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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Interview with Amber Benson


Please welcome Amber Benson to The Qwillery. The Last Dream Keeper, the 2nd novel in the Witches of Echo Park series, was published on January 5th by Ace.



Interview with Amber Benson





TQWelcome to The Qwillery. You've written or co-written over a dozen novels. Has your writing process changed (or not) from when you wrote your first novel to The Last Dream Keeper? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Amber:  It's not that my writing process has changed so much over the intervening years between book 1 and book (whatever # The Last Dream Keeper is - my brain has fallen out), it's that I've been beaten into submission and have accepted the fact that any good writing I do is actually rewriting. I wish I was one of those people who could birth a book fully borne - like Athena from Zeus's head - but sadly that is not my jam. I'm a journeyman writer like so many others. I have to put in the work and hope that it gets better with each subsequent draft.



TQWhat has influenced/influences your writing?

Amber:  I'm influenced by everything I read - even the back of the cereal box. It's a real problem. I tend to read a lot less when I'm writing because the tone of whatever I'm reading hijacks what I'm working on. You definitely don't want want to be writing like Dostoevsky if you're in the middle of a genre/urban fantasy book. Those names in The Brothers Karamazov can be kind of unwieldy...makes for a much higher word count than I need for an urban fantasy book.



TQDescribe The Last Dream Keeper in 140 characters or less.

Amber:  Moves really fast/might make you cry/spoiler alert/someone must die



TQTell us something about The Last Dream Keeper that is not found in the book description.

Amber:  There is some multi-verse theory action and some interesting gender stuff - won't go into too much detail, but I wanted to represent characters that don't always get their due.



TQWhat appeals to you about writing Contemporary Fantasy?

Amber:  You get to weave your story in a (usually) quasi-familiar world, so that the worldbuilding has a bit of a jumping off point. You still have a lot of heavy lifting to do, but it's easier to start things off in the familiar - I think the majority of people are cool with the concept of a skyscraper or have a pretty good idea what the word 'car' means.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for The Last Dream Keeper?

Amber:  I had my tarot cards read. I wanted to make sure it was still a propitious time to be writing this series of books. I was assured it was. I was NOT assured that I would meet a tall, dark and handsome man who would take me on a long trip to an exciting locale. I don't think I got my money's worth.



TQIn the Echo Park Coven series so far who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Amber:  Lyse (the protagonist) is hardest to write. She is definitely the most like me. I have a hard time because I am a big dork in real life and I don't want Lyse to be too dorky - it's a real fine line.

Eleanora (Lyse's Great Aunt and maybe more) is the easiest to write. She just flows on the page - I don't know why - isn't that funny? Some characters show up raring to go and they make the whole writing process a dream.



TQWhy have you chosen to include or not chosen to include social issues your novels?

Amber:  This book in particular plays with the fluidity of gender. I feel like there are a lot of people who don't get represented in fiction and I wanted to encourage a sea change...I personally think it's important for us all to feel like someone out there is telling our story.



TQWhich question about your The Last Dream Keeper do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Amber:

Amber Benson, where do you get your ideas? AB: I buy them from the little lame balloon man from the E.E. Cummings poem, [In Just-]. He drives a hard bargain and he always makes you take home a balloon with you, too.



TQGive us one or two favorite non-spoilery quotes from The Last Dream Keeper.

Amber:

"I am dead.

It’s strange to think those words and feel nothing. One spends an entire lifetime pushing the thought from one’s mind, pretending it doesn’t exist, and then suddenly it’s over: Your partner whirls you off the dance floor and you are no longer among the quick . . . now the dead beckon you to their side of the ballroom."



TQWhat's next?

Amber:  I'm working on the final book in the witches series, tentatively titled: The End of Magic. I'm also working on a thriller about female serial killers.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Amber:  Thank you so much for asking fun questions and letting me babble on about E.E. Cummings and female serial killers!





The Last Dream Keeper
Witches of Echo Park 2
Ace, January 5, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Interview with Amber Benson
In the second Witches of Echo Park novel, one coven must keep the world in balance and stand against a rising darkness.

Lyse MacAllister did not step into an easy role when she took over as master of the Echo Park coven of witches after her great-aunt Eleanora’s death. As she begins to forge the bonds that will help her lead her sisters, she struggles to come to terms with her growing powers. And she soon faces a deadly new threat. A group of fanatics intent on bringing about the end of times has invaded the witches Council—but the Council is turning a blind eye to the danger growing in its midst.

Only one witch is prophesied to be able to stop the encroaching darkness. And if Lyse and her blood sisters are to have any chance at protecting all we know from being lost forever, they must keep her safe—no matter what the cost…





Previously

The Witches of Echo Park
Witches of  Echo Park 1
Ace, December 29, 2015
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Trade Paperback and eBook, January 6, 2014

Interview with Amber Benson
First in a “spellbinding”* new series about a coven of witches living in L.A., from Amber Benson, author of the Calliope Reaper-Jones novels.

Unbeknownst to most of humankind, a powerful network of witches thrives within the shadows of society, using magic to keep the world in balance. But the witches are being eliminated—and we will all pay if their power falls…

When Lyse MacAllister’s great-aunt Eleanora, the woman who raised her, becomes deathly ill, Lyse puts her life in Georgia on hold to rush back to Los Angeles. And once she returns to Echo Park, Lyse discovers her great-aunt has been keeping extraordinary secrets from her.

