Interview with Amy Winfield

Today's guest is Amy Winfield, the author of Ebony's Legacy series. Her stories are sure to delight the children in your life. So, grab a snack, sit back, relax, and let's have a look at the blurb for The Star Pirate... 

Ebony had never met her parents. It was said her Mother went off to join the stars and her Father's call had been to the sea. Instead, Ebony imagined her own adventures of sailing the sea, battling strange creatures and saving the people of Ia. All alongside her Mother and Father, as the 'Defenders of Ia'. What Ebony did not know was that she would soon have her own tales to tell. One night a Star Bear visited Ebony ...

Tricia: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Amy: My name is Amy and I have only started writing about two years ago though I always wanted to write and illustrate my own stories. The only thing that was holding my back was my dyslexia. From the age of 6 till very recently I have lived near St.Ives in Cornwall, England but now live in my dream location in North Devon where most of my inspiration comes from. I have always been creative in one form or other, mostly with drawing and painting. I started by selling my own paintings at fairs and events but now I mainly use my artwork for commissioned book covers and illustrations. I am also ran my own children’s entertainer business for a couple of years for private parties and at hotels etc. but now I work full time at a children’s adventure park which helps with the costs of continuing to publishing my own work.

Tricia: When did you begin writing? 

Amy: For years I have been collecting snippets of ideas inside a notebook…ok notebookS. I tried and tried to write but nothing would happen. Only in 2011 I came across a facebook group called Master Koda and after speaking to the members on there I realised having dyslexia didn’t matter. I soon found it was disbelief in myself that was holding me back. Soon I wrote a story about a young woman called Stella. As I wrote a whole line of books started forming in my mind. Within a month or so I managed to create the first story which I called North but after the beta reader got back to me, though they enjoyed the story it just wasn’t strong enough for a series. I tried and tried again as I was part way through the second just then I started to panic and I hit the dreaded wall. I knew the beta readers were right, I could see their point but I also knew I was onto something. Stella would just sit there glaring at me, not telling me where I was going wrong. Only when I was watching a movie, as it was on special offer and I was curious did I hear, out of the blue: “That girl is just like my Daughter.” I sat there stunned. 1. It was the first time my character spoke to me like that and 2. I didn’t know she ever had a daughter.

That night and for 2 days later I sat and wrote what is now my first published book called The Star Pirate. I have never even considered writing a children’s book as North and the others were young adult. Despite that nagging in the back of my mind I ignored it and after reading what I wrote, I was buzzing! Here was my first proper story which I was excited to get out there as soon as possible.

Soon I had a new character called Ebony Night, and notebook upon notebook of plots and how each story will show how she’ll grow up in the mysterious land of Ia (looking a lot like Cornwall with North Devon mixed in). A few months later book 2 was written and only then did I feel fully confidant I could create a series which the public could enjoy.


Tricia: Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why? 

Amy: I have so many but without giving away too much about book 2 before it comes out, I think I will have to say it’s a tie between Stella and Ebony. They both have such an interesting past which still needs to be explored and explained. I aim to make my books and characters different and unique as much as possible.
In some ways I wish I was Ebony as she explores incredible places meets the most interesting of creatures and characters. In The Star Pirate, as you properly can guess she gets to meet pirates and even a ghost. Sails the sea on board a steam ship and lives in a manor (based on a real life manor just down the road by me). In the second book…all I can say is she will go to meet the star constellations. Ebony is kind and forgiving, even making me stop and think sometimes.

Stella is feistier though she shows more of her mothering side in the books (but that doesn’t stop her from throwing invisible pillows at me if I am not listening or got something wrong on her illustration!) But they both share the same gifts which I can’t fully reveal at this point in time but I can’t wait to see people’s reactions!

Tricia: What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book? 

Amy: I have to say there was a few. I found once I understood my style and the genre it suited my writing flowed a lot better. Getting to understand how to listen to my characters and just letting go is the hardest for me to understand. Not panicking was a big key and it is so hard to just trust and let go of the reins, to let my characters steer the way.

Tricia: What is your primary goal as an author? 

Amy: To write full time. Even though I love my job and the people I work with and the people I meet I would love to disappear in the world in my head more often than I currently am.

Tricia: What projects are you currently working on? 

Amy: I am currently working on a few. I have a short story which is for children with diabetes called Nutmeg and the Sugar Monster. I have written it for my step nephew and hope to approach any children’s diabetes associations to see if they could use it but unfortunately my friend who helps me tidy up my odes is very busy at the moment so it’s still ongoing project at the moment. Another is about a series of short stories about a very special real life duck called Star. And with Ebony’s Legacy series I am working on the illustrations for book 2 for publishing within the next few months and sorting out all the ideas for book number 3 as I am looking forward to diving into the strange world of Ia once again. Alongside all of those, I have another series about imaginary friends. But sadly with relocating, the wall has come with it. I am hoping once I am settled in better it’ll disintegrate. I am not panicking…much.

