1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?
My name is Amélia Cognet, and yes, with an accent, it’s French! I was born and raised in France, but I’ve been living in the U.S. for ten years. After spending five years in Boston, I now live in South California.
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?
I just released my second book, which is the first instalment of a four-book series called Celeste. Book One is called The Shadow Man, and it’s about a young, deaf girl gifted (or cursed) with incredible empathy. She can feel and have an impact on people’s feelings, and the shadow lurking in her house wants her at all costs. I would classify it as cozy horror and paranormal thriller. It’s not very gory and not so scary that some people can’t handle it. It can actually be very uplifting in some parts.
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?
The main character, Riley, is my favorite of all. She had a terrible childhood at the end of an abusive father. She was told repeatedly she was stupid only because she’s hard of hearing, and was made fun of by her classmates. She goes through a huge transformation in this first book. She’s still scared and awkward, but changes toward being an absolute badass who can kick ass and protect her friends. She’s incredibly perceptive and has a visceral need to help and protect the people she loves.
4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?
With no hesitation, it was a scene relating to physical abuse. I won’t describe it here, and while there is no depiction of sexual violence or rape in this book, there is an assault attempt that made me deeply uncomfortable when I wrote it, and then each time I had to revise and edit it.
5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?
I am a self-published author. I have no patience to query.
6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?
I think the most difficult part of writing is the writing itself. Putting thoughts into words. You have these clear scenes in your head, but when you write them down, it seems like some of it gets lost in translation. The best advice I can give, one I apply to myself, is to just keep writing. It’s tempting to go back a thousand times over a chapter, and by all means, do what works for you, but make sure you finish the damn book. The first draft doesn’t have to be good, and spoiler, it WON’T be. It’ll be crap, and it’s alright. Embrace the suck and get this story out of your head. Once it’s done, you can polish it as many times as necessary to make it look like you knew what you were doing this whole time.
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 like to think that all my characters live in the same world and could potentially meet. It’s challenging because I have to set rules for myself, for this world, and stick to them. But the idea that there could be a cross-over one day is also exciting.
8. What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?
Well, Stephen King is a favorite, obviously. I read my first book from him, Salem’s Lot, when I was thirteen. Now I have many other authors that I absolutely love and that inspire me every time I read them. Darcy Coates is my favorite as far as gothic horror goes, and Riley Sager is a fantastic thriller writer. But yeah, Stephen King is my first love, and I suppose he’s the one who made me want to write in the first place. I would write and then show my stuff to my friends, who acted like it was the best thing they had ever read even though it was probably really bad. It was a lot of fun.
9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?
I honestly don’t know what the best way to market is. Instagram is pretty great. I connected with a lot of super nice people and authors that way. I have a newsletter as well. Lots of people love TikTok, but I’m too self-conscious of my French accent and I just don’t like to be filmed, so it’s not for me. I was advised not to pay for ads until I have a few books out, something I agree with, so I’ll wait to fully publish this series until I dabble in ads.
10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?
I’m not one to judge. I think every cliché or trope can be turned into something original. I can’t say writing about ghosts, like I do, is super original, yet in all the books about haunted houses I’ve read, none resembled another. I think there’s a market and a readership for any genre as well as any writing style. It’s all about finding what you love.
11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?
I’m a newbie, so yes, I absolutely read reviews of my books, only because I don’t have many of them yet. For now, I haven’t experiences bad reviews, but I know it’ll come, eventually. I hope I’ll be able to brush it off. Not everyone will like me, and some negative reviews might even make good points that I can learn from. I know all that, but maybe I’ll go cry in the shower when that first one star review comes.
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?
I’m a pantser and work in a chaotic way. I know where to start and know where to end, but some scenes remain a mystery to me until the moment I have to write them. Sometimes there’s a plot twist I don’t even see coming! For some reason, listening to Chris Stapleton or Journey gets me in the mood to write. I listen to the same songs and albums all day long. It drives my husband crazy when he’s not far. I’m listening to Journey as I’m answering those questions.
13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?
One that really stuck to me, as someone who writes in her second language, was “write with the words you would use to tell a story around campfire.” I loved it, and it lifted a weight off my chest. My writing isn’t fancy or complicated, but it gets the job done and conveys what I need it to convey. I would give this advice to anyone, as well as “don’t give up.” Writing is hard. It’ll make you happy at times, and other times you’ll deal with imposter syndrome and think your writing is crap and no one will like it. Just don’t give up if you love it. There is always room for improvement. There are people out there who can help you and support you. If I didn’t speak English when I moved to the U.S. ten years ago and now publish books written in English, then I’m pretty sure anyone can do it. You need to be patient and perseverant.
14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?
I always keep the ball rolling. I just published book one of the Celeste series, but book two is already written and almost ready to go the editor, and I’m a few thousand words from finishing the first draft of book three.
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:
If you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll automatically receive a short paranormal horror story. Perception (my standalone and debut novel) is on sale at $1.99 on Kindle until October 31st.
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