Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Amy Aislin – Amy started writing on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class was forced to stay inside for recess. Tales of adventures with her classmates quickly morphed into tales of adventures with the characters in her head.
Thanks so much, Amy, for joining me!
Amy has a giveaway for us – A “The Heights” prize pack: signed paperback, one of a kind art print, umbrella socks, and a wooden star ornament. Enter via Rafflecopter by October 1st:
Dirct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/c8c1c6415/?
J. Scott Coatsworth: Have you ever taken a trip to research a story? Tell me about it.
Amy Aislin: My latest release, The Heights, is set in coastal Oregon, and I didn’t think I’d be able to go there while writing the book to research the area, mostly because it’s a bit far (I’m from Toronto). But then I won a writing contest in January and part of the prize was the conference fees paid for the RT Booklovers Convention in May, which was in Reno. So I figured since I was in that neck of the woods, so to speak, I’d take an extra week vacation and head up to Oregon to do some sightseeing. The trip itself was mostly for fun, but I did spend four days on the coast, traveling from Florence to Astoria, and two of those were in Newport and its surrounding area, since that’s where The Heights is set.
JSC: Do you use a pseudonym? If so, why? If not, why not?
AA: Yes, I do. And the reason is simple. My real last name is 14 letters! And I figured that if I wanted to be searchable, I needed to choose a name that was a) shorter, and b) easy to remember. It’s funny because nobody’s able to pronounce my 14-letter last name, even though it’s actually not complicated. No silent letters or weird spellings. People just get scared because it’s long, so they panic and butcher it. The reason I chose “Aislin” is because a) it’s Irish, and I lived in Ireland for a year in my early twenties, and b) it means “vision” or “dream” depending on the website/baby name book…and I’m a total dreamer. What’s funny about it is that everyone pronounces it wrong!
Amy is my real first name, though. I never even considered changing it when I was choosing a pen name!
JSC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
AA: I tend to read them more from the time I start sending out ARCs until release date. After that, I don’t read them so much as I keep an eye on them, mostly out of curiosity about the book’s average rating on Goodreads and Amazon. Good reviews always make me smile, the ones that get details wrong often leave me scratching my head, wondering if the reviewer even read the book. As for bad reviews, I’ll skim them from time to time, just to see if there’s a pattern emerging, something I messed up that needs to be fixed, or something that I can improve on for the next book, but I generally don’t read them.
JSC: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
AA: About three months for a full-length novel. I have a full-time day job so I only write in the evenings and on weekends. And, on top of that, I don’t write every day for various reasons, so three months is generally the norm for me. And that’s just for a first draft. Tack on another two months or so, sometimes three, for edits.
JSC: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
AA: Here are my four that I can’t be without when writing.
Writing With Stardust by Liam O’Flynn. I like for my settings to take on a personality of their own, and this book has some great setting descriptions when I find myself lost for words.
Master Lists for Writers by Brynn Donovan. There’s a lot in here. A lot. A list of interesting settings, a whole chapter on plotting (lists with romance plots, high-stakes plots, family plots, plot twists, goals and aspirations), character traits and names, tips on dialogue. But the main reason I use it is for the lists of descriptions for facial expressions, gestures, body language, and physical descriptions because these are things I struggle the most with in my writing.
The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I love this resource! There 75 emotions listed, and for each one the authors have given the definition, physical signals, internal sensations, mental responses, cues of the emotion felt long-term, and cues of the emotion when suppressed. You can also access this thesaurus, as well as many others (colour and pattern thesaurus, emotion amplifier thesaurus, negative trait thesaurus, positive trait thesaurus, talent and skills thesaurus, and many others) online at https://onestopforwriters.com.
Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus. It’s a thesaurus for writers, so you can’t really go wrong with it.
JSC: What were your goals and intentions in “The Heights,” and how well do you feel you achieved them?
AA: The Heights is a contemporary m/m romance, but there’s lots happening outside of the romance. Ultimately, the book is about family. The blurb starts with “Twenty-one years ago, a four-year old child was kidnapped from his front yard. He was never found. Until now.” Which I realize makes it seem like a mystery, but it’s not. It’s about finding your place in the world, dealing with surprises, growing as a person in the face of challenges, and realizing that family can mean whatever you want it to. I think I achieved that.
JSC: What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about him or her.
