WordWranglers: Please tell us a little about yourself.
Amy: My name is Amy Lee Burgess and I’ve been writing since I was ten, but I just had my first book published in 2011. (Let’s just say I’ve been in double digits age wise for years now and leave it at that!) I’m an admin by day so I get up every weekday at 5 a.m. so I can write for an hour before work. I share my Houston apartment with two dachshunds named Nixie and Callie and I love to travel. I’ve been taking French lessons for four years and keep hoping someday I will be fluent!
WordWranglers: Talk about the book(s) you’ve written. What was the first seed of an idea you had for your book? How did it develop?
Amy: I’ve written six books in the Wolf Within series so far. Five are published and one is slated for an autumn release. They chronicle the life and adventures of a wolf shifter named Stanzie Newcastle. She works as an Advisor for a Great Councilor (the Council oversees the Great Pack worldwide) and he sends her on investigations which range from discovering a pack wide conspiracy to keep the Pack a secret from the Others (regular non-shifting humans) to missing persons, serial killings, and other kinds of disputes. Stanzie has a knack for discovering secrets and putting herself in danger, but she’s pretty good at saving herself.
I got the idea for the first book, Beneath the Skin, from a series of shifter novels I read before I started writing mine. For years I’d been concentrating on vampires and I wanted to move to something else and since I love wolves, it was a no-brainer I’d go for wolf shifters. The actual writing of it took place in November 2010 for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). A writer friend/teacher challenged me to participate and I set myself some very specific goals. 1.) Finish during November. 2.) Write a novel in less than 100,000 words (I had a bad habit of writing, writing, writing epic novels of such horrifying length I made myself unpublishable in e-format.) 3.) Submit this one for publication by a publishing house instead of chopping it up and posting it as installments on my blog as I’d done with my vampire novels.
So I wrote the first book in eleven days. Whew.
The idea for this latest book in the series, About Face, was a combination of the other books in the series and where they led me plus the nagging conviction I’d neglected explaining the “conspiracy” I’d introduced in the first novel and it was more than time I addressed it and fleshed it out.
WordWranglers: Was there a scene that was more difficult than others? One that you pondered whether or not to include it?
Amy: There’s definitely a scene that was more difficult to write than the others. One of my favorite characters dies (no spoilers so I won’t mention who) and the death scene(s) were so damn gut-wrenching I cried. After I wrote it, I was all like “Amy, do you really want to go there? It’s not too late to change this.” But I left it in. And I still cry when I read that chapter. The story logically leads there and without it, the book would fall flat, but still I wish things were different. Damn Muses, they are so demanding. And cruel sometimes.
WordWranglers: What do you keep in mind as you write? An overarching question? A theme? The last line of the book?
Amy: Every night to send myself to sleep, I work on my novel in my head. I envision the scenes, the dialog, the atmosphere, the details of the location and even the clothes the characters are wearing. I get up in the morning and rush to get it down. The trouble is that most of the time I only see the huge, dramatic scenes and so I have all these pesky plot-advancing linking scenes to write and I can’t always write down my imaginings the next morning. So I replay the same dramatic scene, over and over and over until I finally can capture it. It’s exhausting. And most of the time it doesn’t come out the way I’ve envisioned it. Sometimes it’s much better, other times; sadly, I just can’t do my own imagination justice.
WordWranglers: What are you currently working on?
Amy: A paranormal romance about gargoyle shifters. This one is very focused on the romance unlike my Wolf Within novels which tend to focus on the “mystery of the week”. Not that Stanzie and Murphy’s romance is ever neglected. It’s just that this gargoyle story will be my first Happily Ever After ending ever. Usually, I write Happily For Now! I’m also working on the seventh Wolf Within novel. I’m about half way through actually.
WordWranglers: How do you balance writing, marketing, promoting, bookkeeping, family and work?
Amy: Writing takes up the bulk of my focus, but marketing and promoting are creeping up there. This is my second blog tour and it’s a lot of work, but worth it. I hate to admit I don’t do any bookkeeping. I get a check every month, sometimes it’s even a good one, and I cash it so I can put the money in a hidden stash which I use to buy myself luxury things. I just bought a new computer, which was sort of luxury because I love to game and play Sims 2, but it’s also got the latest version of Word and I love it for my writing. My family consists of two dachshunds right now and they are very accommodating of my writing schedule as long as I don’t forget to take them out for walks and give them treats. My day job allows me to have the means to travel which gives me fodder for my writing, so I think I’ve got a good balance right now.
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About the Book:
Stanzie’s job as Advisor to the Great Council is discovering other people’s secrets. When those secrets are being kept by the ones she loves most, can she find the courage to expose them?