Not only is Lyse heir to Eleanora’s Victorian house; she is also expected to take her great-aunt’s place in the Echo Park coven of witches. But accepting her destiny means placing herself in deadly peril—for the world of magic is under siege, and the battle the witches now fight may be their last…





About Amber

Interview with Amber Benson
Photo by Andrew Orth
AMBER BENSON co-created, co-wrote, and directed the animated supernatural web-series Ghosts of Albion with Christopher Golden, followed by a series of novels including Witchery and Accursed, and the novella Astray. Benson and Golden also co-authored the novella The Seven Whistlers. As an actress, she has appeared in dozens of roles in feature films, TV movies, and television series, including the fan favorite role of Tara Maclay on three seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Benson wrote, produced, and directed the feature films Chance and Lovers, Liars, and Lunatics.



Facebook  ~  YouTube
Website  ~  Twitter @amber_benson


Review: The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson


The Witches of Echo Park
AuthorAmber Benson
Series:  Witches of Echo Park 1
Publisher:  Ace, January 6, 2014
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
List Price:  $15.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780425268674 (print)
Review Copy:  Reviewer's Own

Review: The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson
From beloved author, director, and actress, Amber Benson...

Unbeknownst to most of humankind, a powerful network of witches thrives within the shadows of society, using their magic to keep the world in balance. But they are being eliminated—and we will all pay if their power falls…

When Elyse MacAllister’s great-aunt Eleanora, the woman who raised her, becomes deathly ill, Lyse puts her comfortable life in Georgia on hold to rush back to Los Angeles. And once she returns to Echo Park, Lyse discovers her great-aunt has been keeping secrets—extraordinary secrets—from her.

Not only is Lyse heir to Eleanora’s Victorian estate; she is also expected to take her great-aunt’s place in the Echo Park coven of witches. But to accept her destiny means to place herself in deadly peril—for the world of magic is under siege, and the battle the witches now fight may be their last…


Amber and Qwill's talk about The Witches of Echo Park and more in this video interview.



Brandon's Review

Elyse MacAllister is a woman with a green thumb struggling to keep her small business afloat when she receives a call about her ailing great aunt, who raised her. She rushes off in a fugue to answer the call of family in need. But thrust into this turmoil she is asked to accept the existence of witches and the need for witches to help keep the world balanced amidst a rise in dark forces and a sudden drought of Dreamers. Dreamers are the backbone of witch culture and have true dreams of the future and hope for the future lies in the Echo Park coven.

If you’ve read any of Amber Benson’s other series you’ll notice a similarity in flavors and subject matters. There are a host of strong female characters to choose from in terms of having someone to identify with, but different here is the almost exclusive focus on women and both how women relate to each other as friends, lovers, and family and how that influences the world around them.
I think the character that caught and kept me reading was Hessika. A gruff seeming witch who was the coven’s last Dreamer. She continues to reach out into the future as a ghost to help keep the coven safe and on the path to preserving the world at large. There is something about the smoking and gruff Hessika that appeals to me.

The plot for the series, as explored through this novel, is nothing new to the genre. Witches must unite to battle rising darkness with inheritance and loss a driving force for some of the changes. If you enjoy lighter reads that don’t rely on flowcharts for character histories and family genealogies I think you’ll like this.

Something to really cherish about The Witches of Echo Park is the exploration of the way many different friends and personalities can co-exist to make their world better.  Benson is a solid author and I look forward to seeing what the series holds in store for the Witches of Echo Park.




Upcoming

The Last Dream Keeper
Witches of Echo Park 2
Ace, January 5, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook

Review: The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson
In the second Witches of Echo Park novel, one coven must keep the world in balance and stand against a rising darkness.

Lyse MacAllister did not step into an easy role when she took over as master of the Echo Park coven of witches after her great-aunt Eleanora’s death. As she begins to forge the bonds that will help her lead her sisters, she struggles to come to terms with her growing powers. And she soon faces a deadly new threat. A group of fanatics intent on bringing about the end of times has invaded the witches Council—but the Council is turning a blind eye to the danger growing in its midst.

Only one witch is prophesied to be able to stop the encroaching darkness. And if Lyse and her blood sisters are to have any chance at protecting all we know from being lost forever, they must keep her safe—no matter what the cost…

Blood Kiss Movie - Kickstarter - June 8, 2013


I like Kickstarter and have backed several wonderful projects.  The latest is a movie titled Blood Kiss.  Why did I back Blood Kiss? Read below.



Christopher D. Salmon poster



Blood Kiss is a film written by Michael Reaves, who has very serious writing credentials. It will star Amber Benson (yes, THAT Amber Benson).  It will star Neil Gaiman (yes, THAT Neil Gaiman).

It's Film Noir with vampires! A Film Noir Vampire movie! Atmospheric, dark, stylish, horror, and vampires. What is not to love? It is irresistible. I am very excited about this project (if you couldn't tell).  That is why I am sharing it with you.


Here is the Kickstarter Official video:




See more Blood Kiss videos on the Blood Kiss channel at YouTube.


Check out Blood Kiss' Facebook page here and follow them on Twitter @BloodKissMovie.


If you'd like to back the film, head over to Kickstarter. The goal has been met already and there are only 6 days to go now. For only $17 you can get a digital download of what I believe is going to be a terrific movie. Film Noir Vampire movie! Amber Benson! Neil Gaiman! Michael Reaves!

And did I mention that there is a Graphic Novel too? No? The artwork is by Tom Mandrake.  You can add the Graphic Novel to any reward level. There are posters and T-Shirts too. See the Kickstarter for details.




Please note that I am a backer of Blood Kiss, I have not been given anything to write this post and all images and videos are used with permission.

Interview with Amber BensonReview: The Witches of Echo Park by Amber BensonInterview with Amber Benson at NYCC 2014 & Giveaway - January 5, 2015Blood Kiss Movie - Kickstarter - June 8, 2013

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