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Monday, November 21, 2011

Getting to Know Romance Author, Amanda Brooks

Amanda A. Brooks has been writing romance novels since the age of fourteen. In 2009, she decided to self-publish. Never without a book in her hand or bag, Amanda is an avid reader of romance and true crime (especially of stories from the 1960’s.) She is always thinking of unique ideas for her stories. Amanda resides in Southern California.

Tell us about the genre of your work. 

Thanks to my love for westerns in both books and movies, I feel like I have the experience to tell stories that are just as good - maybe even better. When I write, I write as if the reader will be reading a film. My stories are filled with rich settings, dialogue, and conflict, rich characters - good and bad - whose stories are begging to be told. But more importantly, my stories are not just about romance and sex. My stories are about love, family, and community.

Why did you choose this genre?

The night I saw High Noon on the big screen was the night that changed my life forever- for the better. I was mesmerized the moment the late, great Tex Ritter (Father of the late, great John Ritter) started singing the opening notes to the movie’s theme song Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’, a song that became a running, haunting score throughout the film. I fell in love with the story and the setting of High Noon.

I booed the bad guys, and I cursed the townspeople. My heart ached when no one would help Gary Cooper defeat the bad guys, and raced when the only person who helped him was Grace Kelly - who was against violence because of her religion. I loved watching a young Lloyd Bridges deal with his confliction - whether or not to help Gary Cooper. Aside from Gary Cooper, my favorite character was that of saloon owner, and Cooper’s ex-lover, played by the beautiful, Mexican actress Katy Jurado. It was Katy’s meaty role that helped me to create the role of my own saloon owner heroine, Julia. Because of High Noon, I decided to create a ten-book western romance series set in 1880’s Colorado.

What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
Thunder Mountain Brides:  The Outlaw Schoolteacher – Edith was published in December of 2010.
 My second book in the series – Thunder Mountain Brides:  Hidden Secrets – Agnes was released Summer 2011.
Can you tell us more about them?
Thunder Mountain Brides: The Outlaw Schoolteacher-Edith is the first of a ten-book western romance series set in 1880's Thunder Mountain, Colorado. The hero is Zachary Scalen, and the heroine is Edith Baumgarten. 
Thunder Mountain Was Edith's Plan To Escape The Outlaw Benton Gang. Her Love For Zachary Stood To Ruin Everything.
Thunder Mountain Brides: Hidden Secrets-Agnes is the second of a ten-book western romance series set in 1880's Thunder Mountain, Colorado. The hero is Reverend Nathaniel Weston, and the heroine is Agnes Crandall. ISBN/EAN13:1460910974 / 9781460910979

Agnes Was Willing To Give Her Body And Her Soul To Nathaniel, But Not Her Secret.
ISBN: 978-1453848906  You can order it at:

How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

When I first thought up my town’s name Thunder Mountain, I originally wanted to call it Thunder Gulch.  An author friend told me that there are no gulches in Colorado, so I changed it to Thunder Mountain. 

Names have always been important to me.  When I first thought up my ten-book series, once I established that there would be ten heroes and heroines, I then thought about what my heroines’ names would be.  Their names were all that mattered because the series is called Thunder Mountain Brides.  Naming these ten heroines, I had to pick names that not only fit the time period, but that I loved.  If I wouldn’t name my children these names, I wouldn’t name my heroines these names.  Edith and Agnes were the most important names because they are the only two names that are old-fashioned, and fit the time period.  When it came time to choose a name for my tomboy, wild child heroine, the only name that fit was Danny.  Reading other westerns romances, every author seemed to name her heroine Callie.  So, it was only fitting I name one of my heroines Callie.  My Native American Indian maiden was originally going to be named Paloma.  I changed her name to Pamela after the heroine Pamela in Samuel Richardson’s novel Pamela.  Marta was named after Marta Von Trapp in The Sound Of Music.  I hate it when I ask an author how she chose her heroine’s name, and she can’t remember, or says that she just liked the name.  How boring is that?  I have reasons for why I chose my heroine’s names.  The brides are:  Edith, Agnes, Danny, Marjorie, Pamela, Marta, Julia, Eva, Callie, and Liza.

How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?

