AUTHOR INTERVIEW / AMANDA J. CLAY AUTHOR OF REBEL SONG



Amanda J. Clay is a writing YA and Adult fiction from Dallas, TX. A Northern California native, she had a fantastic time studying English and Journalism at Chico State University and then a very serious time slaving away for a Master’s degree in Communications from California State University, Fullerton. When she’s not staring at a computer screen, she spends most of her spare time on some new fitness addiction and plotting world adventures.

Her latest book is the young adult novel, Rebel Song.

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About the Book:

Caught on opposite sides of a budding civil war, a rebel leader and a modern day princess fight to save their country from a corrupt Minister General in a fictional Central Europe.

The once prosperous European nation of Arelanda has been plagued with poverty and corruption since the failed rebellion tore it apart. Now, rebels stir again in the capital’s underbelly, vowing to depose the monarchy and overturn the unjust government.

Seventeen-year-old Rogan Elwood, son of a rebel leader executed for treason after the first rebellion, has borne a tainted legacy his entire life. As he is pulled deeper into conflict, Rogan must face his calling in the future of the rebel cause—waging his want for peace against his desire for vengeance. Everything changes when he falls for Elyra—modern, idealistic and determined to bring Arelanda a better future. She also just happens to be next in line to the throne—if the corrupt Minister General doesn’t beat her to it.

Caught in the midst of a budding civil war and surrounded by enemies on every side, Elyra and Rogan must fight to save themselves and their country.

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What’s inside the mind of a Young Adult author?

People write what they do for a myriad of reasons. But I can (probably) guarantee serious YA writers aren’t writing it because it’s “easier.” Contrarily, writing an authentic teen story is rather difficult for most adults.

We write YA because we love the process of coming of age; we love to explore the world through the teenage experience. Young people feel deeply, they’re experiencing the world—the good and the bad—for the first time and they still hold onto a level of hope that can be lost on the jaded adult. To me, that makes for a very inspiring story.

What is so great about being an author?

Everything! Ok, not everything. Like any career path, there are a lot of struggles. But being a writer is just a fundamental part of who I am. I’ve been telling stories since I could talk and I would continue to do so for the rest of my life whether I could make a living at it or not. So that said, being able to do the thing I love most in life is a dream. I get to spend my days creating worlds, inventing new characters, traveling to places all over both real and fictional. I set my own schedule, I’m my own boss, and I can wear what I want—some days that’s a fancy hat, some days that’s yoga pants.

When do you hate it?

While I never HATE it, there are plenty of struggles to go with the good. You’re not always inspired. Sometimes you’re tired, sick, cranky, bored but you still have to show up to the office and create. Because while it’s an artistic craft, it’s also a business.

One of the hardest parts—especially in the beginning—is the rejection and criticism. Art is subjective and not everyone is going to love your work. It doesn’t mean you’re not talented or that the book isn’t good. Just means it’s not for everyone. But it’s still tough to hear!

What is a regular writing day like for you?

I try to keep a regular schedule. I wake up at 4:50 a.m. and hit the gym with my handsome other half. Fitness is an extremely important part of my life and I think it’s critical for those of us who spend 12 hours a day at a desk to stay fit.

 Post-gym I get ready for the day and usually start working around 7:30. I crank out about 1,000 words first thing while my mind is fresh. Then I’ll take some time to do the business stuff—social media, marketing, etc. I then write in blocks for the rest of the day, taking a break every hour to stretch, read the news, get a snack, whatever.

Depends on the day, but I usually work until about six, cook dinner (I love to cook!) then try to have a relaxing evening with my guy. But hey, if I’m on a role I’ve been known to work all night!

How do you handle negative reviews?

Depending on the context, I usually just ignore them. That’s just one person’s opinion! However, if it’s a thoughtful critique, sometimes I’ll pay attention. Maybe there is something I can learn from what they’re saying for next time. What I don’t do is take it personally. Like I said, art is subjective and you’re never going to please everyone. Even Harry Potter has one star reviews!

