I don’t interact with other writers in my community. All of my interactions is done online, so once in a while it is nice to read the opinions of other writers. That is why I decided to interview Amanda McDonald. We actually attended UNBC together for a few years. She started UNBC when I was in my third year. I didn’t know until later on that she is another writer.
Here is what Amanda has to say about her writing and her publishing aspirations.
Deanna: Tell me about your book.
Amanda: My book is an urban fantasy set in the Vancouver area. It is based on the premise that supernatural creatures and beings exist, and this has really messed the political world up. In Canada, we have an Intelligence Agency that is really unlike any other agency in the world. Their regulations are different and although they are in contract with the government they are independent. It is called the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, CSIS for short. My protagonist is an Intelligence Officer with this organization when the United States decrees that all supernatural beings need to get out of the country and she experiences, from an intelligence level, how this mass exodus affects Canadian society. She’s also charged with a high-profile, high fail-rate project that could mean the difference between staying human or becoming one of the creatures.
Deanna: What is it about fantasy that intrigues you so much?
Amanda: I think I’m inspired not by fantasy, but by the products of other fantasy authors. When I look at J.R.R. Tolkien’s works and how his personal skills really made his story world not only unique but also more genuine, it makes me catch my breath. These are entire creations of the mind. Not just the characters but the world, the languages, the back-story and world history. Tolkien studied languages and eventually invented his own languages for his books.
I think that fantasy and sci-fi are genres that are literally open ended; there are no limitations to what can be created in the mind and world of the reader. When I begin thinking about creating a fantasy story, I start with a character and a problem. Sometimes my stories come from religious or theological questions I have. When I was a preteen I fell in love with Greek myth and story. I began writing my own versions of how the world came into being, and the same happened when I had been introduced, years before, to First Nations’ culture and myth.
Deanna: What are your publishing aspirations?
Amanda: My long term goal is to get published through a major publishing press and to eventually make a living off of my writing and book sales. I think that I’m a bit of a granny in the writing world, I really can’t see myself self-publishing. I grew up going to the library, smelling the pages, the binding and the ink; I really can’t see myself ever giving up the physical book for a digital one. I bought a book digitally recently and I had a hard time figuring out how to transfer one book to another reader etc. I understand that a lot of writers are using or pushing e-publishing, but I find myself hoping that I don’t write something that people will be happy to keep on their computer. I think I’m just naive enough that I hope readers will buy my book because they want to keep it, they want it to remain in their collection permanently. But, that’s me shooting for the stars. (Embarrassed grin)
I would also like to bring some legitimacy to the genre-writing world in Canada. Right now the major fiction market is in the United States while Canada is a major literary and non-fiction market. I’ve spoken with so many aspiring genre-fiction writers here in Canada who are being told by the literary groups not to “sell-out” by pitching to American publishing houses but where else are they going to publish their work? There are smaller Canadian publishing presses, but when I think of aiming high, I think of the biggest market. I wrote a book with the intention to pitch to American publishers but it’s Canadian content; another no-no, writing about Canada for the American market.
It’s funny, Canadians almost act ashamed of themselves when they’re writing for the American market. If there’s one thing that television has taught me, it’s that American’s are fascinated by new content. Look at programs such as “Ice Road Truckers,” based in Canada, or the newest season of “Gold Rush,” based out of Dawson City in my home territory of the Yukon. Even Stephanie Meyers mentioned Vancouver in her first book, Twilight. I guess I’m unlike most writers because I’m not shy, my goals are lofty and I’m not scared to mention them, nor am I scared that my Canadian nationality is going to stop me from getting published south of the boarder and being successful.
Deanna: Do you plan to stick with fantasy, or will you write in another genre?
Amanda: I’ve had a lot of positive feedback on my non-fiction recently at some events where my short non-fiction work was featured so I might write a book in non-fiction. I recently wrote a play based on non-fiction; but I think that I covet the fantasy world in my head so much more than the harshness of reality that writing in this genre is pure joy. I honestly believe that it’s the only reason I’ve been able to finish this book.
Stephen King was quoted in the book, On Writing Horror: A handbook by The Horror Writers Association, as saying this: “We understand that fiction is a lie to begin with. To ignore the truth inside the lie is to sin against the craft, in general, and one’s own work in particular.” I would have to agree with the famous horror writer. It really doesn’t matter what genre or style you use to write your story; it only matters that you stay honest to the story you’re telling, honest to the characters.
Deanna: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amanda: I currently have a blog, Writer McDonald; they can find me on Twitter @writeramcdonald. I also have a group on Facebook for closer friends, but once the book is published, I plan to launch a Facebook group that’s more open to the general public.