In this case, the protagonist would be the hero.  Zachary, my hero – or should I say Edith’s hero? – was created after I decided that Edith would be an outlaw who robs banks.  I thought, who would be the perfect hero for an outlaw who robs banks?  A banker. How ironic is that?  Zachary’s character is complex because although everyone in Thunder Mountain loves him, he is not boring. He comes with heavy baggage, and is dark.  Although he will do anything to help anyone, he won’t do it without a price.  He puts his bank first. Only two things get in the way of his bank – his love for his daughter Jenny, and his love for Edith.  But will he choose her over his bank?

What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind?

While there are plenty of evil villains in this series, the antagonist is actually Edith.  Edith is an outlaw who takes prisoners.  She is cold-hearted and hard-hearted.  She will use her body to get what she wants.  What happens when she falls in love with Zachary – the town’s banker?  All I can say is that at first, she will not allow her love to get in the way of her goal – robbing the town’s bank.  She wants her money.

What is your favorite thing about your book?
Wow!  Well, I could be boring and say my favorite thing are my characters.  I will.  I have had so much fun creating these characters, and putting them in these different settings and situations.  I am also very much in love with my cover art.  My covers are my visions brought to life by my cover artist Marjorie Parsons.  And without my cover models – Gary Simonian as Zachary and Cali T. Rossen as Edith, my cover would have been dull.  I am so proud of my cover art.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
 I think the research for a mystery writer would be a lot tougher than for a romance or western writer because mystery involves knowing about murder techniques, not to mention how to really grab your audience and how to scare them.  With westerns, my research comes from watching a zillion westerns on TV and reading westerns.  The difference with my research and what I see on TV or in films is that I have to be accurate.  I can get away with minute things, but I have to make sure that a western fanatic/historian is not going to say, "That couldn't have happened" or "That is not accurate.”  If someone wanted to read my book, I think it would be because they were a fan of the genre.  To my astonishment, I have had people who have never read a romance or hate westerns - mostly men - want to buy my book.  Moreover, when they do, they tell me they loved it!  I once talked a customer at my bookstore into buying the DVD High Noon despite the fact that she did not like Westerns.  Not only did she love it, she bought my book.  She recently told me she could not wait to watch more Western DVD’s that I had suggested to her.
Why and when did you begin writing?
I created and started writing Thunder Mountain Brides in 2006 after seeing High Noon on the big screen.  I love westerns, but for some reason, it took High Noon to make me create my series.  I had no intention of publishing my series.  I did blog it.  It was not until I woke up one morning in 2009, and decided I wanted to publish.  I had been depressed after the deaths of dear friends and family members in 2008 from cancer.  While writing took my mind off things, it was getting this project rolling into the book it is today that got me out of my funk.  It was a long, hard, challenging road, but it was fun.
What is your writing schedule?
I am terrible when it comes to my writing schedule.  Because of this, I am way behind on Book 3.  I have barely worked on it.  While I can use releasing Book 2 as an excuse, I have been distracted by TV, DVD’s, the internet, and work.  Sometimes it is easier to work early in the morning or late at night when all is peaceful and quiet.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I will to continue working on Book 3 – Thunder Mountain Brides:  The Devil and The Lord – Danny.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
My advice is to (1)Write in the genre you love, and (2)Just write.  You can smooth out the rough edges later.  I would also suggest self-publishing.  You’ll have total control over your work – your heart and soul.
What do you do when you are not writing? 

 You can learn more about Amanda and her books at:

When I’m not writing and proofing my cover art and text, I am working at Barnes & Noble, going to movies, watching DVD’s, and listening to awesome music. My favorite music ever is 50's and 60's music.  I am also a fanatic of show tunes.  I love musicals.  They sure don't make music like they used to.  Give me Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly over Miley Cyrus any day.  Of course, I do love country and great songs from today.  A song today has to really move me.  My friend Gary has introduced me to some awesome music of the 70's and 80's recently - Rush, Marillion, Squeeze to name a few.  When I write my western series, I use country to get me in the mood.  When I write my love scenes, I either listen to a song from today, or a classical instrumental.  I know the perfect song that will fit a certain scene.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
1) Releasing a book last December, and releasing another this year.
2) Although self-published, Barnes & Noble – where I work – were so wonderful to give me a book signing.  That meant a lot to me.

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