How do you handle positive reviews?

Do a happy dance around the living room! It’s a wonderful feeling to get positive feedback on your work and when I do, I really try to commit that moment so that I can draw from it in a future slump. Positive feedback is inspiration to keep going. While we writers have to have thick skin to survive in this industry, we also have delicate artistic sensibilities. J

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

It’s usually a mixture of awe and shock. “So you’re just like (insert famous author here)?” It was strange at first to receive such excited responses to my profession. After years of boring corporate work absolutely no one wanted to hear about, I still look around confused when I say I’m an author and the person wants to know more. “Who, me?” I say, glancing behind me. I admittedly get a little embarrassed talking about myself!


What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

I force it. Because if you took a day off every time you didn’t feel like writing, you’d never finish a book. Actually, if you have that many days you don’t feel like writing, maybe you shouldn’t be a writer…

But, bad days do happen. If I’m really having a challenging creative day, I’ll at least write out my scenes in more of an outlined way and add in some plot notes. Just something to keep the story progressing. If I’m in a serious slump—maybe not feeling well—I’ll take a break and read. Bad days are going to happen but you have to power through it. I heard a great quote recently about it.

“A firefighter doesn’t show up to a structure fire and say ‘you know, I’m just not feeling inspired to put out fires today’.”

Any writing quirks?

I talk to myself. A lot. That might be a byproduct of being alone all day every day, ha! Actually one thing I do that some might find odd is that I dress up for writing many days. I might still wear some comfy leggings and a tee, but I’ll do my hair and makeup. Put on some jewelry. It helps to take this job seriously. And don’t we all perform better when we look our best?!


What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?

I would find new people. And I have, to be quite honest. Writing is a lifestyle. Writers are quirky and you’re not going to have the same mind set as you’re average 9-5er. We’re entrepreneurs—small business owners. We constantly think in book terms. You have to give it your all. You’re going to encounter those people who don’t take it seriously, but you can’t entertain them. Having a supportive network—especially a supportive partner—is critical to making your business successful. Not saying every single friend has to be a rabid fan, but if anyone knocked what I did, they wouldn’t be someone I would spend my time with.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?

I used to more. I struggled a lot more in the beginning with productivity and creativity. I used to subscribe to the idea that if I wasn’t feeling creative that day then I didn’t have to write. In those times, I would sometimes “hate” my muse. Why did you abandon me right at the midpoint, you selfish muse!

These days though, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to do what I love, that even on the days where I’m frustrated, I always remember to love my muse.

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?

I think that’s entirely dependent on how you personally define success! Financial success is certainly a definitive measurement, but I think it depends on your goals. Not every writer sets out to be a NYT Best Seller. Some writers—often more literary writers—just want to create a beautiful story and they aren’t so caught up in what sells.

For me, it’s something in the middle. I naturally want to be as financially successful as I can because this is my chosen career (and I keep promising my guy a life of luxury if he can only put up with my insanity a little while longer). But I also take my craft very seriously so I want to write the best book I can. I measure success each day by asking myself if I’ve reached the goal I’ve set out toward.



What has writing taught you?

Perseverance, adaptability and the absolute necessity for self-confidence. Especially that last one. It’s great to hear praise from others and no doubt a glowing review is going to pump up your self-esteem. But there will be times when you’re all you’ve got. You have to learn to love yourself, to love your work, to believe in yourself. You have to learn to just keep going when things are not going your way. And you have to be able to adapt as things change. Don’t be so married to your story that you can’t accept feedback that something may not be working. Be willing to try new approaches to things and keep your ears open to new technologies and trends. There is no hard science to becoming a success, so you just have to try and try until something works.

Leave us with some words of wisdom.

Be fearless! Make one difficult ask every day. The worst thing someone can tell you is no. And then you’re no worse off than you were before you asked.

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