Interview with Amanda Hocking

Posted by Goodreads on January 13, 2015
Amanda Hocking is one of the biggest self-publishing success stories in YA, with five beloved series and a sixth one about to debut! The Kanin Chronicles, a spin-off of her bestselling Trylle series, takes place in the same beautiful, deadly world but instead focuses on young Bryn Aven, an outcast among the Kanin, one of the powerful troll tribes. In Frostfire, the first book of the series, Bryn serves the crown as a tracker—someone who brings changelings back from their human families—but an illicit romance with her boss might stand in the way of her future success.

Amanda answered your question about getting out of a reading slump, writing supernatural powers, and her literary inspirations.

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Thesongbirdrainstar: What was the name and personality type of the very first character who ever spoke to you? That's hard to say for sure. I started telling stories and writing when I was really young, like under the age of five, so I can't really remember. The first character I really recall was a young girl named Vada, who was probably a few years older than me, and I concocted a whole series of adventures for her. She was a strong-willed time-traveling adventurer, like a cross between Indiana Jones and Doctor Who. Sometimes she was a pirate, and later she was the fourth Musketeer, and in other adventures she was battling aliens in outer space.

Victoria: Are there going to be any characters from the Trylle series in this book? Also, will this series be continuing from the conflict between the tribes in the Trylle series? Kelsey adds: I would love to see how Loki and Wendy's life looks like now, somewhere in Frostfire! Yes, you will see characters from the Trylle series throughout the Kanin Chronicles. In Frostfire there are a couple of cameos as well as two characters from the Trylle playing a larger role in the story toward the end. I don't want to give away too much because I don't want to spoil events in the series, but I can say that you will get to see how many of your favorite characters from the Trylle series are doing now.

Clarissa: I have always wondered how you got the idea of the Trylle powers and how you figured out which character should have which power. With the powers in general, I tried to figure out what would be most useful to trolls, given their penchants for tricking humans and hiding in plain sight. I decided that the Trylle would have psychokinesis, but so many abilities lie under that that I wanted to break them up among the different trolls. For Wendy's story, I knew that I wanted her to be very powerful so she would live up to the hype, and that's how I decided what she would be. Other characters, I tried to fit their powers to suit their personality or to contrast with them. Like Tove's mother, she's very cold and doesn't want to help anybody, so I gave her the power of healing.

Melissa: Thanks for writing the My Blood Approves series. I enjoyed it immensely. My question is about the writing of supernaturals. I noticed early on that your characters were not like the average vampires. So I was wondering how you go about developing a supernatural character. Savannah also wonders: I would like to know how difficult it is to create an entire new species and basically world. What's the thought process? When it comes to supernatural characters, I start with two basic questions: Given who/what the character is, what seems like the most realistic traits to me? And given who/what the character is, what traits seem most important to the story I want to tell? Then it all stems from there. I like blending fantasy with reality, and part of the fun for me is making fantastical elements seem plausible.

Captured Beauty: As a writer trying to get published, what was the deciding factor that led you to self-publish Switched instead of continuing to submit to agents? When I self-published Switched, I had actually already self-published three books before that, and they were doing pretty well, so that's why I decided to self-publish Switched. But the reason I decided to self-publish my first book instead of continuing to submit to agents was because nothing was happening. I once heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. I'd heard that some authors were self-publishing and finding a decent readership, so I thought, "Why not?" I knew I needed to try something different, so I did.

Kyrin: What advice would you give to first-time writers? Don't get married to your first book or idea. Write your first book, put it in a drawer, and then write your second. It seems to me that a lot of writers get hung up on their first idea, their first book, but here's the truth: Almost universally speaking, the first book you write will be terrible. I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule, but I would say that rarely is the first published work by an author the first thing they wrote. That doesn't mean you shouldn't love your first book or take pride in it or work hard on it—because you really should. It just means you shouldn't get hooked on that one thing. Write another book and another. Then go back and look at your first book and see how you feel about it. But whether you love it or hate it, just keep writing and reading.

