In today’s post, I’m in discussion with Amara Luciano, an indie author with a sweet personality and some pretty fabulous books!
Hi Amara, thanks for joining me on the blog today!
A: Ridiculously excited to be here! Thanks for having me!
When did you first decide you wanted to write? What drew you to it?
A: So the honest truth is this: I used to hate reading, let alone writing. I was definitely not one of those authors who wrote 10-page books for their parents when they were little. The closest I ever got to enjoying writing was charging my mom $0.25 every time I typed out her grocery list on her typewriter. I turned my nose up at Harry Potter. I ran from libraries. Then I turned thirteen. My mom wanted to offer me some comfort–the same solace she got from reading her own books. Reading was a friend to whom she entrusted my care. I went from romance to paranormal to fantasy, and it was always reading about someone else’s loneliness or confusion that made me feel less alone or afraid. Once I was hooked, I couldn’t stop. This was the point in which I’d started bugging my mom for notebooks to write down all my ideas. I wanted to recreate the feelings some of my favorite books had given me. Since we didn’t have money to spare, she’d sneak home legal pads from her office job. I’ve been writing ever since.
When did you first publish? Did you try self-publishing or querying before creating your own independent publishing company?
A: The first thing I published was a collection of flash fiction fairy tales called Oddly Enchanted. It’s since been taken down, but it was my first attempt at pulling something together and having my sister create the cover art. I loved both the freedom and the huge responsibility to produce something worthwhile.
But I didn’t want Wonder Heart Books to be all about me. The goal with creating the company with my sister, Gabi, was to establish a family-oriented, female-run business that supports inclusive storytelling. We want to create opportunities for those who feel like they have none. I haven’t queried yet, but I’m going to. Staying completely true to myself and my dreams means pursuing the path of the “hybrid” author. I’d love to see my work in the traditional publishing sphere as well.
How many books do you have published currently? What are they about?
A: Right now I have 3 published novellas and a bind-up of them all underway called Heirs of Fate. It released April 16th and acts as a segue into book one of what has become the Gods’ Fate series.
At their core, each of these stories–as well as the stories to come–are about dark, dangerous misfits who make all the wrong choices for all the right reasons. They’re about young women making choices for themselves and owning the consequences, whether that means rejecting love because you’re afraid of what that love will do to you (Bride of Dreams), or wallowing in shame and guilt because it’s easier than fixing the real problem (Huntress and the Nightingale), or sacrificing everything to protect something you can’t afford to lose a second time (Storm Mistress)…
I can’t wait for you to get to know Good, the protagonist of book one of this series!
And you have a new book that just recently came out, which is super exciting! Can you tell me a little bit about it?
A: As I mentioned, Heirs of Fate is a bind-up of the Gods’ Fate prequel novellas. They follow three different storylines for three women, Diya, Zahria, and Jade. Also included is a bonus story in Good’s POV, which leads up to the conflicts these characters will face in the upcoming series!
What inspires you to write?
A: I’m always inspired by the darkness within each and every one of us and how we attempt to barter with it, dispel or exorcise it, remold it, and quite often ignore it. We’re so often taught to be frightened or ashamed of our mistakes and failures, our inner demons. But I’ve personally seen how much stronger you become when you not only face what’s inside you, but you embrace all of it as much as you can. Without bias. Without judgement. I think Diya, Zahria, and Jade each represent this fascination and much of what I myself have had to face.
Who are some authors that inspire you to become a better writer?
A: Oh my god, there are so many. I’m constantly inspired by Roshani Chokshi. I open up her books and gorge myself on all her delicious prose. I also love Sarah Addison Allen, Leigh Bardugo, Pam Munoz Ryan, Tasha Suri, and Marie Rutkoski.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve enjoyed writing the most?
A: There were sooo many. But, excluding my current projects, I loved writing the twists and turns of Jade’s brain in Storm Mistress. There’s just so much that happens in that novella–it very well could have been a full-length book! She kept even me on my toes.
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
A: Conceptualizing. I usually have a great time building out the initial idea. That stage is always really light and fun and interesting. But then when I start considering logistics and focusing on a plan and adding depth to that initial idea, the exercise starts to hurt. It’s an absolutely necessary stage for me, though. I call it a zero draft (a la Leigh Bardugo), where I tell myself the story in a very bare bones way and try to justify as I go. Think ahead in terms of implications, that kind of thing. Then the fun part starts again.
How would you describe your writing style?
A: I’d say my style is a balance between an attempt at lush prose and careful structure which constantly threatens to tip over.
Do you have a favorite snack or drink you enjoy while writing?
A: Lots of peppermint tea! No snacks while writing because I hate greasy keys. But you better believe I eat every other time of day.
Just because I’d like to include it for readers’ purposes, what would you say your target audience is for your books? Is there any content I should warn readers about?
A: It’s interesting because I just recently discussed this with my publicist, Bethany Pullen. I’d say the conclusion I’ve come to is that this particular series has a lot of YA/Adult crossover appeal. The protagonists are all technically within young adult range, but the novellas, for instance, get progressively darker as they’ve released. I’d say the novellas are best suited to ages 16+, with Bride of Dreams being a possible exception to that statement.
There’s blood. There are monsters. There’s a total of one sex scene in all of Heirs of Fate and it happens about a third of the way into Storm Mistress, and I wouldn’t call it graphic by any stretch. Do with this information what you must, dear reader.
What is some advice you can give aspiring authors out there that you wish you had known when you began your writing and publishing journey?
A: Treasure your beginnings. I remember being so impatient with myself right from the beginning of my journey, which began about eight years ago. I wrote my first completed manuscript at 17 and was dead set on breaking into the industry… only, if I had somehow managed it then, I wouldn’t have been ready. Not just in terms of skill or experience. But also from within myself. I needed to pace myself and grow and learn and write more. You don’t just learn your craft. You have to study and practice it and that takes time. There’s no rush. The more you treat each little milestone as precious, and nurture every victory, forgive every doubt and failure, the more the rewards grow. Success is like a bed of flowers–they bloom when the work is done and your back is turned.
Celebrate who you are and what you have to offer. A year ago, I had no company, no real platform to speak of. Now, I have Wonder Heart Books and a team therein, a paperback on the way, and more dreams ready to flourish. Anything truly is possible. Just give it a little time and a lot of love.
A huge thank you to Amara for letting me interview her! If you want to check out her books, click the link in her author bio below!
Amara Luciano is a YA author with a penchant for morally grey characters, creator of Bare Your Socials, and co-founder of Wonder Heart Books. She focuses on writing diverse female strength in fantastical worlds + developing high-impact content that actually sells other creators’ art. You can check out her stories and her work at amaraluciano.com!