Thursday, January 2, 2014

Interview with Amanda M. Lyons.

Full Name:
Amanda M. Lyons

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
Not really.  Some of my family call me Mandy, Todd (my fiance) calls me Manda and one of my brothers has been known to call me Nando.  I have no idea why on that last one.

A tiny town in Ohio.

Current hometown:
The same town actually, I’ve been here most of my life.

Favorite city and why?
Hmm I haven’t travelled much but Cleveland is rather nice for concerts and I read a lot of books that happen to be set in New Orleans.

Birthday / Age:
November 8, 1980 So I’m 33

How would you describe yourself physically?
Geeky with grey eyes, medium brown hair and plus sized.

How would someone else describe you physically?
Probably not much differently with most people but Todd tells me I’m beautiful.

The first thing people notice about you is…
I’m quiet, maybe my eyes.  I’m very introspective and watchful.

Religion, if any?
Universalist: everything is connected and everything matters.  Bit more about science and a wee bit of paganism than a religion.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
Hmm, not really.  I’m a big chicken about snakes and death.  I used to imagine snakes were crawling around trying to get me as a kid and have had panic attacks about dying in the last.  Let’s just say my birth/pregnancy experiences were a wee bit upsetting.

Do you smoke / drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
I don’t smoke and only drink on rare occasion.  I tend to favor vodka and Southern Comfort.  I nibble at the skin on the edges of my fingernails.
I tend to pick at the skin at the edge of my fingernails with other fingernails but I learned that if you use a nail clipper to trim the skin it cures hangnails.

Fair enough.  I started doing it as a kid and never stopped.  I was a nervous kid and I still have anxiety now.

Current occupation / Dream job:
Author/Editor with J Ellington Ashton Press currently doing the dream job.
I think you’re, like, the third editor I’ve interviewed from J Ellington Ashton Press.  Actually, you’re literally the third.  I interviewed Catt Dahman, Mark Woods, and Susan Simone… okay, you’ll be the fourth.  Just how many editors does J Ellington Ashton Press have working for them… and are they hiring?
There are several of us but some of us have specializations and certain genres we read.  Some are for content, others for grammar and then the genre specifics or even separate lines as with Mark and Lace 21.  It makes things run smoother and all of us have plenty to work on.  Susan’s our Executive Editor and Catt’s a CEO so both of them also have a lot of other work to do.  I think I was the last editor we’ll be hiring on for a while.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I love doing anything creative (painting, drawing, sewing etc) walking in nature, spending time with the kids watching movies, reading and photography.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
I will do my level best to run to a safe haven with my family (preferably in a vehicle of some sort).  I have no weapons training.  This is odd especially in light of all of the zombie films I’ve seen over the years and lifelong recurring dreams about them as well.
Plus you do live in America where we have more handguns than college graduates.
Yep, but I’ve never been around more than one or two guns my entire life, believe it or not and I’m in a very rural area.

Weapon of choice:
Knives and blunt instruments.  Given the training swords and staffs as well.

Do you have any special skills?
Mostly creating.  I love doing it.  Also some very limited Spanish and German language skills.  I had 4 years of the former and 2 of the latter in high school.  As a result I often have random bouts of Spanglan.   I also do a great job of creating bad fake accents which I use at random for no reason other than the fact it felt right at the time.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
No, I just didn’t have the money.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
I have a cat named Bast.

What is your favorite animal?
Cats (both house and big) and wolves.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
Close-minded people.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
Italian all though I’m always willing to try new things.
I hate black eyed peas and Okra.
I tried okra when I was in basic training in South Carolina.  It tasted like deep-fried short-lengths of braided rug.  I’m still not convinced it’s really food.
I can imagine.  I’ve heard enough horror stories about it that there probably aren’t too many people that would eat it outside of desperation or some great gumbo.  I actually forgot to mention tofu.  I tried it when I went vegetarian for a 7 month stretch and instantly disliked it.
The trick to tofu is in the preparation.  If you cube it small and fry it and spice it well, maybe using some teriyaki, it’s decent.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” - Anais Nin

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
First Todd and then our kids.  There’s been a lot of craziness but it’s all been worth it.

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
I’ve had a few.  Losing Todd’s mom when he was 22, our 2nd baby at 18 weeks and going through eviction this year.  We’re stronger for having gotten through them.

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer? Lots of times.  Not really, mostly me falling for the wrong person and not realizing it until the damage was done.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer? Not that I’m aware of.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
Becoming a mom, standing up for my beliefs after a very long time of staying silent on so many things.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Letting self-doubt hold me back in so many areas of my life.

If you could kill one person, who would it be, and why?
Hmm not sure I would.  Only anyone who intended to harm my family I suppose.

What do you do?
I write horror with edges of other genres and just started as an editor at JEA.

How did you get started doing what you do?
The writing started when I was in 6th grade.  I wrote a story that caught the attention of my teacher and he encouraged me to keep writing.  I never stopped, even when I started to wonder if I was any good at it.  JEA recently signed me for Wendy Won’t Go a literary horror novelette and they asked me to do an editing test for them because they needed more editors.  I passed and I’m working on my first manuscript now.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do? Read and read and read then write and write and write no matter how much you feel it sucks.  You learn from other authors and lots and lots of practice.  Invest the time and don’t give up.  Sometimes it takes a lifetime of effort but the end results are worth it.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past?
Give us a little history if you will.
I have one novel self-published.  Eyes Like Blue Fire, is the first in a series about vampires and this month Wendy Won’t Go came out from J Ellington Ashton Press.  It’s a novelette about a ghost but it’s also a bit more than that.  The story has a lot of dimensions and I hope that readers will find is moving as well as spooky.

