Author Crush Friday with Amber Mitchell
Glitter girls, you have pressing questions for your favorite authors and we have their answers. Welcome to our weekly segment, Author Crush Fridays.
We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to Amber Mitchell, author of the fantasy romance YA, War of the Wilted (October 2, 2018; Entangled Teen). Thank you for talking to us today, Amber! We’re honored! Amber has some amazing encouraging words for those who are in the trenches right now. Make sure you read until the end!
GLITTER: Tell us five random facts about yourself.
- I’m an escape room junkie. My husband and our two friends will go whenever we get a chance and have probably done well over 30 at this point. We even tried our hand at making our own which we brought to a few conventions!
- I lost my heart in Scotland. We went on a vacation there this year and I fell deeply in love with the landscape, culture and breathing in their history. When it was time to get on a plane to leave, I seriously considered missing my flight.
- I’m a dungeon master in two different D&D games. I’m either addicted to stories or I have no respect for my own free time but I love the feeling of an active story that grows with every choice the group makes!
- I have four cats! I was originally a dog person but after we got our first kitten that changed completely. I love how cats will silently judge you from across the room!
- My husband and I have a second business making papercut shadowboxes. We travel to comic conventions all over the US to sell them. I joke that I’m always working in paper, either through cardstock or words on paper!
GLITTER: Tell us about your journey to become a writer. From first draft to getting an agent to the book you have now.
AMBER: My journey was a long one. I started writing seriously when I was 15 with the intention to be published. I had a lot of encouragement from my amazing English teacher at the time. However, I didn’t get my agent until after college. The morning I got my offer of representation was April 1, 2014. That’s right, I got my offer on April Fool’s which just felt fitting for me. It was for the same book that would eventually become my debut, Garden of Thorns. From there, it took several more years to land at EntangledTeen but I truly couldn’t have found a better home for my novel. Originally, I got an revise and resubmit from my editor at EntangledTeen and I could just tell that they understood my book so well. I think that’s important to mention because offers can come from R&R’s! After lots of editing and learning the process of how a book gets made, my debut came out March of 2017.
GLITTER: How would you describe War of the Wilted to a new reader?
AMBER: It’s a fantasy romance that follows 16-year-old Rose as she battles to free her land from the tyranny of the current ruler beside the man she loves, who happens to be leading a rebellion. She must trust her worst enemies, walk a fine line between believing in her own instincts and trying to abide by the rules of the rebellion, and find a way to keep her relationship intact all while fighting a war that will decide the fate of their land.
GLITTER: What one question sparked the birth of Garden of Thorns and then War of the Wilted?
AMBER: What would it look like if a horrible man collected women and forced them to dance against their will? And what would one girl do to free herself and her fellow dancers? In my novels, the Garden is a burlesque dance troupe that steals girls from their homes and enslaves them to dance. To keep them in line, the leader assigns two girls together—one is the dancer and the other is her Wilted. The dancer must be perfect or the Wilted takes their punishments. It’s a horrible concept that I wanted to explore and most importantly, I wanted to write a story about a girl fighting back.
GLITTER: Did you always want to be an author? Did you ever feel like giving up? Did you receive rejection letters in the beginning? How did you get over them?
AMBER: I’ve wanted to be an author since I saw Brian Jacques, the author of the Redwall series, speak when I was about in third grade. It was the first time I realized that was an actual career and I was hooked. But the journey can be long. Mine certainly was. I sent out my first query letters for a beastly 250,000 word fantasy novel I wrote all through high school and part of college. I was proud of it but it was absolutely not ready and far too long. The stack of rejections I got back were just further proof of that. Garden of Thorns was my 7th completed novel. I had queried for five of them and racked up over a hundred rejections. It was the requests that kept me going at that time.
The only time I felt like giving up was when I got too close and still didn’t make it. There was an agent who helped me a lot with Garden of Thorns who debated about it for several months before passing after I had done so many edits for her. I knew it made it stronger, but it really crippled my confidence. The first R&R I got from the editor that would offer eventually reminded me a lot of that situation and I was disheartened with that and overly cautious about the R&R. It actually took me a year to turn them in.
