It's nearly the end of the week, and what a manic busy one it's been, so I'm celebrating by sharing another awesome fun interview with another awesome fun author. Please meet...
Amber Elby was born in Grand Ledge, Michigan but spent much of her childhood in the United Kingdom. She began writing when she was three years old and created miniature books by asking her family how to spell every, single, word. Several years later, she saw her first Shakespearean comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, in London. Many years later, she studied Creative Writing at Michigan State University’s Honors College before earning her Master of Fine Arts degree in Screenwriting at the University of Texas at Austin. She currently resides in Texas with her husband and two daughters and spends her time teaching, traveling, and getting lost in imaginary worlds. Her favorite tea is Yorkshire Gold; her favorite biscuits are Crawford's Bourbon Creams; and her favorite pizza toppings are corn and mushrooms.
A magical bubble transports Alda through time and place to a realm of witches and curses, pirates and princes, and the lost worlds of Shakespeare. She, along with a cabin boy called Dreng, must navigate the conflicts and characters of Macbeth, Hamlet, and The Tempest. But will they escape with their lives? Or will they become lost and forgotten?
An excerpt from
Chapter One: Midwinter Night’s Dream
Alda hesitated on the bridge, alone for the first time, in the vast middle of the night. The witching time of night.
Snow hovered, forming fantastic shapes in the new electric lights that lined the street.
She did not notice the winter’s chill, or the sharp shadows around her, or the static hum that echoed through the longest night of the year.
Instead, Alda focused on the water below as she leaned on the icy railings. The Grand
River swirled beneath the bridge, as black and solemn as the skirt that slapped against her legs, as wild as her raven hair that waved in the wind and snow.
She should cry. She knew she should cry, and she always did as she should. Even though she was sick at heart, she was complacent. Compliant. And calm.
But that was all before she was alone on the bridge.
Even though she focused on the water, Alda did not see it, not really. Instead, in her mind’s eye, she saw the dark soil as it was dropped unceremoniously on her grandmother’s grave. She saw how the earth separated her from the one person she had ever loved and trusted, the only soul she ever really knew. A world was now between her and her grandmother, and all seemed lost.
The streetlight atop the post next to her flickered and went out with a hiss and a fountain of sparks. The new electricity was unreliable and, as Alda had said before, terrifying in its novelty.
As she stood watching the river, wondering at her inability to cry, the other lights likewise flickered and went out.
Now Alda was alone and in near total darkness. It was a sign, perhaps, or an omen, that she should go elsewhere. Leave.
Amber's BEST & WORST
Best / Worst Book
Best: This is such a difficult question, and it completely depends on my mood. My go-to book is Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Worst: I can’t think of a book at the moment that I completely hated, but I disliked many that I read at school just because they were required and not of my own choosing.
Best / Worst Band
Best: A local Austin band called The White Ghost Shivers (you can listen to them on Spotify). Worst: ??? (I don’t know any terrible bands because I simply don’t listen to them.)
Best / Worst Song
Best: I played saxophone throughout high school and college, and I always loved to play “In the Mood.” Worst: Whatever my daughters play 100+ times, which at the moment is anything by Taylor Swift.
Best / Worst Holiday
I’m going to assume this means vacation and not holiday like Thanksgiving, right? Best: Whichever vacation I am about to take because I love the planning stages. Worst: A business trip to England without my family because I kept seeing places that my daughters and husband would love to visit.
Best / Worst Animal
Best: Cats. Worst: Cats. (As the nursery rhyme about the little curly-haired girl goes, “When they are good, they are very, very good, and when they are bad, they are horrid.”)
Best / Worst Item of Clothing
Best: Fuzzy socks. Worst: Pants (especially jeans).
Best / Worst Food
Best: Key Lime Pie. Worst: Cilantro (I’m one of the people who thinks it tastes like soap.)
Best / Worst Drink
Best: Unsweet iced tea. Worst: I recently tried a foreign soda called Beverly. It was awful, but I suppose that it’s an acquired taste.
Best / Worst Alcoholic Drink
Best: I don’t drink much, but I usually choose something with rum; I recently read that rum makes you happy, too. Worst: Anything with cheap liquor because it seems to have more burning and less taste.
Best / Worst Friend
Best: My husband. Worst: [Redacted, Top Secret]
Best / Worst Writing Moment
Best: Coming up with memorable titles. Worst: The feeling of never being finished.
Best / Worst Childhood Memory
Best: One of many was when I used to read under a large oak tree in a field near our house. Worst: When I broke my back ice skating (I didn’t lose mobility, thankfully).
Best / Worst Word
Best: Svelte. Worst: Ruffage
Best / Worst Shop
Best: Any thrift or charity shop. Worst: Any “big box” store.
Best / Worst Sport
Best: Ballet, which my family insists is a sport; I’m currently taking adult beginner classes (emphasis on “beginner”). Worst (to watch): Golf.
Best / Worst Job
Best: Gift wrapper in my hometown’s now-closed bookstore. Worst: Substitute middle school teacher.
Best / Worst Saying
Best: Mark Twain’s “A classic is something that everyone wants to have read but nobody wants to read.” This seems to come up in my conversations quite frequently. Worst: “Like a girl,” which I told my daughter means “doing something with skill and precision.” I’m not sure if she’s yet discovered that it’s supposed to be derogatory.
Best / Worst Teacher
Best: I had many great teachers, especially in college, but my favorite high school teacher was Jen Deja. Worst: A guest lecturer in graduate school who would cross out entire pages of our writing projects and just write “no” in the margins. When we asked what he didn’t like, he told the entire class that he didn’t even read our assignments, and he said this with an unbelievable amount of arrogance and no shame.
Best / Worst Time of Day
Best: Morning, but not too early. Worst: Around 2:00 p.m. because I realize that I haven’t accomplished everything that needs to get done.
Best / Worst Room
Best: Bedroom. Worst: Downstairs hallway that doesn’t have a window.
Best / Worst Day Ever
Best: There are too many. Worst: The day my father died suddenly.
Best / Worst Smell
Best: Roses. Worst: Mold.
Best / Worst TV Show
Best: Veronica Mars (first season). Worst: I don’t watch bad television, but I had to stop watching The Handmaid’s Tale because it made me too uncomfortable (I love the book, though).
Best / Worst Gadget
Best: Coffee maker. Worst: “Easy to use” can opener.
Best / Worst Sound
Best: Wild birds singing. Worst: Any kind of scratching.
Best / Worst Restaurant
Best: Torchy’s Tacos. Worst: I read reviews before I go out, generally, so I avoid the bad ones.
Best / Worst Movie
Best: This is also so difficult! I always enjoy Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Worst: This is incredibly controversial, but I don’t like The Big Lebowski because the Dude doesn’t change. Yes, I know that’s the point, but I like characters with arcs. No hate messages about this one, please.
Best / Worst Time of Year
Best: Winter holidays. Worst: The week before school begins in the fall.
Best / Worst School Subject
Best: British Literature. Worst: I disliked geometry in high school but enjoyed all of my other math classes.
Best / Worst Body Part
Best: Hands because I always use them. Worst: My hair, only because I battle with it more than any other body part, and I spend the most money to maintain it.
Best / Worst Thing About Living in Austin
Best: Many options for grocery delivery, so I never have to leave the house. Worst: Traffic, which is why I never want to leave the house.
Oo, I rather like a bit of ruffage! But I'm totally with you when it comes to grocery delivery!
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