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An Interview with Author Amanda Cherry

Author Amanda CherryToday, I’m interviewing Amanda Cherry, whose first book, Rites & Desires, will be out on March 20, 2018! It’s the first Cobalt City novel with a villain as the protagonist, and those of us in the Cobalt City family are super excited to have a fresh new voice in the universe.

I asked Amanda to answer a few questions about her book, her character, and what’s next!

DV: What was it about Cobalt City that made you want to start writing stories set there?

Amanda Cherry: The thing that drew me to Cobalt City as a property was its pantheon of diverse heroes. You have a guy in a flying tech suit with Sci-Fi level weapons and powers fighting crime beside a fellow wielding a bow and arrows, some young heroines who were brought to their powers and identities through various spiritual paths, and a woman who is—for want of a better term—part cat.

You have a hero who is overtly Jewish, a heroine who is overtly Buddhist, and both these heroes (and others) are regularly interacting with deities and constructs from countless other mythologies. In Cobalt City, all religions and beliefs have equal validity and equal standing and I absolutely love that.

DV: You’ve got a background in writing fan fiction. How did that inform your work in a shared universe?

AC: I have spoken to authors who write for bigger IPs about this and there is a consensus that playing in a shared sandbox is a skill that takes time to develop. Having spent REDACTED years writing for free in various fandoms, I’ve reached a point where double-checking dates and places for accuracy, getting into the heads of characters not of my own creation, and learning how to create upset in the universe without breaking it (or killing anyone else’s darlings) feels like a natural part of the process.
Also, knowing I had an audience (sometimes only an audience of one: looking at you, AmilynH) waiting for me to update a story when I said I would made me very good at working to a deadline. The instant-feedback mechanism on fanfiction sites was a good impetus for me to keep to a posting schedule, and it got me to figure out a workflow that puts me where I need to be when I need to be there. It meant that I got Rites & Desires turned in ahead of schedule!

DV: Ruby Killingsworth is the first “villainous” protagonist in the Cobalt City Universe. What are the challenges of writing a villain as a protagonist?

AC: We are so accustomed as readers to the villain=antagonist paradigm and it’s been really interesting to flip that on it’s head. There’s a balance that needs to be struck between making the character likeable enough for the reader to want to go on this journey with her, and being sure to keep it in their minds that she’s wicked. Getting an audience to root for her, and then to question themselves for it, was definitely a challenge, but I love this character and I think the work I had to do to make it happen was worth it.

DV: It’s clear that Ruby knows she’s not a hero, but I’d argue that she’s not nearly as villainous as she believes. Do you think she’s redeemable, or will she always follow her little black heart?

AC: One of the most interesting and most delightful things about Ruby is that she’s such an *everyday* villain. A HERO is easy to spot: there’s a selflessness to a hero, a degree of caring what happens to other people as a result of their actions. Ruby has exactly none of this. The thing that makes her a villain in this context is that she gives zero effs about anybody but herself. If someone else also benefits from something that’s good for her, she could not care less. She cares for herself and only for herself. And I think a lot of us have moments of that in our everyday walk through life—that’s part of what makes Ruby relatable. She’s not a mustache-twirly, out-to-do-evil, one-dimensional baddie. She’s just a shrewd, selfish, all-but-completely-amoral person who gives not one tenth of a damn about anything or anyone outside her circle.

I don’t imagine she’ll ever find error in her ways, nor do I think she’s going to turn over any new and magnanimous leaves. At best, she’s a pragmatist. But as you read the book, you come to see how she is capable of feelings and warmth (although she would deny that to anyone who accused her of it). There’s a chance she could be convinced to be a little kinder and a little less selfish, but I can’t imagine it happening ?

DV: What’s next for you on the writing front?

AC: Right now I’m working on a trope-busting tale of political intrigue set in a dieselpunk near-earth and starring a Princess who wishes she were anything but. I’m having a blast with the world building (something I NEVER thought I’d say) and getting to know these new places and characters. I’m hoping to finish and sell that book this year. I’m also poking at several bits of short fiction ranging from an accidentally-necromancing research scientist to a child on a quest to outsmart the Goblin King.

I’m a little all over the place. The sudden and profound realization that I can *do* this means a steep learning curve as to sales and markets and how to submit and to whom and when. But it’s all a great adventure and I’m excited for whatever comes next.

Thanks, Amanda!

To learn more about Amanda, check out her author page, The Ginger Villain. You can find her book available for pre-order at Amazon. (The print books will be available on March 20th!)

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