Author of The Survivors Series Gabs and Gives Away!! Enter to Win!

Nov 22nd, 2011 | By | Category: Book of the Month, Contests, Featured Articles, Site News

Amanda Havard-Author of The Survivors Series

We are so excited to introduce you to Amanda Havard, the author of our Book of the Month for November, The Survivors! We truly think you’ll love this new series and want to know what happens just like the rest of us! You can read reviews of The Survivors here. Twilight Series Theories had the opportunity to pick Amanda’s brain and ask her some questions. You don’t want to miss her thoughtful answers! Look below to read through her interview. Then, enter to win a SIGNED COPY of her beautiful book published by Chafie Press, The Survivors. We’re giving TWO away! And…One of the lucky winners will receive a SWAG BAG filled with The Survivors goodies as well as their signed book! All you have to do is comment below with any question you would like to ask the author, Amanda Havard! This contest will close at MIDNIGHT-NOVEMBER 30th!

1. Looking through your bio and how The Survivors got started, you say that you have a 5 book outline. Is your plan still to create five books in this series? Will each book continue to focus on Sadie Matthau as your leading lady, or will you trade spots with each of the other Survivors?

The Survivors as it was originally conceived and executed was certainly and does remain a five-book series. Does that mean I couldn’t write more? Surely not. Or even that this is all I will write in this world? Of course not. But it does mean that this story is still on track to be a five book series.

And as for points of view and such, I can only speak to book 2, The Survivors: Point of Origin, which is written in Sadie’s voice like the first is.

2. Who would you cast as your main characters if your book were to be made into a movie and you could choose anyone?

This is a much tougher question than it seems. I’ve never found a Sadie, not really. I see actresses who look the part and couldn’t pull her off, and then those who could pull her off but don’t look a bit like her. So the jury is out on that one.

As for the boys, Matt Bomer looks the most like Everett in my head, and he has a sort of ageless, strikingly beautiful quality about him, which is helpful. Don’t believe me? Go look at a photo of him!

For Cole, he started with me thinking of my darling friend, Grant Harling (who you can see playing Cole in our music video due out this month for our next Survivors song, “Who You Are”). But as for someone you’d know? I’d say Armie Hammer from The Social Network.

And oh, Mark. My dear, dear Mark. I’d always thought it but been reticent to admit it until I could use a certain photo as a defense, but I think Zac Efron would actually do a phenomenal job with him.

And Ginny Winter, my blonde bombshell? Well I see her everywhere, in my head, in airports, in magazines, in a glammed up Jennifer Lawrence or badass Brooklyn Decker.

3. If someone were to write a book about your life, what do you think the most prominent theme would be?

Tie between two–First: that learning, question asking, researching, curiosity, and the like are the bones of success, creativity, and magic-making.
At least they have been for me. Second? Sometimes the best somethings are made out of nothings.

4. I’m sure it’s nerve-wracking to release a novel out into the world. What is the one scene from the book that you are most
nervous to have people read?

Ha, what a question! I’m generally not nervous to have people read what I write. It could be fearlessness, over-confidence, or some middle-of-the-road mix of the two, but I’m just so damn excited that other people are getting to live in my story world that it overcomes everything else.

But I’ll say this: I’m nervous for Sadie in her most vulnerable moments. Scars exposed, come undone. I’m nervous for you to feel what she feels because, in so many ways, it’s what I feel. But the excitement that comes from my darling characters getting up and off the page, off my desk and into your hands, into your minds, walking through your thoughts, burying themselves in your hearts? That outweighs any fear I could ever have. It has to. Otherwise, I’m in the wrong line of work.

5. What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author? Best compliment? How did you handle those comments?

Criticism is okay. Criticism in the sense of hearing what doesn’t work and what does, of hearing something has to change to make it better… That’s all great. That all helps me get further into the story and get the story to a better place. But criticism and negativity are two different things. Negativity is harder to swallow because it’s rarely delivered from an informed space. The hardest thing to deal with for me has really been overcoming people’s really ridiculous misconceptions or preconceived (negative) notions about being on a small publisher. My publisher is amazing, and I’ve gotten to do SO many things I’d never have gotten to do if I were on a bigger publisher. I wouldn’t trade the experiences for the world. But there are so many people who won’t review the book or read it or give it a fair shake because it comes from a smaller publisher. This kills me. How and when did we get so indoctrinated to the idea that a good story can only exist in a few, select places?

