Amber Anthony is the author of the “blood trilogy” series. This excellent trilogy saw its second book, Blood Emerald, awarded as a TOP PICK from Romantic TImes with 4.5 stars.
“Amber Anthony” is actually a pen name used by two authors – Rusty Bader and Nancy Reynolds.
With the final book in the trilogy, Blood Dragon, coming later in 2018 I wanted to have an interview with this talented duo.
We’re seeing more and more “partnerships” in writing and it’s a process I’m very interested in. We tackle that and more topics in this interview with the Amber Anthony duo. You can see a complete listing of their books on our Amber Anthony Book Listing page.
Here’s the interview and many thanks to Rusty and Nancy!
Q: Co-authoring a novel is always an interesting concept and one we’re seeing more of these days. How did it all come about?
Rusty: Once when we were pitching in Hollywood, we were approached by a company about doing a reality show about collaborating authors. We laughed at how BORING it would have been for the viewers. We do a lot googling, viewing images that prod the words out of our brains and most importantly, we play off each other’s strengths. Brainstorming goes better with two brains.
Nancy: It was a natural evolution from screenwriting. Writers go through dry spells in both screenwriting and fiction writing. Hopefully one picks up as another dips and visa versa.
I guess you could say it was economic, but it was more than that. I think if you write professionally, in addition to being paid, you want people to see your work, you’re driven to share. What fun is the great American novel if no one sees it?
Lastly, Somerset Maugham said, “We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.” C’mon, we want to as well. We have a lot of fun writing most of the time.
Q: Has there been any issues in regard to co-authoring and having different ideas as to how the book or story should go?
Rusty: All the time. Stories born in your heart are like children and compromising comes with healthy discussion. We also know when to let it chill.
Nancy: Sure. We negotiate. We work it out. Give and take. Often, we both know something is wrong, though we may not be able to identify exactly what it is. We brainstorm. We simply keep at it until it’s worked out. Do we fight about it? No.
Q: What is the exact process when it’s two authors working together? Are you both writing the book? Do you take turns or both write chapters in the book then compare?
Rusty: We set regular time to each sit at our computers in our respective homes, headsets on and fingers on the keyboard.
We’ve been writing together so long sometimes we finish each other’s sentences.
If there is a chapter that is of particular and singular expertise that the other does not have, the other will write it and we go over it together. Because of Nancy’s past careers she writes anything medical, about NYC, acting and entertainment. I write dance or fight scenes, anything where there is choreography of movement. We bring the scene into the book and then polish it.
We strive to present a unified voice that is seamless and we believe we’ve accomplished it.
Nancy: We owe the telephone company a great debt. In years past, we would have gone bankrupt doing what we do. But now, because there’s unlimited long distance, we’re gold. We usually start at 9:30 in the morning and work till 2:00 in the afternoon. Then we pick up again at 5pm and work till 8pm. It doesn’t always work that way, but it usually does. We work 7 days a week.
We’ve had times when one of us was ill or had obligations elsewhere, and the other will work on a scene alone and present it as a whole piece, but that’s rare, and it’s not a whole chapter or act. Almost always, we create it word for word together. That includes editing, writing cover blurbs, query letters, synopsis, choosing cover art, all of it.
Q: What motivated both of you to start writing the blood trilogy?
Rusty: We had a book that was well received, RISE. It was recrafted as Blood Rising as Matt Brenner’s story. As much as we wanted to move from paranormal to contemporary, Richard Hiatt spoke to our Muses to give us not subtle hints to write Blood Emerald. By that time, we knew we couldn’t leave out Adam Lachlan, the Dragon shifter.
Nancy: It evolved. The characters spoke to us.
Q: Once the trilogy is complete, have you discussed the future at all? Will you be going your separate ways or continue to write as a team?:
Rusty: To quote our character Anna, ‘Vampires are undeniably seductive.’ We have several works in process. A Vampire/Shapeshifter novella to drive readers to the Trilogy, a Contemporary romance of a young man’s redemption, and another Contemporary romance written around a Las Vegas True Crime Writer and a Detective are our most active projects.
Nancy: We will always write as a team.
Q: Along with writing books, you have written TV episodes and film script. What major differences do you find between the two?
Rusty: Yes, we began writing together after we spent the day in Hampton Court in 2009.
