Hi Amalie, thanks for taking the time to answer a few of my questions.
First of all, are you a planner, or a go-with-the-flow kind of person and how does that translate to your daily life?
I’m a planner. I have to-do lists for my to-do lists. I drive my family crazy because we have to have a “plan” for the day. Where are we going? What are we doing? I plan out our meals weeks in advance. Some days I schedule so many things that it’s planned to the minute. One thing gets backed up, the whole day is shot. It’s stressful but to NOT plan is even more stressful for me. I like my routines. I like to know what’s coming and what I’m up against so I can be prepared.
Would you be able to write a successful short story?
Perhaps. I’m a beginning, middle, end kind of girl. I like things wrapped up tidy with a bow. All three of my manuscripts are full length novels and I love the challenge of having enough content to carry a substantial plot. I don’t know if I could ever fit everything I want to say into a short story! Maybe I should try!
On any given day would you daydream or do?
DO. I’m a doer. No daydreaming here. I don’t have time for that. I have too much living to do and frankly, you just never know when your time might run out.
Is there any food or beverage that is a constant factor in either your books or life?
In my life, there is chocolate. No question. I treat myself with two chocolate squares every single night as long as I’ve successfully kept everyone I’m in charge of alive for the day. Haven’t missed a night yet!
What is your favourite dish and can you give me the recipe?
I am not a cook. I am not a baker. So I guess it’s a good thing I’m a writer. I do make dinner for my family every night, but I won’t say that it’s something they enjoy!! To this end, I am partnering with a friend of mine who happens to be a chef and we are collaborating on a cookbook together this summer. She will be doing the cooking. I will be doing the writing. When it’s published, I am happy to share her recipes!
Great! Don’t forget this promise, you hear?
What is the title of the book you would like to talk about, and can you give us a small taster of it?
Sure, it’s Among the Shrouded and it’s my first attempt at new adult fiction After writing The Clay Lion, which was YA, I had the idea for a paranormal suspense novel to spread awareness about human trafficking. I love for my readers to learn something about themselves or the world when they pick up my work and I felt that this was a story that needed to be told.
Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?
Only sort of. I wanted a title that reflected Mia’s ability to see people’s auras, which she describes as being “shrouded” in light or dark. I also wanted to speak to the fact that human trafficking is a part of our society that is ignored, and very often, hidden in plain sight.
Is there anything you don’t like about social media as an author?
I’m sure there is, but honestly, the camaraderie I’ve found with other authors and the insight I’ve gained from their experience far outweighs any negative aspects.
What do you do marketing wise and what do you think generates the most attention to your books?
I do some tweeting. I’ve been featured on a few blogs. I’ve been selected by Amazon for a couple promotions which have gone quite well. Other than that, I just try to put out a quality product.
Would you be able to come up with a credible excuse why you haven’t written a whole day? Remember, I have to believe it!
Yes. I honestly do go days at a time without writing. I am training now for an Ironman Triathlon on April 19. I’ve been training since November and it takes up quite a bit of time. Sometimes 3-4 hours a day. Along with raising a family and other commitments, sadly, writing is often the last item on my never ending to-do list.
Okay, now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂
When I wrote The Clay Lion, it was in response to the news that a little girl named Lauren (who happened to be a very good friend of my daughter) had been diagnosed with leukemia. I knew Lauren and her older sister Hailey (who would eventually be her bone marrow donor) were extremely close. I tried to imagine what it would be like for Hailey if Lauren should ever die. It’s the age old question of what to do if you could go back in time and change just one thing. The story of Brooke and Branson was my way of honoring their sibling love. Sadly, Lauren passed away this past October, which came as a crushing blow to all of us. I hope that Lauren, wherever she is, would be proud of the story I told.
That is sad news, but I hope she had a good last time after her bone marrow donation and died in peace. I want to thank you for sharing this with us and end this interview with an excerpt of Among The Shrouded, for those that got curious.
Among The Shrouded
Mia looked through the one-way glass into the room of men. Each was of similar height and build, about five and a half feet tall and moderately overweight. She had spent so much of her life looking into the lineup room that by the time she officially became a part of the police force, she had been given her own spot. There was a sign taped to the wall of the room. It read, ‘Stay out of Mia’s spot.’
She had begun coming to the lineup room just after her seventh birthday, several years after she revealed her gift to her father, the Chief of Police, Carlos Rosetti.
“Who do you think did it?” her partner Jack whispered.
She wrinkled her nose and squinted, pushing closer to the glass in front of her.
“I don’t know exactly. Two have dark auras, but one of them is darker than the other. He’s probably our guy. Whatever he’s done is recent.” She didn’t take her eyes off the possible suspects as the door to the lineup viewing room opened.
