Please introduce yourself and your books
I’m Amanda Steel. I’m a multi-genre author and have written several books. After the Zombies is a prequel novella to Not Human. I’m a big zombie fan, so it made sense to write something like this. My character, Grace discovers she carries the cure for the zombie virus, but not everyone wants her to stop the outbreak.
I also have my YA novel First Charge, which is about a fifteen-year-old mermaid descendant who has to save the world. I enjoyed writing this and the other characters, many of who are descended from various mythical creatures. My character is a lesbian, though doesn’t get much time for dating, but does have a love interest in the book. I liked writing a positive character for teenage girls to look up to. She’s not perfect, makes mistakes, but does what she thinks is right.
If that’s not enough, I have a two-part series called Lost and Found, written under the pen name Aleesha Black. This follows Kayla Marshall, a young woman who was kidnapped as a child. She was sold to a wealthy couple and brought up believing they were her parents. When she is reunited with her birth family as an adult, she struggles to adapt.
Finally, I have a poetry collection out in September (currently available on Lulu already) called Pieces of Me. The title sums up what all the poems are. Some are funny, others are sad, a lot tell stories about my life or other people who have inspired the poems, while all of them have some meaning to me.
What are the real-life stories behind your books?
I wrote After the Zombies as a gift for my younger sister. I enjoyed writing it so much that I went on to write Not Human, because I felt there was more to the character’s stories. I wrote most of this novel while working as a Social Media Assistant. I would write on an app during my journey to/from work and during my lunch break. The words soon added up and at the end of each day, I transferred them over to my laptop.
The Lost and Found series was inspired by the idea of kidnapped children being sold to wealthy couples. I thought a lot about what it would be like to find out this had happened and how someone might try to deal with that as an adult.
How do you deal with creative block?
I work on multiple writing projects at the same time. So, if I’m struggling on one, I switch to another for a while. I seem to have the opposite problem to creative block, though it’s not really a problem. I often come up with ideas I don’t have time to work on straight away, so I make a note of them, for a later date.
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
Everyone wants good reviews, so it’s disappointing when you get a bad review. I have used constructive comments to improve my writing. However, when a one word review says “rubbish” with no explanation, that’s frustrating. I’ve had that happen. In one review, someone got the characters mixed up and suggested the brother and sister were romantically involved. Nobody else made this mistake, so I can only assume she didn’t read the book properly. I’ve also had online trolls use fake names to leave one star and negative reviews on all or most of my books on Goodreads.
You have to ignore it when it happens. Anything else is unprofessional.
How has your creation process improved over time?
I’m sure I have more ideas now. That’s partly down to getting away from my desk and out into the world by performing at spoken word nights, co-hosting a book review podcast with my partner (Reading in Bed) and starting up my own creative writing magazine (Printed Words). This has all helped me to get feedback and reactions on my own writing, be inspired and encouraged by other writers and see where they tend to go right or wrong. I feel like I’m learning all the time. I’m coming to the end of my Creative Writing MA, where I’ve learnt a lot, but have learnt just as much through the activities mentioned above.
What are your plans for future books?
I’m bringing out a Paranormal Crime novel next year. The main character is a ghost trying to solve her own murder. If it goes well, there may be a sequel.
Also, Not Human is being adapted into an audiobook, which I’m really excited about. I’ve heard the first chapter and my narrator is engaging, which adds something to the book.
I plan to bring out a second poetry collection in two or three years, because I still feel like I have a lot more to say through my poetry. In addition to all that, I’m releasing a co-written book with my partner. This contains a series of seven-word poems with images, which we took turns to write, while I created the accompanying images.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I like red onions and pickled onions, but not the other kinds.
I like the colour red. This may be linked to my preference for red onions, but could just as likely be a coincidence.
When I’m writing, I sometimes imagine who would play my characters in a film adaptation. The character of Liam in Not Human, would be played by Chris Hemsworth. So, if you’re reading this, Chris…
After the Zombies
Lost and Found