Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?
I'm a British author who's lived in Wales and Nottingham but now lives in London. I love all kinds of fantasy and paranormal stories – I always loved fairy tales growing up, and I was addicted to Buffy the Vampire Slayer when I was a teenager. I've always wanted to write stories about magic, adventure and romance, and I also really wanted to write something with an urban fantasy vibe that was set in the UK, in the magical landscape I grew up in.
Please tell us about your latest release.
My new book is called The Oracle's Dilemma, and it's the second book in the Oracle Saga. The main character, Livya, is an Oracle – she has the power to see the future, but that's about all the power she has. Because her visions are so prized, the Prince who controls the magical court where she lives keeps a very close watch on her, and she's barely allowed a life of her own. In the first book, The Oracle's Secret, she runs away and meets someone special – a man called Tarian with a connection to her past. In the second book, she's back at court, and she has to deal with the fallout of her attempt to escape and the events of the previous book, all while an enemy spy is on the loose at court, and the Prince's charming nephew is trying to get closer to her.
Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
With the names for this series, I want them to sound unusual to mark the fact that the characters consider themselves partly separate from modern society – the magical world has its own naming trends that don't necessarily match the ones in the mundane world.
I chose Tarian's name because it means “shield” in Welsh – I wanted something that expressed his strength, and also the way he can be mysterious, like he's hiding behind something. In this second book, another guy is interested in Livya – an aristocrat named Hawk. For him, I wanted a name that showed his intelligence and perceptiveness, as well as the fact that he comes from a family that prizes an almost predatory ruthlessness.
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
I really love writing Livya's best friend Cherry. She's down-to-earth and sweet and has a sense of humour, which makes her really fun to write. While most of Livya's other relationships are in some way fraught and complicated, her friendship with Cherry is (so far!) a haven of acceptance and understanding, and her scenes are soothing to work on after all the drama!
Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?
The Oracle Saga is set in the hidden magical community of modern Britain – the magic users in the Southern Court use the internet and eat Pop Tarts, but they still live in the deeply hierarchical structure that has defined their world for centuries, hidden from the eyes of non-magical humans. It's almost feudal – everyone answers to the Prince, and nobody dares to cross him, or even criticise him.
He's the ruler of the Southern Territory, one of the major magical communities in Britain. The Northern Territory have been their rivals for centuries, and as the series begins, tensions between the two are rising.
Everyone in the Southern Territory has some kind of magical power, but everyone's talents are different. Livya can see the future. Her best friend Cherry is a teleporter. Tarian can find things that have been hidden. Magical talents run in families, and some skills are more prestigious than others.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
Now and then I do, and the way I deal with it is by breaking it down to really small goals. Sometimes I get to the point where I dread even opening the document, so I'll set myself a goal of only doing that, then take a break, then set another goal to read the last chapter I wrote, then another break, then write, say, a sentence. Getting something down is more important than what or how much.
What are your guilty pleasures in life?
I always say life's too short to be guilty about things you enjoy, but when I want to treat myself I go for chocolate, or shippy fan videos for my favourite shows on YouTube!
What was the last amazing book you read?
I really enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. It's a retelling of the Scheherazade story with a supernatural twist, and it's gorgeously told and incredibly romantic, with a badass heroine who's not afraid to fight for what's right.
Where can readers find you on the web?
The best and easiest place to find me and keep up with my news is on my Twitter feed - @amberdarkebooks
Would you like to leave readers with a little teaser or excerpt from the book?
I'd love to! Here's a segment from near the beginning, when Livya doesn't know how to deal with the secrets Tarian shared at the end of the last book:
Tarian’s walking towards me. My heart beats faster. I can’t decide what to do – run away? Hide? Leap into his arms? Slap him? I stand there frozen, unable to make myself move another step.
Tarian freezes too, but only for a moment, and then he keeps walking towards me. When he’s close he stops again, as if I’m an animal that he doesn’t want to spook.
‘Hello, Livya,’ he says.
‘Hello,’ I manage.
I’m trembling, and I can’t even tell whether it’s from anger or desire for him. My mouth is full of insults to scream at him – liar, betrayer – but I know that if he just kissed me, those words would fly out of my head and I’d be his again. But I’m not sure I want that. Having someone to blame for everything that’s happened to me is almost intoxicating. I guard my anger, I don’t want anyone to take it away from me. It belongs to me.
‘Look,’ he says, ‘the Prince has asked me to stay at court for a while. I’m not sure how long I’ll be here, but while I am, perhaps we can find a way to deal with this that doesn’t involve you flinching every time you see me?’
‘I don’t know,’ I say. ‘Perhaps you can find a way to just stay away from me?’
He tilts his head in acknowledgement. ‘I can certainly try.’
My stomach flip-flops at the kindness in his golden-brown eyes. This is what drew me to him, this is what made me feel the way I felt. Who am I kidding – the way I still feel. I want to throw myself into his arms right now, but it’s too complicated. The only way I can protect myself is by hating him. So I try. I harden my heart against him.
‘Yes,’ I say. ‘That would be best for me. Don’t speak to me. Don’t look at me if you don’t have to. Don’t talk to my friends or my family either. Just do your best to stay out of my life. You’ve already caused enough trouble.’