“Ma’am,” Jack said to the elderly woman who joined them in front of the window, “I need you to look carefully and tell me which of these men you think you saw breaking into your home on the night of the 17th.”
The woman hesitated, scanning the row of men before her.
“The second one, there on the left. I believe that’s him,” she responded at last.
“Okay. I’ll mark him down,” Jack said. Then he spoke into the call box. “Send in the next group.”
He escorted the elderly woman out of the room and returned with a middle aged man in a well-tailored suit.
“Good morning, Mr. Franklin,” Jack said, shaking the man’s hand. “All I need you to do is take a look at the next group that will be arriving and let me know if you see who was vandalizing the storefront on the night in question. Take your time. There’s no need to rush.”
In the adjacent room, the line of short, fat men filed out and another group shuffled in. The men in the second lineup were just over six feet tall with thin, muscular physiques.
She gasped audibly, causing both men to turn. Jack raised an eyebrow in her direction.
“It’s nothing,” she remarked. “I was just clearing my throat.”
The men turned back to the lineup and she remained silent for the remainder of the process, although she was unable to take her eyes from the last man in the row. He was attractive, almost strikingly so, but his face could not hide a sadness lurking just beneath the surface. However, it wasn’t the man’s features she found so alarming. For her, there was something even more unusual about the man.
Mr. Franklin quickly identified who he believed to be the vandal and was immediately ushered from the room.
Once they were alone, Jack could no longer curb his curiosity.
“What’s the matter? Did he pick the wrong guy?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” she responded, still unable to comprehend what she had just seen.
“You don’t know?” he said incredulously.
“No, Jack. I don’t know,” she replied, her voice rising.
“Why don’t you know? You never ‘don’t know.’”
She paused, chewing at her nail. “One of the men. I couldn’t see his aura.”
“Why not?” he asked. “Was there a glare? Is it too bright in here?”
“No,” she replied, shaking her head incredulously, “he just didn’t have one.”
“How could he not have one? Everyone has an aura. That’s what you’ve always said.”
Instead of responding to her partner, she turned on her heel and left the room without further explanation. The door slammed behind her and she nervously scanned the hallway for the lineup detective, Peter Winchester. She spotted him coming around the corner at the far end of the hall.
“Pete! Hold up! I have to talk to you,” she shouted.
Pete stopped walking and headed back down the hall in her direction.
“The last group…” she began.
“The vandal?” he interrupted.
“Yeah. Do you have the list of participants with you?”
He handed her the clipboard from under his arm. She scanned the list. “Who was on the end? The last one?”
“Uh, he’s here,” he said pointing to a name on the chart. “Thomas Pritchett. He was a plant though. He just signed up to be designated as a regular. Do you think something’s up with him? You know we get a lot of trash walking in here looking to make a quick buck.”
She paused. “No. Nothing like that. I thought he looked a lot like an old classmate of mine, but I guess not. Thanks, Pete,” she said, unwilling to disclose the truth about her inquiry.
“No problem. Anyway, have a good weekend, Mia. I have tomorrow and Sunday off. First time in months,” he said.
“Have fun,” she replied absently as she headed in the opposite direction, down the hall toward her office.
She was grateful to be alone as she sat at her desk, and hoped Jack would be occupied elsewhere in the station for a while. She held her head in her hands, trying to understand why she had been unable to see Thomas Pritchett’s aura. For the first time in over twenty years, her confidence in her ability was shaken. She recalled the only other time in her life when the validity of what she saw had been brought into question.
The auras had been a part of her life for as long as she could remember. For many years as a child, she had wrongly assumed that everyone saw the world as she did, with each person surrounded by a veil of light or dark. In the beginning, she didn’t know what the difference represented.
When she was four, her mother had taken her to visit her father at the police station for the first time. Until that point in her life, she had only seen people with auras that were light. There were some that were considerably dimmer than others but everyone she had come into contact with had radiated some form of light. However, as they had entered the building that fateful day, an officer had walked past her escorting a man in handcuffs. The detainee was cursing and screaming as he was being lead into the booking area. She was shocked to see his aura had no light and instead he appeared to be shrouded in a veil of darkness.
She had immediately questioned her mother about what she had seen and repeatedly asked what had happened to the man’s light.
“Good girls don’t make up stories or tell lies,” her mother had scolded her as she swatted her on the bottom for being an embarrassment and causing a scene.
That night, she had trouble falling asleep. From under her blankets she had laid awake listening to her mother and father arguing about her outburst at the station. Her mother had been convinced Mia was either possessed by an evil spirit or she had some kind of psychiatric disorder requiring immediate medical attention. Her father, on the other hand, felt a 4-year-old could not be trusted to tell the truth and that her outburst had simply been the result of an overactive imagination.
