Amber M. Simpson writes from Northern Kentucky in the US, with a particular interest in horror and dark fantasy. Her work has been published (both fiction and poetry) in multiple anthologies, magazines, and online. She assists with editing for Fantasia Divinity Magazine & Publishing, where she has gotten to work with many talented authors from all over the world. She is proud to have earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology.
While she loves to create dark worlds and diverse characters, her greatest creations of all are her sons, Maxamus and Liam, who keep her feet on the ground even while her head is in the clouds.
Interview with Amber M. Simpson
TTJ: What inspired you to start writing?
Amber: I have always been an avid reader, even as a child. Being introduced to so many interesting fictional worlds and characters inspired my own imagination to run wild, and I found myself longing to give life to my own creations, which I was able to do by writing.
TTJ: How long have you been writing?
Amber: About 26 years!
TTJ: When did you start writing?
Amber: I was around ten when I first started writing in a journal; eleven when I started writing poetry and stories.
TTJ: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
TTJ: What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
Amber: My advice to a new writer would be: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. For way too long, I was afraid to share my work with anyone besides very close family and friends, and because of that I wasn’t able to grow as much as a writer. Letting other writers read and critique my work is what helped me strengthen my writing skills and also find the courage to submit my work—leading to many amazing publications of which I’m incredibly thankful and proud.
TTJ: How do you handle writer’s block?
Amber: Ack! The dreaded writer’s block! When this happens to me, usually what I’ll do is focus on editing rather than writing. So if I’ve been working on a story or novel idea, instead of doing any more actual writing on it (since the writer’s block demon has taken hold), I’ll just go back and work on edits for what I’ve written so far. Sometimes this will trigger more ideas to further the actual writing and if so, great! If not, that’s ok—I know inspiration will strike again soon. I try not to force it too much, unless there’s a looming deadline that I know I have to meet... in which case the deadline itself is usually a pretty good motivator to get my creative juices flowing.
TTJ: What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Amber: When it comes to fiction, I enjoy reading a story that, first and foremost, hooks me right away. If I’m not interested in what is happening within the first page or so, that’s not a good sign. Also, character development is crucial. If I’m not able to get to know a character and feel emotionally invested in them as the story progresses, then I won’t be able to care what happens to them, or what happens in the story in general.
TTJ: How do you develop your plot and characters?
Amber: I usually start each story with as detailed an outline as I can conceive of. It doesn’t always happen so nicely, but I do my best to come up with an idea of how it will begin and end, and what the conflict will be throughout. With this outline in mind, I can then begin writing and filling in all the details, making all the plot points connect. With characters, I try my best to make them as believable as possible, but with their own interesting quirks or characteristics that make them unique. A successful character to me is one my readers can care about, one that seems to come right off the page and speak to them. If I can accomplish this, I know I’m doing something right.
TTJ: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Amber: I don’t really remember a time where I didn’t consider myself a writer... now, a successful writer is different!
TTJ: Describe your writing space.
Amber: I work on a laptop, so my writing space can differ from day to day. At a desk, on the dining room table, from the couch or even propped up in bed—all of these are suitable writing spaces.
TTJ: What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
Amber: Finishing! I can’t tell you how many unfinished stories I have at the moment, a folder stuffed full of them! I have a problem with getting really excited about a new story idea and starting out with a lot of steam, only to have that steam dissipate, making me want to move on to the next thing.
TTJ: What does success mean to you?
Amber: Before I became a published author, finishing a piece of writing from beginning to end, completely edited and revised, was success. Now that I am a published author, continuing to have stories accepted for publication is a success. I think success can be defined differently for different people, depending on where they are in the process. The ultimate success for me would be to make a living off my writing—this is what I strive for.
TTJ: When you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sexy, or sad, etc) scene, how do you get in the mood?
Amber: Once I dive into the scene and start writing it out, I just sort of get into it. I might have to push myself a bit sometimes, but I can usually make myself get there easily enough. And if not, I just let it sit for awhile until the moment strikes... which I know it will eventually.
TTJ: Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
Amber: If you ever feel too overwhelmed, it’s OK to just take a moment and step away. If writing is something you love to do, you will return to it when you’re ready. I won’t say that it’s not something you have to work at—it is. Writing can be hard, it can be challenging, it can be bang-your-head-against-the-wall frustrating... but it can also be the most rewarding and self-satisfying endeavor you could ever pursue. It requires a lot of time, a lot of patience, and a LOT of vulnerability, but if your passion is writing (and your soul will tell you if it is) then it will also honor you with some of the best, most proudest achievements of your life. Keep at it.
TTJ: How do you handle literary criticism?
Amber: I used to be scared to death of putting myself out there and receiving any form of criticism. That fear is what held me back for so long, and was such a waste of time. Now, I welcome criticism. Every little bit I get only helps to strengthen my writing, making for better, more powerful stories. We learn from others, and accepting criticism is just another form of learning—a very important one, at that.
TTJ: What was your favorite part, and your least favorite part, of the publishing journey?
Amber: My favorite parts of the publishing journey would be receiving that initial acceptance letter, followed closely by seeing my story in print! I can’t say that I have a least favorite part, besides maybe the excruciating anticipation of waiting for release day!
TTJ: Where do you get your inspiration?
Amber: Anywhere and everywhere! My dreams provide a lot of inspiration, as do movies, TV shows, interesting conversations, random thoughts... oh, and the voices inside my head, of course.
TTJ: Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
Amber: I am always working on something! Currently, I have a mystery/horror novel I’m working on called Wolves Hollow, a medieval/fantasy series (that may be more ambition than anything), a dark fantasy novel collaboration with a good friend of mine, and many many short stories. Sigh. I better get to work.
TTJ: Where do you draw inspiration from?
Amber: Like I said, inspiration can come from anywhere, striking at anytime. My job is to be ready for it!
TTJ: What books or authors have most influenced your own writing? And why?
Amber: I’ve always been drawn to the dark and spooky, so writing horror seemed to come pretty naturally for me. I read a lot of R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series growing up, which eventually progressed to the works of authors like Stephen King, John Grisham, Anne Rice, and many more. I’ve also always enjoyed reading suspense novels and anything fantasy related. I’m sure many of the elements used in these types of writings have influenced my own writing, whether I’m consciously aware of it or not.
TTJ: Who is the author you most admire in your genre? And why?
Amber: As a horror writer, I really respect and admire the work of Stephen King. As a teenager, I fell in love with some of his older works, and I’ve been smitten ever since. I would credit him as being a major influence in my love of horror writing.
Books featuring Amber M. Simpson
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