And the best compliment? I can’t even count. Having my book out there has been this solidly amazing experience where I get to let people into the deepest, most meaningful parts of myself, and the fact that thousands of people have come forward to share their love of my story world with me, to tell me how they related to the human parts of my inhuman Sadie, how they stayed up all night thinking about my Everett, or how they just can’t get the story out of their heads? Well, those are all the greatest compliments. And I’m grateful for each one of them.

Like everything else, when it comes to these matters, you must handle yourself with confidence. Be confident in your story and in your work, be confident that you are level headed enough to know a good idea when someone shares it with you or know a decision you should change when it
deserves changing, that you are strong enough to defend your work, and that you are deserving of those compliments.

6. If you could have the absolute perfect day what would it look like? What would you do?

I’d write a scene or a sequence that would give me those floaty, elated, high feelings, like awesome scenes are wont to do. Then, when I was ready to get out among the world, I would shop. Shop some more. And then shop a little more. Then I’d top the day off with a super amazing concert, to reestabilish that floaty, elated, high feeling I felt earlier from the scenes. Then I’d have an amazing dinner with friends, eating good food, enjoying good company.

And then I’d write again…

7. Knowing that the publishing world is changing quite a bit these days, where do you see it heading? What do you hope
is the future for books and their readers over the next few years?

I think we’re in a crucial moment in publishing. It’s an adapt or die kind of moment, and though I know I’m an early adapter, I’m interested to see who else will come to this side. Personally, I’m excited to see where things are headed. I think technology has yet to play the role in books that it can and will. (This I’m sure of. Look me up in December, and you’ll know what I mean.) I think we haven’t yet embraced the possibilities of what a world where we can consume media in so many ways can and will do for stories– story telling, story creation, story experiencing.

I’d like to see those who make stories — those who write, publish, and generally control stories — embrace what’s to come almost as much as I hope readers will grow to value all the cool experiences they’ll soon be offered. I’m excited at the possibilities. I’m ready to see where it goes.

As for me, I have some of the seeds planted. I’ve gotten to write original songs to go along with the series, and I even got to direct the latest music video for one. My characters have Twitter accounts to let you follow the story from before the words on the page, in the spaces in between, and in moments softer and more informal than in the book. You can ask them questions, and they’ll respond. This and a number of other things we have coming are ways for me to give you a bigger, better, more immersive story world. That’s what I’m all about.

8. I know you are a singer/songwriter. Can you tell the reader how the world of music plays itself out in your books and in your writing process?

I’ve said time and time again that music is the single biggest influence in the creation of The Survivors and all I write, and that continues to be the case. The story, in truth, all began with Coldplay’s “Violet Hill,” and after that, as I would find a song to fit the emotion I wanted a scene to hold, I’d use it as a soundtrack for writing, and now you can use it as a soundtrack for listening.

But it’s not just the inspirational quality of other people’s music that played a part in this series. Those original Survivors songs I mentioned that are now radio-style songs were once only me at my piano. I had these fragmented versions of songs in the beginning that I would write when it was 2 a.m., I needed to get through a scene, and I needed to focus. I ended up writing songs as a character exercise almost, as a way to figure out what one character needed to say to another—or even herself— in fifty words or less. This was an extremely useful part of the process for me, and though now those bones of acoustic songs are now something else entirely, I’m thrilled that they served their purpose in their original forms and serve a new purpose now.

At the end of the day, music is absolutely crucial to the way I write these stories, and I’d love nothing more than for it to be a part of the reading experience too.

9. What is one habit you wish you could change about yourself?

I imagine myself as a quiet mysterious type whose few words communicate the world about her. And yet, I talk at about a million miles a minute and say generally too much. I think I’d change that in a heartbeat.

10. I know my answer, but…we want to know yours…Cole, Everett, and Mark are very different, and extremely LOVELY, male characters. Which one of your characters is more your “type”? (I REALLY wanted to ask you which one would you like to be locked in a closet for 7 minutes with?? ;-) )

Oh Mark all the way. In practically any interview I’ve given, I say Mark is my favorite character. Then I say I’m the most like him, that he’s the most like me. And then in questions like this, I say I’d like to be with him the most. Then… I see a problem.

