Another Denver Comic Con is in the books, and once again we had the pleasure of sitting down with one of our favorite Colorado authors, the award-winning Amalie Howard. We chatted about all sorts of things, including her new romance series, diversity in YA literature and, well, pastry. Trust me, it all makes sense if you just stay with me! The following interview has been edited lightly for clarity, grammar and continuity. As always, we are grateful to Amalie for taking the time on such a busy convention weekend. We spoke between signings at her booth.
Carolyn: So, how is the new romance series coming along? When does the third book come out?
Amalie: It’s going great! The third book is out on July 25th, in a few weeks. It’s been really fun to write, and of course getting to write steamy sex scenes is great. The third one is called My Hellion, My Heart, which is just great.
Carolyn: OMG, it really is! I drool over the new cover art. I don’t read a lot of traditional romance, but when I do, I like to read it in the bathtub with bubbles and a nice glass of wine.
Amalie: Obviously. That’s the best place to read romance.
We go on a full on tangent about custom bathtub caddies that sadly my recorder did not capture. But rest assured, it was epic. The point is, we like to drink fancy wine. While reading. If you don’t do this, you should.
Carolyn: Besides making for great bathtub reading, what’s different about writing romance versus YA, which is your usual wheelhouse?
Amalie: Well, there’s a lot more…freedom in the romance market. YA has a very specific set of expectations, of what they are looking for. Romance is more varied. And of course, again, writing steamy sex scenes is really fun. But YA will always be my home. I love writing for that audience.
At this point, a young woman and her mom stop at Amalie’s booth. Watching Amalie talk with her is just lovely. She’s engaged and funny, talks directly to the girl, asking questions, and giving honest answers. She doesn’t talk down to her, or over her head and encourages this fan to expand her reading horizons without pressuring her. It’s great to see. She signs a copy of The Almost Girl for her and poses for a picture. I am suffering from full on Con Exhaustion at this point and try very hard not to get all weepy about seeing young girls who love reading. Fortunately for me, Amalie makes a hilarious comment about the potentially awkward photo angle and my emotional moment passes.
Carolyn: So, your process for writing the Lords of Essex series is a bit different because you’re working with a writing partner. How does that work, and what were the challenges?
Amalie: When you are collaborating with someone the key is planning and communication. We had a very thorough outlining process. I’m talking long, dense outlines. 15-20 pages single spaced. You have to map out all the story beats because if one of you changes something on your own, everything can break down. It actually changed my process for writing my own stuff, I didn’t use to outline at all, and now I do. Much less complicated, just a couple of pages of bullet points, but yeah, writing with a partner has helped me evolve my own process too.
Carolyn: Your writing partner, Angie, also writes historical work, right? I don’t know anything about her.
Amalie: Oh she’s awesome. She writes about Paris and gargoyles. In the Gothic style. It’s awesome, and also YA. You should check it out.
Carolyn: I wonder if gargoyles eat eclairs.
Carolyn: Gargoyles. Do you think they eat eclairs? I mean, Paris has the best eclairs. If I was in Paris, I’d be eating eclairs.
Amalie: You ask the best questions.
Carolyn: Important questions. Deep, philosophical questions. Not but seriously, those sound really fun and I’ll definitely have to check them out.
I think about eclairs and the gargoyles who love them for several minutes while Amalie engages with fans and talks to some other Con guests who stop by her table. While not pondering Parisian pastries, I think again about how much I adore this event. I love the accessibility both every day fans and small media outlets like Sisters in Geek have here. the camaraderie of the guests, how they help each other and support each other. I try to remember the name of the author who helped me find Amalie’s table when I was hopelessly turned around and running late. I fail because I’m thinking about eclairs.
Carolyn: What’s it like writing both YA and this new historical fiction series at the same time? How do you switch between the two styles? It sounds like such a different mindset.
Amalie: My secret weapon is playlists.
Carolyn: Really? Tell me more! I am obsessed with playlists.
Amalie: Yeah, so I have different playlists for each thing that I might be working on. For the Lords of Essex books it’s all classical, it just gets me in the right head space for the time period and the vibe. When I’m working on the Alpha Goddess series, it’s a lot of trance and then Nine Inch Nails. And then for Almost Girl it’s dubstep.
Carolyn: Wait, Nine Inch Nails? That’s unexpected. I wouldn’t immediately associate NIN with Alpha Goddess.
Amalie: Really? It’s so perfect for me. The energy of it, and of course…
Carolyn: Identity, NIN is all about identity and the discovery of the self, yeah. Absolutely, can’t believe I didn’t think of that! I would love to listen to those playlists, I love playlists. I use them all the time in my D&D campaigns for my characters.
To her everlasting credit, Amalie does not give me a hard time for making this conversation about me and lets me ramble about D&D, the panel we presented this weekend and other nonsense for at least 3 minutes. She also keeps feeding me chocolate.
Carolyn: I’m going to have to message you for those playlists, I’d really like to listen to them.
Amalie: Oh! They’re on my site, you can listen to them anytime you want.
Carolyn: Excellent! That’s awesome. Well, I think I’ve taken up enough of your time. Any last thoughts, upcoming releases or ideas you’d like to end on?
Amalie: Well, My Hellion My Heart is out on July 25th, the next sequel in Alpha Goddess is out next year. Read more books, and remember that healthy sex is important and women need to be able to ask for it! That’s what I learned from writing Regency Romance.
I collapse into helpless giggling.
Carolyn: Well, that’s the perfect way to button up this interview. Thank you as always Amalie!
AMALIE HOWARD is the award-winning author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, School Library Journal, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 Amazon bestseller, and the sequel, Bloodcraft, was a national IPPY silver medalist and Children’s Moonbeam Award winner. She is also the co-author of My Rogue, My Ruin in the historical romance series, the Lords of Essex. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children. She is very active on social media and we highly recommend following her for shenanigans and adventure.
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