Looks on Books: Featuring the Work of Amy Smith.
I've had the marvelous opportunity to interview Amy Smith about her TWO books. We connected on Wattpad and I was thrilled to learn about what she has been working on. If you're intrigued by fantasy, suspense, or romance stories, then you'll love to hear what Amy had to say about her work.
L: Tell us a little bit about yourself!
A: I'm an animal loving pagan who adores the mountains she lives in. I have way too many animals, but I wouldn't trade them for anything. Besides writing, I love to read and frequently hang out outside at night with a book, just listening to the trees whisper and the stars sing.
L: How long have you been writing for?
A: I've been writing for as long as I can remember being able to write my alphabet. Short stories, poems including a few that won awards in my middle and high school days, in my teens some really badly written songs. Lately, I've been more focuses on the longer novels though in an effort to get published.
L: What are you currently working on?
A: I just finished one called "Open for Negotiation". The one I'm focusing on right now is called "All Roads Lead to Rome".
L: Could you pitch us your books?
A: Well, it will be my first pitch so be patient, but sure.
The name of the book "All Roads Lead to Rome" and centers on three main characters. Due to that, the book itself is around 180k word count. The book starts with two of them, Antares and Romulus Tiber running their sanctuary/club and struggling to cope with a curse that Antares has fallen victim to. Antares is a rare breed of faery incubus and Romulus is a vampire with deep ties to the Roman Empire. They've been together for centuries and are struggling to survive. Enter Lyra, the human who has been banned from associating with the vampiric world after her sister's death by vampiric turn. They face off with the vampire Mistress Council while struggling to defeat their own mental struggles with addiction and grief. They have to find a way to keep the Mistress Council from taking over their sanctuary and break the curse that is driving them insane.
"Open for Negotiation" has two main characters. Lethe, a dark faery-like man with a penchant for shadows and Astra, a human witch with a fierce independent streak. They meet in the course of Lethe's infiltration of the UnSeelie court of the faery by order of the High King. Intrigued by her reaction to him, Lethe initiates a conversation that leads to a relationship built on negotiating. Until it isn't anymore. His enemies discover where he's been going every day and start attacking her in an effort to find a weakness in a man that had none. When she proves to be more than a match for them, their queen ups the stakes. She is wounded soul deep and he is left with a choice between her freedom or her life.
A: What genre(s) do you think these would fit into? Also, what is the recommended age group for your works?
This would fall under romance in several respects, but does have aspects of fantasy and suspense. I would definitely say this book falls into young adult to adult age range. It does get a bit heated sometimes and there is some violence as well. Not a lot but enough.
L: What was the inspiration for each story?
A: The inspiration was two fold. I had been playing around with the idea of utilizing the twins of Rome in one of my other stories. As I was building the characters for them, I found myself interested in writing their stories first. The polyamorous aspect just kind of happened as I wrote the story. Antares was originally created as a background character that never made it into my story "Open for Negotiation" so my first story inspired my second.
"Open for Negotiation" was loosely based on an event that happened to my mother and I. The big black dog was an actual dog that had scared my mom inside. I went outside and it ran off. It sparked the idea and it ran from there.
L: What is the meaning behind the titles of your books?
A: "All Roads Lead to Rome" is a play off of one of the central characters name as well as the name of his club/sanctuary. I wanted something that sent out that old world feel.
"Open for Negotiation" was something I chose because of the nature of their relationship. In the beginning, it defines the terms of their relationship and evolves to a point of neither caring about the deal any more.
L: What are the key themes? Also, is there any particular message you wish to convey through the telling of these stories?
The key theme in "All Roads Lead to Rome" is that when you have family absolutely anything is possible even if that family isn't blood related. Your enemies, grief, addiction, or fear don't stand a chance if you reach out and stay together. Even if you don't agree with the choices they've made.
The key theme in "Open for Negotiation" is a simple one, I think. When chosen wisely, love endures all choices.
L: Who are the main characters and what is enticing about them?
In "All Roads Lead to Rome", there are three main characters. Romulus Tiber. He was the driving force behind the beginning of the Roman empire and advised many of its rulers before stepping back. He lost himself in the decadence of Rome and almost lost his brother. Then for a time, he lost his mind. This is where Antares steps in as a faery incubus who was hunting in the harems of the time. He fell for the warrior and took him out of Rome. He was cursed because he rejected a queen. Centuries later, we have Lyra. She starts this story in a dark place after losing the only family she had, her sister, then ostracized by the community she'd grown up in. The enticing thing for me is Romulus' ruthless nature tempered with an empathy that tears him up. Antares' is a character that you just fall for because he is so good inside. Lyra is relatable. She's struggling alone and just needs a helping hand.
