Hello, L.M. David. This interview is with Amanda M. Lyons, author of Eyes Like Blue Fire. This is, I believe, the second author I’ve interviewed where the book is about vampires! High-five for Amanda!! Again, this was prepared last year and I offer the same apologies.
Okay, let’s get started.
Q. Welcome Amanda. Tell me a bit about yourself.
A. I’m a writer from rural Ohio raising two kids with my fiancé and trying to do my best to teach them how to be good people. I like just about everything creative, especially books and film. I have a soft spot for B movies, horror, and films that leave you feeling really moved by the time you get finished. I’ve also never given up my love of movies, or books, that could remind you of that sense of wonder we forget about once we stop being kids. I guess maybe you could consider me a horror writer with the best of intentions?
Q. Your book, Eyes Like Blue Fire, is about my favorite subject: vampires. Please tell me about the world you created for this book.
A. The world Eyes Like Blue Fire takes place in isn’t really all that removed from our own. We share the same cities and a lot of the same culture but there things are a bit more tied up in dreams. That’s why dreams are so important to the characters in the story. Instead of their dreams being random images and events to occupy the mind their dreams are often connection to their deeper selves and other people who are important in their lives. Their reality is actually very dreamlike and surreal at points.
Q. The main character, Katja, is a vampire who is alone. What is her character like?
A. Katja had a very sad and tragic life before she became a vampire, for her becoming a vampire was supposed to be about moving on from that past. Instead it too became tragic. As a result she’s closed herself off from everything but the past that now consumes her. She doesn’t see a real future ahead of her no matter how much she craves happiness. She’s a tragic figure but she’s also the hero of her own story because she is strong enough to face terrible odds to reclaim her life despite her fears about losing those she cares about again.
Q. Eyes Like Blue Fire is described as not being a love story. How would you describe it?
A. This has been a challenge. I call it gothic horror novel because it’s dark and moody, there’s lots of blood, horrific events and tragedy but in the end it’s about a woman choosing her own happiness over the what ifs and the maybe I’m wrongs she’s let rule her life. As with all of my novels thus far it’s got elements of other genres to it because it’s more about the characters and their development than the scares. I want you to care about my characters so that when the scares come you can feel it the way they do. I want certain scenes to stick in mind too.
Q. The character Raven, please describe his character.
A. Raven is a writer/poet living in London after years of traveling Europe as a child. He’s the person Katja meets one night and quickly bonds with. He has an immediate connection to her and after years of being alone this startles her enough to make her run. Raven has been seeking her out without even knowing it. While Katja’s search for happiness is groundless Raven’s has a clear face and there’s a reason for that, something you’d have to read the book to find out.
Q. Eyes Like Blue Fire seems to have it all: zombies, vampires, evil, despair and hope. How did you get in a mindset to create your book?
A. I spent a lot of years being lonely and frustrated with my life even in the midst of a happy relationship with my fiancé. In a lot of ways the book was a lesson for myself. Don’t dwell on and in your past or you will lose your future. I tended to work on Eyes Like Blue Fire when I was my most upset and a lot of that got down on the page. Once I was done writing the original drafts of the book and started editing it I would listen to a lot of Goth and industrial music to set the tone.
Q. There is a character called Zero. Nice Name. What is this individual like?
A. Zero is a bit of a grouchy old man in a young man’s body. You don’t get too far into his head in this book but in the sequel you’ll get to know more about him and his tragic life and love affair with ELBF’s villainess Marie. He’s neither human nor a vampire but some sort of immortal because of his interaction with Marie. He’s made a lot of mistakes in life but he’s also started doing what he can to make up for that. As a result he gets frustrated if people around him are making similar mistakes and missing the big picture. He’s very directed and wants to do his best to keep being a positive influence.
