Book Tour Q&A: Survivors by Amy Marsden
Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for Survivors by Amy Marsden! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.
About the book
Jennifer planned to spend her 24th birthday having fun with her friends. Instead, she ends up running for her life through the dark streets of London.
Her world is torn apart by a new disease, the likes of which have never been seen before. The government’s decision to conceal its deadly nature exacerbates the panic, and in all the confusion Jennifer is bitten.
That’s it, right? Her life is over.
Immune to the viruses ravaging effects, Jennifer finds herself with a small group of survivors. Together they must fight to stay alive long enough for a cure to be found. Humanity won’t be beaten to easily.
But madness looms large, and safety seems forever out of reach.
On to the interview...!
What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?
I’m currently reading DAWNSHARD by Brandon Sanderson. It’s a novella set in the year gap between STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE books 3 and 4, and fills us in on the adventures of a few characters who are missing from book 4. I find Sanderson’s writing engaging and easy to read, and definitely recommend him if you life fantasy. His writing has come a long way in terms of diversity, which is always a good thing. Be careful though; all his adult books are part of the Cosmere and are connected via an overarching plot that has yet to be revealed. So, while different stories take place on different planets, they’re all set in the same universe. If you pick up one book you have to read them all!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start writing?
I’m a biomedical scientist specialising in microbiology, but my passion is writing. My job pays the bills, and I do like helping patients, but books hold my heart. I live by the cold North Sea in the UK with my wife and our cat, and we enjoy going for walks along the beach, going to the cinema, and reading together. Wow, this is starting to sound like a dating profile. Seriously though, I got super lucky with my wife in that she loves books as much as I do. She also writes her own poetry, and we want to release a poetry book together in the future!
I started writing SURVIVORS while I was still studying at university. I’ve always enjoyed stories and have read books since I was a small child. That thirst for stories translated into writing them, and I was about six or seven when I realised I wanted to be an author. There was no real ‘eureka’ moment, I’ve just always wanted to write. Of course, as I grew older, I tempered that dream with more ‘realistic’ options, but the need for stories never ceased. I’ve always had an active imagination, creating all these worlds and characters and plotlines, and one day, as I was lounging in my bedroom, I decided there was nothing stopping me from writing those daydreams down. And that was how SURVIVORS started.
How much do you plan when you write? What’s your writing process like?
I’m definitely a planner. I outline everything—the overall book, each character arc, right down to each chapter before I write it. Of course, sometimes something new pops into my head and I’ll go back and add it in or take a chapter out to fit the new narrative, but that is pretty rare. I tend not to start writing until I have a decent outline to follow.
Is this your first book? If so, what lessons have you learned from writing it? If not, what lessons did you learn from writing earlier books that you brought into this one?
SURVIVORS is my first book! It’s book 1 in a duology, but I originally wrote them as one large book, so I guess both books are my first. I’ve learned a lot—namely not to worry if changes need to be made, and to enjoy myself. I ended up cutting an entire chapter out of it because, while it was nice to see the characters sitting around a fire and talking, it added very little to the story. I was super reluctant, but eventually did it. It’s made me braver going forward, and a touch more ruthless with my other projects.
Writing is a hard and lonely affair in the best of circumstances. How do you achieve a good work/life/writing balance?
I need to be alone to write, and I prefer it. My wife used to sit in my office with me and read as I wrote, but even that was too distracting. I don’t typically force myself to write, so if I’m not in the mood I do other things like catch up on our TV shows or read or play video games. If the muse strikes me at work, there’s nothing I can do unfortunately. I typically write for a few hours at a time, which fits nicely into my day. I’ve been writing for a long time, and I have a pretty good relationship with it at this point.
How much of yourself do you write into your stories?
I try to avoid this as much as possible, to be honest. I think of my characters as distinct people with their own thoughts, needs, and personality. I’ll maybe add the odd quirk in there that I share with them—both Jennifer and I are scared of spiders, for example—but I’ll keep it to a minimum. That being said, my writing is shaped by me, my life, and the culture I’ve grown up in. Everyone’s writing contains the authors unconscious biases. Can you really separate the art from the artist?
They say to never judge a book by its cover and maybe that’s true in the philosophical sense, but it certainly happens with books. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of your book?
Oh, I am definitely guilty of judging a book by its cover! SURVIVORS cover is a hand gripping a camera, with blood dripping from it. This is meant to be Jennifer as she is the main character and was a photography student before everything went downhill. She carries her camera with her throughout the duology, making sure to document as much as she can. She is extremely attached to her camera, going so far as potentially putting people in danger to retrieve it when the group is attacked.
Describe your book in 3 adjectives.
Emotional. Tense. Scary.
What are your favourite types of stories? Of characters?
Honestly? Romance and fantasy are my favourite genres to read. Fantasy is my favourite genre to write. SURVIVORS is horror/thriller, which doesn’t fit, but I had such a good time writing this duology. I love writing tense action scenes, and there’s a big one in book 2 that I can’t wait for people to read. My favourite type of character is someone who is insanely competent at what they do. I also tend to love the most powerful character. Give me a character who is super powerful, super good at what they do, super snarky, and make them a touch unhinged, and I’ll love them.
Is there anything you can tell us about any current projects you’re working on?
I’m currently working on 3 projects and have finished a 4th. I know, what on Earth am I thinking, working on 3? Well, I never claimed to be smart.
The finished project is a thriller/sci-fi novel called SILENCE. I got the idea from the ALIEN movies, which should give a hint as to the tone of the book. It follows Georgia, a ship captain tasked with transporting a group of scientists to a new planet rich in much needed resources. Unbeknownst to them, an advanced alien race views nature and the planet as scared, and dispatches their top assassin, called silencers, to make sure the crew never set foot on the planet. I’m currently querying this, but no luck yet.
The project I will probably finish next is a massive fantasy novel called EMPRESS OF ASHES. It’s currently at 151k words, and still growing! It has a bit of everything: empire, rebellion, magic, assassination, you name it. The empire has late 1800’s/early 1900’s technology, which is really fun to incorporate. I can’t wait until it’s finished and in readers’ hands.
I’m working on another fantasy book, but it’s more adventure/romantic than epic. It’s called DRAGON’S TOMB and follows rival thieves as they team up to steal some ancient relics from a long lost city. Magical creatures like dragons and mermaids and kraken are real, and it is really fun to have humans interact with them. Erin and Jasmine, the two thieves, are so ridiculously fun to write! They’re hilarious!
The final project I’m working on is a sapphic romance novel called THE ROOMMATE. I’m finding this a little more challenging simply because I’ve never written ‘just’ a romance before, but I’m really enjoying it. The premise is Isabella and Kit met and had a one-night stand, then two years later they end up roommates at university. Add in the fact that Isabella is royalty and heir to the throne, and it all gets a bit complicated!
And finally, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?
I’m on Twitter @AmyMarsden12, Instagram @amymarsdenauthor, and I have a website, amymarsden.co.uk. I’m mainly on Instagram, so feel free to drop me a message if you ever want to chat!
Where to buy the book:
Publisher direct: https://ninestarpress.com/product/survivors/