Monday, August 10, 2009

Author Interview: Amber Kizer

Hello again readers! Just got home from a weekend away and let me tell you, it is great to just lay around. :) But enough about me. I've got another author interview for you today. I know we haven't had one in a while, but I'm sure you're going to love this one. Today we are talking with Amber Kizer author of Meridian. So here we go:

Tell us a little about yourself.

Amber's bio: Amber is addicted to trashy reality television, sour candy, loud pop music, and the scent of fresh lilies. Like Auntie in Meridian, Amber finds inspiration in quilting and baking. She likes to write with book-specific scented candles burning and a book-specific playlist going in the background (for this book pine and fir-scented candles and Celtic fold and rock music). She lives on an island with a menagerie of animals and too many yet-to-be-read books.Amber's debut novel ONE BUTT CHEEK AT A TIME, was named a New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age. She loves to visit schools and book clubs and she enjoys hearing from readers.

What got you started writing? What brought you to YA?

My freshman year of college I developed a rare nerve disorder that, in the simplest of terms, means my legs don't always work, but always hurt. So I had to scrap plans for what I thought my life would be and start living the best way I can taking each day as it comes. Which meant I needed a career that could be very flexible. I never thought I'd be a writer, but books were always a part of our family and I'd really become a reader from age 13 on. So I started to learn the craft and worked very hard get where I am today. I love writing. I wouldn't change it and it's great because I can prop my legs up, or write at 3AM when the pain keeps me awake, or skip a day if it's too bad to function. It's really where I feel I'm supposed to be.

My mom is a middle school teacher and has been my whole life. I think loving teens is in the blood! It's such a horrible time (maybe not all, but most!), but teens aren't scared to explore and that's the best part of being part of this genre. So I've always spent time with the age group. I didn't set out to write YA because frankly when I was a teen I skipped from Ramona Cleary to adult titles. But Gert Garibaldi started talking to me and the rest is history. The only difference between YA and adult books is that the lead characters are teenagers, but the content is really similar. Good stories are good stories!

Tell us about your most recent/ upcoming release?

Meridian Sozu is a Fenestra-a Window to the Afterlife. She lives between life and death and must shepherd dying souls across. Of course it's not easy and her own life hangs in the balance as she learns how to do this. Here's the what's on the jacket:

Meridian has always been an outcast. It seems that wherever she goes, death and grief follow. On her sixteenth birthday, a car crashes in front of her family's home-and though she's untouched, Meridian's body explodes in pain.Before she can fully recover, Meridian is told that she's a danger to her family and is hustled off to her great-aunt's house in Revelation, Colorado. There she learns the secret her parents have been hiding for her entire life: Meridian is a Fenesstra, the half-angel-half-human link between the living and the dead.

It's crucial that Meridian learn how to transition human souls to the afterlife-how to help people died. Only then can she help p[reserve the balance between good and eil on earth. But, before she can do that, Meridian must come to terms with her ability, outsmart the charismatic preacher who's taken over Revelation, and maybe-it she can accept her sworn protector, Tens, for who he is-fall in love. Meridian and Tens face great danger from the Aternocti, a band of dark forces who capture vulnerable souls on the brink of death and cause chaos. But together, they have the power to outsmart evil.
Readers can find the first three chapters of MERIDIAN on

The origin of the story:

This book is very close to my heart--the idea came from sitting vigil as my grandparents died (about 18 months apart). They both had very different dying experiences, though in both cases, as a family, we chose to work with a wonderful hospice organization (St. Vincent's Inpatient Hospice Care, in Indianapolis, IN).

With everything in life, I like to know as much as possible so I read and did a bunch of research on dying, the physical process itself, the psychological process, and people's near-death experiences. For this story, I wanted to explore the idea that the "light" people talk about as they die is an actual person and what that might mean.

What if everyday of a person's life was that of being a window to beyond? I wanted to give a face to death that wasn't the Reaper's, wasn't something out of nightmares. And saying "God" is there in death doesn't say much--what does that mean really? How does that look?

And from a science aspect we're all energy. Where does that energy go? And isn't a soul of any animal or plant worthy energy? How does that look? How does that fit with the major religions and cultural norms?

And I also wanted to explore some organized religion as fear based--the idea that people hide behind religion because they're afraid or upset or angry. How does that twist what can be profound and comforting in faith? The mob mentality is so easy to manipulate if you're good at it--I wanted a character (Perimo) who was good at it and used it.

Do you plot out in advance, or just start writing and see where things go from there?

Both, I have a very intricate plotting system, but it's fluid. For me finding the story is like first finding all the puzzle pieces and then fitting them together. Some of that is advance work and some of it is discovery.

Many authors have told me their characters talk to them, and sometimes even have different ideas of where the story should go than the author. Do you hear your characters?

