Question and Answer with Amber Lea
Q. How long have you been writing?
A. Fiction writing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first completed manuscript when I was 9 years old. It was a horror novel, 80 pages long, filled with blood and gore where no one survived. I still have it on my desk in its red binder. Puberty hit and I started writing romance novels in tablets. I’d pass them around on the school bus and during study hall. I majored in Communications/Journalism and worked as a journalist until I quit to stay home after my youngest child was born. That’s when I decided to turn my passion into a reality.
Q. How do story ideas come to you?
A. The characters come to me first. I get an idea for a character, see them in my mind’s eye, know what they’re about, understand their motivations and write a character sketch. Once I have the two main characters clear in my mind, the story clicks into place naturally.
Q. Do you outline the plot?
A. No, I simply begin writing and allow the story to unfold. Sometimes that strategy takes me on twists and turns I don’t anticipate, but that’s part of the fun of being an author. Revisions are key for me as far as making sure the plot’s pacing is well-done and that all story lines are wrapped up.
Q. What inspires you as an author?
A. People inspire me--what makes them tick, what do they hide, what motivates them. I am a perpetual student of humanity. I enjoy meeting new people, listening to their stories, watching social interactions and being open to new points of view.
Q. What’s your typical writing day like?
A. The only thing disciplined about my day is that I write a minimum of 4 hours every day, but usually it ends up being around 6 hours. Whether I’m splitting that up between 10AM to 2PM and then going back to it from 11PM to 1AM or working straight from 9AM to 3PM, depends on what my day looks like. As a widowed mom of two active teens, freedom to be fluid around my life is the biggest advantage to being a writer.
Q. Outside of writing, what do you do for fun?
A. Well, I'm pretty low key. I like just about anything that gets me out of the house, whether it’s going to the movies, socializing with friends, heading out to a rock concert, watching my kids play sports, attending a play or cheering at a hockey game. I’m also passionate about traveling, with and without the kids. Traveling--going outside of my comfort zone and truly immersing myself in a place--is one of my greatest joys in life.
Q. Who were the biggest influences on you as a writer?
A. I had great teachers growing up who recognized my natural passion and pushed me to challenge myself. From my high school teachers to my college professors, I consistently learned to go outside my comfort zone and never settle for mediocre. I’ll forever be grateful to them. I hope I’m passing on those lessons to my own children.
Q. Who are some of your favorite authors, both fiction and non-fiction?
A. I respect and admire Jennifer Cruise, Heather Graham, Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Anne Tyler, David Sedaris, Wayne Dyer, Jack Canfield and Jill Bolte Taylor...just to name a few.
Q. Do you do a lot of reading for pleasure or does it feel more like work these days?
A. Yes and no--just to be confusing in my answer. I go through phases where all I do is read, one book right after another. Then there are times when I just want to give my brain a break from my own work so I seek out a good movie. I also think movies are great examples of pacing and dialogue--so I guess i'm still 'sort of' working when I'm there.
A few of my favorite interviews
Colorado Rocky Mountains,
the place I call home.