Sep 17, 2012

Drive Back the Darkness by Amy Newman

On her sixteenth birthday, Ellie Lyons discovers her entire life has been a lie. She’s kidnapped from her home and left in Alladon, a kingdom controlled by an evil man named Morfan, a kingdom that she was born to rule.

Ellie reluctantly faces the impossible tasks confronting her; like learning to control the magic that now roars through her and burns everything she touches, training to become a lethal warrior, or dealing with the fact that Devin, the guy she is irresistibly attracted to, is actually one of the assassins sent by Morfan to kill her.

Devin has a troubled past; he has spent the last five years tracking the person who murdered his family. He is dark, dangerous, and deadly serious, but Ellie can see the core of kindness shining deep within him, as well as the fear of getting hurt again that makes him push people away. Though Ellie knows her life might be at stake, she can’t seem to stay away from him, even as her feelings become strong enough that they begin to scare her.

Vance, the second assassin and Devin’s best friend, is the opposite of Devin; blonde, charming, seductive. But his heart holds a kernel of darkness, one that makes him dangerously unstable, especially after he realizes that he has feelings for Ellie, feelings he knows Ellie doesn’t share.

Ellie can’t let her emotions for the two men cloud her focus, her quest to remove Morfan from power. When Ellie discovers that the children of Alladon have been imprisoned in a secret factory, Ellie knows she can’t fight her destiny any longer. She must claim her rightful place as princess and fight Morfan, or surrender and be slaughtered. Will she be able to survive long enough to save her people from the Darkness?

How did you come up with the concept of your book?

 Every one of my story ideas starts with what I call a spark; a character, a small bit of plot or dialogue, a situation, something that intrigues me. In this case I had a dream about a girl who was taken from her home and forced to fight for something she wasn’t entirely sure she believed in. The dream was actually a nightmare. I’ve had horrible, vivid nightmares since I was very small. At least now I’m able to do something with all that scariness! About two thirds of my stories start with something I dreamed.

What is your ideal writing environment?
My ideal writing environment would be me, not tired at all, with a nice steaming cup of tea or coffee, and silence for a few hours. That hardly ever happens, though!

Do you write while you listen to music?
No. I actually can’t. I can tune out screaming toddlers, people talking, and loud TVs, but for some reason, I can’t tune out music. The words from the song end up typed into my manuscript! I used to listen to classical music while I wrote, but now I find even that distracting.

If you could collaborate with any author who would it be and why?
While there are tons of authors I love and admire, I actually wouldn’t want to collaborate with anyone. I find it hard enough to work with my agent and editors! I’m kind of a solitary person by nature, and I work best alone.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
I actually have two pieces of advice:
1. Don’t ever give up. I firmly believe that if you are tenacious enough, if you are willing to learn, and if you just keep writing, you will eventually be published. This book is the third manuscript I wrote; the first two will probably never see the light of day. Before them, I started and stopped another three manuscripts, probably about 60,000 words total. These weren’t a waste of time though; I learned the lessons I needed to learn to be published. The fourth manuscript that I wrote is the one that landed me my agent, Michele Rubin of Writers House.
2. Read, read, read. Read everything; books in your genre, books not in your genre, non-fiction and fiction, literary classics, writing references and manuals. Read anything and everything that interests you. Read what repulses you. Read, dissect, and analyze the novels that move you the most.
 I honestly feel that this is the only way to truly become a writer. Sure it helps to be born with talent. Yeah, it’s great if you have an MFA. But the only way you’ll ever really learn to write, is to read.

Find Amy Newman online
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