11. What is the one book on your bookshelves that you would read and reread again?

The House on Mango Street. Always magic. Instant inspiration. Beauty in its simplicity.

12. Quick choice or short answer questions:

Chocolate or vanilla— Vanilla

Scruff or clean-shaven men— Scruff

Tattoos or piercings—Tattoos (Not on me! Don’t worry, Dad.)

Beach or mountains— Mountains

Believe in love in first sight? I believe in everything.

Biggest fear? Not reaching my potential.

13. If you could choose four authors, dead or alive, to make up your very own dream critique group, who would they be and why?

I cheated and gave you five. Mainly because I thought this was four, wrote out the explanations, and then realized it was five. So five it is.

Janet Fitch, who I’m fairly certain would push me to be something inside myself I haven’t tapped yet, though she may not think much of my little YA supernatural fiction.

Sandra Cisneros, who would never let me publish anything that wasn’t authentic.

J.K. Rowling, to help me channel a world more giant than life onto a page.

Ellen Hopkins to push me and never let me get away with crap. I hear she is the toughest critic —and the best.

Melissa de la Cruz, who blends fantasy and detailed reality together better than anyone I’ve ever read, and that’s my favorite thing to do.

Book of the Month Giveaway!!

Don’t forget to comment below in order to win a one of TWO signed copies of Amanda Havard’s The Survivors! Just tell us any question you would want to ask Amanda if you could sit down to dinner with her. What is your burning question?? It could win you a signed copy and a SWAG BAG of Survivor Goodies!

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28 Comments to “Author of The Survivors Series Gabs and Gives Away!! Enter to Win!”

  1. Jeri says:

    What is the series about?

    • Kallieross says:

      Hi Jeri,
      Here is the Official Synopsis from Amazon:
      “In 1692, when witch trials gripped the community of Salem, Massachusetts, twenty-six children were accused as witches, exiled, and left for dead. Fourteen of them survived. The Survivors is the first installment of the tantalizing tales of the fourteen ill-fated Survivors and their descendants, who have been content in hiding for over three centuries. Isolated on a Montana mountainside, only Sadie, the rogue daughter, dares to abandon the family’s sacred hiding place. But no matter how far Sadie runs, something always pulls her back. On a muggy summer night in Tennessee, she witnesses a shocking scene that will change her life forever. It is the first in a sequence of events that will drag her from the human world she’s sought to belong to for over a century and send her back to her Puritanical family and into an uncertain future filled with cunning witches, mysterious nosferatu shape-shifters, dangerous eretica and vieczy vampires, millennia-old mythology, and the search for her own mortality. After all… HOW DO YOU KILL A SURVIVOR?”
      Hope that helps!

  2. Christina Strang says:

    How did you come up with the idea for this series? (What sparked it?) :)

    • Hey Christina!

      The ideas actually came a few places. The longer version of the story is on my website (http://amandahavard.com/behind-the-books/story-behind) but the highlights are this: I wanted to write a YA novel that asked a lot of hard questions. For all the books that come from a human enticed by the supernatural world (which I’ve read and loved), I wanted to think about a supernatural who was enticed by the human world. I knew I wanted to base it in real history and mythology, and I knew I wanted it to take place in the US. That’s how I picked the Salem Witch Trials: the most famous, supernaturally-themed, crisis to take place on our shores. Plus, there’s a darkness to the Salem stories, and there’s definitely a darkness to The Survivors. The fit was perfect.

      Oddly, though, I came up with my main character days before the idea for the story hit.

      Ever since, the more I learn about Salem’s history, about obscure lore from all of the world, and about so many more REAL things, the more my fictional world seems not so fictional at all.

      Thanks for the question!!
      Amanda

  3. C. Bahr says:

    How often do you think your books will be released? I mean do you think you will get one out every year or two years?

    • Hey C,

      There will be five books in the series, and they will come out once a year for the next four years. Next up is The Survivors: Point of Origin, which is due out in the spring of 2012. Plus we’ll have a few more cool things coming out between then and now that you’ll be able to read about soon!

  4. Amber L says:

    Do you have any other book’s in the works or is your main focus on this series for now

    • Hey Amber,

      This series and all of the projects that go with it are definitely my main focus right now, but I’m developing another series along the way. Always have to know the next step!

  5. Michelle R. says:

    O.K., you picked possible people to be in a movie version, but more importantly, any offers yet?

