So stoked to have fellow indie author and friend Lina C. Amarego on the blog today! If you happened to miss my glowing review of her debut novel, Daughter of the Deep, and wish to read it, you can find it HERE! Otherwise, read on for a great interview!
Hi Lina! It’s so nice to have you on the blog today!
L: Hello to you too! It’s an honor to be here.
When did you first decide you wanted to write? How did that fit in with your therapist job, or are the two mutually exclusive?
L: I’ve been writing in my free time since I was a kid, using it predominantly as an escape. But my sophomore year in college, I started entering short story contests to try and help pay my rent. At that point, I had enough positive feedback to say, “Hey, I’m decent at this. I could do this.” I try to keep my job as a therapist separate for confidentiality purposes, but the passion is the same. As a writer, I tell stories. As a therapist, I listen to them. You’d be surprised how often the themes overlap!
You just recently published your first novel, so congratulations on that!!! Did you enjoy your self-publishing experience?
L: Overall, yes, the experience was rewarding. There were some bumps in the road, and self publishing means that it is entirely my job to fix them, which caused quite a bit of stress. But it was worth it to be in control of the process and to have such incredible readers rally behind me at the end of the day.
Tell us about your debut novel, Daughter of the Deep. What is it about?
L: Daughter of the Deep (or DotD as I affectionately abbreviate it) follows the story of Keira Branwen, a sailor who is forced to marry her father’s alleged killer (and her former love interest) to end a blood feud. Together, they must then uncover the mystery of her father’s death and save both of their families from banishment. On the surface, there are lot’s of smarmy, swashbuckling side characters, soft magic and mystery, and witty enemies-to-lovers banter. But underneath, it explores the themes of identity, family, grief, and forgiveness.
Now, Daughter of the Deep is the first book in a series, correct? Any updates on book 2 that you’re willing to share? *winks*
L: Yes! Daughter of the Deep is the first installment of The Children of Lyr Series. Right now, it is intended as a trilogy, but there might be more in the world depending on how it plays out. Sister of the Stars, book two, is set to release in April of 2021. I’m finishing revisions on it now before shipping it off to my fabulous editor.
What inspires you to write?
L: I think I was born a storyteller. As a clinical therapist and a person, I believe that our experiences make us who we are, and that stories are our most powerful form of currency. No matter the form they come in – music, theatre, art, traditions – stories feed the soul. It never felt like enough to live just one life, so I write the rest down and hope they can impact someone else like the stories I’ve read impact me.
Who are some authors that inspire you to become a better writer?
L: If we are talking about already published authors, Renee Dugan, author of the Starchaser Saga, and Leigh Bardugo, author of the Grishaverse novels, come first to mind. Their stories have had an immeasurable impact on me. And I’m also lucky to have some unpublished writers in my corner that have helped me refine my craft and inspire me with their own stories, namely Danielle Miceli, Sydney Hawthorn, and Cassidy Clarke.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written thus far?
L: I’m not a mother, but this is like asking to pick a favorite child! Haha. I love all of my characters for different reasons, but my favorite to write is Griffin Branwen. He is the easiest for me to tap into, and his sense of humor drives things forward and makes him lovable.
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
L: I’m a lazy perfectionist, so sometimes it’s hard for me to write without editing as I go. I want every line to be perfect, but I don’t want to have to go back and fix it later, so my first drafts tend to be pretty clean. But, this takes longer and sometimes stunts my ability to just let the words flow, and then I get discouraged. So finding that balance is the hardest part.
How would you describe your writing style?
L: Simple, melodic, and intimate. I tend to write lots of internal dialogue with lyrical imagery to set the tone.
Do you have a favorite snack or drink you enjoy while writing?
L: It changes with the seasons, but right now it’s coffee with oat-milk pumpkin spice creamer. Lots of it.
Just because I’d like to include it for readers’ purposes, what would you say your target audience is for your book? Is there any content I should warn readers about?
L: I write Young Adult and New Adult Fantasy! Which means it’s the same themes and ideas as young adult with some occasionally more mature or darker content. There is a fair bit of violence, coarse language, and some sexual content in book one. Book two is a little more graphic in these areas, and will come with a specific trigger warning at the beginning of the book to make sure readers are properly informed.
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?
L: Decide who you’re writing for early. Not everyone will like your book, but some will love it. Write for yourself, and write for them, but don’t let the outside voices shift the story you need to tell.
What do you consider your definition of success, as an author? Have you reached it yet or are you still in the process of obtaining it?
L: Keira’s motto is small victories, and I try to live by that as well. My initial goals were simple: publish the book and have at least one person love it. I’ve crossed that threshold already, and I’m so grateful for it. There are other successes down the line I’d love to eventually obtain, but right now I’m trying to focus on the journey and the little victories along the way.
How do you deal with burnout as a writer? What are some recommendations you can give others struggling with burnout too?
L: Ooh, good question, especially with 2020 being what it is. My burnout is rough when it does happen, and it looks like total avoidance. I have to fully step away from projects if I’m burnt out. So most of my suggestions would be to identify your own triggers and try and prevent the burnout before it happens through self care. But, when it does it, usually I need to consume more art/stories/the things that make me happy before I can even think about creating. I spend time with friends and family, I read that book I’ve been putting off, I draw or watch Netflix or whatever works for you. Just something to nourish the soul while it heals.
How are you able to balance your day-to-day job with writing? Any tips you’d be willing to share for writers in the same boat?
L: I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to stay busy and have varied interests, so this is really important to me! I think I like to use it as a distraction and a reward system. For example, on days when I have a lot of clients/a lot of work to do, when I hit certain goals, I will reward myself by writing or editing as a break. Or vice versa, when I’m getting frustrated with my writing and it isn’t flowing, I’ll take a break and finish up my clinical notes where I don’t have to make it sound nice as a way to relieve pressure. So whatever that looks like for you, I would say try and find that balance where you always get to look forward to doing both instead of dreading the extra workload.
Finally, you have a group of talented friends surrounding you that you’ve mentioned many times on social media. It’s so important to find your writing tribe, so to speak, but it can be hard to do so. How would you suggest other writers go about finding their tribe?
L: OH MAN. It is so important, but it can be hard. In a lot of ways I feel really lucky to have found a group of writers that I can call my friends. But I think if you bring yourself to the table, people will show up for you. I try to support my friends in every way I can, and they do the same for me in return. And BE GENUINE. If you’re honestly excited about someone else’s work, the universe will pay your kindness back to you.
A huge thank you to Lina for letting me interview her! If you’d like to learn more about her and check out Daughter of the Deep, her bio and links are below!
Growing up on the east coast in small-town New Jersey, Lina spent her early days playing pretend and making up stories for her friends and family. Little did they know, that pastime would soon turn into a lifelong passion for storytelling in all of its forms. While she’s a grad student and therapist by profession, she’s a writer at heart. When she’s not scribbling ideas about fictional worlds into the margins of her notebooks, Lina spends her time reading anything she can get her hands on, driving her fiancé crazy with her wild daydreams, and snuggling her adorable pups.
To check out her novel and find all of her social media links, you can find her at: https://lcamarego.wixsite.com/mysite