Interview with Amber Michelle Cook

What's the story behind your latest book?
As we grow up, there's strong pressure to stop doing things associated with childhood. You're supposed to give up play, and wonder, and doing things for innocent fun. You are forced to let go of almost all forms of fantasy, creativity and imagination. Why? Because being a child is somehow beneath you, and being an adult means proving to other people that you're responsible and serious. But being a child is not a bad thing, and retaining child-like qualities that you can exercise at will isn't at odds with being mature.

Grown-ups struggle with world-weariness, with hopelessness and bitterness, they tire of repetition and they feel life speeds up in pace and begins to pass them by. We're only allowed sex, getting drunk, passive entertainment like TV and movies, and vicariously providing the sparks of imagination to our kids who will very soon themselves be harassed and embarrassed for playing and imagining (likely even by us).

So adults long for the energy and joy of youth, but will put you down or worse if you show signs of acting on any of the things that gave us joy and excitement as young people.

But what if we decided to reclaim those things? What if we took back what we were shamed and bullied out of?

What if we became Defenders of Imagination?
What motivated you to become an indie author?
There are all kinds of great stories out there. Some run more down the middle of the road, some don't fall into easy categories. Mine don't fall into easy categories. Waiting for first an agent, and then an editor, and then a whole publishing house to decide they want to back my unique brand of storytelling is just not what I want to do.

I'm a graphics artist as well as an author, and I love the idea of using both sets of skills on my novels. Where with traditional publishing I would have no say in the artistic areas of my books outside of the writing (and not full say there), with indie publishing I get all the challenge and satisfaction of topography, layout, formatting, images, cover design and promotional material. And my covers never have to have oppressively clothed or posed Unlikely People on them!

Sustainability is very important to me, and instead of the huge waste of book runs that are standard procedure in legacy publishing, the majority of which end up in our landfills, my books are only printed up when a customer wants one, or sent electronically to someone who wants to read it. That kind of thing matters to me, and is the only way I'll do it.

The more I thought and learned about indie publishing, then more I knew it was the right fit for me personally.
What are you working on next?
I've begun the final round of rewrites on my third book, a full-length novel. It's a modern adaptation of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, with a grown-up Alice on a quest to overcome self-doubt—having her adventures in an urbanized Wonderland!
Who are your favorite authors?
L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, Norton Juster, C.S. Lewis.
JRR Tolkien, Douglas Adams, Roger Zelazny, Connie Willis, Jasper Fforde.
Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
No, but I'm pretty sure it was on a typewriter with my best friend in 5th or 6th grade, and probably about three quarters of a page long on a sheet of white, limed notebook paper. I do still have one of the stories we wrote and it's an adventure story about two girls who rescue two boys from a dragon.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1) Norton Juster's THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH. I love imaginative entertainment with substance and humor, and The Phantom Tollbooth is rife with all three. It's about a boy who's dissatisfied with life, and the adventures he goes on discovering some of the wonders of life, including time, words, numbers, sound, color, etc.
Published 2013-09-05.
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Books by This Author

Defense Mechanisms
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 21,340. Language: English. Published: September 3, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
An imaginative child, Janey left childhood far behind as soon as older children and adults began to tease her for it. On her 30th birthday, the first Pulse hits and drives her to seek shelter in a one-of-a-kind indoor playland for grown-ups called the Imaginarium. When the place is attacked by urban looters, she becomes an unwilling 'defender of imagination.' Don't deny who you really are.
What the Faeries Left Behind
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 18,200. Language: English. Published: January 8, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
(3.00 from 1 review)
Abigail Watson is having a tough day in a hard week in a rotten month, and don’t even get her started on the year. Until that night when something wonderfully impossible shows up at her door. An urban fairy tale ‘antidote’ to those times when the dullness and drudgery of grown-up life seems inescapable, and to the misconception that wonder and play are just for children.