Monday, July 30, 2012

Interview with Christine Amsden, Sci Fi & Fantasy Author

Click on the image to visit Christine's Meet & Greet on VBT Cafe

Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.
At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.
Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children, Drake and Celeste.

Louise: Christine, welcome to my blog! I’m so excited you could join me for a chat. When did you first decide to submit your work to be published? Tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.

Christine: It was a long road, but I had dreamed of being a published (okay, filthy rich world-famous) author since I was a little girl. Like many young aspiring authors, however; I didn't like to show anyone my work, afraid doing so would destroy the dream. The truth is exactly the other way around! When I finally showed my work to my husband (then my fiance), he told me two things: that I was good but needed a lot of work. He's the one who found out about Orson Scott Card's summer boot camps, and convinced me to send in an audition piece. By the time the workshop was over, I had the tools I needed. After that, it was just a matter of time, practice, hard work, and luck.

Louise: Please tell us a little about your new release The Immortality Virus.

Christine: The Immortality Virus is a story about that greatest of all human desires – eternal youth – and what might happen if we actually achieve it.

In the mid-21st century, the human race stopped aging. Those who know why aren’t talking, and the few who are brave enough to ask questions tend to disappear. To an elite few, The Change means long life and health, but to the ever-increasing masses, it means starvation, desperation, and violence.

Four centuries after The Change, Grace Harper, a blacklisted P.I., sets off on a mission to find the man responsible for it all and solicit his help to undo The Change — if he’s still alive. To complicate matters, Grace’s employer is suspected of murdering his father, and when the police learn of their connection, they give her a choice — help them find the evidence they need to convict Matthew Stanton, or die. But if they discover Grace’s true mission, they won’t hesitate to kill her in order to preserve their shot at immortality.

Louise: Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

Christine: Yes. That is to say, I plan them in advance, but then, as I write, they change. They change the story, the story changes them. Writing is an iterative process, even for those of us who are planners. Or maybe especially for those of us who are planners. 

Louise: How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits to share?

Christine: I do some, but I tend to try to write books that largely involve things I already know. It's easier and more natural that way. For The Immortality Virus, I spent a couple of weeks doing research on viruses, on genetics, and on some of the theories of aging. I wanted to make sure my premise was plausible, but there was a reason I made my main character a private investigator instead of a geneticist (which I briefly considered) – it would take me longer than a couple of weeks to be able to truly settle into that knowledge set! And in the end, the story is more about the result of finding the fountain of youth, rather than the method of discovery.

Louise: What is your writing process? Do you outline, write by the seat of your pants (Pantser) or a combination of both?

Christine: I outline, but not neatly. My “outlines” are written in free form, are more like brainstorming, and if you read them, you'd probably get hopelessly confused. To tell you the truth, I almost never read them. The point is to write them. I also keep a “companion” file every time I write a novel, or a draft of a novel. The companion explores ideas for future drafts, where I might go in the future, etc. Like I said, it's messy. It may be that I'm more of a dreamer than an outliner, but I dream with my fingers. 

Louise: Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer or still do?

Christine: When I got married, my husband encouraged me to stay home and write, to follow my dream. I realize how lucky I am to have this ability. Before I got married, I got degrees in Computer Science and Psychology, spent a year in grad school, and then did some freelance computer work. Now, in addition to writing, I raise two children (4 and 6), do some freelance editing work, and teach writing workshops. My next workshop is on world building in science fiction and fantasy, offered through Savvy Authors.

Louise: Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen, laptop and a comfy place.

Christine: I engage all five senses (psychological trick). I light a candle (sight and smell), turn on some music (sound), and suck on a hard mint (taste and touch).

Louise: Describe a typical writing day for you.

Christine: This is a harder question than you may think. As my children grow up, each year our schedule changes, and I have to work around it. Right now it's summer break, and I carve out time for writing during afternoon “quiet time.” I get some business out of the way early in the morning or in the evening. When school starts again, I'll have one in first grade and the other in afternoon preschool, so I'll have all afternoon to myself! I like to use quiet or alone times for the creative part of writing. I squeeze business (such as setting up book tours) into mornings and evenings. 

Louise: Please give us a sneak peek at your future books. What’s on the horizon?

Christine: I'm so glad you asked! I am super-excited about an urban fantasy/paranormal romance series I have coming out in 2013. (Probably starting in February, then coming out every 4-6 months.)

