Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Interview: Christine Amsden, author of The Immortality Virus

I'm very excited to be joined today by Christine Amsden, author of a fantastic Science Fiction novel, The Immortality Virus.

Guys, please give a warm welcome to Christine!

E: Evie
CA: Christine Amsden

E: Welcome to Bookish Christine! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thank you for having me! You already know the third most important thing about me – that I'm a writer – so I'll fill you in on the first two. I'm married to a wonderful man, Austin, and it is with his help that I am able to write and publish my books. I also have two wonderful children, currently 5 and 3, who keep me busy when I'm not writing (and sometimes when I am).
I've been a writer as long as I can remember, even before I could actually read. I used to look at picture books and make up stories. I like to say it's in my soul, and that I could no more not write than not breathe. I write science fiction and fantasy, but to me, genre is not as important as character. I like to write about ordinary people defining themselves through extraordinary situations.
E: Who or what inspired you to write The Immortality Virus?
CA: Many people have inspired me over the years to follow my dreams and to write. In 2003, I attended a by-audition „boot camp” with Orson Scott Card, whose ideas I have found invaluable.

When it comes to The Immortality Virus, though, I have to admit that it began with a random search through Wikipedia. All I knew was that I had just finished writing a paranormal (Touch of Fate), and that I wanted to do something different, far-future science fiction, perhaps. So I clicked the random article button until I ran across the one discussing DNA. I remembered, somewhere, hearing about a link between DNA and aging, so I began to dig, letting the information inspire me as it would.

It clicked together like this: Someone releases a virus that changes the human genome in such a way that they stop aging. It was always called The Immortality Virus. I usually have trouble with titles, but in this case, nothing else occurred to me, and I didn't even try. It was right.

My main character, Grace Harper, came along next, along with the world in which she lived. It took a few years and several revisions to finally put this one together, but it was worth it.
E: Do you mind telling us how long did it take for you to write your book?
CA: Twenty-seven years. :)

All right, I was twenty-seven when I finished Touch of Fate, which was the first novel I even tried to get published. I worked on that book for most of a year, although I had written the short story version much earlier. The truth is, though, that every word I wrote, starting when I was about eight years old, and every story I imagined, starting much sooner than that, was part of learning to write that book. And that's assuming you want to call Touch of Fate my first. I have an interesting and, in some cases, embarrassing collection of stories and novels in various stages of completion, going all the way back to the eighth grade. I keep them in a box, and take them out when I feel nostalgic.
E: Which of your characters do you feel is most like you? Are any of your characters or scenes based on people or events in your own life?
CA: All my characters have a little piece of me in them, more or less. Grace Harper from The Immortality Virus is a bit of who I'd like to be, or who I think it would be cool to be. I can't fight like her, and I'm not quite as cynical as she is. Meg, the woman she meets on the farm and who becomes a much-needed friend, is a bit like me as well in that I am also an eager friend. Alexander Lacklin is based roughly on my husband.
E: What advice would you give to writers who are interested in writing Science Fiction/Dystopian novels?
CA: The same advice I'd give to writers interested in writing anything: Write what feels right. If it doesn't, we'll know.
E: Where is your favorite place for writing? Do you have any special writing rituals?
CA: I write in my study, while my kids are napping, at school, or in quiet time. It's a mess, except twice a year, when I dig through it with a bulldozer and notice that underneath all those papers and things is a pretty nice mahogany desk that I paid quite a bit for. Not sure why I bothered, as much as I see of it!
When it's time to write, I light a candle, do some meditative deep breathing exercises, suck on a hard mint, and then turn on some music. The ritual is designed to bring all of my senses into play, helping me to focus mind and body. It can be hard, with everything there is to do, to set it aside and devote mental energy to writing.
E: What genres do you like to read in your free time?
CA: The ones with good characters. :)

As I mentioned, I'm not as drawn to genre as I am to character. Unfortunately, there is no shelf in the library or the book store for, „Strong Characters,” so I have to dig a bit. My tastes tend to wander over time. A few years ago, when I was working on The Immortality Virus, I read science fiction heavily. These days, I'm more likely to read urban fantasy or romance, although I try to keep it varied. I put up book reviews on my web site, so you can get a feel for my divergent tastes
E: Which of your favorite books would you recommend everybody to read?
CA:  I don't think there is a single book in the world that everybody should read, including mine. We're all just too different, and it is a sobering experience when I read reviews of a book I adore (or hate), and see how many disagree. That's why I always try to tailor my book review recommendations to an audience.