    • Hi Michelle! I somehow missed your question when answering yesterday. My apologies.

      You know how these things go… no one can say a word until something is signed in blood, etc. But it’s safe to say there have been bites…

  6. Joanne Gregory says:

    Did you write stories as a child?

    • Hi Joanne,

      I’ve definitely always written stories. When I was a kid, I wrote a story about three witches that seems particularly relevant now. My mom always tells people about this story I wrote called “The Adventures of Dot Matrix” about people living inside a computer. I was 7, and my dad worked with computers, so I always heard all of these terms that meant nothing to me, so I made them people, and wrote a story about them. In fifth grade, my parents got called into school because I wrote a horror story called “The House on Maple Street” that freaked my teacher out– both because it was somewhat disturbing and because she couldn’t believe a ten-year-old had written it. So… I’ve been telling stories forever, since even before I could write them down.

  7. Katherine says:

    How hard was it to write about something that happened so long ago from a fictional standpoint?

    • Hey Katherine,

      It’s definitely challenging to write in a time you haven’t lived in. There are subtle challenges you don’t expect, and there are things you couldn’t possibly known. But I’m lucky, most of the story takes place in present day, so most of it isn’t as hard.

  8. Crystal says:

    What book do you want to see get made into a movie?

    • Hey Crystal,

      That’s actually a tough question for me. There are tons of books I think would do fantastically as movies, just as there are many (probably many more, to tell the truth) books that I adore but I don’t crave the movies for. Though I’m sure over my reading history, there are a ton I’d love to see turned, I’ll cheat and just give you the one that’s most on my mind: Right now I’m reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and it’s fantastic and very visual. I like to think this means it would do well as a movie– as well it should since the film rights to it were bought before the book even came out!

      I’m also very very excited for The Hunger Games movies too. I devoured that series, and I’m thrilled to see Jennifer Lawrence make Katniss even realer to me.

  9. Jessica Hack says:

    What/Who would you say was your biggest influence to write?

    • Hey Jessica,

      I have had a lot of influences, so it’s hard to pick one or even just the biggest. A lot of the teachers I had along the way had a HUGE impact on my writing process, be it teaching me to research, teaching me to write, teaching me to imagine, and what have you. Collectively, they were probably the biggest influence. Then again, in most interviews, I credit music as being the biggest piece of inspiration for me, so there’s that.

      But I’m a dreamer. I’m the kind of girl who looks at the world around me and wonders “what if?” and I start to tweak reality bit by bit until I see the possibilities of fiction that stem from truth. Every person I meet, every song I hear, every word I read, every movie I see, moment I live, note I play… whatever. It all fuels the weird creative force inside of me, and because of it, I’d say everyone and everything plays an influential role.

  10. rebecca gillatt says:

    What would be the worst thing that anyone could do or say about the series?

    • Hey Rebecca,

      That’s a tough one. There are a lot of terrible things people could say, I think, if they were trying to be mean. In criticism I’ve received, the hardest for me to hear are the ones who don’t give me — who don’t give Sadie — a chance because of quick judgments. Like, something I’ve heard from a few particularly prickly reviewers or readers is this: “Sadie is beautiful. She basically looks like a supermodel, which is stupid. Who cares what someone so beautiful and out of touch with reality has to say?” Or “Man, it’s so boring to read about some gorgeous rich girl’s problems. Like I care!” I mean, I’m obviously paraphrasing here, but that’s the gist. This kills me because it means those readers aren’t reading beyond the surface. Yeah, Sadie is beautiful. That was a purposeful choice because she’s also messed up and living in what I could mildly describe as a century-and-a-half state of discontent. Her beauty is ironic. It’s proof that beauty and people lusting after you, or having all the clothes and the cars, and all these things we associate so often with happiness or perfection aren’t actually what make us who we are. So the worst things people can say are the superficial things because it means they aren’t really reading the story, it means they can’t read the story without removing some bias they have, and worst of all, it means they aren’t reading anything ELSE in the story at a more-than-surface level. And I didn’t go to all the trouble to write a story with a lot of subtle depth for no one to try to see how deep it goes! My choices were all deliberate– they aren’t pretty just because I want them to be, or live extravagant lives because that just sounded cool to me. To me, they’re living, breathing creatures who have real pasts, do real things, have real feelings, and make real choices. It kills me when people read books not thinking this way. What fun is it to not let yourself fall into the fantasy world when you read?

