Soup Of The Day: With Mythpunk Author Amy Kuivalainen

The Curious Adventures Of Messrs Smith And Skarry

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!

Helping me this morning is author Amy Kuivalainen! Good morning Amy, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Can I take your parasol?

Absolutely, but do be careful…it bites. Lovely to be here with you today.

Oh! My goodness, what a disturbingly sentient promenadial accessory – although I imagine it comes in extremely useful! How was your journey here from your own dimension? I hope you were not waylaid by any skywaymen…

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I am a Writer right?

Chuck Wendig, the bearded writer guru and gnarly writer, published a great blog over on his kick ass blog Terrible Minds called ‘A Reminder Of What Makes A Real Writer’.  In it he makes this very true point:

‘There exists no one way to write any one thing, and as long as your writing has a starting point and an ending point, I think whatever shenanigans go on in the middle serve you fine as a process as long as it gets you a finished book heavy with at least some small sense of satisfaction. If you’re not finishing your books, you need to re-examine your process. If you’re not at all satisfied with your work, then again: re-examine that process.

And that’s it.’

And it is..so why the hell writers struggle so much to own it? Why do we look to others to give it definition?

There’s a bit of heated conversation going on about whether having a degree gives you that tick of approval from society and peers, a magical That’ll do, little writer, that’ll do moment where you will suddenly be seen as the artist you are.

Yeah, sorry guys it’s not gonna happen.

A degree is great but when you graduate you still have to get a job and if you are lucky enough to get a job in say, publishing, (and these are few and far between, especially in Australia) you’re still going to be put on the same wage as someone working in retail. I recently saw a job for a publishing assistant where they wanted someone with a degree and minimum 2 years experience… for a wage I used to get in customer service. A degree might help you get a job but its not going to necessarily help give you writer validation.

My point is no one is ever going to give you the “I AM NOW A WRITER” moment and a degree, job in publishing, or a book out won’t always help either. I know this from experience. I’ve been writing full time for fifteen years and have written twelve books and it has only been in the past two months that I’ve been able to say ‘I am a writer’ when people ask what I do, not ‘I work as a contractor for the government…and I also write a bit.’ I had this moment not when any of my books came out, when I saw them on a shelf in a bookshop, not when people have been repeating it to me over and over again over the years. This moment came when I rang a recruiting company about a contract for content writing and the consultant I talked to said, “Your resume looks like an Administrator resume. You need to write it again and put all that experience you just told me about at the beginning.” And I had to sit down and really go through the process of spelling out all the experience I do have in black and white. At the end of it I was like, “Fuck me, I AM a writer.” I had been doing the job thing all wrong over the years believing I was an administrator and not a writer. I don’t think I am the only one out that does this to themselves.

I recently read a great book by indie powerhouse Joanna Penn called The Successful Author Mindset. In it she talks about having to use “I am a writer” as a kind of mantra until she believed it. She even starts the book straight up with self doubt and imposter syndrome because every author on earth feels it:

‘Embrace self doubt as part of the creative process. Be encouraged by the fact that virtually all other creatives, including your writing heroes, feel it too with every book they write.’

I personally don’t read a lot of self help for writers type books but I have huge respect for Joanna Penn and this book really helped me out to realign my brain in a time I needed it (Derek Murphy also gives really good advice for writers and his courses are fantastic and have helped me alot).

I still need to go back and read these chapters regularly because I’ve started writing a new book that scares the shit out of me. I’ve tackled some big ones before but this is next level for me. There is a lot of research involved and has the tingly potential to end up being the best thing I’ve ever written or a heaving pile of crap. Its terrifying and intimidating and its helping me grow and write in new ways. DO I think I have the talent to do it justice? Hell no. Am I going to do it anyway? Hell yes.  Because that’s what makes us writers right? We give up our social lives and our rec time and we work unsatisfying jobs to pay bills while we hustle words and try and write the ones that scare us and helps us grow and maybe makes us money.

So what if were are anxious and insecure and feel like we are walking down the street naked every time we release words into the world that will judge us..we are writers its how we operate.

I am not going to be around too much in the next few weeks, I am going crazy full editor mode to get Eastern Gods, my new YA Fantasy book, all ready to pitch to Kindle Scout. The thought of releasing this one soon is pretty exciting as it was the first book I ever wrote that I was really proud of. It’s taken a lot of work to get it up to scratch and I’m stoked how it has come together. I’ll tell you guys more about it when I get closer to knowing dates and have a cover to share.

In other Amy book world news, Wylt is going well so check it out if you dig gothic romance, and Cry of the Firebird is on a price drop for those who want grittier, urban fantasy with lots of Gods and monsters.

Also, if you want something short, steampunky and based in an alternative Australia check out my new short story a Women in Men’s Waistcoats.  It’s a lot of random fun.

Keep writing you crazy beautiful writers,

A xo

 

 

 

Rise of the Firebird – The Last One

FirebirdFinal-FJM_Mid_Res_1000x1500You would have seen every where that Rise of the Firebird is the last book in The Firebird Fairytales. I want to reassure you, this isn’t one of those random ‘I’m tired of writing the series’ things. It’s a ‘I had finished the writing the whole trilogy two years ago’ thing. It’s always been one complete story with each book starting directly after the last. It’s why Book 1 feels a bit like a prologue, Book 2 a Middling and now Book 3 be prepared for an Ending.