Absolutely, that's how I met Gert Garibaldi, the star of ONE BUTT CHEEK AT A TIME and the next one FROM BUTT TO BOOTY. I was working on an adult romance and couldn't shut her up. I figured I'd give her a new document and she'd lose steam after 5 or 10 pages. She's still talking and has her own series! :)

Who is your favorite character (of your own)?

My favorites are always whatever project I'm currently working on-stuff that readers won't see for a couple of years-and of course those change as projects get finished and new ones start!

What hobbies do you have when you're not writing?

I do a lot of baking and love to make really complicated cakes (photos on my website for those interested!). I read a ton-pretty much anything besides computer programming and math theory. And I usually am reading 20+ books concurrently, like most people change the channel on TV. I love basketball-watching and playing a mean game of HORSE. I raise chickens, have cats and a dog-feed wildlife and love to work in the garden. I make quilts as well.

If you had not become a writer what would you have done instead?

Like I said above, writing for me was a career choice based on my health and physical situation-unfortunately, that limits the options! But I'd love to own a tea room, be a cake artist or a florist, teach, breed chickens, be a mom...oh the list goes on and on! I have no shortage of interests!

Where can readers find you online? (for MERIDIAN and Fenestra book info) (for Gert Garbaldi's Rants and Raves series)

I have a e-newsletter that readers can sign up for (sent no more than once a month!)-this is the fastest way to learn about what's going on with the books, get sneak previews and exclusive contests. They can sign up for it on any of the websites.Of course you can friend me on Facebook and Goodreads too!

Your turn. What question do you have for readers of Want My YA?

Thanks for the opportunity to ask a question of your readers! I'm working on a workshop for teachers about books that have Gutsy Girls in them. For me a Gutsy Girl is one who doesn't wait to be rescued, who solves her own problems (or seeks help), doesn't define herself by anyone else's standards, she's strong and capable, smart and kicks ass when she needs to (figuratively and metaphorically!)-my question to your readers is: What books do you love that have a Gutsy Girl character?

Thanks so much Amber for visiting with us today! :) Meridian is in my TBR and I can't wait to get started on it.

And thank you readers for stopping by. Be sure to leave a comment answering Amber's question, you could win a copy of one of her books! Contest runs til Friday August 14th. Get your answers in before 11:59 pm Friday night. US residents only please. If possible I'll announce the winners on Saturday (don't have my work schedule yet, don't know when I'll be home).


Anonymous said...

My absolute favourite "gutsy girl" book of all time is A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford.
Please enter my name in your draw.
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Lori T said...

I can think of several, but one that comes to mind is Claire Danvers from Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampire series. There is, also, Rose from Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy.

Amber~ Meridian sounds really great.

WhatBriReads said...

I can't think of a strong example, but the one that probably comes closest that I can think of is Suze from The Mediator series. I've only read one of the books, but still, I think she's pretty awesome.


Kate said...

One of my favorites is Alanna from Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce. She is so strong and gutsy. I just love her.

I am dying to read Meridian. I posted a link for your contest on my sidebar!


Lenore said...

Katniss from THE HUNGER GAMES, Emer from DUST OF 100 DOGS, Tally from the UGLIES series...

Taste Life Twice said...

Gaia from the Fearless series by Francine Pascal! She's totally badass.

Melanie said...

My favorite would have to be Anne from Anne of Green Gables. She's definitely gutsy, in a different way, but very gutsy.

ReggieWrites said...

My favorite Gusty Girl is definitely Suze from the Mediator series. She doesn't let anyone beat her down...if she falls, she gets back up on her own.

Enter me in your giveaway please!

Reggie :-)

Paradox said...

What books do you love that have a Gutsy Girl character?

- Midnighters series by Scott Westerfeld
- The Dust of 100 Dogs by A. S. King
- Harry Potter series (Hermione)
- The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray

paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com


Wow that is a good question...
My fav gutsy is from Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy is Rose she is a awesome strong kick butt girl..


Lifkdasux at aol dot com

Tice Belmont said...

How about Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew? :) They were the original gutsy girls!

RagDollVampGirl said...

I Love, LOVE Rose Hathaway From The Vampire Diaries Series...
She's So Sassy!

Please Enter Me In This Drawing..



Wrighty said...

I wasn't sure if this contest was still going. I saw a few different dates for it so I thought I'd try anyway. This book sounds amazing and I can't wait to read it and the rest to follow. Katniss is a definitely a gutsy girl to survive The Hunger Games. (Can't wait to read Catching Fire too!) Thanks for your offer!


HeatherMarie said...

Hey all thanks for the entries! I'll officially close the contest now so there's no confusion. :) It's already pretty late tonight so I'll try to get the winners picked tomorrow before I go into work. Thanks again everyone for entering.