Tricia: What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors? 

Amy: Don’t let anything get in your way. Whether you have dyslexia or not, just write because you never know what might happen.

You can find Amy Winfield and her books at the following links:
Signed book copies can be ordered through Facebook or the website


Excerpt 

The snow continued to fall around us as we walked hand in hand, in silence down Ladon’s drive. I looked at Mother and she looked back at me. We couldn’t stop smiling for I had my mother back! Soon we reached the end of the drive and found ourselves on the North Road.

“Now don’t be frightened,” she said, stepping away from me. I nodded once and she let go of my hand. I wanted to take hold of it once again, but I kept my word.

Mother stepped back until she was far enough away that the snowdrifts no longer fell around me. As soon as I was outside its circle, the snow littering the ground around her rose up, swirling in little whirlwinds, surrounding her and shielding her from my view. I tried to reach forward as I didn’t want her to leave my sight again.

After all this time apart, I didn’t want her to disappear, but her voice came to me now, echoing slightly, as if she was talking inside my head. “Don’t be frightened my little one.”

I pulled my hand back. As I did so, the snow parted and there stood my mother in her Star Bear form! I saw that the Star Bear’s fur was just the same as in the story my grandfather had told me. She had fur ranging from the blackest of blacks to the bluest of blues, and different shades of purple. Stars strung themselves across her body, of which the brightest was the plough-shaped constellation just like Ursa Major’s and Ursa Minor’s. Her body, tail and nose were wolf-like, but her ears gave her away as being a bear.

I ran forwards and hugged her; the bear gently cradling me against her body as she hummed me a lullaby. MY EBONY, she seemed to say. After a short while my mother turned her body so that she stood beside me. Looking into her big, brown, loving eyes, I instantly knew what she wanted me to do.

“You want me to climb onto your back?” I asked, my voice quivering slightly, as I pointed to her back, way up high.

She nodded and knelt down. I swung one leg over and then finding no reins, I held onto her shaggy fur tightly – would it be just like riding a horse? Mother in her bear form looked at me, her lips twitching to one side as she stared up at me with her soft brown eyes in which stars swirled and circled, full of wondrous joy. HOLD ON TIGHT, she seemed to say.

As I clung on to the Star Bear’s night-coloured fur, stardust trickled over my nightdress. She leapt forward and started to run, faster and faster, until we were just a blue blur. At first I was afraid as we were travelling at such a great speed – the sea air whipped our faces, trees and houses zoomed past, and scenery blended together as one – but soon I was loving every moment of it.

Through the woods, the Star Bear leapt from tree root to tree root with ease. Not seeing any predators, I remembered Grandfather telling me how Mother’s enemies would quake in their boots with fear at her mighty roar. I tugged on the Star Bear’s fur to get her attention. Mother tilted her shaggy head back slightly as I whispered in her ear, and she let out a funny kind of laugh. Giving a toothy grin, the Star Bear flashed her sharp, white teeth at me, but I wasn’t afraid, for she was my mother and I her daughter.

Approaching the high cliffs, we skimmed the topmost edges. The Star Bear took a lungful of air and with one mighty bellow she made the cliff tops shake. The sea birds cried out in alarm and flew away as quickly as their little wings could carry them. The sea quietened and the waves stood still. My ears rang for a long time afterwards, but I whooped with excitement for my mother was truly the Defender of Ia, just as in my stories.

Before long we slowed to a trot and we found ourselves on a pebbled beach. The sun was about to rise and I could feel the Star Bear’s form shimmering beneath me. My mother knelt so that I could jump down onto the shingled beach. I stepped away and once more she transformed into human form. Swirls of snowdrifts littered the pebbly beach around us both as we said our goodbyes.

“I will come again when it is time,” Mother said, her voice slightly fainter now. The first of the sun’s rays were about to break Ia’s surface. “Your father is waiting for you,” she added, pointing behind me.

Out of the gloom, a small hut appeared; a candle set in one of its windows.

“I don’t want you to go,” I cried, clinging to my mother tightly.

“I don’t want to go either, sweetheart, but night is fading and the time for the sun to rise is fast approaching. Remember, I will always be watching over you. Go, my little Ebony – make me proud.”

The sun hit my face and just like that my mother was gone.





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