Author interview with Christine Amsden

I’m happy to have had the opportunity to interview Christine, her new book The Immortality Virus is a great book still in the early stage but liking it a lot. I thank Christine and Twilight Times Books for the opportunity.

Please tell me a bit about yourself
I’ve been alive for thirty-tree years and have been a writer for at least thirty-two of them. Some of my earliest memories involve lying on the floor in a patch of warm sunlight, studying picture books, and dreaming stories to go along with them. More recently, I have become a wife and mother to two beautiful children (not that I’m biased or anything).

I’m a reader, writer, daydreamer, and teacher. I teach workshops at and post tips for writers on my blog. This summer, I’ll be teaching a workshop on novel beginnings at savvy authors, and next winter, in January, I have a world building workshop scheduled.

I also post book reviews on my blog for the eclectic reader. You never know what will come up next!

Please tell me about your latest book

The Immortality Virus

In the mid-21st century, the human race stopped aging. Those who know why aren’t talking, and the few who are brave enough to ask questions tend to disappear. To an elite few, The Change means long life and health, but to the ever-increasing masses, it means starvation, desperation, and violence.

Four centuries after The Change, Grace Harper, a blacklisted P.I., sets off on a mission to find the man responsible for it all and solicit his help to undo The Change — if he’s still alive. To complicate matters, Grace’s employer is suspected of murdering his father, and when the police learn of their connection, they give her a choice — help them find the evidence they need to convict Matthew Stanton, or die. But if they discover Grace’s true mission, they won’t hesitate to kill her in order to preserve their shot at immortality.

What is your work space and working routine like ?

Chaotic, especially lately! I’m the poster child for creative minds needing clutter. I work on the right side of a two-person desk (T-shaped), and under all those papers and things, it used to be a beautiful mahogany. The other side of the desk, my husband’s space, is usually filled with gadgets he is either taking apart or putting together.

My flat-panel computer screen is large and shifted right up to the front of my desk. There is more clutter behind it, along with a green marbled lamp I rarely turn on, because I usually work in the daytime by the light of the sun.

After lunch, my son goes on the bus to pre-school and my daughter goes down for a nap. I head upstairs to my study, check e-mail and message boards, then I launch into my routing: I light a candle, meditate, suck on a hard mint, and then turn on some music. The process clears my mind and engages my senses, helping me put my whole self into my writing for at least the next hour or two.

What was your experience getting published like?

Educational. I have always loved writing, but there is a whole new world on the other side of that acceptance letter. I remember screaming when I received that letter, and though I had some vague ideas that I would have to work to put my book out there, I didn’t understand that this is a business, and it takes a lot of time – time that takes away from writing.

First, there are edits and copy edits. Then there is fumbling around in the dark while you try to figure out how to get people to notice your book. Before, I was competing with the slush pile, much of which isn’t very good – or so I’m told. Now, I’m competing with the hundreds of thousands of books published each year.

It can be fun – meting new people and making new friends. Nothing makes me glow more than hearing from a reader who enjoyed my book. It’s the payoff moment. But it takes a lot of work to get there, on both sides of the acceptance letter.

Who are your favorite authors and favorite books?

I like so many different authors, and for many different reasons. I read science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, and even young adult – each type of writing is my favorite when I’m reading it, and many authors are my favorite when I’m with them. I love Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Asimov’s Foundation Series, Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, Jim Butcher’s Dresden File series, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books, Perfect by Judith McNaught, A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux, Blue Skies by Catherine Anderson, and a Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle…just to name a few

How do you like to spend your time when not writing?

I am usually reading, cooking, cleaning, or playing with my kids. I read most of my books on audio, so I often read while I’m cooking or cleaning. When the weather is nice, like it is today, I let the kids loose in the backyard while I sit on the patio and read.

I see on your web site that you are legally blind due to Stargardt’s disease how has this if at all affected your writing?

It affects my entire life, including my writing. Right now, I’m drafting my answers in 36-pt font, which is what I usually use for drafting my novels. When editing, I often go larger, in an attempt to catch those misspelled words the spell catcher misses. Editing is difficult for me because I have a hole in the center of my vision. It’s not a black spot – my brain tries to fill in details with clues from my peripheral vision – but that can look pretty weird. If I stare right at you from the right distance, you will look a bit like Cousin It. Step a bit further back, and your head will disappear into the wall.

The bigger the better is basically how life works for me. I listen to books on audio through the National Library for the Blind. Sometimes, my husband will read books to me. (He also loves the Dresden Files, and has been reading those books to me when they come out, so I don’t have to wait a year for them to go to audio.) I sometimes read e-books on my computer in 36-pt font, and I critique that way as well. I get eyestrain headaches, and have to take breaks when I do that.

I can’t drive, which means I make heavy use of the internet for everything, including and especially writing groups. I’ve made great friends on the internet, and it has connected me to people in new ways.

In terms of my stories, I’m not sure if there how much impact my vision has. By the time the book gets to you, it has seen two professional editors to catch whatever typos I missed. I did have perfect or nearly perfect vision until I was sixteen, and even now I can see things when I get close enough, so I can write about visual details as if I can see. I do think I go pretty light on things like facial features, though I am making a conscious effort to improve this aspect of my writing.

What about sci-fi and fantasy is it that you love?

No matter the genre, characters are the most important element of writing. I’ll forgive a lot if you give me a strong character. In science fiction and fantasy, what I like is ordinary people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. I like to ask “What if?” and I like my characters to answer. On the outside, science fiction and fantasy are a foray into the strange and unusual, but inside, they are a look at the human condition.

Working on anything in particular for future publication?

Of course! I recently finished a four-book series that I am shopping around to agents and publishers, looking for the best fit. It’s an urban fantasy series with plenty of romance and mystery, and I’m really excited about it. (I have to be, since I’ve spent the last two years of my life working on it!)

I’m also in the early stages of a new stand-alone romantic fantasy novel in which the heroine has Stargardt’s Disease. Oddly enough, she has been the most difficult character I have ever written.

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