      That was a long answer… Sorry…

  11. Vivien says:

    Did you have to do any research for this novel? What’s the craziest thing you learned if so?

    Vivien
    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

    • Hey Vivien,

      I have actually done so much research for this series that it would make your head spin. If I could attach photos to these comments, I’d snap a pic of my “research table” in my writing studio that’s covered in stacks nearly ten books high, on topics ranging from maps of Salem 1692 to decoding ciphers. This whole thing is just a result of research.

      I’ve learned so many weird things in this process, but my favorite piece I picked up when I was actually in Salem in the Danvers Archival Center below the Danvers Public Library. In the Archives, I found two key pieces of information that were a red flag to me surrounding Abigail Williams, the Reverend Samuel Parris’s niece who first made accusations against their household slave, her accusation starting the hysteria of the witch trials. But here’s the crazy thing: Abigail Williams wasn’t really related to Parris. The term “niece” was used to loosely equate “kinsmen” but there’s no record of how (or if!) the two were related at all. As far as history can tell, she was a young girl living with the Parris family for no reason at all. What’s even weirder? In a town that kept meticulous records of births, deaths (date, place, and cause), marriages, parentage, occupation, and all matter of relation, they have no record of Abigail Williams’ birth parents, birth place, and there is no record of her beyond the time she lived with the Parris family. So… no record of birth or parentage and no record of death for the girl who started the entire thing. Since my fiction exists by filling the holes in history, this gaping hole excites me like you wouldn’t believe.

      Research is the key to everything. It makes your ideas better, even gives you ideas when you’re lacking. Start with the truth, and the fiction will come.

  12. Rhea says:

    In what way can you justify Sadie, the rogue daughter is a survivor?

    • Hi Rhea,

      That’s a great question. You know, the concept of this story being about survivors, about surviving, is interesting for it to be told by a girl who spends half the time trying to kill herself. This juxtaposition has forced me to think about what surviving really is and what it means. And what part of that is general and what part is specific to the individual?

      To me, Sadie is a survivor not just because she is a Survivor. In the book, Sadie and her family members refer to themselves as “Survivors” because they survived impossible odds that would have killed any regular people and have gone on to live for hundreds of years. But Sadie is different. She is everything from a survivor of her own struggles to a survivor in the sense that she’s had to adapt, time and time again to places to which she doesn’t feel she belongs. Maybe she doesn’t.

      One reviewer said it in a way I particularly liked, and so I’ll share that with you here. This is from Emmett at A Book A Day Til I Can Stay:
      “What I enjoyed the most about this book was how Havard demonstrates how Sadie has acclimatized herself to modern life after centuries of isolated existence. It is quite telling that a story that begins with the Salem witch trials is preceded by a musical quote from Coldplay. Sadie even has a Twitter account… While Sadie has lived a sheltered – obsessively so – life behind the walls of the Survivors’ colony, Havard establishes that she has managed remarkably to cope with the vagaries of the outside world. She is a true Survivor.”

      I think there are many levels to Sadie’s survival, let’s call it. Different readers see differences in it. I wonder what you’ll think.

  13. Sarah Parker says:

    What is your favorite type of story/book to read?

    • Hi Sarah,

      I best love historical fiction because it so fully allows me to live in another place in my mind. (And because I’m a total academic nerd, so I love learning about other times and places.) Though I am not sure historical fiction is the thing I should write and so I have not fully embarked on that particular journey just yet, I can imagine my love of the genre is what inspired the historical basis and opening for this story.

  14. Lina says:

    If you could live in any time period, what would it be? This book takes place in the 1700s; would you choose to live then?

    • Hi Lina,

      The Survivors actually opens in the 17th century but mostly takes place in modern day. Though it’s safe to say the past is never too far behind for these characters.

      I’m not sure when I’d live. I don’t know if it sounds strange to say, but I really love the time we’re living in now. I like the freedom, the opportunity. I don’t think there’s ever been a time in history when there are so many ways to make opportunity for ourselves, when there are so many ways to pave your own path or to create in the ways I love to. Sometimes I think about a glossier Mad Men-esque life, or a Elizabethan life of royalty or who knows what else. But in the end, I’m always glad to be living in this moment when anything is possible, and I’m as free-thinking and independent as a person can be. I’m grateful for that.

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