Interview with Amber Skye Forbes
Author of When Stars Die
Released October 22, 2013
Released October 22, 2013
Where are you from?
I am from modest Augusta, Georgia and live in Grovetown. I will also give out the address and phone number, because I do want stalkers and paparazzi. I generally prefer to be photographed while doing random ballet in my house, for all you future stalkers and photographers out there.
What inspired you to write your first book?
The Salem Witch Trials, really, though I wouldn't say a whole lot inspired my the book. I had a witch obsession at the time of its inception, so I knew I wanted to write about witches and put a new spin on them that I'm sure no one has ever done before--and I don't think anyone still has yet, even though the book is already out. My witches are born of the Seven Deadly Sins, so they are despised in the universe of The Stars Trilogy. And there is also a lot of other surprising things about my witches that don't exist in your typical witch books or books where witches are hated and burned.
As for the rest of my novel, it seriously all came from my head. I can't even tell you how, but I was fifteen when I started WSD, so my memory might just be muddled.
How did you come up with the title?
There is a point in the book where Amelia is mulling over stars and how when they die, they leave a lasting impact. Through WSD, Amelia strives to leave that lasting impact on her world. She doesn't want to quietly disappear from her world, as many witches do. She wants to go out with a bang, like a star, if she has to, and be remembered. So there is a lot of stars theology in the book, and stars are and will be an enormous motif throughout the entire trilogy.
How did you go about naming your characters?
The names aren't symbolic, although the name in the epilogue is. I just choose names that I like at the time, and I looked up 19th century names and saw Amelia was one and decided to name her thought. There is also an Oliver Cromwell, which sort of alludes to the deceased Oliver Cromwell. There is also her little brother, Nathaniel, and I just like that name. Then there are the names of the antagonists, Sash, Asch, and Gisbelle. I don't know where Sash and Gisbelle came from--probably my head--but Asch came from the Asch in Tales of the Abyss since they are similar in personality.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want readers to question everything they currently know and believe in their lives. My book has a very negative view of religion and touches upon the hardcore beliefs of fundamentalist Christians and other hardcore believers of other various faiths. I am going to admit upfront that I am agnostic, that I do believe in something, but I don't know what it is. However, I don't have a negative view of this almighty being. If this almighty being exists, I believe it does love us, but it wants us to have free well, that it doesn't want us to spend our days worshipping and lauding it. I see it as a sort of parent. It cares for us in its own way, but like any good parent, offers us free will so we can live our lives as we want to. It doesn't want us to abuse this free will, but, well, free will has its own nature, and so people are going to abuse it. Therefore, I don't question why God lets bad things happen. People make bad things happen--not an almighty being.
I sort of poke fun at the people who have a very scary view of God, that God will send you straight to hell if you commit a sin, and that God does not believe in redemption. If you're homosexual, you're a sinner, and you'll go to hell. My book pokes fun at stuff like that and brings it to the extreme because people don't realize that they believe what they believe because they were told to believe it. We have free will, but the only way we can use it is by realizing we are essentially brainwashed from birth into believing what we believe. You can call it social conditioning, but I believe that is a politically correct term for brainwashing. So they only way you can free your mind is by questioning everything you know. Now it's still okay to believe what you believe, as long as you truly want to believe it--not because you were told to. Some people need religion; I don't.
People in Amelia's world don't do that. They hate witches because they have been told from birth to hate them, because their religious text tells them to. And Amelia knows this because she is a witch.
What are your current projects?
I am working on the sequel to When Stars Die, The Stars Are Infinite, which will have a new protagonist. I also hope to get back to work on When Heaven Was Blue in December, so that I MIGHT have two books come out next year, if AEC is able to juggle both. It's about a suicidal teen rescued from a suicide attempt by a puppeteer and doll maker who then decides to take him to a strange town called Stolentime. So it's essentially a book about mental illness in a fantasy setting. I am also outlining another book on mental illness currently titled, The Hours That Winter Blooms, which will be a YA literary contemporary. Also, I know I need to get outlining the third book in The Stars Trilogy, whose titled I haven't determined yet, but will have the words stars and collide in there somewhere.
How have your personal experiences affected your writing?
The dark times in my life have affected my writing. I had an anxiety disorder and mild depression in the eighth grade upon writing the sequel to When Stars Die. So that affected the darkness of the book, and that darkness leaked over into When Stars Die. I still have an anxiety disorder, but it's co-morbid with my bipolar disorder. My mental illness inspired When Heaven Was Blue, and will probably continue to inspire stories to come because mental illness, especially bipolar disorder, does something new to you every day, and so your thoughts constantly shift to how you feel and see things. So that in itself can inspire a lot of stories and characters.
How long did it take you to publish your first book, after you started trying?
It didn't take long at all. AEC Stellar Publishing was my first choice, and I got accepted by my first choice. Someone on Tumblr commented that I cheated myself by going with a new house, but my experiences with them prove otherwise.
What advice would you give to someone who "runs out of creativity" when writing?
I'd probably say just take a break. You can't force creativity. You really can't. It only brings on frustration, which then continues to stem the flow of creativity, and you don't want that.
If you could work with any author who would it be?
John Green hands down. Even though I write across genres and he doesn't, I still love his books and still love YA contemporary literary, so I think our combined minds would come up with something awesome.
Amber Skye Forbes is a dancing writer who prefers pointe shoes over street shoes, leotards over skirts, and ballet buns over hairstyles. She loves striped tights and bows and will edit your face with a Sharpie if she doesn’t like your attitude. She lives in Augusta, Georgia where she writes dark fiction that will one day put her in a psychiatric ward…again. But she doesn’t care because her cat is a super hero who will break her out.