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They're searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch's signature. The shadows are after witches. Now Amelia must decide what to do: should she continue on her path to profession knowing there is no redemption, or should she give up on her dream and turn away from Cathedral Reims in order to stop the shadows who plan to destroy everything she loves?
Amber Skye Forbes is a dancing writer who prefers pointe shoes over street shoes, leotards over skirts, and ballet buns over hairstyles. She loves striped tights and bows and will edit your face with a Sharpie if she doesn't like your attitude. She lives in Augusta, Georgia where she writes dark fiction that will one day put her in a psychiatric ward...again. But she doesn't care because her cat is a super hero who will break her out.
Do you write as yourself or under a pseudonym? Why?
No pseudonym from me. I want people to know me by my real name, such that if they happen to stumble across my book online, especially friends or family, they can say ‘yeah, she wrote this book.’ Also, I want people to be able to have access to me through my real name and not a pseudonym. I write because I want people to read my books, but I also write because I’d like money and for people to know me. But I do have a moniker, The Dancing Writer. It just isn’t used on my books.
What made you want to be a published author?
I dont think a lot of published authors want to admit it, but I want to be published not only so people can read my book, but also to make money off doing something I love. If I simply just wanted people to read my book, I’d put it on Amazon and wherever else totally free. But I’d eventually like to make a living off what I do. Plus, it adds value to my book. It says, ‘I’ve worked on this for years, so this book deserves the price tag that is attached to it. A lot of people wonder why books are priced the way they are, especially online because there are no distributors you have to pay, but e-books are priced the way they are because the author has to make money, too, even if they were paid with a large advance. We authors do deserve our bread and butter, especially if there are full-time authors who depend on those royalties to live.
What genre do you write in and why?
I consider myself a cross genre author. I wrote paranormal romance because it’s the idea that was born from the mind of a fourteen-year-old, and I never gave up on the idea because I knew it had potential. I also have a contemporary fantasy I will get back to work on at the beginning of December about a mentally ill teen taken in by a puppeteer who takes him on a fantastical adventure to put his life into perspective, to make this boy essentially accept this mental illness as any other illness. There is also a contemporary literary YA book that I will eventually begin to outline, but the third book in The Stars Trilogy has to take precedence right now.
I also want to write a dystopian fantasy book involving dragons as gods who need sustenance from the humans they basically farm. I REALLY want to write about dragons. I always have.
If you could talk to your 12 year old self, what advice would you give?
I would say that those books you are writing right now are the books that are never going to be published, but two years from now, you are going to write a book that will be published at 23, so you just have to keep at it, and you’re going to get there. Be patient. Just keep writing, and when you’re 14, everything is going to come together, so be patient when you turn 23 (I actually got contracted at 22, but that’s beside the point).
Have any other authors influenced your writing through theirs?
Libba Bray, John Green, and Diana Wynne Jones, an author is unfortunately no longer with us.
If you are a self-published author what made you take this route and what was your experience (good or bad)?
N/A I am an indie author, which doesn’t mean underground, or expected to have only a small audience forever until the end of time. Indie just simply means I have more control over the process of my book then, say, someone with a large house, who has absolutely no control over the editing process or the cover that will represent the book. Now I have no problem yielding the control of editing within the house, as I do want my book to be made better because I am too close to the book to know what can make it better, but I do want a say in the cover art—although many, many covers for YA books are very gorgeous nowadays.
How would you rate your writing?
Wow…um…I think my writing is great, but I would like to leave that up to a matter of public opinion, because I think they will ultimately determine where my book stands. Currently it’s rated as 4.33 on Goodreads and 4.5 on Amazon, but it doesn’t have a whole lot of reviews. I think once I hit 50 reviews, I then think I’ll be able to decide just where my book stands. I mean, my writing itself is great from a technical standpoint, and I have more 5 star ratings than other ratings (15 so far), but as for the story, I’ll leave that up to the readers.
How do you react to poor reviews of your book?
I don’t consider 3 star reviews as poor reviews, because many of them do look forward to the sequel. They are simply unbiased reviews that can help me shape the sequel. Now I do have one 2 star review, but a review hasn’t been written for it, so I simply shrug it off because I have no idea why the reviewer didn’t like the book when many others have. Even so, this person is a friend of mine and did warn me she was really tough and not many books are rated high for her, so it was to be expected.
