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Author Interview: Amanda Pavlov

"If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." ~Stephen King

I've loved reading for as long as I can remember. For me, it was a way to travel without going anywhere, learn things I'd never thought possible, and surround myself with friends when none where available.

While I've shared many of my resource materials with you, starting this week I'm adding fiction to "Laura's Library," giving you direct access to some of the talented authors I've met in #TheWriterCommunity.

First up is the brilliant Amanda Pavlov.

Amanda is an author, a stand up comic, and a speaker. Those who follow her on Instagram know she's also a voracious reader.

Pavlov's YA debut, Mind Like a Diamond, released last month by Sword & Silk Books.

I was lucky enough to nab an ARC. What a treat! You can read my full review here.

Here's the blurb: Seventeen-year-old gymnast, Lisette Colbert, is skeptical of her criminal mother's claim that they are descendants of pirate witches.

But on Halloween night, Lisette will learn you don't have to believe in magic for it to kill you.

Lured by a $10,000 prize, Lisette recruits her best friend Xavier and together they enter The 13th Realm of Hell-an escape-room style Haunted House run by a mysterious coven. Xavier has his reservations, especially after reading the fine print on the waiver to enter. Lisette is too focused on proving herself to consider the risks. With him or without him, she is determined to complete all thirteen realms. If she wins the prize money, she'll avoid eviction from her beloved French Quarter apartment.

But the witches who run the show don't write happy endings.

I grew up on series like The Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley High. Went on adventures with Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. Developed a serious crush Gilbert Blythe right along with Anne. I'm grateful to these authors and characters for the many hours of amusement they gave me. Unfortunately, when I started to outgrow them, I found the pool of reading options available rather small. YA at the time was not the powerhouse it is today.

Thankfully, that's changed, with new genres immerging all the time. Pavlov's work is the perfect blend of YA and horror. As a mother, I'm glad today's readers have access to characters like Lisette.

Sassy and determined, her arc is more of a Hero's Journey. The book is full of adventure, a pleasant departure from the romance subplots that permeate other YA novels. Even as an adult, I can honestly say I couldn't wait to find out what the next realm would bring.

I had the chance to chat with Amanda about the book, her writing process, and what's next. Here are some highlights:

LQ: Your debut novel, Mind Like A Diamond, was released in December. That’s an amazing accomplishment! When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

AP: My parents say I was telling stories as soon as I could talk, but I remember creating a book (writing and illustrating) at around 4 or 5 and being immediately enamored with the process.

LQ: How did you celebrate your launch?

AP: I am so terrible at celebrating my accomplishments! But I’m so lucky to have many amazing friends and family members who sent flowers and gifts that made me feel so incredibly fortunate and loved.

LQ: What part of the book did you have the hardest time writing?

AP: Striking a balance between a teenager who felt *real* to me and one readers would root for was incredibly challenging. I am sure some people will say I missed the mark ha, but I hope others will see themselves in Lisette and be inspired.

LQ: What advice would you give to a new writer just starting out?

AP: Read everything and take notes. Nothing will improve your craft faster than analyzing how the authors you admire wrote your favorite books.

LQ: We’ve just started a new year and I’ve seen lots of posts about resolutions. Do you have anything special that you’ll be focusing on this year?

AP: I am resolving to overcome my fear of “playing to a room I can’t read” aka hosting virtual events. I love being around people, but virtual events scare me because it’s difficult to tell if people are engaged or not, but I am planning to push through that fear and host lots of live events online.

LQ: Where do you draw inspiration from?

AP: Anything I can’t stop thinking about. Ideas come from everywhere, but if it keeps calling to me (sometimes for years!) then I know I have something that will keep me excited throughout the writing and revising process.

LQ: How do you balance the demands of writing with other responsibilities?

AP: None of my methods (copious amounts of caffeine, all-nighters) are exactly healthy. But I swear I’m happy staying up all night writing so each individual has to decide what amount of sacrifice they’re comfortable with to achieve their writing dreams.

LQ: What are some trends in your genre that excite you?

AP: I am excited to see more comedy in every genre. Not only do I love to laugh, I love making readers laugh too, so this trend really delights me.

LQ: If you could invite any three people for dinner, whom would you invite?

AP: Just three! Okay Tiffany Haddish (because she is hilarious and would ensure we were all laughing), Stephen King because I would love some of his magic to rub off on me, and Reese Witherspoon because she seems like the perfect hostess, she would probably help me if I got too star struck to remember what course was next.

You can order your own copy of Mind Like a Diamond from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Don't forget to add it to your Goodreads. I'd love to hear your thoughts and compare notes!

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