Amanda Bonilla is the author of the soon to be released urban fantasy novel, Shaedes of Gray. Once I saw the cover at Amazon, I had to know more about the book, so I asked Amanda by for a chat. Let’s see what she has to say about her new novel.
[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Amanda Bonilla] (I actually had to plug this into Twitter to make sure I stayed under 140!) I’m a strange mix of tom-boy and girly-girl. I’m an eternal optimist who refuses to admit defeat. My two favorite colors are black and pink.
[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about your new book, Shaedes of Gray?
[Amanda Bonilla] SHAEDES OF GRAY is about Darian, a Shaede, and assassin who’s lived the last several decades under the assumption that she’s the last of her kind. Her entire world is turned upside down when she discovers she’s not as alone as she’d thought. She’s forced to face the ghosts of her past and the reality of her future while navigating a supernatural world she never knew existed.
[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the book?
[Amanda Bonilla] The idea formed from a single scene, really. I had this picture in my head of a woman standing on the roof of a building, in the dark, wondering when she’d let her conscience slip into the “gray area.” I saw her as a shadow, an incorporeal wisp of darkness. I knew she was an assassin and the idea grew from there. I knew I didn’t want to write about vampires or werewolves (though I LOVE them) and so I set about creating an entirely unique mythos. I wrote my own creation story for my Shades and their mortal enemies, the Lyhtans. I used some traditional mythologies as well, but I tried to be as authentic as possible with my world. I wrote something like 10,000 words that first day. I knew Darian was hard, jaded, and a little snarky from the first sentence. And I knew she cussed like a sailor! Lol. The Shaede world just sort of spun into existence from there. The characters introduced themselves one by one as if I’d known them forever. And though I try, I can’t help but have casts of characters that are heavy on the male side. The four central male characters: Tyler, Xander, Raif, and Azriel all play a certain role in Darian’s life and represent a part of who she’s becoming as a part of her character arc. What can I say, I’m a sucker for the guys!
[Manga Maniac Café] Which of your characters are you most like?
[Amanda Bonilla] Oh man, that’s a toughie! I think I share at least one personality trait with most of my characters. But I guess I’m most similar to Darian. I’m really introverted and I’m not big on sharing my feelings, so Darian and I have that in common. I tend to make bad choices, thinking I’m doing the right thing, when what I’m really doing is digging myself a deeper hole. I also have a big-time potty mouth and I’m not nearly as tough as I think I am.
[Manga Maniac Café] What was the most challenging aspect of writing the series?
[Amanda Bonilla] Definitely the world-building. When my agent and I were polishing the MS and getting ready to put it out on submission, she really pushed me to develop the Shaedes world. I’d never created anything from scratch like this, and it was important that I really defined the rules and natures of each of my species of characters. Keeping the world consistent and well-developed has been a challenge for me in writing the series. I get hung up on world-building quite a bit and I have to sit down and write out three or four pages of “rules” before I can continue. My worst fear is painting myself in a corner so I have to make sure to dot every “i” and cross every “t”.
[Manga Maniac Café] What are your biggest creative influences?
[Amanda Bonilla] Oh boy. I could write a couple of paragraphs here. I’m influenced by other writers, music, and the world around me. I love to people watch and make up little short stories in my mind. I usually get a surge of creativity when I go out into the forest and just listen to nature. I love angsty 90s music and my playlists are usually heavy on Bush or Garbage. A lot of 90s alternative has this undertone of longing that I think translates well into urban fantasy and romance writing. I find writers like Anne Rice and Bernard Cornwell addictive. I really love the way they craft rich protagonists who are imperfect, yet beneath their many layers you find honor, loyalty, and the courage to persevere. Yet, no matter the circumstances, they do what must be done. Reading a great book always jumpstarts my brain.
[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Amanda Bonilla] Even though I use music to inspire me, I tend to prefer peace and quiet when I write. A notebook and pen is a must and I usually have a Coke Zero by the laptop, though I’m trying to stay away from soda for a while. So far, it’s not working out so well.
[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Amanda Bonilla] LIGHTNING by Dean Koontz. I think I was 14 or 15, and had yet to finish a book for my English class. I wasn’t a reader. But something about it piqued my curiosity and I read it cover to cover in a couple of days. That book made a huge difference in my life. I realized that reading was more than just a required assignment. And it also showed me that there was more out there besides what the curriculum was forcing us to read.
[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Amanda Bonilla] I’m pretty low-key. I just really like to relax at home. We live by a lake and I spend most of my summer days at the beach. I love to swim! If I ever won the lottery I’d totally build an indoor swimming pool. In the winter, we’re buried in snow, so I might go skiing once or twice a year, but honestly, I hate being cold. My husband is sort of a hunter/gatherer, so during our downtime we’ll work on our greenhouse or garden, or we’ll go up into the forest behind our house and pick huckleberries and mushrooms. Other than that, I love to read. I can read 4 or 5 books a week when I’m not writing. I’m an easy girl to please!
[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!
You can learn more about Amanda by visiting her website and by following her on Twitter
Shaedes of Gray hits stores next week! You can order a copy from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widgets below (paperback and digital versions available)