In "Open for Negotiation", Lethe and Astra are generally center stage, with the high king Marcus and Gwen, Astra's aunt in a secondary role. Lethe is enticing because of the way he evolves without altering his true nature. He is the unapologetic duke of shadows and enjoys his role. Astra is a survivor, but one who isn't afraid to take a chance when magic presents itself.
L: Which character has an extra special place in your heart?
A: I don't like to pick favorites but if I had to, it would Antares. He is a faery incubus, one of the most feared species of faery in this world. Yet, his heart is pure. He genuinely cares and shows it. He is unapologetic about what he is, yet insecure and terrified of hurting those he loves. And he's gorgeous. That certainly helps. "Open for Negotiation" I would have to say Astra. Mainly because her fierce nature and vulnerable heart are something that I admire personally.
L: Did you choose the names of the characters for any particular reason?
A: The names aren't something I focused on at first actually. In truth, "Open for Negotiation" was almost done before I found a name I liked for Astra. I'm particular about the names because they have to suit the personality, but they aren't a focus. With the notable exception of Romulus due to me using the actual mythological figure.
L: What do you believe are the most original aspects of your books?
A: The most original part of "All Roads Lead to Rome" in my opinion is that this is a book centralized around a polyamorous triad but the issues aren't about the relationship. It is about their story. A story that takes place in a world ravaged by an apocalyptic level magical war a scant few years ago.
The perspective is what I thinks makes "Open for Negotiation" unique as well as the modern twist to the old stories of the Seelie and UnSeelie faery courts. L: Avoiding spoilers, what has been the most difficult part to write and what has been your favorite part to write?
A: With Open for Negotiation, the part most difficult for me to write was when Astra was attacked by a family member. I originally skimmed over it and only went back later to elaborate in a small way. Strangely enough, my favorite scene to write in that one was a torture scene towards the end. I love the heroes that can wield sarcasm and wit under pressure. In "All Roads Lead to Rome", it is the dynamic between Antares and Romulus that I adore writing. Even when they're angry with each other, there is an underlying sense that they'll be okay. Conversely, the scenes where I have to put that dynamic to the test, so to speak, is the hardest. L: Who do you think these books appeals to the most?
A: I think "All Roads Lead to Rome" would appeal to anyone who enjoyed an original take on historical/mythological figures. Romulus isn't the only one that puts in an appearance. It would also appeal to those who enjoy a good fantasy romance with intrigue. And they definitely couldn't be shy about romance because both of them get steamy more than once. Open for Negotiation is a faster paced story so anyone who wanted a wild ride through the magic of faedom would enjoy it. I hope. On another level, people who have had similar issues might be able to relate to these characters. L: Are there any similar books that you could point readers to? Anything you might be able to draw a comparison to, in terms of style or voice?
A: I was told by a friend who has proofed my work for me that the style was similar to that of the author Diana Gabaldon. It is a different setting but similar style. I read a lot of Nora Roberts so she's probably had an influence as well as Sherrilyn Kenyon and of course the prerequisite Tolkien influence. L: Have you learned anything while writing this book?
A: Well, I learned a lot about Celtic and Roman mythology, but on a personal level, Lyra's issues were my issues for a while, albeit for different reasons. I wrote this as I was working through several long buried personal issues and it helped me categorize them in a way that took me to a better place mentally. In the course of my research, I also learned a lot about the polyamory lifestyle, which is new territory for me. Open for Negotiation is a different story altogether, if you'll forgive the pun. It made me laugh and provided an escape. Not a lot of research went into this one. It flowed easily for the most part. I was a bit surprised when I found myself at the end of it. It boosted my confidence and led me to the next story, which was "All Roads Lead to Rome". L: Any thing you'd like to add about this book?
A: The only thing I would want to add is that most of my books exist in the same universe, so to speak. They link together even if it is just a cameo from a character in another book. They can all be read separately, but rest assured if there is a dynamic character who you think needs their own story, odds are good that it is done or in the works. This includes both "Open for Negotiation" and "All Roads Lead to Rome"
L: Thank you so much, Amy!
Amy's Social Media