Cassie Scot: Paranormal Detective

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

There are four books in this series, and I'm working on the last one now, so it's going to be a whirlwind once I get going.

Louise: What is your favorite genre to read and who is your favorite author?

Christine: I like to read books about strong characters struggling to overcome obstacles. Classical genre distinctions don't matter to me nearly as much as that. (It makes finding books very difficult, of course, because nobody shelves them that way!) My favorite authors, therefore, span genres. Orson Scott Card (scifi), Catherine Anderson (romance), Karen Marie Moning (urban fantasy/romance), Jim Butcher (urban fantasy), JK Rowling (YA fantasy), Mercedes Lackey (fantasy)...there's a lot of fantasy and romance in there, but I also enjoy scifi, mystery, suspense, and anything with strong characters.

Louise: Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers we have not touched on?

Christine: The Immortality Virus ebook (through Amazon and B&N) is $0.99 during the tour.

I'll be around today and probably tomorrow reading the comments, so if any of your readers have direct questions, I'll try to answer.

Louise: Where can the readers learn more about you and find your books on the web? (Add the web links and buy links here)

Christine: I keep my own web site up to date and as full of information as I can. I have pages dedicated to each book with buy links, links to read the first chapter for free, and links to reviews. I also update my blog regularly – news when it's important, but a lot of my blog is devoted to book reviews and writing tips.

Feel free to ask questions, either here over the next couple of days or by e-mailing me. I am thrilled to hear from readers, and answer questions. 

 The Immortality Virus


“Why did you call me here?” Grace asked. She remembered the newspaper headlines again and found herself wondering if, just maybe, Matt had killed his father. Accidents, murder, or disease were the only way for a person to die when age didn’t plunge them towards that fate. Perhaps Matt had been sick of waiting around for his father to step aside and leave control of Medicorp to him.
“Straight to business, then?”
Grace nodded. “You have to admit, this meeting is unusual.” She did not specifically mention the blacklist, but she was sure Matt would know what she meant. “Does this have anything to do with your father’s death?”
“My father?” Matt cocked his head to the side. “That was a terrible accident in the midst of a robbery. Once you get as old as we are, you begin to tempt fate every day just by being alive. Old age might not get to us, but accidents are inevitable. Besides, the police have already handled the investigation.”
“They found the killer?” Grace asked, confused. She would have heard. Besides, since the robber had successfully stolen a holosuit, it seemed unlikely that anyone would find him.
“Not yet, but our city has a fine police force, and I’m sure they’ll do their job admirably.”
Grace decided not to argue with the idea that the Kansas City police force was either “fine” or “admirable.” They would enthusiastically serve the rich, perhaps, but a madman could go on a shooting spree in the park, and they’d just call in the recyclers.
“Then why–?” Grace began.
“How old are you, Ms. Harper?”
“I’m sure you know,” Grace said. She suspected that this man knew quite a lot about her.
“Yes, but I’m trying to make you feel more comfortable.”
“I’m one hundred and thirty.”
“Still quite young, then,” Matt said. “The odds are still on your side. Although you chose a dangerous line of work.”
“Is there a safe line of work? This is what I’m good at.”
“Rumor has it that you’re good at finding people,” Matt said.
Grace didn’t hesitate. “The best. I’ve had a fifty percent success rate across my career.”
“Fifty percent?” Matt echoed, his voice hollow. “That doesn’t sound very certain.”
Grace shrugged. “Who said life was certain? But most in the business don’t find more than one in ten.” Grace hesitated, but decided to go for broke. “I don’t always get work looking for people with ID chips, either. My clients aren’t people who deal with The Establishment, but I guess you know that.”
“Of course.”
“So then I must assume that the person you’re looking for is either someone without an ID chip or someone The Establishment wouldn’t want you to find.” Grace paused and tried not to think about the implications of that. “Probably both.”
A small smile played at the corner of Matt’s mouth, but he did not answer in words. He walked to his desk, opened a drawer, and pulled out an old-fashioned digital diary, the kind people used to buy when they had more money and resources than they knew what to do with. Grace had only seen them in movies. It looked a little like a notebook from the outside, but opening the cover revealed a microphone and speakers. “I ran across this diary a few weeks ago, mixed in with some old records the company was throwing out. It’s fascinating.”


  1. Hi Christine, thanks for visiting today. The Immortality Virus looks like a very good read!