Today, we’re doing something a little different. If you remember, we interviewed Branka Čubrilo’s character on November 10th and it was so fun that I thought we may as well make an occasional habit of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Amber Skye Forbes, the author of When Stars Die, recently and I asked her if she’d let me borrow one of her main characters, Amelia Gareth, from the book. We’ll get a chance to talk to Amber in a bit, but now we have on the stage…Amelia Gareth!
Marie Lavender: Hello, Amelia. Please have a seat.
Amelia Gareth: Hello. Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Marie: We’re going to start out with some simple questions, okay?
Character Amelia: Sure.
Marie: So, Amelia, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it? Do you like it?
Amelia: I am merely training to become a nun, part of the Professed Order. I am horrible at what I do, a tree in a forest choking itself to death, and I hate it. I’m only at Cathedral Reims to be professed with the hope Deus will forgive my younger brother for being a witch and allow him to join Paradise with me.
Marie: I see. So, what is your family like?
Amelia: I don’t know what they’re like right now. I ran away from home with my younger brother when I found out he was a witch. My father was an accountant, though, a very busy man, but a family man. My mother was hardly present, but she loved my younger brother more than I, so she would take him to more places than me. At most, I am apathetic toward my mother. My father is someone I would do anything for.
Marie: What did your childhood home look like?
Amelia: Enormous. It looks like some mad castle. It’s stucco, with black trimming. Ivy has made a home in all the right places on my mansion, blooming flowers in spring that make my home look less…intimidating. There are turrets and spires. There is an archway you pass under with our family seal. When someone in our immediate family dies, we erect statues of them. It’s just a common Gareth tradition, one I find bizarre.
The inside of our home is a traditional mansion: a parlor, dining hall, study for my father, our rooms, a drawing room, and so on and so forth—nothing particularly special that stands out from other mansions of the aristocracy.
Marie: Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing?
Amelia: I’ve never had time to develop any hobbies, at least none I can think of. I was involved in my studies. Is that considered a hobby? Outside of these things, my younger brother and I loved to play in the woods, so perhaps that is a hobby? I am uncertain. When I think of hobbies for women, I think of knitting or reading or gossiping or drinking tea—all things I don’t like. I suppose adventure is my hobby.
Marie: So, what is your greatest dream, Amelia?
Amelia: My greatest dream is that hatred for witches will vanish from our world. The Vulgate says they must be hated because it is Deus’s will.
Marie: What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
Amelia: I wish I could be more assertive, more confident. At Cathedral Reims, I thought I’d feel more powerful for being able to protect my brother, but I don’t. I feel powerless. My fate on whether or not I can join the Professed Order lies in the hands of our Mother Superior, Mother Aurelia. I don’t know what she looks for in a good nun.
Marie: I’m going to throw another random question at you now. Who was your first love?
Amelia: Oliver Cromwell. He will always be my first love. I still love him, even now.
Marie: Amelia, what’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Amelia: I would rather not talk about the most terrible thing that has ever happened to me. I died and rose again. That’s all anyone needs to know.
Marie: All right. Well, let’s move on to something a bit lighter, shall we?
Marie: What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
Amelia: I didn’t have my own, personal dreams. My dream was to meet my Father’s: find a husband with a stable income and become the perfect wife who would care for her family in their ailing years. My younger brother would be able to go off to university.
My “dream” was never achieved when I went to Cathedral Reims. My dream changed by my own merit. I never even met that one.
We live in a dreamless world. No one gets what they want. They think they have it all, they think they’ve met their dreams, but they truly haven’t. We keep dreaming and dreaming and dreaming, but there are no such things as dreams, other than the ones that exist in our sleeping hours.
Marie: I see. So, who is your role model?
Amelia: My father, but I lost him as a role model when I left for Cathedral Reims. My best friend, Colette, became my role model. She is everything I want to be: confident, poised, well-liked by everyone, so certain of her own future. I tried to become like her in so many ways, but no one can duplicate the person they so desperately want to become. We can only take their traits and try to instill them in our own personalities.
Marie: Well…you’ll probably think I’m digging for dirt on the next question. Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?
Amelia: I don’t pretend to like anyone. I generally keep myself away from people I dislike so that way I do not have to perpetuate a false façade. At least I am true to myself. That is one positive thing I like about myself.
Marie: (Nods.) So, what is your deepest desire?
Amelia: My deepest desire? To have my younger brother grow up in a world blooming with love. I will fight for that, even through death.
Marie: Let’s switch to another question. What is your greatest fear?
Amelia: My greatest fear is that I will always exist among hatred for witches—or hatred period. I can tell you for certain that hatred exists more than love. I live in Malva now. Hatred for witches is etched in everything, from the cobblestones of our roads, to statues of mangled witches, to signs, propaganda abounds.
I yearn to bring love to this world. I know I can do this, but the way I have to go about doing so is terrifying. Yet, it is necessary.
Marie: Well, thank you for visiting us today, Amelia. (Waves goodbye to Amelia.)
Now, let’s shift over and get the author’s perspective. We have Amber Skye Forbes on the stage today. Hi, Amber!
Author Amber Skye Forbes: Hi. Thank you for having me here.
Marie: My pleasure! We just got to talk to the heroine of your story, Amelia. Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her?
Amber: Despite what Amelia thinks of herself, she does have many strengths. She is loyal, determined, and more confident than she believes herself to be. She is loving, kind, and she is a fighter. She will never give up going after what she wants, even if her dreams have to change.
