Author Interview with Amy Raby
April 15, 2013 6 Comments
April is a wonderful time of year. Spring is underway and everything is sprouting anew, from seeds in the ground to buds on the trees. Something else that sprouts in spring-love, which is why this month’s interview is with Fantasy Romance writer Amy Raby.
So let’s begin…
I’m from Seattle and I write fantasy romance.
2. With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?
Writing novels was a major career change for me, because my degree is in Computer Science. I used to work in the e-publishing department of a major software company, not as a writer but as a C++ programmer. I
actually adored that job and would still be at it today if I had not suffered a severe repetitive strain injury from too much typing. The injury proved incurable, so I had to quit my job. Which wasn’t the end of the world, because I was financially stable, and I had kids at home I wanted to spend more time with.
But I missed working. I love to make things, build things. Software, websites… why not a novel? I’d worked in e-publishing before and felt comfortable with the changes happening in the industry. And I was a voracious reader, devouring about a hundred books per year. I could have worked as a technical writer, but I wanted to try my hand at fiction. As soon as I started writing, I couldn’t stop. It became compulsive. Soon nearly all my spare time was devoted to my novels, because I preferred working on them to watching TV or playing games.
3. The romance genre has exploded in the last decade. With so much competition, how do you create fresh, new stories?
I think every writer has it in them to write a unique story, because we are all such different people. Several experiments have been done where many writers were given the same writing prompt, and the stories
that resulted were wildly different from one another. But I think story freshness is less of an issue for me than it may be for writers of more popular subgenres. I write fantasy romance, an almost unheard-of genre. There are only a handful of traditionally published fantasy romance authors, while there might be hundreds of regency
romance authors. We fantasy romance authors are far less likely to tread accidentally on one another’s toes!
4. Are you ever afraid that someone will say your story is the exact same as someone else’s?
No, outside of someone plagiarizing me, I can’t see it happening. Assassin’s Gambit is an unusual book in an obscure genre. No one would write the same story by chance. I do find that there are a lot of
assassin novels out now, many featuring female assassins like my novel does. The ones I’ve seen are all YA novels, not romance. But same genre or not, it’s good for me. A reader might finish one assassin
novel and want to go read another. Or they might read one in YA and decide they want something a little more adult. And hey, I have that.
5. You say Fantasy Romance and Regency Romance are different; Could you explain how?
A big difference. Regency Romances are historical romances set in the Regency period of England (early 19th century). Usually there is no magic or paranormal element of any kind. A fantasy romance, however, is a romance novel set in a fantasy world–think Middle Earth or Westeros. These are romances intended for readers who enjoy fantasy novels. That said, I find that the term “fantasy romance” is often
used to describe books that don’t meet this definition, such as historical romances with a touch of magic in them, or paranormal romances set on Earth. Personally I’d like to see the term “fantasy romance” reserved strictly for those books that meet both the requirements for the fantasy genre and those for the romance genre.
6. What drew you to write Fantasy Romance?
I began as a fantasy writer. The first couple of novels I wrote were straight fantasy and not romance, but I noticed that I was particularly interested in the relationships between the characters. The first novel I wrote might be considered a romance of sorts, except that it was platonic. It was about two men who hated each other in the beginning but ultimately became friends. I loved inventing fantasy worlds, but I also loved writing about people and relationships. And I realized fantasy romance was the perfect genre for me, because it
combined the two.
7. Is there a genre outside of romance that you would like to write? Something you would find a challenge?
I think I’d like to write YA at some point. I think my writing style would work well in YA, since I already write fast-paced stories about young people finding their place in the world. My romance characters are typically between 19 and 25 years old. I don’t think it would be a huge switch if I were to write about younger teenagers, especially in a fantasy setting.
8. What do you think of Erotica? And would you write it?
I went through an erotica phase once, where I read and wrote a lot of it (but never attempted to publish). I think reading at least a little erotica is a smart thing for a romance writer to do, because the sex scenes in erotica tend to be kinkier and more extreme, and familiarizing oneself with harder-core material makes it easier and less embarrassing to write the softer-core sex scenes that tend to appear in romance. I heard a writer say once that every author should routinely read romance novels one “heat level” beyond what she writes, because then what she’s writing seems tame by comparison. I think that’s good advice. However, I don’t read erotica anymore. I’m more interested in the emotional development of the relationship, as well as the adventure story and the worldbuilding.
9. Do you find you still need to do research before writing a new story, or do you use the references and information you already have?
I have to do new research for every book. For example, my current WIP has a lot of material about volcanoes and also about codebreaking. Those were things I hadn’t researched before. Assassin’s Gambit required research on battlefield tactics, PTSD, secret societies, and famous speeches. A novella I’m working on about two archers had me taking an archery class so I could describe the details of stringing a bow, nocking an arrow, etc. In short, each book is about something different, so each one requires its own research.
10. What advice would you give to a new author who wants to write Fantasy Romance?
Make sure it’s really what you want to write! The market for this genre is not well established. There are several of us authors trying to build up the genre by writing high-quality novels that bring something new to the market, but be prepared to write it for the love.
For more information on the author, please follow the links below.
ASSASIN’S GAMBIT by Amy Raby.