Sarah: How do you recover from a writing/reading slump? I've been in both lately. I just can't find the words or the motivation to write. Any advice? For a reading slump, I'd suggest reading something different. If you normally read horror, try reading a western. If you normally read YA, read a nonfiction memoir. Try a short story collection. Mix it up. Or reread some of your older favorite books. Reading a book you love usually does a good job of reminding you why you love to read in the first place.

For a writing slump, I suggest taking a step back. Stop trying to work on whatever it is that is giving you troubles. Watch smart movies or binge-watch a thought-provoking TV show. Read a few good books. Take walks outside. Travel if you can, even for a day or two. Then once you've taken a break to recharge your creative juices, I would personally try brainstorming—either a new idea or an old one. I like to take notes and outline like crazy, so when I do sit back down to write, I know exactly where the story is going, and it's harder for me to get stuck again.

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rebecca: When you write, do you have to jot down all your ideas first or do they come to you as you go? I take crazy in-depth notes and outline like mad. That's not to say that ideas never come to me as I'm writing. Sometimes even over halfway through writing a book, something will occur to me, and I'll have to go back and make changes to the first half of the book and to all my notes. But I definitely think outlining helps keep me on track and helps keep the story flowing.

Emma: Are YA authors friends? Do they, like, get together and have author parties? Do they share ideas or is that, like, frowned upon? I'm just curious about your life in general since joining the YA scene. I'm a very, very shy person, so I can't speak for the entire YA author scene. I personally have never gone to any author parties. I do talk to YA authors online, and I've met some in real life at conventions and signings, and they've all been incredibly nice (I have been shy and awkward and am terrible at talking in real life). As for sharing ideas with other authors, I think that all depends on your friendships. I've discussed ideas with authors I'm close to, but I've never emailed, like, Suzanne Collins to tell her my ideas for new books, since I've never spoken to her before.

So on a personal level, my life hasn't changed that much since becoming a YA author. (Or at least not much as a result of joining other YA authors.) I'm a homebody with social anxiety, so I prefer to spend most of my time in the company of my family and old friends and my pets.

Sara: Who is the one person you look up to in the literary world as your source of inspiration for your writing? That's hard to say. There are so many, many authors who I think are doing amazing things and inspire me in so many different ways. Judy Blume and Stephen King were my first favorite authors, and I think they had a lot of influence on me and my writing. I also love Anne Rice and Kurt Vonnegut, not to mention John Green, Holly Black, and Neil Gaiman. In particular I've felt inspired by the works of Alexandre Dumas lately. So I think it's impossible to pick just one author. It sounds like a cop-out, but in reality I think I'm inspired by almost everyone.

Brooke: Would you rather be who you are now in the human world or a character from the Trylle world? Why? I would much rather be who I am in the human world. Being in the Trylle world sounds very stressful, not to mention they have to deal with living in a bit of a caste system. Although being just a regular civilian in Förening, with a nice house on the bluffs and a few goats, wouldn't be so bad, especially if they had Netflix and an ereader.

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by April (new)

April I enjoyed this interview, and getting a glimpse of this unique, interesting author. There is a reason why she is so successful as a self published author.

message 2: by Christy (new)

Christy Reed Thank you all for this interview! It was very informative and very interesting. :)

message 3: by Sue (new)

Sue Macaluso Thank you for bringing author interviews to your readers and other aspiring writers. It is always interesting to see all the different approaches there are to writing. I enjoyed your interview with Amanda very much. It gave me insight into her creative process and the world of publishing in general. The interview also always helped to see Amanda,the author, as a real person like you and me. Keep on bringing it.

message 4: by Caden (new)


message 5: by Julia (new)

Julia Rose The one question I wanted answered wasn't asked!!!! Will there be another book un the hollows series????

message 6: by Abbey (new)

Abbey Carlin Thank you so much for writing the Trylle Series, it was soo amazing. You should write a small book about the stuff that happens in the epilogue.

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