Interview with Amalia Zane

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing is freedom. You are bound by nothing when you write. You make all the rules! If you can imagine it, you can put it in your writing. There's no better feeling than having an idea and making a whole world out of it. My favorite part of writing, though, is building in all of the jokes in my books. I love thinking up the zany stuff my characters say and do. I sit on my couch with my laptop, typing away and cackling like a crazy person.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I hadn't been reading romance novels very long when I decided to try my hand at writing them. I was reading about the same cliched characters over and over, just in different settings. I also didn't recognize myself in most of the characters. I wanted to read stories about women like me and my friends - smart, sassy, educated women in our 30's, living our lives and happy to be single, but still open to finding love. I figured there had to be other readers out there who felt the same way, so I decided to write the type of book I would love to read.
What are you working on next?
I'm always working on several projects concurrently. At the moment, my focus is on another romance novel based in Silicon Valley about a super cool chick who runs "Nerd School" - a school where kids can do all kinds of great stuff, from chemistry experiments to learning coding. She's working on building a business that's next door to a gym filled with lots of meathead jocks, including a very sexy gym manager. I'm working really hard to turn the nerd/jock love story stereotype on its head and make it new and fresh. The joy of the plot is that it's rife with opportunities to me to build in jokes. I think it will be a really funny, enjoyable read.

I'm also considering turning The Penetration Test into a series. I have a couple of exciting ideas about where I could take Ryder and Hailey's journey, along with a novel starring Zoe. What do you think? If that's something you want to read, let me know! You can reach me at amalia@amaliazane.com.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in California, in the San Francisco Bay Area, an area of the world that is very unique. It's home to an enormous number of technology companies, and they really shape the culture of our area. We also have a lot of world-renowned universities like Stanford at our fingertips. So it's an incredible mixing pot of all kinds of diverse, intelligent people.

My upbringing and immersion in the tech world at a young age made me a believer in the power of technology, and that's what gave me the confidence to write an eBook. I decided that it was a fun project I wanted to accomplish, and I'm just stunned that I was able to complete the whole project with nothing more than my laptop. It's incredible that one person without any publishing experience can write, design, format, and publish a novel. We live in an amazing world!
When did you first start writing?
I've blogged on and off throughout my life, and have a collection of essays and ideas for short-form work that I'd like to do. But I didn't start writing seriously until I began working on The Penetration Test in 2015. I'm hooked!
What is your writing process?
My writing process starts with several months of brainstorming. I often take long walks to clear my mind, and that's where the ideas bubble up. Over time I whittle those ideas into an outline of characters, scenes, conflicts, funny things I want the characters to say, etc. After I have the whole book mapped out, I sit down and whooosh, just write, write, write. It only took me about a week to write The Penetration Test, but that was after several months of brainstorming.

After I'm done writing the first draft, I polish it up a bit and send it to a good friend who acts as my editor. She reads it through and gives me general notes on plot, character development, things that were confusing, etc. Our editing is really a collaboration. We debate plot points, language, characterization, everything! It's wonderful. She challenges me to be a better writer. Editing is a grind, but it's inspiring and enlightening to see your book through someone else's eyes, and the revised draft is always so much better. The second draft goes to my beta readers, and I incorporate their feedback. A couple more rounds of editing/polishing with my editor, and it's ready to publish!
Who are your favorite romance authors?
I'm a HUGE fan of Alice Clayton. Nobody does it like Alice! Her zany characters and hilarious word play just kill me. I love her Cocktail series (I want to have Nighttime Clark's babies,) and the new Hudson Valley series is excellent. I really love Christina Lauren because of the humor and the emotional intensity of the books. 'Sweet Filthy Boy' is terrific. Kylie Scott's book always have me in stitches. Her Stage Dive series was amazing - great emotional depth that really packs a punch. I also adore Sawyer Bennett. She's insanely talented, and I've learned so much about the craft of writing from reading her books. I am grateful to all of these brilliant, talented women for their fantastic work. They're examples I keep in mind when I think about where I want to go as a writer.
How do you approach cover design?
The cover of your novel should tell a story, and make a promise to the reader. For The Penetration Test I wanted to tell my readers: This is a sexy book with some mystery! I spent hours going through a massive database of stock photos looking for just the right one. The male protagonist in my novel has very specific hair and tattoos, so it was hard to find a stock photo because he looks nothing like most of the models. After I found the photo, I played around in Photoshop. I wanted something simple and eye-catching, so I focused on large text and bright colors. I also wanted to put some teaser text on the cover, and it took me a while to find just the right words.

I'm happy with how the cover for The Penetration Test turned out. It would attract me as a reader, and I wrote the book for readers like me. So we'll see how it does!
What do you read for pleasure?
Romance novels, obviously! :) They're junk food for the brain! They're escapist fantasy and a wonderful way to engage one's imagination. I also appreciate that they can also be very feminist and sex-positive. The heroine chases after what she wants and gets it, and the woman's pleasure and satisfaction is essential to the evolution of the story. Our culture doesn't have a lot of uncontested portrayals of healthy female sexuality, and I believe that romance novels can fill that gap.
Describe your desk
My desk is an enormous kitchen table from IKEA. It is littered with index cards where I jot down things I need to remember. I have a ginormous computer monitor, which was the best $$ I ever spent, because it gives me more real estate for my brain. I have a super cool little lamp with a lampshade covered in silver sequins that my friends call my "disco lamp." My cat is also usually sitting on my desk supervising (a.k.a. snoozing) while I write. It's my happy place :)
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I read almost everything on my smartphone. It's amazing that one little device has so many functions. There's nothing I love more than curling up on the couch with a nice cup of cocoa and settling in to read a new novel. Ahh, heaven!
Published 2016-08-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Penetration Test
Price: Free! Words: 89,630. Language: English. Published: July 17, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
(4.88 from 8 reviews)
Hailey's friends forced her to swear off dating losers, especially the bad boys she loves so much. Tragic events in her past haunt her, affecting her everyday life more than she cares to admit. A sexy fling with a mysterious tattooed surfer, who has his own checkered history, turns her world upside-down. Can she escape from the clutches of her past and trust her heart?