To give you a bit of history the third book was a bitch to write. I originally had a whole different book planned out, I had nearly 40k words written. Then I rewrote book 1 &2 and scrapped 35k of book 3. It didn’t want to work. At the end of 2012 I was a wreck. I had gone through a really bad break up, was made redundant, moved states and was in a job I couldn’t make work for love or money.

Mentally, physically and spiritually I hit the wall so fucking hard I had to spend the subsequent 6 months scraping my shit back together to make an Amy shaped person again.

For the first time in my life I couldn’t write.

Not to put a too fine a point on it but have you met a writer when they can’t write? It’s frustration and madness personified. It’s a wailing shit bag chaos incarnate monster face.

In other words, I didn’t ever think Book 3 was going to be finished…like ever.

In June 2013 things started to change. I changed jobs, met my Future Partner (Hi honey) and met Anna (yeah, that Anna). She was really great at harassing me until I started writing again. We brainstormed a lot at the local Swedish café over huge coffees, waffles and Karelia Pirrika. Asgeirr released an album and he and Sibelius provided the soundtrack to finish writing Rise of the Firebird. For those that wonder, no – my character Asgeirr was already written by the time the musician arrived in my life although I took it as a sign that I was on the right track.

I finished writing The End on a plane somewhere between Cairns and Melbourne the following June. When I landed Future Partner had a bottle of Finlandia waiting – can you see why I fell in love with him?

I went to Finland in late August and gathered mountainous notes to add an extra layer of awesome to Rise and ended up with enough for a completely other story (I’m about 30k words into that one). Yep. I want to go back to Finland.

Back to the actual story. People who’ve read the second book know that things have not been left well for our fearless warriors and many have been cross (sorry Fox) about the casualties’ of war.

Rise is a big book (100 pages more on the others) and there is much that goes down. You will hopefully get all the answers you have been scratching your head over and muttering ‘why have you created a massive plot hole here woman!’ (spoilers-plot device, not plot hole)  and little pieces will suddenly start falling into place. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway. You will meet some new and mythological faces, a pack of volk krovi, two gods, two wizards…and the list continues. I’ve added an updated character list in the back but be careful not to give yourself spoilers. I’ve tried to make sure you all get a bit of clarity and closure by the end (DON’T EVEN THINK OF READING THE LAST PAGE *squints*), there are a lot of character arcs so I’ve done my best. Some I’ve left intentionally hazy as yes, I do have spin off books planned even though they will not be Firebird Fairytales.

There is going to be a digital box set :

FIREBIRDFAIRYTALES

(Damn…Don’t they look so pretty together? you can order it here)

The good news is I’ve also transferred the paperbacks to new publishers so they can be printed in a lot more countries (they have a house in Melbourne Aussie Readers) which means that shipping won’t cost more than the book due to exchange rates.

I’ve also got a thing going on with Kylie Chan and Queenie Chan’s BentoNet site that I will give you an update on when things are up and running. Keep your eye out, it’s going to be awesome.

Once Rise has been out for a month and people have read it I’ll put a blog up about some of the mythologies and folk tales I refer to in it. There’s a lot more Finnish shenanigans going on so I need to nerd out about that.

It’s going to be out this weekend to coincide with my 30th birthday. 3 is my lucky number and being book 3 I couldn’t help myself. Also it’s like a present to me (it makes sense in writer logic).

As always, I hope you enjoy it and feel free to ask me questions on Twitter or Facebook about it.

 

Ashes of the Firebird

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00014]One more sleep til my Book Birthday!

Okay now that I got that out of my system I can tell you a little bit about the next instalment of The Firebird Fairytales. 

Second books are strange beasts. You know you’re in the middle of something but don’t quite know what and foreshadowing for the next book can be vital. In saying that I tried to have it as a separate sort of story where things happen. Some stuff gets resolved and other stuff becomes worse. There is new cities, new faces, new secrets and all sorts of monsters and good stuff.

When I was writing this beast of a book I had so many plans and ideas for how it was going to turn out…by the end of the second rewrite none of these things eventuated or were even left in which is pretty typical.  Trust me they weren’t needed. I was pretty close to setting it on fire more than once. I’m pretty sure it would have died in a blaze if it wasn’t for my partners in crime Fox and Anna hiding the vodka and matches and sharp objects.

Also this book and all of its subsequent drafts were written to Amanda Fucking Palmer’s albums. Who Killed Amanda Palmer was the soundtrack to my life at the time of the first draft, a spooky coincidence that I fed into my art and dealing with the shit going down at the time. Thank you Fox for giving me the gloriously inspirational Amanda. She’s an incredible artist who will speak wild things into your dark and dreaming heart…you can find her work here where you can download her albums for as little as a dollar. Better yet, go support her Patreon.

If Ashes had a theme song it would be this song, ‘Runs in the Family.’ 

AFP

This book, and series, deals a lot with family and with what’s inside our blood and dealing and fighting the inherited monsters and problems. It’s a theme that’s pretty prevalent in my own life. Anya’s ability to pick up strays (and in turn be adopted) is inspired by own. I never had much family around growing up so I was adopted my a whole manner of people. The concept of  “Family” has very little to do with blood at all and its reinforced in the rag tag tribe of misfits that gather about Anya and Yvan.

To keep track of the ever growing cast I have put a character list in the back of the book and kept it as spoiler free as possible. I’ve had some pretty mixed reactions from my ARC readers about this one, but don’t worry there is definitely a third book where all shall be revealed. I hope you enjoy it, I hope you listen to it with Amanda Fucking Palmer on full volume.