Moonlight Mondays (Interview #1)


Author Amanda Mack

1. What is your debut novel and what inspired its story?

My novel is called “The Size of Nobodies” and it’s about a woman, Siege Sutton, and her foster brother, Avi Cohen, that become responsible for protecting a little girl, Mae, who is on a secret committee that can end humanity. They protect her from being sold and used as a bargaining chip for a mad man, but they are completely unprepared for the cost of doing that.

I really like examining human connection — the power of making them and the power of losing them. I also love putting painfully ordinary people into extraordinary situations and figuring out ways for them to overcome them with whatever devices they have. Those are really fun to write, but I usually only lean into one theme at a time. This novel has both. I feel like I’ve been collecting skill and experience as a writer for a long time to get this one out of me.

2. Do you write one specific genre or are you a multi genre author?

I like to think I have the power to genre jump, but I know my wheelhouse. No matter how far I try to get away from my coming-of-age, slice of life dramedies, I always end up leaning into elements from them. This is the first time I’ve dipped into sci-fi though so that’s exciting for me. I’ve affectionately been calling it “sli-fi” as in slightly sci-fi. I don’t feel like my story possesses enough elements to be considered that definitely. I was calling it “speculative fiction” for a little while, but just sounds pompous on some level, doesn’t it?

3. Do you have any memorable quotations or ‘one-liners’ that you have written and love?

Luckily, I think dialogue is where my strength as a writer is, so I usually end up with a lot of one-liners and exchanges that I really love at the end of a project. As a matter of fact, as away to promote the book, I’ve been making cards that have my favorite lines of dialogue on them and posting them on social media. One that I didn’t get to use, because I couldn’t go into context, came from Avi. He simply says“Jewishness” in a scene as a response to something and I giggle every single time I read it. There would be no way to explain it without spoiling my book too much, so you’ll have to trust me that it’s a good one.

4. Do you have a favourite character that you have penned to life and why is this your favourite character?

I really like Avi. He’s a sensitive character that tends to get his feelings hurt a lot, but he’s absolutely not spineless or afraid. I hate characters that exist on absolute extremes; they’re either too fragile to do anything useful or too hardcore to have any real dimension to them. I understand why we get characters like that – they’re easy to write and they help the plot move — but people aren’t like that in real life. Being able to cry openly and show up to fight for the people you love aren’t mutually exclusive traits. They shouldn’t be anyway. I really wanted to write a character with an even split of both sides, and I think Avi is that. I think people will like him and empathize with him, but I think people will also believe in him and take him seriously.

I really like Siege too, though. I think she has the most of my personal views and personality traits. That makes her the easiest character to get inside the mind of. There’s so much inappropriate stuff in there!

5. Are there any close friends/ family who have proven to be a pillar of support to you in your writing?

didn’t tell a whole lot of people I was writing a book. I didn’t announce it until I was nearly done with the third draft. I almost waited until it was published to announce it, but realized I wasn’t Beyonce and that it probably wouldn’t be in my best interest to drop a“surprise book”. I wanted to give myself space to bail on this project if I wanted to without anyone ever asking me about it in the future. But the few people I did tell, I got a huge amount of support from. And the support I’ve been getting since announcing it has been nearly overwhelming.

6. What are you currently working on?

I’m literally only working on getting“The Size of Nobodies” out at the moment. When you’re self-publishing and doing just about everything yourself (thankfully, I didn’t have to do the cover or the formatting), there’s no time to start a new project before the current one gets out. At least I haven’t had that kind of time.

7. What has been your greatest challenge as an author thus far and how are you dealing/have dealt with it?

As someone who’s coming from more than a decade of screenwriting, finding and staying in the mindset to write a novel has been really tough. In screenwriting, you’re giving instruction on how to construct your vision for a team of people — the director and set designers and a costume department. Now, whether or not your vision is realized through this instruction is another thing, but you’re essentially providing blueprints. But in a novel, you’re constructing your vision by yourself. You’re making the blueprints and following them. You are the director and the set designer and the costume department. I’ll be the first to admit that I blah,blah,blah-ed through action and description all the time in screenplays to concentrate on dialogue, and I got away with it mostly. I definitely didn’t ignore it, but I wrote it well enough to do its job and not much else. But with a novel, your description of a scene is all the reader’s going to get — there’s not going to be any kind of interpretation (or alteration) of it from a film crew. So because I am solely responsible for how people experience this world I’ve built, it’s made me very eager to impress. A lot of my editing was going in and unraveling really ambitious lines of description and action. It’s going to take some time to find a true balance between “blah blah blah” and adjective-stacked descriptions of a lamp post.

8. How do you deal with criticism and how has it helped you as a writer?

The great thing about it is that you don’t have to apply any of it at the end of the day. Criticism is cake: you take the slice you want and leave the rest on the table. I think I do quite well with it — constructive or otherwise. I’ve always been good about knowing when I’ve been too in my own head with something, so I enjoy being able to hand my work off to someone without attachments to it to hear what they think. I’m always delighted when people actually enjoy my work, but I find it more interesting to hear from people who don’t. Trust me, they’re out there.

9. How has social media helped in promoting and marketing your books?

It’s hard to tell right now. It’s been really good at getting my friends really hyped up, but I’m not sure how it’s going to translate to book sales outside of those people just yet. This is all new to me, so I’m learning as I go and taking direction from other authors.

10. When writing your novel which aspect of the writing process do you find to be the most challenging?

Doing the “edit as you go” bit. I work a full-time job at the moment, so I write whenever I get a moment. I wrote half of this book on my phone during my lunch hour or at the salon or as I was lying in bed. It was impossible for me to make the choice to not push the story forward when I had a moment to and instead go back and edit what I already had.I think it hurt me in the end because when my drafts were done, I had 230-something pages of unedited words to sort out. Probably won’t do it that way again.

11. How do you measure success as a writer/author?

I measure it by people affected. I don’t care much about the sales. I mean, the sales are nice, but they don’t really measure someone’s experience with your work. People buy books that they end up hating all the time. They donate them to clear space and move on with their lives. I want to write the book that moves into your soul and takes up residence after you’re done with it. I want my novel to be your soul’s tenant. 

12. What short term and/or long term goals have you set?

Short term, I want to get out “The Size of Nobodies” on time (January 1st, 2019) without any issues or setbacks. And long term, I want to become a better novelist. I realize that I have a lot of habits and rules to unlearn from screenwriting.S

13. Do you have any upcoming book releases or events?

I plan on doing a New Years Eve livestream. Not sure which platforms yet. Maybe Twitch and Facebook. Or maybe Facebook and Instagram. And then, a few weekends from that, I’m celebrating the release with a few friends at Medieval Times. I’ve never been, and it seems like the appropriate way to celebrate a debut novel.

14. What are your favourite book(s) and/or author(s)?

I do have a lot of favorite authors, and they’re a little all over the place. I love Stephen White, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Chuck Palahuniuk. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes changed my life. Somehow both of the Green Brothers (Hank and John) turned out to be dynamite writers. What the hell is in the water in Indiana? But I still take a lot of my cues from screenwriters, especially with pacing. I’ve been trying to write something that would make John August and Shane Black proud for years. The Nines and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang are perfect films. Michael Arndt, Quentin Tarantino, and Kevin Smith all taught me how to write great, character-defining monologues. 

15. What advice will you give to other Indie Authors or those who are thinking of writing and publishing?

Learn to sell your own work like your favorite author wrote it. You need to believe in what you’ve written before anyone else will. Also, never write without an outline.

Get a copy of Amanda Mack’s book: The Size of Nobodies (The Nobodies Series Book 1)

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