Interview with Amber Naralim

What is your writing process?
An idea hits me. A scene plays in my head and I work to type it out as fast as I can. Not a word gets written without music though. I don't really pick favorites. The music makes me feel something or fits the mood of the scene. Beyond a few notes the story comes to me chapter by chapter. I go back through and flesh out scenes but it's a pretty linear process for me.
How do you approach cover design?
I'm a painter. The cover art was done by me. I start with sketching the characters. Like the way a scene pops into my head, the composition for a painting is pretty much the same. For this book, the highway was as much a character as my leads. I chose to put just what you needed visually to give you a hint about what these characters represent. Everything you need to know about Ellie and Vincent is shown in the cover art.
When did you first start writing?
I have nerve damage in both my neck and back, as these have steadily gotten worse I've lost motor function. My hands began to shake pretty badly, it got so bad that I could barely hold a pencil. That made it difficult to paint. Painting was how I center my chi. Not being able to paint sent me into a deep depression. I had always fantasized. Built characters and small scenes in my head. One day I wrote one down. Writing both makes me sane and drives me nuts. The very definition of true love.
What's the story behind your latest book?
We are following Ellie and Vincent further into what it takes to live a life in the shadow of a world they left behind. Meeting new characters, and of course delving further into what it takes to make a relationship like theirs work. With, you know, some shoot outs, bloody violence, and some love because we all need a little love in our lives.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I am a control freak. The more I delved into the world of publishing the more I realized that I wouldn't be able to choose. The look of my cover. The editing, and the style would be hammered into what someone else wanted. I suffer no delusions, I am not a literary writer. No matter what people say writing is a craft. I am a storyteller. That's more of an art form. I have a style. A unique voice that doesn't so much fit into conventional writing styles. So I decided if I was going to share these stories it would have to be done my way.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Catharsis. I have learned all of these lessons, but I didn't really believe them until I wrote them down and put them in my own voice. There are certain paragraphs that I am immensely proud of and I hope that by looking at a situation from a different perspective someone else can say, "hey I knew that". And my characters are like my imaginary friends. It's nice to play in the dirt every now and then.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I can, painting. I have three beautiful children they get everyone of all of my other thoughts.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. It was a rainy night and a woman was waiting at home with her six month old waiting for her husband to return there was a knock, it turned out to be the police telling her that her husband had died in a car accident. So she killed the baby and then herself to be with him. I don't really do sunshine and rainbows. All of my stories are about finding just a little bit of light inside the darkness.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first book I read was Bunnicula. About a vampire bunny rabbit. And I'm still in love with the monsters to this day. SO I'd say it shaped me.
Who are your favorite authors?
I was a big fan of Laurel K Hamilton. She taught me about how a good sex scene makes things interesting. My other much more influential artists are Joss Whedon. He taught me that for the story to be real I have to write honestly about what hurts. And lastly Kurt Sutter. He taught me that no one is good or bad. Even the most cruel and sadistic murderer has something that makes them human. My job as a storyteller is to build characters that are real.
Describe your desk
More like my desktop. I would not be able to function without my laptop. It has music of every kind of genre. I have plenty of pictures up. I am an insanely visual person and I think that is what shapes my style. And my naughtiest secret. Gifs. They help to remind me about body language. It's something I focus on and so I brought that with me into my writing. That's it.
Published 2015-02-22.
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