At some point, no longer able to listen to their fighting, she had crept down the stairs and joined her parents in the dim light of the kitchen. That night, she understood for the first time her parents did not see what she saw. They were unable to see the auras. She realized no one could. She tried in vain to explain to them how everyone appeared to her, bathed in a wash of luminosity, but they did not understand. It would be many years until her father would open his mind to the promise of her gift. Sadly, her mother would never come to accept there were parts of the world that were beyond her understanding.
Mia was roused from her thoughts by a presence in the room. “Jack said I might find you in here,” said Major Rosetti from the doorway.
“Hi, Dad,” she smiled.
“He said something spooked you. What’s going on?”
After she revealed her gift to him, her father eventually accepted and embraced her unique view of the world. However, he had always encouraged her to keep her visions private so others would not be able to take advantage of her abilities. Out of respect and love for him, she had done just that, sharing her secret with only a handful of people in her life.
“One of the plants in the lineup, this guy named Thomas Pritchett… I couldn’t read him. He had no aura.”
“Is that unusual?” her father asked.
“In twenty-four years, I’ve never seen a person without an aura. So yeah, it’s unusual.”
Rosetti sat in the chair at Jack’s desk and ran his fingers through his thinning hair.
“So you saw a kid without an aura? So what? So that’s it for the day? Pack it in?”
“No, Dad. No. I’m fine. I’m working on my case load. It’s just… I don’t know. I thought I had this thing all figured out. The light, the dark, the shades and variations. But this? This nothing? It’s new. I don’t do well with new,” she said, looking at her father solemnly across the room.
He rose to stand behind her, giving her shoulders a gentle squeeze and planting a kiss on the top of her head. “I’m sure you’ll be fine, my Mia. You always rise to the occasion. I’ve got one more meeting this afternoon about the new commissioner’s visit next week and then I’m headed home. Give your grandmother a call if you get a chance sometime and don’t stay too late, okay?” he said as he headed out the door. “Love you.”
“Love you too, Dad,” she said, shaking her head and smiling at his ability to brush her concerns aside so easily.
She filled out several forms to close out her cases from the week and was slipping on her jacket when Jack appeared in the doorway.
“Heading out?” he asked.
“Not yet. I still have to log the evidence inventory from the assault in Fells Point on Tuesday. What a mess that’s been. It’s always the drunk guys, right?” he laughed, winking at their inside joke.
“Always the drunk guys,” she confirmed.
“You okay? About earlier? The lineup?”
“I’m fine. It just took me by surprise.”
“I’m sure it was a fluke. See you in the morning,” he called as she headed into the hallway.
“Bright and early,” she said.
She left the station and drove to the apartment in Parkville she shared with her best friend Chelsea. The two had grown up living across the street from one another, and she had always been drawn to her because of the brightness of her light. Chelsea radiated goodness and she found herself inexplicably drawn to people with the brightest auras. So although their lives had taken different paths career wise, she found she functioned better with Chelsea in her day to day life, especially considering the darkness she was surrounded by at work. After graduating from the police academy, she had reconnected with Chelsea, who had spent four years earning her degree in education. The plan was for them to share an apartment for a while, until they both established themselves financially. Two years later, they were still living together. She was excited to see Chelsea’s subcompact parked in front of their building as she pulled into the parking lot.
“Rough day?” she asked as Mia came through the door and tossed her sidearm and belt on the table.
“Not until the end. But we caught the jerk that beat those women behind the loading docks, so that was good. How about you?”
“I had three IEP meetings this afternoon and not a single parent showed up. I don’t know how I’m supposed to help these kids singlehandedly. It’s pretty bad when I can’t even get the parents to show up. Makes me sick for the kids,” Chelsea said as she pulled a bottle of wine and two glasses from the cabinet. “So what happened at the end of the day?”
“Nothing really. There was just this guy in a lineup…”
“A guy?” Chelsea asked, raising an eyebrow in her direction.
“Yes. A guy,” she replied, rolling her eyes at her friend. “It was nothing. He was just… unusual.”
“Unusual like ‘I’m in a trailer for a horror flick’ way or unusual ‘I’m totally interesting and you should get to know me’ kind of way?”
“Neither. What are you doing tonight?” she asked in an attempt to change the subject.
“Nothing. I’m beat. Tyler is working late, so he won’t be over. I picked up a movie if you want to watch it with me.”
“Yeah. Let’s do that. Let me change and I’ll help with dinner.”
She spent the rest of the evening trying desperately to forget about Thomas Pritchett and his missing aura, but her mind kept wandering back to him. She wasn’t sure if it was the missing aura or the sadness she saw in the lines of his face, but she was convinced there was more to him than met the eye.
Let me just say that this book is available on Amazon, and so is The Clay Lion.