Marie: What are your character’s greatest strengths?
Amber: Everything I’ve mentioned above. Perhaps her greatest strength, however, is love, especially for her younger brother. Her existence pretty much revolves around him, and this is true in book two, and will especially be true in book three.
Marie: All right. Let’s take the opposition on that.
What, do you feel, are her greatest weaknesses?
Amber: Love is her greatest weakness. She stretches her love out so much that it breaks her in the end of When Stars Die. In fact, this weakness of hers transcends into book two, and readers will understand this once they read When Stars Die and its sequel, The Stars Are Infinite.
Marie: I see. What are some of her favorite foods?
Amber: I don’t show Amelia eating a whole lot in When Stars Die. In the second and third books of this trilogy, she will soon have no desire to eat, and it will no longer be necessary for her to eat. She doesn’t have a favorite food at all. She ate foods typical to the aristocracy when she lived in Norbury with her parents, but when she comes to Cathedral Reims, she begins to eat food considered bland in nature, so she doesn’t have that time to develop a favorite food or even tell anyone what her favorite food is.
Marie: What’s a positive quality that your character is unaware that he or she has?
Amber: Her determination. She never acknowledges this as a strength of hers. She persists in spite of obstacles, despite the consequences. She may think that, in a way, she loses in the end, but she still has determination to do what is right, even if it means doing what is wrong at first.
Marie: Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?
Amber: Readers, for the most part, do like Amelia. They love her loyalty to her younger brother. That is a relatable thing to teen readers with younger siblings they want to protect. They love her determination. They love her indecisiveness. They love that she is simply a teen experiencing teen emotions and trying to grow through both her perfections and flaws. She may not have an enormous amount of backstory for herself in this novel, but for her, the past is the past. Her current life and future is what she remains fixated on. Yet, in book three, her backstory will begin to unfold as it relates to her current situation, which will be far more intense than her situation in When Stars Die.
Marie: Great! Well, now that we have a real taste of Amelia Gareth, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.
What first gave you the idea for When Stars Die?
Amber: Simple. Writing its sequel gave me the idea. I realized the sequel was too complex to be the first book, so I had to create a new first book to make the sequel understandable. Amelia already existed in the sequel, but as someone different. So she needed to exist in the first book to show how things were before book two began.
Marie: Oh, wow! That’s an interesting approach!
So, what is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Amber: My writing style is generally lyrical, and I am a plotter. I have to be a plotter to lessen how many times I have to revise my novel. I like having a direction set out for me already. That gives me a sense of control.
Marie: That’s understandable.
So, I’m throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. Did you come across any specific challenges in writing When Stars Die or publishing it? What would you do differently the next time?
Amber: The only challenge I came across was writing action scenes because I spent too much time with Amelia’s internal monologue than I did with the immediate action, but I feel like I’ve learned greatly from that, and it didn’t present a problem at all in my publisher’s edits of book two. So I learned how to write action scenes, and I believe I wrote them well in The Stars Are Infinite, because they weren’t torn apart like they were in When Stars Die.
I also want to mention that just because your first book in a trilogy gets published doesn’t mean your second book will get accepted the first time around, so with the third book, I am going to ensure it is no more than 100,000 words and that I do a wonderful copy edit of it before sending it off to my publisher.
Marie: Oh, yes, I agree. Editing is very important. That’s why I not only self-edit, but use critique partners and beta readers.
I also agree with your comment about trilogies. I was nervous that my publisher wouldn’t accept Upon Your Honor, the sequel to Upon Your Return, because it was much longer than the original and definitely went over 100,000 words. But, it all worked out. I will still have to be careful with the third book; judging by how things are going, it may be longer than Upon Your Honor, but I will pare it down if I have to. LOL.
Well, it was a such a pleasure having you here on the I Love Romance Blog. And how apropos is that, considering what a great story When Stars Die appears to be. Readers, you will just have to pick up a copy of this awesome book by Amber Skye Forbes, a talented author!
Here is the blurb for When Stars Die:
“Yet, even when stars die, they leave a lasting impact through their light, their diamond brilliance as they scatter their material to form new stars. When people die, they leave the same impact with the footprints they leave on people’s hearts. Even the ones who feel insignificant go out, leaving behind dust that can nourish the world anew.”
Amelia Gareth’s brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims in the snowy city of Malva. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.
Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They’re searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch’s signature. The shadows are after witches.
Now Amelia must decide what to do: should she continue on her path to profession knowing there is no redemption, or should she give up on her dream and turn away from Cathedral Reims in order to stop the shadows who plan to destroy everything she loves?
About Amber Skye Forbes
Amber Skye Forbes is a dancing writer who prefers pointe shoes over street shoes, leotards over skirts, and ballet buns over hairstyles. She loves striped tights and bows and will edit your face with a Sharpie if she doesn’t like your attitude. She lives in Augusta, Georgia where she writes dark fiction that will one day put her in a psychiatric ward…again. But she doesn’t care because her cat is a super hero who will break her out.
And, if you want to know how to connect with the amazing Amber Skye Forbes, here are some of her author links:
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Amber-Skye-Forbes/e/B00FNR85UM/
Once again, I want to thank both of our guests, Amelia Gareth, the female main character of When Stars Die, and Amber Skye Forbes, the brilliant author of the novel, for stopping by! It was so fun to have you here! 🙂