What projects are you working on now?
I’m finishing up my stories for a short horror collection I’m working on with my brother Robert Lyons II called Aprocrypha.  In the general future I also have several manuscripts I’ll be finishing and getting out there as fast as I can.  I’m making up for lost time now that I have the ball rolling.

What are you watching?
Mostly B films.  Todd and I watched a terrible action film the other day called Miami Connection and that’s a lot of what we watch other than kids movies like Monsters University with our son.  We’ve been pretty busy for a while now and it’s nice to watch something you can laugh at.  We even go to B movie nights with some friends every couple of months, it’s nice.

What are you listening to?
Lots of soundtracky things like Goblin, John Carpenter, Clint Mansell, Danny Elfman, Angelo Badalamenti.  Some of the classics like Pink Floyd, and a lot of goth/industrial dark wave as well.
Ooh!  Now THAT’S interesting!  I think you’re the first interviewee to mention Angelo Badalamenti before I mentioned it in a follow-up comment.  You’d probably like Howard Shore, Christopher Young, and Kavinsky too.  I’m a bit of a soundtrack enthusiast myself.  I just checked my media player and I’ve got 175 albums and 3,390 songs in my soundtrack genre folder.  What do you like for goth industrial and dark wave?
I’ll have to look into those!  I also like Phillip Glass and quite a few others.  I’m not sure who did the Last of the Mohicans Soundtrack but it’s also one of my favorites.  Hedwig and the Angry Inch is another.  As far as goth, industrial and darkwave: I like The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Anders Manga, Gravity Kills, London After Midnight, Mortiis, Collide, NIN, Gary Numan, Joy Division, Suicide Commando, Die Form, Blutengel, The Birthday Massacre, KMFDM, Rammstein, Android Lust, Celldweller, Godhead, Killing Joke, Snake River Conspiracy, Wumpscut, Zeromancer, Diary of Dreams, Black Tape for A Blue Girl, Lacrimosa, VNV Nation, Lestat, Big Electric Cat, The Wake, Bauhaus, Nightwish, Nick Cave, Type O Negative, tons and tons of stuff.  I also like a lot of punk, grunge, 60s, metal, new wave, trip-hop, and alternative.  I honestly listen to just about every genre.  Steam Powered Giraffe is an example of some of the interesting to the side of everything music I listen to as well.  My brother Robert and I are always finding new music (new to us anyway) and sharing it with each other.  

What are you reading?
I just finished Blockade Billy by Stephen King and started NO54A2 by Joe Hill.

Favorite author / book?
I have a lot of favorites.  The Stand and It by Stephen King, Imajica by Clive Barker and Drawing Blood by Poppy Z Brite are just a few examples.  I’m also a big fan of Neil Gaiman, Gary Braunbeck, Ray Garton, Joe Hill, Brian Keene and Anne Rice.  I read books in just about every genre.

Favorite band / song?
I listen to most genres of music too.  I love The Cure, The Tea Party, Tori Amos, Bjork, Led Zeppelin, Fever Ray, Johnny Gnecco and Ours, just tons of stuff.  Especially goth, alternative and grunge.  Lovesong, Keep the Streets Empty for Me, All is Full of Love and the whole Twin Peaks soundtrack are some particular favorites.

Least favorite band / song?
I’m not a fan of most country and rap.  They just aren’t my cup of tea.

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do? Painting and/or drawing.  It’s not that I can’t do them I just wish my ability was better than it is.  Maybe invest a bit more in photography as well.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met?
You get three choices: Alive. Dead. Fictional.
Gary Braunbeck, Edgar Allan Poe or Lovecraft, Rachel Morgan

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
Writing and being a mom are the best.  Working fast food was the worst.
Everyone says that working fast food was the worst.  Either that or working retail of being a call-center rep.  I don’t know why everyone hates working in fast food.  I worked at a Taco Bell between getting out of the military and getting into college and I had a blast.  If the pay was better I’d probably still be working at a Taco Bell now.  Then again, my manager was dealing pot through the drive-thru window so he was probably a bit more lenient than your typical manager.
I worked at McDonald’s, BK, Wendy’s and Subway.  The only good one of those was Subway which was probably closer to your experience at Taco Bell.  It was more relaxed and I had a good manager.  My experience at the other three was godawful.  We had bad managers, crappy crews and way too much drama.  At BK we had a great store manager get fired by a jealous district manager and a ton of people walked, leaving me to try to run board, grill and fryer while the DM’s son barked orders at me through a rush.  I probably just had crap luck when it came to jobs in general.  The only other place I worked that wasn’t a youth job program was Wal-mart.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?
No, I think this was a pretty solid series of questions.

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
Michael Brooks, Eleanor Tombs and Michael Kanuckel

Got any questions for me?
Nothing I can think of at the moment.

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!
No problem and thanks for the opportunity!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.

About the Interviewee:

A longtime fan of horror and fantasy Ms. Lyons writes character driven novels that, while influenced by her darker interests, can also be heavily laced with fantasy, romance, history and magic.  Amanda M. Lyons has lived her whole life in rural Ohio where she lives with her fianc√© and two children.  Eyes Like Blue Fire is her first novel. Wendy Won't Go, a novelette was recently released from  J. Ellington Ashton Press and she's currently at work on Apocrypha a short horror collection with Robert Edward Lyons II.  Amanda is also an editor with J Ellington Ashton Press.

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island, and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
He is currently working on ten novel-length book projects which will be released in 2014.
He also publishes themed collections of interviews from his interview blog You Are Entitled To My Opinion.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces electronic music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
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