Under orders from a Councilor, Stanzie journeys to Dublin and the MacTire pack. Her mission: warn her estranged bond mate, Liam Murphy, to abandon his overzealous search for the man responsible for the death of his first bond mate. Not only is he endangering himself, but also disrupting the delicate balance between opposing factions in the conspiracy threatening to tear the Great Pack apart.
Liam needs Stanzie’s help to protect their Alpha, who has entangled himself in the conspiracy’s deadly web. But he also desperately wants her back. In a race against time, Stanzie and Liam discover enemies often wear the faces of friends.
CONTENT WARNING: Vulgar language, sexual situations, some violence
A Lyrical Press Paranormal Romance
Our fingers were still linked when I opened my eyes hours later. The bedroom smelled of sex--of us--and while he wasn't snoring, Murphy’s breath was slow and heavy, the way I remembered from the nights we’d spent together in America.
For a moment I was filled with such aching happiness I almost expected to levitate off the bed. But then I remembered everything, and black despair bit into me so hard I wondered I didn't bleed.
He’d rolled off me at some point, but we were still on top of the covers. I let go of his hand and slid off the bed. I found his t-shirt and my panties, put them on and fled to the living room.
The remains of our dinner had congealed on our plates on the table. The lights were still on, and I got as far as the sofas before my legs went out from beneath me and I couldn't breathe.
Murphy appeared like a ghost in the bedroom doorway. His eyes were very dark.
“Can we talk about it, Stanzie?”
“What’s to talk about?” I drew one of the throw pillows defensively close to my stomach.
I loved him but he didn't love me. I’d tried so hard not to let that overwhelm me and make peace with it. Of all the people in his life he protected, I was the last on the list and that’s not where I wanted to be. “You chose Paddy and Mac Tire over me, and I guess I get that, but it hurts.”
“I had no idea you loved me.” His tone was raw and desperate. “I thought I was doing the right thing. You didn't need to be put at risk in this, and I thought I could--”
“What? Don’t lie to me, Liam. You didn't want me involved because you’re going to do something stupid to save Paddy and your father. Why should you martyr yourself for them?”
“Paddy came to me for help,” Murphy shouted and the muscles in his face strained as he struggled to regain control. “He had nowhere else to turn, don’t you see? It’s not like I could tell him to go screw himself. He’s my best mate.”
“But it’s okay to tell me to go screw myself, I guess. I’m your bond mate. You wouldn't come to my tribunal. You threw me out like so much garbage when Paddy told you his problems. And you couldn't even tell me why. You’re so hell-bent on saving everybody, but it’s always on your terms and you have to be the one to give help--you never want it in return. I would have helped you. I would have done anything for Paddy--he’s my Alpha--but you decided what was best for me in your typical high-handed Liam Murphy fashion, and to hell with what I thought, what I wanted.
“And then tonight you take advantage of the fact I love you so you can, what? Have sex?
Haven’t you screwed anyone in four months, or have you just screwed people over?”
His face blanched of all color, and he stared at me, his dark eyes bottomless.
“That wasn't just sex. Did that feel like just sex to you?”
“No, not to me. I love you. But that’s what it was to you. Will you please leave me alone? I’m tired and I want to go to sleep.”
“Stanzie, I know you’re tired, but we've got to talk about this.”
“In the morning. Maybe.” I turned away from him because I couldn't stand to look at the entreaty in his eyes. In a heartbeat I’d be across the floor to him, and screw that.
He abruptly gave in. “Look, you take the bed, I’ll sleep out here.”
“No, I’ll stay out here.” I was ten seconds from tears, and I wanted him gone so he wouldn't see.
“Stanzie, take the bed.”
“No,” I shouted, and the damn tears poured down my cheeks. “It smells like us in there, don’t you get it? And us is a lie. Just let me do what I want, goddamn it.”
He opened his mouth to argue, but then, defeated, retreated and did as I asked.
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About the Author:
Amy Lee Burgess is a transplanted New Englander living in Houston, Texas with two dogs and lots of DVDs. In an attempt to bond with the city after being forced out of New Orleans post-Katrina, she turned to her writing. Determined to finally finish that novel she'd been hacking away at since high school, Amy managed to come up with a wolf shifter character named Stanzie Newcastle. She and Stanzie have been BFFs ever since.
In addition to Stanzie, Amy has also forged a relationship with several vampires, a witch or two, and other assorted supernatural creatures she hopes will entertain her readers. But she will always have room for coffee and butterscotch squares with Stanzie.