Every so often I read a book so great I just have to crow about it. Amanda Stevens' latest, The Restorer, is a Southern gothic-styled mystery so eerie and compelling, it kept me reading late into the night. From its creep-tacular Charleston setting, cemetery lore, and first-class mystery to its lushly sensual writing style, this novel gripped me from the opening pages and didn't let go…
Today, please welcome Amanda Stevens to Boxing the Octopus, where she's answering our standard three questions and giving away a free, autographed copy of The Restorer to one lucky commenter. (Note to our readers: Please include your e-mail address in your comment, written out like such to fool the spambots: myname at gmail dot com)
BtO: Hi, Amanda. We're delighted to have you here on the blog today. As I gushed in my e-mail to you, I just loved The Restorer, whose protagonist, Amelia Grey, is a cemetery restorer who's always dropping cool bits of info about funereal symbology, customs, and occult beliefs I've never even heard of. (Which is really something, as I recently finished researching and writing on an upcoming book whose heroine is a New Orleans cemetery tour guide.)
What gave you the idea of writing about this particular profession? You know, beside morbid curiosity (although that's always worked for me!)
AS: Thanks so much for having me!
You know, I wish I could tell you the book was inspired by a visit to a creepy old cemetery or some spooky paranormal event, but truth be told, I Googled ‘unusual jobs’ and up popped cemetery restorer. I’d just finished reading Charlaine Harris’s Harper Connolly series and I wanted to create a protagonist with a strange occupation and/or ability. My mouth literally dropped open when I saw cemetery restorer on the screen because I knew it would be perfect for the kind of series I wanted to write—a lush, modern-day Gothic set in my beloved South.
BtO: In The Restorer's powerful opening, when nine-year-old Amelia Gray sees her first ghost, her cemetery caretaker father is quick to give her a set of rules that she must live by at all cost. Can you share a little about these rules?
AS: Her father presents the rules as a way to protect her from the ghosts. Netherworld parasites, I call them because they devour human warmth and energy much the same way a vampire feeds on blood. And those who can see them—like Amelia—are in particular peril because the thing the ghosts want more than anything is to be a part of our world again. Hence, Rule #1—never acknowledge the dead. However, as the series moves along, Amelia will discover another purpose to these rules…but that’s all I can say for now.
BtO: I still get chills thinking about that scene! Next, can you tell us a little about the free, related e-book, The Abandoned, along with what's next for Amelia Gray?
AS: The Abandoned is called a prequel, but really it’s a stand-alone story that introduces Amelia through the eyes of the POV character, Ree Hutchins, a grad student who volunteers at a creepy mental hospital in Charleston (inspired by the old Jefferson Davis Hospital here in Houston). One night something follows Ree home.
The Abandoned is also a mystery so readers will catches glimpses of Detective John Devlin, Amelia’s love interest, and learn a bit more about the history of the abandoned cemetery featured in The Restorer.
Next up for Amelia is The Kingdom, where she travels to an isolated town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a strange, withering place where she’s never before set foot but is inexplicably drawn to. Think hex symbols, vortexes, and a cemetery at the bottom of a murky lake. Think Twin Peaks.
BtO: I've already downloaded The Abandoned and can't wait for The Kingdom! Before you leave us, Amanda, I'm sneaking in the standard BtO bonus question. What are you reading these days?
AS: I just picked up Michael Koryta’s The Cypress House about a man who can foretell deaths. It came highly, highly recommended and I can’t wait to really dig into it.
BtO: Thanks again for stopping by, and don't forget, readers, we'll be drawing to give away an autographed copy of The Restorer to one lucky commenter. Contest ends on Wed., May 11th at noon (Central Daylight Time) so don't forget to enter!
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