Ivan Amberlake, author of the urban fantasy The Beholder, talks about his novel, inspirations, and writing process. Follow him on Twitter, Find him on Facebook, Visit his book's Facebook page, Find him on Goodreads, Visit his website, or Visit Breakwater Books' website.
The Beholder tells the story of an ordinary New Yorker, Jason, who learns about his critical role in a supernatural battle between good and evil. What inspired this story? How did you develop the idea of the Sighted?
Before I started writing The Beholder, I only had an image of a man standing on top of a skyscraper, with a thunderstorm raging around him. This image was so powerful that it inspired me to start writing chapter after chapter, something that I’d never done before. The scene that I had in mind was initially a prologue, but I decided to move it closer to the end of the book.
Frankly speaking, The Beholder wasn’t supposed to be a fantasy book at first, but it just happened to transform into one as I was greatly influenced by Sergei Lukyanenko’s "Watch" Series. I wished to create something like this, yet new, and the Lightsighted and Darksighted were born.
Why did you choose New York as your setting?
From the beginning I knew the story would be set in a city with lots of skyscrapers, so my choice was between Moscow and New York—cities I’ve never been to, yet would love to visit sometime in the future. I picked New York because of its grandeur and glamor, but it doesn’t mean that part of the series won’t happen in Moscow or any other city of the world. One of The Beholder chapters is set in Minsk, Belarus, and I intend to let my characters travel to other cities and countries in the books to come.
What is your favorite scene in The Beholder? Could you please describe it?
Frankly speaking, I can’t choose just one, probably because The Beholder is not a one-genre book, but has elements of fantasy, sci-fi and romance in it, so if my favorite fantasy scene would be the one I’ve described above, my favourite romantic scene is the one in Chapter 23 where Jason and Emily are strolling around the estate garden and come up to two trees with a hammock tied to them. This is where and when Jason and Emily say they love each other, and also the point at which the story takes a darker turn.
Do you consider yourself as having a particular writing style?
When writing I always try to visualize what is going on and then describe the scene. I get inside my characters’ minds and try to show what they feel. I stick to the principle of “Less is more” by using the right amount of narrative, dialogue and descriptions.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing process? How much did The Beholder change from first draft to publication?
With The Beholder, I just sat down and started hammering the keys without thinking much about what I was writing. Frankly speaking, I often think that the book wrote itself, because when rereading the first draft I sometimes wondered how I could write this scene or that. Of course, after my first draft was ready I started editing heavily. It was great luck for me to come across a writers’ community Authonomy.com, where I met lots of great people who helped me understand the principles of modern writing. The book would never be the way it is now if not for them. So when The Beholder was finished, it was completely different from the first draft.
Among the characters in The Beholder, do you have a favorite?
Oh, they are all my favorites, each of them in his or her own fashion. If we take Jason Walker, the main character, his transformed self closer the end of the book is what I’ve wanted my own self to be. As for Emily Ethan, who Jason falls in love with, she was greatly inspired by my wife, so she’s definitely one of my favorites as well. I can’t help liking even my evil characters because they are part of the story that helps me show a world I have within to my readers. Without these characters the story would be incomplete.
Can you tell us a bit about Breakwater Harbor Books, who is listed as The Beholder’s publisher?
Well, BHB is not exactly a publisher, but rather a group of self-published authors who promote each other in different ways: on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Authonomy, and on the last pages of our books where more releases of BHB authors are recommended. Scott J. Toney and Cara Goldthorpe are the founders of this group. Both helped me immensely with The Beholder, and I’m grateful to them and other members for their support.
What’s your favorite part of writing? Dialogue? Descriptions? Plotting?
I think it’s the descriptions. Plotting usually gives me a splitting headache, and while writing dialogue I always question myself: “Do people talk like that in real life?”, so I think the best part of writing for me is describing the scenes, especially the ones with lots of action and tension. That’s where I’m in my element.
Are you working on anything new?
As crazy as my real life is at the moment, it’s really hard to find the time to write, though I should say I’m writing Book 2 of The "Beholder" Series, which is called Path of The Heretic, and I also hope to finish my YA Paranormal/Horror Novel (Novella) called Diary of the Gone which tells about a boy haunted by the dead. The boy can only stop the dead from following him by writing in an old diary he accidentally finds, yet at some point the diary disappears and his life turns into a nightmare.
The Beholder is available at: Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon US (paperback), Amazon UK (Kindle e-book), Amazon UK (paperback)