Features

What is YA Literature?

While I often write about YA novels and their authors, it is important to know what exactly young adult literature is. For starters, young adult novels themselves are novels written for a younger audience, typically middle-schoolers and high-schoolers.

On the surface, that may seem like all that’s necessary for an explanation. Delving deeper, I set out to look at the genre a little more closely.

Genre of the Month, July - Fantasy

Interview: Amy Hopkins

Diannika Alyse Star: Thank you for agreeing to speak with us for Fantasy month!

To start with, could you tell us a little about your “Talented” series?

Amy Hopkins: Sure! Talented is an urban fantasy set in modern day London. It contains open-world magic – Fae and other magical creatures wander the streets in plain view, and magic is used openly.

Emma is our heroine. She’s a simple teashop owner, content to sell her enchanted tea with the help of Gibble (her boggart assistant) to the magical population. Until, that is, someone tries to kill her.

It’s not just a simple thriller. The books deal with themes of bigotry, and standing up to those who misuse power. Emma isn’t a super-strong, unbeatable magician. She’s a half-blood, weaker and with limitations on her power. She needs to learn to work with what she has to overcome not just the bad guys, but the prejudice against her kind

Star: I’d definitely agree it’s not just a thriller. What inspired you to write the series?

Hopkins: I’ve been working on bits of stories forever, but this one just seemed ‘right’. I’ve always adored fantastical worlds, and knew that anything I wrote would fall under the SFF banner. This one just kind of fell out of my head and onto the page, and each book makes me even more sure it was the right choice.

Star: Do you feel ‘spoiled’ by how easy it was, or have all your books been like that?

Hopkins: I’ve always found writing easy, in the first phase. However, I tend to run out of steam and really have to push myself through the end. Editing is also really tough for me, I find it utterly exhausting! It’s an interesting balance of absolute joy and really hard work.

Star: I’m sure plenty of aspiring authors reading this will be relieved to hear that they aren’t the only ones who don’t like editing;)

You have 3 published books so far, correct? I believe the most recent came out 2 days ago on kindle? (note to readers: This interview took place on 6/22/2016)

Hopkins: Yes, it did! I’m launching this one slowly, so I haven’t really publicized it yet.

Star: When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?

Hopkins: I don’t remember there ever being a time I didn’t want to, I just never saw it as a viable career path. I thought writers were these highly educated, incredibly talented, big-city people that had done something I could never attain

Star: And when did that change?

Hopkins: Last year. I was running a blog and found out about self publishing. I decided to write a nonfiction book (on body positive health) and found out more about the process through that. Around the same time I decided to finally have a go at nanowrimo during a camp month, and took time off work, study and writing my non-fiction to start the first of the Talented series. I wrote about 25 thousand words that month, but never imagined it would turn into what it has. It was just a passion project to begin with.

Star: And you already have 3 of them out?! Now that IS inspiring, at least to me 🙂

Will there be more to the series after Truth Taker? I have to admit, My TBR list means I’ve only had a chance to read the first one so far :’(
Hopkins: It looks good because I managed it well! Dream Stalker was pretty much done by Christmas last year, except for applying beta reader feedback and last proofing. Barrow Fiend was my November nano project, and was partially through beta-feedback when the first book was released. I had a head start, but I plan to try and keep to a release schedule of at least one every three months.

Talented will be six to eight books long, and there will be at least one spin off series if it goes well. I also plant to write a SciFi series, and have that ready to launch by Christmas, and I’d like to fit in a steampunk serial next year as well.

Star: oooh I can’t wait! You certainly are ambitious 🙂

Do you think it will be difficult to move to scifi while also writing fantasy?

Hopkins: No – to me, they’re both about impossible worlds and new ideas. Science is just an explanation for how magic happens.

Star: Well, I have to admit, I hope you choose to write science fantasy at some point, with that way of thinking!

Who would you say has inspired you most in your writing?

Hopkins: Enid Blyton. She was the author who taught me the wonder of books, and of new worlds. She instilled a love of words and all things British into my young brain.

As an adult, I’d say a combination of Jacqueline Carey, who has a way with words that makes you fall in love with a phrase or description; and that cliquey group of fantasy writers who talk about their craft. Pat Rothfuss on the Story Board and Brandon Sanderson with Mary Robinette Kowal on Writing Excuses gave me a really solid grounding when I finally put pen to paper. I listened to their stuff for a long time before writing these books and I think it helped me to be a better writer.
On a personal level, fantasy author Katika Schneider has acted as my cheerleader, supporter and my incredibly helpful beta reader. I keep telling her my books wouldn’t be one-tenth as good without her feedback.

Star: I have one final question before I let you go.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Hopkins: Figure out why you’re doing this, and put the appropriate amount of resources into it. If you really, honestly want to make this your job, treat it like one. That means you have to *work*, every day. You have to do the hard stuff, take care of the business end, invest in it, learn the process – not just of writing, but of marketing, selling, getting your work out. You can’t wait for the muse, bounce around unfinished projects and make excuses. You need a plan, and you need to work *hard*. IF you can do that, if you can really, truly do the work even when it’s not fun, this is the best time ever to be an author. There are limitless opportunities and a voracious audience, if you create the work and help them find it.

Star: I’ve really enjoyed speaking with you today. Thank you for taking
the time for an interview.

Hopkins: Thanks for the opportunity!


You can find Amy Hopkins on Twitter and Instagram @spellscribe .