I am very pleased and honored to have the lovely and witty Amanda Havard, author of The Survivors series, on BlookGirl today. Amanda is here as part of the Point of Origin Blog Tour, orchestrated by InkSlinger PR for Chafie Press. There are two books thus far in this series, and I have read and reveiwed both The Survivors (here) and Point of Origin (here). I enjoyed them both and so I was pleased to take part of this tour.

I had the opportunity to interview Amanda Havard and loved getting to know more about her and her writing process. I hope you will read the interview below and then enter the special giveaway at the bottom of the page for signed copies of both The Survivors and Point of Origin, courtesy of Amanda and Chafie Press. Also, don’t forget to check out the Point of Origin Blog Tour page, to find other participating blogs and more ways to win other amazing items.

Amanda, thank you so much for stopping by BlookGirl today! It’s an honor to have you here 🙂

Thanks!! I’m stoked to be here.

Let’s get down to business!

The Survivors Series addresses the infamous Salem Witch Trials. What kind of research went into writing the series?

There was so much research that went into this series. I’ve taken two trips to Salem (and Danvers, where then-Salem is now) to walk the streets, see the tourist sites, and end up at the Danvers Archival Center in the basement of the public library. You have to do it all. I even own a four-inch-thick volume of all the existing documents, records, and transcripts from the era. I’m pretty thorough.

And that was just in Salem! I went to Bigfork, Montana as well, and pieced so much together there. All kinds of stuff went into the rest of it, from first-hand accounts of 19th century medicine women to learning about land laws in this country, it all played a role.

Which of your characters do you identify most with, and why?

I think I identify with all of them in many ways. They are all just a part of me. Most days I say I identify best with Mark, and that’s often true. But realistically, I have a lot of Sadie in me, for better or for worse. I also have a lot of Ginny in me. She’s really good at focusing on the superficial while thinking of something much deeper. She fools people that way. I think somewhere between shoe-pictures on Twitter and discussions of outfits, I do the same thing. It doesn’t mean that’s all I’m thinking about.

What were the hardest and most rewarding points of writing this series?

Writing (plotting, planning, executing) this series has been the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s incredibly rewarding to see a vision I’ve committed my life to (you think I’m kidding) in my head turn into something real. When someone live-tweets while they’re reading and are telling the world how much they love it, or how they feel in a moment when that’s EXACTLY what I wanted them to feel, I just feel so grateful. This is all I’ve ever wanted to do with my life: tell stories to you in such a way that you feel from them what I do.

And of course there are many hard parts. It’s hard to write a book. To stay disciplined, focus, to cut the lines that don’t need to be there, or to admit to yourself that you could have done it better. But you have to own up to all of that, and you have to push yourself to do it as well as you can possibly manage. This is key.

What is next for you, after finishing The Survivors Series? Any hints? 😉

Well I have three books left in the series after Point of Origin (the second book), so that will keep me busy for a while! Plus, since we write and produce original music for the series, build interactive story apps, and all kinds of other craziness, that also keeps me busy.

But when the dust settles on this leg of the Survivors world, whenever that will be, I have other projects that can take the main stage. I’m developing another paranormal YA series that will get to incorporate my love of music, and I have a pet project of an adult contemporary I really want to put out. Plus, my publisher and I are building an educational Immersedition app of Romeo & Juliet to use in schools (my degrees are both in education, so I’m helping!), so that’s pretty awesome too!

Are you a planner or a pantser? Tell us a bit more about how actually write your stories.

I might be the world’s most meticulous, ridiculous, and intense planner that ever lived. There are things in the prologue that give way to the ending, lines in the first book that give hints to things that happened centuries ago that you won’t even find out about until book three or four. I have a very specific vision that I’ve had since the beginning, and each step is just another along that path.

Your bio says that your first book, written when you were 7, was published in your elementary school library. What was your book about, and is it still in that library today?

It was called The King Who Wore Green. I don’t remember all that much what it was about, though I’m fairly certain there was a prince who wore purple and a princess who wore pink. (I wonder what color the queen wore?) I’m not sure if it’s there. I believe there has been discussion at my elementary school to try to find it, but I’m not sure if that ever happened. They did name the library there after me, so I guess I forgive them if they lost the book.

What are you reading now, and who are your greatest literary inspirations?

I’m finally reading Divergent, and I’m neck deep in research for other projects. I’m also really excited for Gillian Flynn’s next release, Gone Girl. Flynn has actually been a huge inspiration because she tells innovative stories that hook you on every word. (Don’t believe me? See what Stephen King has to say about her.)

In terms of other literary heroes, I have a few favorites who have seriously shaped my love of all things lit, including but certainly not limited to Janet Fitch (White Oleander, Paint it Black), Curtis Sittenfeld (Prep, The Man of My Dreams, and American Wife), Sandra Cisneros (The House on Mango Street and about a jillion other wonderful things), and of course the J.K. Rowling (talk about world-building!). I also love Victoria Schwab (The Near Witch) because she’s my age (a year younger, to be fair), and she writes with all the talent of a seasoned career author and the finesse of a literary heavyweight and somehow she brings all that to commercial YA. I can’t wait to see where she takes it.

Is there anything about you that would surprise your readers?

Oh, I’m sure.

If you were in a coffee shop right now, what would you order? (Dear God, I hope you drink coffee/tea!)

I recently gave up coffee… if you can believe it. But I love classic tea, and I usually have the blackest, strongest option in hand, hot or iced and just as it comes.

If you were in said coffee shop having coffee/tea with your favorite author, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you talk about?

I’d love to talk to Sandra Cisneros maybe over a slice of tres leches cake at Fido, my favorite place in Nashville. I’ve idolized her since I was young, and I think she’s simply brilliant. I respect her as an author, a storyteller, a woman, a philosopher… so many things. I would just want to listen to her talk.

Thank you, Amanda, for taking the time to answer these questions. I hope to read that very first novel someday 😉