That said, every science fiction reader should give Ender's Game and its companion novel, Ender's Shadow (both by Orson Scott Card) a chance. If you like British humor, The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is priceless. Young adults should read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.
E: If your book was made into a movie who would you cast for it?   
CA: Sarah Michelle Gellar for Grace Harper. Technically, she doesn't have quite the look I was going for, but she has the attitude...as Buffy, she did soft on the inside, tough on the outside, very well!
E: Do you have any other hobbies that you enjoy?
CA: I like to play games, when I get a chance, especially card games. I'm exceptionally good at Spades, and would be as good at Bridge if I ever had a chance to practice. I'm also up for board games, and I particularly like games with some strategy. Games of pure luck bore me quickly.
E: What are your biggest pet peeves?
In literature: Science fiction and fantasy novels that are internally inconsistent – that is, they break their own rules. You can make whatever rules you want, it's your imagination, but you can darn well live with it!

In life: Cell phones in movie theatres.
E: Tell us five random facts about yourself.
CA: I'm a chocoalte snob. No cheap chocolate for me, please!

My house is a mess, but my kitchen is always clean.

I like to support women who want to breastfeed, but are having trouble. I haven't had as much time lately, but I used to spent a lot of time doing on-line breastfeeding support.

I'm legally blind, thanks to a degenerative condition called Stargardt's. My vision is currently 20/400 with best correction, and I'm typing up these answers in 36-pt font.

I love color! I've nearly removed all the black from my wardrobe.
Random Questions:

- white or dark chocolate? Dark
- coffee or tea? Tea
- favorite fictional character? Harry Dresden.
- favorite movie?  Deep Impact
- favorite song?  Witchy Woman
- favorite TV show? Tie: Babylon 5 and The West Wing
- Spring or Autumn? Spring
- Harry Potter or Twilight?  Harry Potter or what? I'm sorry, I didn't hear that other thing :)

Christine, thank you so much for joining us today!  
I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing your next books!

I hope you guys enjoyed the interview, for more information about Christine Amsden and her books, please visit her website:  Christine Amsden or/and read my review of The Immortality Virus.

If you're wondering where to get The Immortality Virus, here are the links:

Paperback, 247 pages
Expected publication: June 15th 2011 by Twilight Times Books

In the mid-21st century, the human race stopped aging. Those who know why aren't talking, and the few who are brave enough to ask questions tend to disappear. To an elite few, The Change means long life and health, but to the increasing masses, it means starvation, desperation, and violence.

Four centuries after The Change, Grace Harper, a blacklisted P.I., sets off on a mission to find the man responsible for it all and solicit his help to undo The Change – if he's still alive. To complicate matters, Grace's employer is suspected of murdering his father, and when the police learn of their connection, they give her a choice – help them find the evidence they need to convict Matthew Stanton, or die. But if they discover Grace's true mission, they won't hesitate to kill her in order to protect their shot at immortality.


Bonnie @ A Backwards Story said...

Wow, Evie, thanks for this amazing interview! The Immortality Virus sounds really good! Thank you for sharing it with us! :)

Gina said...

Great interview! I love how you can see that writing is a passion for her but that family ranks number 1 and 2 before it "occupation" wise. Sounds like a grounded author but also one with potential from the sound of the book. Thanks for sharing!

Miss Page-Turner said...

I really like it when every character has a bit of the author in him/her because they are the most important part of a story to me. And I am happy that so many authors are willing to give away a bit of themselves and share it with their readers:)

SimĨila said...

Perfect inteview :) I love her answers of your question :) For example I love tea too and dark chocolate is my obsession! :) I didn't read book from her, but I have to change it! :)

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