Wednesday Wordsmith Author Interview – Rachel Amphlett, Australian Mystery Writer

Rachel is a new friend of mine, but is becoming a fast friend.  She has a wicked sense of humour and really great writing style, which I am somewhat envious of.  Her first book ‘White Gold’ is doing amazing things.  The only problem is not she’s not quite Australian, even though she now lives out here.

Oh well, we all have our little faults.  Anyway….  Here’s the wonderful Rachel Amphlett:

Who would you like to collaborate with (being living or dead) and why?

Steven Spielberg – for all the obvious reasons – he’s a superb storyteller and always maintains a sense of humour in his screenwriting, without losing touch with the pace and emotions of the story.

What would be the best piece of advice you would offer a new author?

Get on with it!
Is routine important to you?

Absolutely not.

What genre would you like to write a book in (that you haven’t yet)?

Historical fiction – I’m leaning towards 19th century England or post-war Europe…

Do you listen to music during all processes of writing?

No – I’d find it too distracting. I used to play lead guitar in bands so I’d spend all my time trying to work out riffs and chords instead of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!)

Do you listen to music you know or new music when writing?

Sometimes a particular piece of music will inspire a scene – I’ll have to stop, switch off the music and start writing the scene before I lose the ‘feeling’ that the music inspires. Just recently, Grinspoon’s Passerby was the ‘soundtrack’ to a particularly explosive scene in the next Dan Taylor thriller I’m writing…
Have you read a romance novel?  Do you think you could write one?

I enjoy Katie Fford’s style of writing for pure escapism and a break from my usual diet of crime and thrillers. She injects a lot of humour into what are essentially quite simple storylines so perhaps I could attempt something along those lines one day. Perhaps under a pseudonym though. Wouldn’t want anyone to think I was getting soft! J

What sport did you play as a younger person?  Were you good at it?

I really hated cross country running at school because I was rubbish at it but I grew to like it in my final year – running’s one of the few things I can do where my brain actually switches off from everything else going on in my life!
When you are coming up with an idea, do you look at the market for trends?  Or do you write for you?

I definitely write for me – I love thrillers and problem solving, so that’s what I write.

Where do your ideas come from?  Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole construct?

When an idea first pops into my head I’ll probably spend a week or so jotting down notes and mulling it over. Once it feels like it’s got legs, often a whole scene will materialise – or a particularly conversation between two characters. It’s weird, but the only way to describe it is that it’s like having the characters suddenly take over and you just have to go with the flow to find out what happens to them! I’ll probably get 20,000 – 30,000 words down before I start having to do research or deciding which bit of the story goes where.
When you start a new story, do you have a title for it?  Does that trigger the story?

For White Gold, the story was definitely driven by the title which was inspired by a newspaper article about experiments in the US with super-conducted heated metals. For my current project, I didn’t have a title until I was about 40,000 words into it – but it suits the story perfectly so I’ll be sticking with it.
Do you see the future of fantasy and science fiction as bright?  If so, which authors are driving it?

I’ve really enjoyed Hugh Howey’s Wool series – there’s something quite endearing about the way it’s taken off via the eBook format too, with readers pestering the author to find out what happens next!
What themes are being overused?

Vampires – there, said it. Enough already! I’m also a bit worried that the post-apocalyptic theme is heading the same way. Ease up people!
Are movies of books ruining the book?

It depends on the director’s interpretation really.  I mean, a lot of people slated Sahara but I thought the film was a good take on a popular Clive Cussler story – it had the same humour as the writing, managed to keep the action flowing and tips its hat at the quirks of the various characters during the opening credits. If you were a fan of the Clive Cussler books like me, you could spot the setting up of the characters before the story actually kicked in just by the opening credits – I thought that was quite clever.  By the same token, sometimes a film will inspire people to go and read more of the author’s work – it’ll be interesting to see what effect the new Alex Cross film will have on book sales for example.
Do you see ebooks threatening traditional publishing?

No – I think eBooks provide another platform for authors and enhance the marketplace. There’s really no excuse anymore not to be reading a book!
Do you prefer to read established authors or debut authors? How do you choose which ones to read?

Both – I have my favourite authors such as Michael Connolly, Lee Child, Jack Higgins, Robert Crais and Daniel Silva – they’re the ones that I’ll be biting my nails in anticipation for about a month leading up to their next book release, and then there are the established authors who are recommended to me by friends. Only recently I discovered the Jim Butcher Harry Dresden series via a recommendation on Goodreads and I’m hooked! With debut authors, they’re either recommended to me or I’ve met them on my writer-ly travels. It always feels good to be supporting another self-published author too.
Can I get an autographed book? (lol)

Sure J
Do you have a group of people that you show a new story to? How much impact can they have on the whole story?

Well my husband usually gets the first read through simply because he’s another fan of thrillers. He does the structural edit for me – pointing out what works, what doesn’t. We try not to break too much crockery during the process…!  After that, I’ll do another couple of re-writes. With White Gold, I gave it to two friends who I knew wouldn’t pull any punches as well as my bomb disposal expert and I got a lot of great feedback. Some of it I took on board, some of it I didn’t – it depends on what I need. And of course, I got a professional edit on the whole work before publishing – I can’t stress enough to self-published authors how important that is!
Do you set yourself a word limit for each book?

No – just keep writing until the story’s told without waffling.
Do you have a target each day?

No – I just go with the flow; it’s much less stressful that way!
Do you write constantly or have breaks between books?

I constantly have something on the boil – even now, I’ve got two new projects lined up for next year once this current one is published (aiming for April) but I won’t allow myself near them until this one is finished.
Do you have characters running around your head?  Do they dictate events and their histories to you?

Oh yeah! I’ve tried explaining it to people and they just give me weird looks, but sometimes when the book is really rocking along, it’s almost as if you expect your character to tap you on your shoulder and tell you something!
After so many books, how do you keep them unique?

Well I’m only on my second one having had success with short stories in the past, but I read a hell of a lot of newspaper articles which always inspire me one way or the other to keep learning about different things in the world. I think if you have a thirst for learning, you’ll never be stuck for ideas.
What is your biggest (self-imposed) time waster?

Faffing around tweaking scenes instead of moving on to the next one!
Do you read other people’s writing?

I’m with Matthew Reilly on this one – check out what he says on his website about this. I’d be worried someone would think I’d pinched an idea of theirs if I did that, so no – I prefer not to. Apologies to one and all. More than happy to answer questions you might have about the self-publishing process though.
Would you read mine?

See above.

Rachel can be found here:

Twitter:  @RachelAmphlett

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