A M Rycroft

‘Beware imps bearing gifts.’

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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I can’t say for sure what made me start my first story when I was very young, but I loved creating stories, even when I shouldn’t have been. (Homework? What homework?) That love just carried through into my adulthood, until I decided I didn’t want to do anything but write.

Tell me about your series.

Her father’s last wish will probably kill her.

The Cathell series starts with Into the Darkness and the sell-sword Aeryn Ravane who has lived a haunted life, haunted by her father’s voice telling her to finish his quest to find Aric, a sword of untold powers. But when she finds the sword, she discovers that it guards a dark secret that threatens all of Cathell. It’s up to her to find a way to master the sword’s powers before the evil she unleashed destroys everything and everyone she cares about.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Five in actual type and two exist just in my head. Two of the five that are in type are almost complete. They’re in the final stages and will be released in early 2018. One is book 4 of the Cathell series and the other kicks off a new sword and sorcery/horror series. The others are later books in the Cathell series.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

I’m generally against it, because the reasoning behind it is usually some kind of moral judgment against the books. I don’t think anyone has the right to say what someone else should or shouldn’t read. Let the reader decide if a book has merit for themselves, not for other people.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

How do I pick just one? Well, if I have to, I’ll pick the young thief Theo, because I usually talk about Aeryn or Thystle.

What’s memorable about her? She’s an orphan who has had to live most of her young life as a thief on the street. So she’s naturally cynical and older than her years in a lot of ways. But she also still has the vulnerability and immaturity of a ten year old. That’s very obvious in The Joy Thief. She likes to act like she’s fine being alone, but she’s really afraid of being abandoned again. She’s also really funny in a sarcastic kind of way.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

I started out indie, but now the imprint I started publishes other authors, so I guess you could say I’m published by a small press now. I started indie, because I was impatient, and I didn’t want to wait on rejection letters and acceptances. That’s the absolute worst reason to go indie, by the way. I got in over my head as a result. I used the first iteration of my first novel as a learning experience, though, and figured out how to publish the right way. Now I help other authors get their work into print.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

I think you at least need to start out reading a lot. Being an avid reader will give you a basic understanding of story structure. But reading alone won’t make you a good writer, no matter what anyone might tell you. Formal training is very helpful. I can tell right away which authors took creative writing courses and which haven’t. I don’t recommend every author get an MFA prior to writing their first book, but taking a handful of creative writing and composition courses goes a long way to making you a better writer as well as being an avid reader.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

The worst is not knowing whether a new book will connect with readers. That’s the thing that keeps me awake at night more than anything.

There are so many great things, though, that outweigh that doubt. I get to travel to undiscovered places and learn about my characters every single day. I have lived a dozen lives through the pages of my books so far, and that number just keeps going up. Plus, I get to meet a lot of fun people, both writers and readers, each time I do a book event.

Honestly, I’ll take the bad with the good any day, if it means I get to be an author for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for any other job out there.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I always tell people that I am an organic writer. Pantser just sounds somehow obscene to me. I prefer to watch a character and their story grow organically, like the branches of a tree.

I know plotting works for some people, and I say do what works for you. But plotting has always felt restrictive to me, and like I’m butting into my characters’ lives too much.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Oh, wow. I’ve never gotten that question before. The answer is yes. There are scenes in some books that have been borrowed from real life, as well as some particular traits of my characters are ones inspired by things that affect me.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

Photography and art. I’ve done both of those almost as long as I’ve been a writer. When I was about 11, I started taking pictures with an old Polaroid camera my parents had, and my grandparents were always buying me art supplies. I’m also very into football and hockey.

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

There are badly edited, poor quality books on both sides of publishing. That’s a fact traditional publishers don’t want you to know. The difference is in how much care the publisher, be they the author or a publishing house, takes when preparing a book. If a lot of time and effort is put into editing and developing a novel, it’ll shine. If not, the flaws will show.

Although, I will say that the number of indie authors who insist on self-editing their work has contributed to the notion that indie published works are of lower quality. No matter how many times you read your own work or send it through Grammarly, you’ll never catch all the typos and mistakes in grammar or structure. So get an editor. Even editors hire editors to read through their work.

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

Sword and sorcery dark fantasy, of course. I don’t know why. I guess I’ve always been fascinated by heroes, dragons, swords. Although, when I was a kid, most of the heroes were male. I usually write about heroic women.

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

Probably not. I enjoy my modern conveniences a little too much. Although, I’d consider a day trip.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

When I started writing my first novel, I had trouble listening to anything with words, so I wrote to mostly instrumental soundtracks. But that changed after I hit book 2. In terms of instrumental stuff, I like the Constantine soundtrack and the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtracks best. I also listen to Bjork, Tool, Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin, Hellyeah, and older Shinedown, among others.

Tell me three unique things about you.

1) I first cut my hair short when I was really young. I caught some flack for being too tomboyish, but I didn’t really care.

2) My favorite thing to do in the gym is weight lifting, and I don’t mean little weights either. When I do bent rows, I pick up the 60lb free weights. I’m not a big fan of cardio.

3) If I had been given the chance to play tackle football as a kid (that wasn’t an option, unfortunately), I would have played defense. I love watching defensive players sack a quarterback or pick off a pass, and I think that would be the greatest feeling to get to do that.

A. M., thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!