With catchy titles and a journey into a more complex style of horror writing, author Amanda Lyons mixes tales of psychological intrigue that give readers a little bit of everything: fear, romance, fantasy and a variety of complicated characters. You Read It Here First had a chance to learn more about Ms. Lyons, and what goes on inside the mind of a horror genre writer.
Interviewer: Christy Campbell
You’ve chosen to write for the horror genre; how is your writing style different from other horror authors?
I write stories and novels that focus a bit more on the development of the people and their psychological perspective than on the horror itself. It can have elements of romance, fantasy and a bit more of a narrative tone than some writers use. I want you to care about the characters in my stories even if it’s just for a few pages. My first novel Eyes Like Blue Fire was gothic horror and therefore had strong romantic elements interlaced with the horror for instance.
When did you first begin writing?
At a pretty young age, about 12. It started with a sappy little story about a homeless family at Christmastime. That story impressed a teacher who liked the detail and it taught me that I could write something that caught the attention of other people. I was hooked and have been writing ever since.
Tell us what Wendy Won’t Go is all about as well as other single titles you’ve released.
Wendy Won’t Go is about a particularly long haunting and the damage it causes. A writer and his daughter are being haunted by his wife; she’s changed and cold now, scaring them and limiting their lives. They don’t know why she’s there and they have to adapt to keep her from causing harm. There’s a lot in the story about pain, loss and the damage time can cause. There are also some surprises about the whole story. I’m hoping it’s a very moving story and that people will like it and think about it long after they read it. For now it’s my only piece of short fiction out there but I’m also working on a short collection with my brother Robert Edward Lyons II called Apocrypha.
What is your upcoming short horror collection Apocrypha about?
Apocrypha is about all the little things that haunt us in life. For some of the stories it means addressing some urban legends and fairy tales, the little things that we pass on to our kids, but for others it’s about the what ifs and the maybes we face every day. Apocrypha refers to a collection of books and stories with a dubious or unproven origin, this is exactly what these stories are, little bits and pieces from a life that you might never expect to know and you can never really prove ever happened.
How is working with a small press different than your experience as an indie author?
In terms of all of the promotion stuff so far it’s pretty much the same (most small presses need to rely on the author’s ability to sell themselves and their work because there isn’t the time and money to invest in huge campaigns) but there are a lot more people checking on how your writing is going, encouraging you to keep writing and promoting and of course helping with editing, book covers and some more avenues of marketing. You have a really solid group of people invested in your work and making it look its best so that it can catch readers’ eyes and really get the best overall debut. At J. Ellington Ashton Press that atmosphere of camaraderie and support is even more present because we’re all writers and wanting to help each other do our best.
When you’re an indie, you spend hours and hours trying to get everything together and you have a much smaller group of people acting as a support system. I actually think that’s one of the biggest killers for an indie career, that lack of support and encouragement to keep you going through the rough days. Plenty of great writers give up because it’s too overwhelming to get through all of the lack of sales and immediate proof of your quality. It takes at least a year to see any real sales on a novel no matter what market you’re in and so many people think that they’ll be able to pull off serious sales right away. The work is so much harder as an indie and there are a lot of things that can go wrong. It requires a real dedication and confidence in your work, tons of work, tons of promotion and a good attitude.
Describe the kinds of books readers can expect from you in the future.
My imagination is all over the place and I think it’s safe to say that not everything I write will be horror. Here’s a few of the books I currently have in progress and hope to finish in the next few years.
1) Cool Green Waters: This is the sequel to my gothic horror novel Eyes Like Blue Fire. In this second book we learn a lot more about Mateo, Zero and Michael some characters who were a little underplayed in the first book. We also face Raven and Katja’s remaining problems and a whole new threat from two different characters who were changed by the events in ELBF. This book is a lot darker.
2) Other Dangers: This is an apocalypse novel dealing with an author who writes the end of the world and then tries to save it when she realizes what she’s done. It’s far more involved than that but there’s so much I have yet to finish so I can’t go into it in too great a detail Suffice to say this is my big epic and it relies on as many fantasy elements as horror ones.
3) Jodie: This is a novel about a very damaged teenager who wanders the woods and town where she lives and how a group of boys set out to attack her. What they don’t know is that she has a lot more going on than they thought.
4) The Farm: A couple who own a farm are faced with terrible changes taking place there. It’s sort of Lovecraftian but on a different level.
Okay, give us your favorite established horror authors and tell us why you love them.
Stephen King (because his narrative voice is very naturally and his books are almost always very good), Anne Rice (because she has a real love for history, atmosphere and the gothic), Gary Braunbeck (because his books and stories are always very moving and emotional), Brian Keene (because he can write such dark work and make it meaningful with great characters), Joe R Lansdale (because he goes to so many unusual places and exposes you to so many different ways of seeing the world. His versatility can have you laughing one minute and horrified the next).
Pick one of those authors and share with us one question you would ask him or her, if you had the chance.
Gary Braunbeck: “Did you always know your writing would take on this emotive and personal tone or did you build that over time?”
Do you think you’ll ever explore other themes as an author?
Yes, definitely. I have ideas that fall in all kinds of genres and subgenres, time will tell which ones I end up putting out there.
What sort of topics do you think are overdone or need to be written about less in horror?
Rape. There is a big difference between rape that has a real purpose and meaning in the story and the kind of thing where it seems tossed in for spice. The later version has become so prevalent that it’s becoming tedious and it’s often used multiple times in one book. The people that use that horrific event in that way, as a casual thing, aren’t helping resolve the rape culture or women who are affected by it.
What do you think are the benefits to self-publishing that aren’t as available to traditionally published authors?
You have a bit more control over the look, marketing and promotion of your work. It’s your choice how all of these things turn out and as a result you can manipulate the overall appeal. You also have the ability to edit and modify these things with relative ease. You control the cost of your book and reap the majority of the benefits when sales come in.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Reading, drawing (really anything creative) hanging out with the kids and my partner Todd, hiking, art, listening to music and hanging out with friends at B movie night.
And of course, you must let us know your all-time favorite horror movie!
Delamorte Delamore known as Cemetery Man in the U.S.