Author’s Spotlight: Amanda Jaeger Interview

Amanda Jaeger, author of The Fallen in Soura Heights.

1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

Amanda Jaeger – no pen name because I can barely keep up with one version of me. I’m from Virginia USA and a murderino mom of two spitfire kiddos.

2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

The Fallen in Soura Heights is a contemporary psychological suspense that is written for murderino sleuths who know better than to trust anything too charming. As my first release, this came out March 2021. I’m currently working on a companion novel that should have just as many true crime Easter Eggs on creepy undertones.

3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?

Fey Anderson. Oh man. She’s a quiet bookish girl who fell in love early on and still hasn’t fully figured herself out. She’s a little whiny and a lot curious. She chews gum to quieten the panic attacks and has a huge fear of the forest. But just like any novel hero, she’s ready to put her fears aside to finally get justice for her husband.

4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?

The freaking opening. Holy crap I rewrote that a bajillion times. It’s hard to figure out which scene is THE scene that starts it all off.

5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?

Ah, the age-old question. I wanted to traditionally publish because that felt like the ultimate validation. But I couldn’t even get past the qualifications for an agent to even look at it: 80k to 100k words. When writing fiction, I tend to hold myself back to the language that matters and cut anything that’s fluff. As much as I tried to get to that 80k range, everything I added past 60k felt like unnecessary fluff. And I hated that. So, I decided I didn’t need the validation of a publisher. Because asking for an agent to look at it would mean asking for an agent to look at something that wasn’t the best possible version of itself.

6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?

Freaking marketing. Even as a full-time copywriter, I struggle marketing my writing to people in a way that doesn’t feel gross. AKA: Buy my book! It’s as good as Stephen King! It’s the best book! You’re going to love it!

Ew. As with all other writers, I’m still learning how to turn this journey into a full blown author-preneurship. My advice? Don’t market to “everyone.” Your writing (and mine) isn’t for everyone. If it was, it would be freaking boring. There is a specific audience for you and you want to talk directly to them when marketing.

7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I’m not a series writer (though who knows if I’ll feel the same way in a year…two years…etc). However, I love the idea of companion pieces. If you’ve ever seen American Horror Story all the way through, you might know what I mean.

Every season (or in my case, book) stands on its own. You can watch (or read) it in any order and everything will make sense. BUT if you watch all the seasons (or read my books), there are characters that make appearances in the different stories. So, you’ll see connections you wouldn’t see otherwise. My goal is to make those connections throughout my novels without necessarily being a series. My second novel, BreathTaken (in progress) is doing just that. It’s a total standalone, but if you’ve read The Fallen in Soura Heights, you’ll get a tad more out of it.

8. What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

I could say my favorite authors are Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine (who I read everything I could get my hands on as a kid). I could also say that Stephen King is a favorite (I did write a thirty-page senior thesis on Misery and present it to my entire English department in college.)

But my current favorite authors are the indie authors who are busting their tails to get their stories written and shared to their ideal readers. I have never met a more supportive and endearing community with imaginations that bust through anything else in the mainstream world. As far as inspiration? I’ve always been a writer. Always. I wrote a story on Hurricane Hugo in the First Grade and won a writing award for it. I collected journals and wrote short stories all over the place. I took extra writing classes outside of my campus in college and busted my butt to get published in a magazine. I knew one day I’d be a real published author. So, when the world turned itself upside down due to the pandemic, I was gifted the time to finally force myself to do it.

9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?

Connections. Honest and authentic connections.

I avoid the comparison game like the plague. I try not to post on social media about the “need” to buy what I write just because it’s out there.

I try to give the impression of what my writing and how my characters should make my readers feel. And yes, I will chat the “ear” off anyone who messages me. I never expect someone to buy/read. But if I can connect my message to someone before it’s in their hands, it’s more likely they’ll pick it up.

10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?

I don’t love overly used clichés (“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” “Light at the end of the tunnel,” etc) and I don’t love mega-telling. I want all my senses engaged, not just sight. I’m the kind of person who can read a book where literally nothing actually happens…but if it’s written in a way where it grabs my feelings and puts me right in the spot of the character, I’m all about it.

11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?

Of course I do, hard not to, isn’t it? My thought on negative feedback: I know my story isn’t for everyone. Maybe the reader had a bad day. Maybe they’d rather read a smutty romance. Maybe they weren’t in a great frame of mind when they read it.

But also? Negative feedback is NOT bad. It’s a huge tool. I knowingly wrote a slow burn suspense and now I’ve seen some people really didn’t like that. So, I tried to pick up the pace a little in my current work in progress. The key is to ask yourself: “Do they have a good point to what they’re saying? Is this something I could improve on later? How could I “fix” this in the next work so that my reader won’t even give this a second thought?”

12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?

My biggest quirk: I talk to my characters.

I completely wing the story – starting with whatever scene popped into my head first and develop what happens around it. I’ll jump from chapter 10 to 1 to 18 to 5, and then puzzle piece it around until it makes flowing sense.

But anytime I feel stuck and I have no idea what’s supposed to happen, I stop writing and talk to my characters. I’ll ask them what’s up, why they’re in the middle of getting into their car with nowhere to go. Why they just said the thing they said. Why they’re afraid to take the next step forward.

Nine times out of ten, I’ll go to sleep talking to them and wake up with their voices clear in my head. That’s when the best pieces come out: When my characters are telling their story to me.

13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?

Best advice: Write what you want to write. That doesn’t mean to go all willy-nilly without seeking out advice when you need it. It means find the thing you love and let the story play out. You’ll have way more fun with it and this should be a fun career.

My advice to new writers: Do it. Just freaking do it. So many people say they want to write a story/book/novel and for some reason, that’s where the dream ends: in the “wanting” stage. If you want something done, do it. Stop sitting on the edge of everything. Stop looking for the perfect way to do it. Stop researching “How to write a novel” and just put words to paper. All the how-to’s and betterment in writing will come later but your dream of writing a novel will never happen if you don’t actually take action.

14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

Yup! My WIP is BreathTaken, which is a companion to The Fallen in Soura Heights. It’s a psychological suspense that was inspired by a true crime story about a man who collected an insane amount of leaves in his house. He also murdered a family and shoved a corpse in the hollow of a tree. BreathTaken is NOT a retelling of that story, but elements of that inspired certain scenes in this creation.

15. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

The BEST way to contact me is Instagram. I do have a Facebook author account and Amazon page, I’m on Goodreads, and I do have a “pretty” little website of my own.

If you’d like to be featured in an interview, please check out the interview submissions page to submit your answers.

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