What influences your choice of book covers?
They just have to be beautiful. Plain and simple. I find many covers that follow a trend beautiful (so long as it’s not half-naked people on a cover, which is a trend I am so sick of seeing because it de-values what I’m sure is a more complex story than the cover is representing. But what influenced the cover for When Stars Die was the opinion of me, my publisher, and my former media representative, who is no longer with us, but I do have another team. Originally the cover was going to be of Amelia holding her brother, as she does everything for him, but the cover Viola Estrella created was unlike anything I could have imagined and was incredibly beautiful, so I had to go with it, even though it does follow the trend of large heads on covers.
How do you balance your writing with your real world responsibilities?
I try to write everyday while juggling my responsibilities. Currently I have school responsibilities, but they are winding down as finals draw near (and I’m giving myself permission to bomb one of the finals, as my other grades are pretty good). For another class, the final will be a piece of cake, then Christmas break comes, and I’ll have plenty of time to work on my contemporary fantasy, as well as edits for The Stars Are Infinite. Then I’ll be switching to an online school where semesters are going to be eight week increments, so I’m praying I’ll still have time to write.
Do your characters drive the plots of your stories or do you plan out your plot?
This is actually a very good question because it’s hard to answer. I think in some ways, they do drive the plot, but in other ways, I drive it. For example, in The Stars Are Infinite, the sequel to When Stars Die, I noticed the middle was falling in the trap of being a boring middle, so I knew I needed to add some serious tension to keep the reader flying through the book, so I planned part of that plot and am very pleased at the results. But then there are other times when the character drives the plot, such as when I need to work on a character in order to make the plot stronger.
Do you ever write what you dream? Give an example.
Not really. The only dream that inspired part of The Stars Trilogy is Amelia, but that’s it. Otherwise, everything just comes from my mind, and I simply can’t explain it.
Do you market yourself or pay a professional?
I market by paying for book blitzes and blasts, and have my publicity team do that as well. My publicity team sends weekly updates about the kind of publicity they’re going to do with my book, and I’m often floored by the genius behind each one because it makes me excited about my book, even if sales aren’t doing as well as I want them to. But I know that publicity shows that the publisher cares about selling my book, so I will get to where I want to be. At the same time, a book can have all the publicity in the world and not sale, and a book can have hardly any publicity and sale, but I feel like When Stars Die is a product that can reach a wide market, a book a lot of people will want, especially because the cover draws them in immediately and makes them want to know more about the book.
What are your tips for editing?
Outline, outline, outline. I can’t say this enough. Outlining can and will help you spot potential plot holes. I also suggest thinking about what will make each chapter better, whether you have to have a new chapter or just changes part of it. Don’t make changes that simply add nothing. Make huge, enormous changes that will benefit the book overall.
What inspired you to write your current WIP or current published work?
It just all came from my mind, really. The book I’m working on itself can inspire me. For example, I’ll think of a chapter and how to make it better, and an idea suddenly comes to me that I have to write down. So, really, it’s the book itself that inspires me. Then again, John Green has inspired the contemporary literary YA that I’m going to work on in the future.
Do you prefer to write stand-alone novels or a series? Why?
Eventually I just want to write stand-alone novels. But I had to do a trilogy for The Stars Trilogy because there is a lot in the world and characters that needs to be developed throughout the books. The story itself is simply too long to relegate to one book, but I know for my contemporary fantasy, I’d like to keep it to one book, unless my fans absolutely want a second one—but I don’t see the need for it.
If you could change one thing in the publishing process what would it be?
Publicity months in advance of the publication of my book. By the time I was published, I probably had in the realm of 400-500 Goodread adds, and those adds can dictate how sales might be. However, before publication, I’d like 1,000 adds or 2,000 adds. I know Goodreads doesn’t show the adds beyond 3,000, so it’d also be awesome to have 3,000 adds before the publication of my book, and I now know what can help with that.
What advice would you give to a new author?
Write what you want to write. Don’t write to a trend simply because you think agents or publishers are only looking for trends. Now many of them don’t, but write for yourself first, and then edit for your hypothetical number one fan.
Share a favourite quote from your book.
“Yet, even when stars die, they leave a lasting impact through their light, their diamond brilliance as they scatter their material to form new stars”