Q. Are you currently working on a sequel to Eyes Like Blue Fire? If not, what is your current work in progress?
A. I actually started the sequel several years ago on a burst of inspiration brought about by what I’d achieved while editing ELBF. The first draft is at the halfway mark and yes, I do have plans on finishing it up so that I can get it out there too. Cool Green Waters (as it’s tentatively titled at the moment) will feature a lot more about Zero and Michael as they seek out Anton’s last apprentice Mateo. It also tells us how things are going with Katja and Raven. I think there will be a lot of surprises for fans of ELBF. You learn quite a bit about how Marie’s influence has affected others, meet some new vampires, explore the characters a bit more and also run into some surprises about characters in the first book. I like what I was able to do with ELBF but I feel like Cool Green Waters achieves so much more both because I wrote it when I was a much more polished writer and there is so much more to explore and discover.
Q. What about your world of vampires will attract readers?
A. There are a few things actually. My vampires are a bit more human. What do I mean by that? They have a much more natural way of seeing things and interacting with the world they live in. Now for some of them (like Marie) this means being cruel and sadistic because she’s out of touch with life as a whole. For Katja it means that she has a hard time coming to grips with how tragic her life has been and she’s afraid to move on. I think it makes it easier to sympathize with them.
My vampires are also a bit different from other vamps. Mirrors are a lot more horrific than trivial for them, they aren’t inherently evil so crosses mean nothing to them, they are sensitive to holy water but this has more to do with allergens than religion.
They also have some physical traits that make feeding and sex very different. I won’t go too much into that but it does open them up to all sorts of experiences that are unexpected.
Q. Which character was your favorite?
A. Over time my favorite character has changed. In a lot of ways Katja and Raven are based on me and my way of seeing things over time. So initially, they were my favorite characters because they were clearer to me than the others. Now I’d say it would be characters like Zero and Mateo who learn from their mistakes.
Q. Which character turned out to be your least favorite?
A. Becca, I’m still not sure I got her right. She needed to be endearing but very flawed.
Q. If your book were being made into a movie, who would you get to play Katja, Raven and Zero?
A. I’d want them to be played by unknown actors so that they weren’t changed by actors’ previous roles and reputations. So that they became the characters instead of overwhelming them.
Q. What has been the hardest part about self-publishing your work?
A. Two things. Deciding to do it and getting together the confidence to do the self-promotion involved. When I first started writing I was told in many books how self-publication was giving up and that it meant you couldn’t be taken seriously. It was hard to let go of that representation especially because it only recently started to be universally understood that self-publication was just another market for publication. It helped that I was able to see so many other writers doing it and becoming successful. As far as self-promotion…well I’m very introverted so it feels really alien to go out there and essentially be telling people ‘come read my book you’ll love it!’ It feel like bragging in a way and I’m not used to that. I do enjoy interviews though. They’re very fun!
Q. What advice would you give writers who are struggling to get into the publishing world?
A. Don’t give up! It will take a lot of effort and you will feel like it’s never going to turn out at times but it will be worth it when you get what you want from your work.
L.M. David: Thank you for doing the interview. I wish you the best with your book because, again, vampires are my favorite.
Amanda M. Lyons is a longtime fan of horror and fantasy. She writes character driven novels that while influenced by her darker interests, can also be heavily laced with fantasy, romance, history and magic. Amanda M. Lyons has lived her whole life in rural Ohio where she lives with her fiancé and two children. Eyes Like Blue Fire is her first novel.
Synopsis Blue eyes Like Fire: Katja is a vampire who has lost sense of herself and her value in the world. Lost, broken and damaged she wanders the streets of Europe hoping to find some sense of purpose beyond the death and tragedy she has always known. Betrayed by her sire and left alone in the night she is startled to discover herself forming a connection to a young man who shares a close resemblance to her master and lover. Though everything in her begs her to stay with him she flees only to come running back to save him when a sadistic monster from her sire’s past comes to destroy the only hope she has had in 300 years.
Katja and Raven will face many horrors among them Renfield style zombies, ghosts and the undead. This is also the first in the series Broken Edges.