AA: Shay Carroll, who is Quinn’s brother in The Heights. He plays a pretty significant role in this book, but I didn’t get to delve too deeply into who he is because at the end of the day, The Heights is about Quinn and his love interest, Nat. In this book, a revelation comes to light that changes everything for Quinn and, by association, Shay. The Heights is, essentially, about how Quinn deals with this revelation. The next book in the series (which is as yet unnamed and unwritten, but the ideas are floating around in my head) will be Shay’s book, and I’ll be diving into how he deals with the revelation. Shay is a complicated character, probably the most complicated of any of my characters, and I look forward to digging into who he is and seeing how deeply he’s affected by the revelation. Because he is affected. Possibly more than Quinn.
JSC: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.
AA: One thing nobody knows is how hard I find it to talk. Not because I don’t want to, and not because I can’t, and not because the words aren’t there. But because I sometimes find it too exhausting. I find the tendency to keep quiet is heightened with certain people and in certain circumstances. I don’t know if I’m explaining it properly, but like I said, it’s not that I don’t want to speak, I just don’t have the energy to waste words when I don’t have to.
JSC: What do you like to read in your free time?
AA: I read almost exclusively m/m romance, with a tiny bit of m/f romance thrown in, and the occasional young adult novel, mostly fantasy, but some contemporary too.
JSC: What action would your name be if it were a verb?
AA: To dream. I mean, I basically live with my head in the clouds.
JSC: What fantasy realm would you choose to live in and why?
AA: It’s probably a cliché answer, but the Harry Potter universe, no question! Because magic!
JSC: What are you working on now?
AA: Well, I’m about to do something I’ve never done before and that’s write more than one book at once. First, there’s a contemporary young adult romance I’m working on that’ll be a little bit sweet and a touch angsty and probably a bit sad. It’s called Make A Wish Under a Crescent Moon. Second, there’s anothercontemporary young adult romance I’m working on. This one will be interesting because the entire book will take place at an amusement park/town fair. It’s called Wild Heartsand was inspired by the songWild Heartby Bleachers. Third, I’m working on book two of the Stick Side series, as yet unnamed. It’s Ashton Yager’s book. Yager was introduced in book one, On the Ice.
And now for Amy’s new book: The Heights:
Twenty-one years ago, a four-year old child was kidnapped from his front yard. He was never found. Until now.
All Nat Walker wants is to make his late father’s dream of running a father/son woodworking shop come true. And he had the perfect building in mind—until the new guy in town came in and bought the place right out from under him. The fact that the new guy is adorable means nothing. For all Nat cares, he can take his new dance studio and waltz back to New York City.
Professional dancer Quinn Carroll couldn’t be happier that he made the move to the small town of Lakeshore, Oregon. Sure, it’s not New York, but now he’ll be living closer to his adoptive brother. And since his studio will be the only one in the area, he should get enough business to keep him busy. Besides, there’s something about this place that seems familiar…
He doesn’t expect to fall hard for the local, grumpy woodworker who won’t even smile at him.
Or find out that his entire life is a lie.
“That’s also the most I’ve heard you talk since we met.”
He removed his stick from the fire and let his burned marshmallow cool. “I talk.”
“Not much.” Quinn assembled a second s’more and ate it in short order. “But that’s okay. You talk when it matters.”
Nat froze with the marshmallow halfway to his mouth.
Aloof. Uncommunicative. Grumpy. Words that had been used to describe him at various times in his life by people who hadn’t made an effort to get to know who he really was.
Quinn had him pegged in only a couple of weeks?
He ate his marshmallow, chewing slowly, half an eye on Quinn. Quinn, who was adorable and sweet and charming but who Nat had judged as flaky and immature. Turned out he was smart and exceptionally astute.
Quinn assembled yet another s’more, his foot tapping in tune to whatever song played in his head. Jesus, did he never sit still? The fingers of one hand drummed on his thigh as if playing a mental piano even as he attempted to eat a s’more one-handed.
He was like a coiled spring, tightly wound. What did Quinn do to expel all that energy besides dance? Soccer? Running? Hockey?
Nope. Not going there.
Except now that his brain had gone there, it didn’t want to go anywhere but there.
Amy started writing on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class was forced to stay inside for recess. Tales of adventures with her classmates quickly morphed into tales of adventures with the characters in her head. Based in the suburbs of Toronto, Amy is a marketer/fundraiser at a large environmental non-profit in Toronto by day, and a writer by night. Book enthusiast, animal lover and (very) amateur photographer, her interests are many and varied, including travelling, astronomy, ecology, and baking. She binge watches too much anime, and loves musical theater, Julie Andrews, the Backstreet Boys, and her hometown of Oakville, Ontario.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AmyAislinAuthor
QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/amy-aislin/