I mysteriously knew of a back staircase, not open to guests, which led us to talk about my feeling like I spent time there in another life. I woke up the next day asking, “What if there was an immortal created at Henry VIII’s request to give him a son?”
That began the collaboration on Maxwell Older, a fantasy genre drama about a man gifted or plagued with immortality, depending upon your point of view. It was set in present day with occasional flashbacks to the past. The script was written as a television sow and we have several episodes of a three season story arc, but it never sold. We wrote is as a script and it was recognized in The Las Vegas Film Festival, but never got commercial attention.
Because we didn’t live in LA and spent a small fortune on traveling there to pitch, we decided to write romance. We had a false start in May 2015, when we debuted with a Canadian publisher who went out of business. We got our book back and put a sharp pencil to it and shopped larger publishers.
Nancy: Yes, we do write for television and film as well.
Writing scripts is learning to write in short hand. Screenwriters have absolute limitations. Every page is 1 minute of film, so you don’t want to waste words on description when the film demands dialogue or action.
Screenwriting is also very collaborative, so you have to be sure you’re not treading on someone else’s toes. For instance, the set designer decides how a set will look, the writer doesn’t. The actor decides how a line will be read, the writer doesn’t. There are dozens of professionals, other than the writer, who have input. That means everything but the lines of action and dialogue are up for debate, and even action and dialogue are not sacrosanct.
On the other hand, as a writer of a novel, you have complete control over the look, the action and the dialogue. Having said that, we have good training from our experience in television and film. We try not to give so much detail that it’s annoying to the reader, and we try to leave as much as we can to the reader’s imagination.
We approach every book as if we’re writing a script, using what we’ve learned as screenwriters in constructing an interesting story and keeping each scene moving.
Q: With the experience of writing for television/movies, do you think you both would be able to transform the blood trilogy to the big screen? As you wrote the novel, did that possibility ever impact your writing?
Rusty: The script is the easy part. The networking to shake the hand who signs it into production is the tricky part.
Nancy: We always approach every book as if we’re writing a script, because the elements of story are the same, and we write in scenes. Sure, if someone wanted to do the trilogy for TV or film, we could write the scripts.
Q: Who are your favourite authors – those authors whose books you pre-order as soon as they’re announced, or who you have been inspired by.
Rusty: Michael Connolly, James Lee Burke and Sue Grafton are my top three. I’ve read everything they’ve printed. Michael Connolly is active on Twitter and I can tell he enjoys his work. They inspire me to develop the character fully while we build the romance. Nancy and I are diametrically separated by what we read, to the point of it being hilarious..
Nancy: I love Judith McNaught and Sylvia Day.
Q: Do you google yourself to see what people are saying about and your works?
Rusty: Yikes! I’d be afraid to see that. I don’t believe Amber is well known enough to find much on the WWW. Your asking led me to Google Amber and the top three things went right to Facebook, Simon & Schuster, and Amazon.
Nancy: Rarely Google. More often Amazon, GoodReads, Nook, Romantic Times. Romantic times is the premier genre magazine for romance. They serve both authors and readers. Of course, they’re online now. They recently gave Blood Emerald TOP PICK status with 4.5 stars. A real honor.
Many people don’t understand that positive reviews at an author’s book outlet (Amazon, Nook, iBooks) is their life’s blood. Reviews totally impact how much presentation those eBook sellers give a book. Less than 5 reviews, books are not even noticed. They don’t start doing well on those sites until there are at least 50 reviews.
Q: Outside of writing, what do you do for fun or for entertainment?
Rusty: Read. (It’s amazing I have eyesight left). I bead and embroider, sew Disney clothing for my annual Disney addiction trip. I actively garden wildflowers and fruit trees. I do my own home projects, and when there it’s above 50 degrees, I like to drop the top on my convertible and drive with loud music. And Nancy says she’s pretty boring, but she’s not. Her knowledge of metaphysics and such are the basis for much of our plots and stories.
Nancy: I’m pretty boring. I’m an RN, so I work on the side. I love to walk and hike. I love to travel. I’m a reader. Ptrice does every creative thing you can imagine. She sews, she makes jewelry, she paints, she decorates, she trains a really big dog.
Thanks so much to Rusty and Nancy for doing this interview. You can see our Amber Anthony Book Listing for books by the duo, or read more about them at their homepage, their Torrid Book page and over at Goodreads.