Indie Author Spotlight:
Defense Mechanisms, by Amber Michelle Cook
An imaginative child, Janey left childhood far behind as soon as older children and adults began to tease her for it. On her 30th birthday, the first Pulse hits and drives her to seek shelter in a one-of-a-kind indoor playland for grown-ups called the Imaginarium. When the place is attacked by urban looters, she becomes an unwilling 'defender of imagination.' Don't deny who you really are.
-From Smashwords Description
This novella switches between Janey's modern-day story and the tale of Ozanne, a woman fighting to defend the magical Tanglewood. I enjoyed the clever parallels of the two stories, down to the main characters counting to ten—for different reasons—at the same time.
I also like the brother/sister main character pairs. That's not the usual combo, and it's refreshing.
I think the story might have benefitted from a little more development before leaping into the action, both so the reader can establish more rapport with the characters and to clear up bits of confusion. Some of the magic and motivations remain unclear throughout the story.
The writing could be a little tighter, but I enjoyed some of the casual plays with words, like this, "I'd been in a me-and-a-tree auto accident."
The imaginarium Janey and her brother are defending has some interesting details, like the staircase that plays different musical notes on each step. I would love to explore a place like that.
Click if you want to read Defense Mechanisms.
For an interview with this author, read on
Questions by Melinda Brasher
Answers by Amber Michelle Cook
Q: Have you ever been to a place like the Imaginarium in Defense Mechanisms? If you could build one right now, what would your favorite part be?
The Imaginarium is inspired by the City Museum in St. Louis, MO. One of my favorite places on the planet. There's more about it in the bonus material at the end of DEFENSE MECHANISMS, including a link to a video I made out of my pictures and video clips and put up on YouTube.
Oh, I like this question. I love color and light, so there would be places to play with over-sized prisms of all shapes and sizes, overlapping colored light to produce endless varieties of chromatic shadows, and all kinds of things to do with (soap) bubbles.
Q: When you write, do you make details plans or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I fully believe in both. I adore NaNoWriMo for getting me to start writing stories without much conscious thought, because of all the unexpected stuff that comes out. But a quality story doesn't happen by accident. Plot and character arcs, good pacing and rising tension to an engaging finale with satisfying resolution is craft, it's skill, which involves outlining and analysis. There's joy in the initial execution, and power in the labor of rewrites and editing that together make it happen.
Q: What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I wrote for a long time before starting to release books, to make sure I had studied the craft well. Another advantage of this is that I have more books coming, and soon. My first two are novellas (urban fairy tales), these will be full-length novels.
The next one, coming soon, is SLEEPWAKING—a modern adaptation of THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS with an adult Alice in an urbanized version of Wonderland:
Flying in for her first job as a freelance consultant, the day turns into an ambush on Alice’s self-esteem when she finds herself effectively having two bosses. She gratefully escapes to Wonderland, where the Red Queen assigns Alice to a living chess game as a Pawn. With each ‘move,' Alice encounters colorfully eccentric characters who challenge her to the trials and tribulations of being shy in a quest to overcome self-doubt.
After that is the first book of the NIGHT OF THE VICTORIAN DEAD trilogy:
In which Jane Eyre meets Gosford Park in Night of the Living Dead—where imagination and suspense reign over splatter-gore, and the knowing modern reader can enjoy accompanying unsuspecting characters down the road to the inevitable, while themselves encountering mysteries and unexpected twists along the way.
And then I have another urban fairy tale, THE FAIRY TALE ABDUCTEES, to polish up and release.
Q: What are some good books you've read lately?
I've been reading Jack McDevitt's Alex Benedict series, which are far-future archeology adventure mystery stories. Good reads.
I've read a couple by one of my favorite authors, Jasper Fforde, both his THE THIRD BEAR and SHADES OF GREY. NOT the erotica book by a similar name, but a highly imaginative satire where our future society is classed by the color spectrum people are able to see. THE THIRD BEAR is the second in his Nursery Crime series, which are more fun than a bag of wiener dogs.
And Elizabeth Gaskill's NORTH AND SOUTH, a Victorian novel of class society, human nature and romance, where North and South are the clashing industrial versus the rural parts of England in the mid 1800s.
Q: How can your readers contact you?
My website, www.ambermichellecook.com, has links for Twitter, my Facebook author page, the Goodreads author profile where people can message me, as well as a contact form.
First contact welcome [grin].
Thanks so much Melinda, and the very best to you and your blog!