Hi and welcome to my stop on A K Amherst’s Belfast Central blog tour!
Many thanks to A K Amherst and to Kelly @ Love Books Group Tours 🙂
Interview with A K Amherst…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
Hello, my name is Andrea and I am an Austrian writer and a passionate traveller. I love to dive into new worlds and discover new things. My debut novel „Belfast Central“ is a thriller with historical background. It’s set in Belfast in the 1990s and 1930s and tells the story of the young paramedic Ryan and the former IRA man Adam whose world’s collide one night during a shooting at Belfast Central Station.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
There are so many topics that each and everyone of us comes across every day that it is really just a matter of selection. I am very interested in foreign countries, their culture and their history. So whenever I come across a topic that catches my interest I delve into it.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
Actually, I am trying to avoid it simply because it limits my imagination. Characters need to grow freely with a story. If I would include someone I know I would constantly think: „Oh no, he wouldn’t say this, he wouldn’t do that …“ But I guess in the end there is always a little bit of oneself in your main characters.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
When introducing a character a writer creates a certain association with a name. Be it bravery, a sense of humour or a specific flaw. Ideally, the readers see the name and have a certain picture in their head. And I am not talking about looks, not solely. That’s what makes a name so meaningful. It’s more than just letters on a book page. It’s the personification of a story. So while crafting my main and secondary characters their names come naturally along the way. It’s a matter of what feels right, of what fits. At some point there is no other choice left but that one name.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
At the centre of my stories is always a unique relationship. In „Belfast Central“ it is the mentor/mentee relationship of Ryan and Adam. That’s what I usually start with – a relationship, a dynamic between two characters. Then I craft the story around them. In order to get a feeling for them, to understand who they are, I write dialogs in which they are challenged in their opinions and need to express themselves emotionally. Even if those scenes don’t make it into the final draft I need to know how they feel about certain things around them.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
Tess Gerritsen – because she can describe an autopsy as if you are standing right next to the medical examiner
Kristian Bang Foss – „Death drives Audi“ is a remarkable book about friendship. I couldn’t put it down.
Emma Healey – In „Elisabeth is missing“ Healey creates a memorable main character, an elderly woman with dementia.
Arthur Conan Doyle – he is much more than just the writer of „Sherlock Holmes“, he is able write many different genres (adventures like „The Lost World“ or mysterious stories like „the mystery of Cloomber“).
Oscar Wilde – so much of his stories and opinions still accounts today, I really have to tip my hat.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
If I really could meet any author (living or dead) I would like to meet Oscar Wilde. Reading his work and also some of his most famous quotes, I think he was a very smart and interesting guy. What would I ask him? I would ask him about that one story he always wanted to write but never did. Because every writer has such a story. An idea that never made it to the paper, a story that stays untold.
Were you a big reader as a child?
When I first started reading I didn’t like it. I didn’t like learning it. So my mother made me read short paragraphs in kid books every day for practice. In the end, it was my stepdad who made me start to read obsessively. He was a big reader himself and constantly bought me books in the hope they would get me hooked. One day, he came home with a mystery story for kids. I read it at once, eager for more. Thankfully it was a book series. I still have all fifty pieces of them.
When did you start to write?
My passion for writing started about the same time as my passion for reading. At some point I caught up with that kid book series and had to wait for the next book to be out. So in the meantime I „borrowed“ the characters and made up my own story. I started to write it down. Recently I found the four-page story in my old storage boxes. Since I couldn’t remember the story I read it with curiosity and was even surprised by the ending. It was a weird experience knowing I had written this a long time ago. With no recollection of the story at all it felt like reading the story of another author.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
That’s a tricky question because I would be hesitant to interfere with any writer’s work. If any I would probably re-write Romeo and Juliet. Just because I am a hopeless romantic and I really think they would have deserved a happy ending. Sorry, Shakespeare.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
I am really impressed with George Orwell’s 1984. I wish I would be this visionary. Sometimes when I look around me at the bus stop where people wait and stare at their mobile phones I remember this quote: “The people will not revolt. They will not look up from their screens long enough to notice what’s happening“.
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
„The Girl with the Writer Tattoo“
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I would invite Phileas Fogg. I think we would have a lot to talk about when it comes to traveling. And since my home town was not part of his „Around the World in Eight Days“ adventure I would take him for a coffee there. We have a beautiful hill in the middle of the city centre, up there are cafes with amazing views over the whole city.
What are you working on right now?
Currently, I am working on two projects: The sequel to „Belfast Central“ and a novel about the Lost Generation in Australia. I guess it would make more sense to focus on the sequel first and then go on to something new. The problem is that I have the idea for this „Australian novel“ in my head for so long, the story and its characters are eager to get out.
Tell us about your last release?
Well, my last release is also my first one and it’s called „Belfast Central“. The book deals with a friendship that bridges a great divide. Ryan and Adam come from different generations, religious backgrounds and social classes. Still, they connect over the one thing they have in common: they are the only survivors of a shooting at the Belfast Central Station. They are both lost and traumatised, finding some ease to their pain in each others company. Together they want to bring down the people who were responsible for the shooting.
Do you have a new release due?
Since I am writing two books at the same time right now and I have to do the marketing for „Belfast Central“ I don’t have a release date for my next book yet. But I am intending to release my next book in about a year.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
Well, it was very important for me to publish my novel „Belfast Central“ on the 10th of April 2018 – the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. By chance, the London Book Fair was scheduled to start exactly on that day. So I decided to travel to London and exhibit at the fair. It was mind-blowing. What an environment to release your first novel! I signed my first books and gave my first interviews there. It was more than I ever could ask for. We ended the day in a pub and drank a beer to celebrate the day. It was not a long night, though. We were so tired we collapsed into bed before midnight.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
My readers can reach out to me via email, follow me on social media or subscribe to my newsletter. I am also a Goodreads author, so you can also get in touch there. And of course I have a website where I share travel tips, short stories and information about book releases.
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Recently „Belfast Central“ made it to the Longlist of the German Selfpublishing Award. When I first found out about it I couldn’t believe it: I was among the top 20 of 1100 submissions! That was huge. The media interest in Austria increased significantly afterwards, after all I was the only Austrian who made it this far. I am really proud of this story and of how far it has come. I am glad I am able to give Ryan and Adam the stage they deserve.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Andrea 🙂
Belfast 1993: A nocturnal ambulance service at the Belfast Central Station almost turns deadly for the young paramedic Ryan. In the crosshairs of the IRA, he is badly wounded and wakes up in the hospital with muddled memories. The police close the case fast, leaving too many burning questions unanswered. Most importantly, who was that old man who appeared at the scene out of nowhere and saved Ryan’s life? Not fully recovered yet, Ryan begins searching for the mysterious man, only to get dragged into a feud between opposing paramilitaries – with fatal consequences…
A thrilling story about fates in 20th century Northern Ireland.
Born and raised in Austria, A.K. Amherst travelled the world from a young age. This influenced her writing, which relates to history and cultures of foreign countries. Intensive research is part of her job, and she really loves her job. You want to be taken into another setting and experience life from a different angle? Then Amherst is the writer for you.
There is a more detailed author bio on my website if you need it longer, but I prefer to keep it short 😉 Link to author bio “longer version”: http://akamherst.com/aboutme/