Through it all, I considered just stopping. But what kept me going was that I found magic in my own life through writing. Without it, I found myself feeling hollow and empty. In the end, I wasn’t the same person without a story to work on and characters to fall in love with. After every story, I fear that I won’t have another one to tell but it always comes. Remembering why I write has always been the biggest motivation for me.
GLITTER: Do you have any crazy writing rituals?
AMBER: I used to. I used to need the right playlist, a full cup of icy Diet Coke, a clean house, etc. Without them all, I couldn’t possibly write. But what I figured out about that is that it’s just noise. It gave me a bunch of excuses not to write. So I ditched all the needs and now just block out time for it. It’s made me much more productive which is good considering I’m a slow writer!
GLITTER: What is one thing you can’t write without?
AMBER: A laptop and a chapter outline. I know, that’s two, but they are really the only two things I need. I can’t write fast enough by hand and my brain gets frustrated that my hand can’t keep up so a laptop is essential. The chapter outline allows me to know where I need to go with each chapter. It’s another thing that removes an excuse for not writing. Basically, my routine has come down to removing all of my excuses!
GLITTER: What is one thing you are most passionate about in life?
AMBER: I’m going to pretend that the obvious answer, writing and reading, isn’t an option. After that, I would say I am most passionate about gaining experiences. Over the last few years, I have come to realize that materials aren’t nearly as good as experience. When I am spending time with my friends and family, I have learned to be very present because those experiences are what fulfill me as a person. Exploring new places, traveling, trying new restaurants, watching new movies and listening to new songs all fuel my writing and passion for life. It’s all about the experiences!
GLITTER: What was the first book that you ever wrote, even if it wasn’t published?
AMBER: It was that 250K fantasy monster I mentioned above. It was the first thing I ever felt passion for but it was filled with clichés. It was about a farmboy that found out he possessed the same magic that flowed through his father’s veins and in order to save the world, he had to gather others with magic to fight a great evil. All of the magic was elemental based and I had some good, original ideas in it, but most of it was Every Fantasy Ever. It’s okay though because it taught me so much about the writing and querying process. Writing that first book gave me the confidence to know I could write a book and I am so grateful for that.
GLITTER: Did any of the authors you read in high school affect how you write now?
AMBER: Absolutely! J.K. Rowling taught me to look for magic in common places and it’s helped me see magic all around. The first series besides Harry Potter, to blow my mind was the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix. It was so creative and dark and Sabriel was so fierce. I definitely think it gave me a love for the dark things that lay inside the shadows. There were so many others that helped shape my imagination and love for fantasy—Maria V Snyder’s Study series, Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle series and even Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle.
GLITTER: Who inspires you?
AMBER: My husband, who works hard so that I can realize my dream. Also, all of the authors out there expressing gratitude but also explaining how difficult being an author can be. People like Beth Revis, who shared that she had a closet full of shelved manuscripts before her debut, Susan Dennard, who is always giving out incredible advice and realistic looks at what being an author can mean, and V.E. Schwab, who gave a speech that felt like it was ripped from my own soul and who is also honest. All of the own voices authors like Tomi Adeyemi, Angie Thomas, LL McKinney, Hafsah Faizal and so many others fighting to make publishing a place for all voices against an endless tirade of ignorance or downright hatred.
GLITTER: What are you currently working on?
AMBER: Currently, I’m working on the final book in the Garden of Thorns trilogy, Roots of Ruin. I’m also working on a new YA fantasy series inspired by Celtic mythology that I’m pretty in love with. Like I mentioned above, I left my heart in Scotland and I’m writing my way back to it!
Amber Mitchell was born and raised in a small town in Florida. After briefly escaping small town life by attending the University of South Florida where she earned her degree in Creative Writing, she decided to ditch traffic jams and move back to her hometown. There she writes Young Adult novels, usually with a bit of magic in them, rolls D20s with her friends on Thursday nights and enjoys hanging out with her husband and four cats. Her other job involves crafting cardstock in to 3D art and has allowed her to travel all over the US vending at comic conventions which has only increased her love for fantasy and fandoms.