Interview with Jennifer Amriss, author of Race Against the Dark

12:30 AM

An exclusive interview

with author Jennifer Amriss

Doodles, doodles everywhere congratulates author Jennifer Amriss on the release of her novel, Race Against the Dark! Let's welcome her on the blog for an interview with DDE today. Read on!

1. How did you decide to write Race Against the Dark?

Really, I didn’t. I had been trying to write an Arthurian epic, and Ka’lei, Race Against the Dark’s main character, popped into my head, gripped me by the throat, and wouldn’t let up until I finished writing her story. She’s very demanding, and even though she’s tiny, she’s a powerhouse and doesn’t take no for an answer when it comes to something she wants.

Since I’m a “pantser”, she led me through her story and every scene was a complete surprise and a joy to write.

As a side note, I blame Wen Spencer’s Tinker for giving Ka’lei the idea that she could boss me around because strong, independent women are thankfully becoming a thing in fiction.

2. Can you tell us what kind of research went behind Race Against the Dark?

There wasn’t much of any research behind Race Against the Dark, if I’m honest. I think the only things I really had to research were more things I forgot than things I didn’t necessarily know. Stuff like the parts of a saddle. I had to figure out if Elf saddles were more the English type, or the Western style, and refresh my memory of what the part names were. Oh, and I had to refresh my memory on how to address royalty. Though, come to think of it, it would have been hilarious to see Iliastaire’s face if Ka’lei had addressed him as Your Highness, instead of Your Majesty. Or even Your Honor. Oh, God. Why am I just thinking of this now?

3. Who's your favorite character from Race Against the Dark and why?

Other than Ka’lei, I think my favorite character is a tie between “Papa” and Culthar. Iliastaire is a posh, cultured, capable king who loves his three children, and rules the Netherdark with a steady, fair hand. When he spends time in Ka’lei’s head, he goes from indignant tirades to eventually showing his soft and intensely caring side. I loved seeing his growth through the book. Seeing him just accept the nickname of “Papa” after only a few snide remarks just cemented him into one of my favorite characters, and he often shows up in later books as side characters.

Culthar is a Darksire, the male counterpart to the female Nightmare. He is king of his herd. From darkness was he made, and he is proud of that fact. He’s sassy, and just as posh as any elven royalty. When he and Ka’lei first meet, every elf in the vicinity freaks out, and Ka’lei can’t figure out why. They say he’s a killer, and tout that he’s been killing elves for a long time. Ka’lei, though, is too curious for her own good. And when she learns that “Culthar” is elvish for “Man-eater” it just makes his snark and loving attitude toward this tiny little woman all the more adorable. I say little, because Ka’lei is 5’0” tall, and Culthar is tall, even for a draft horse. When he’s saddled, she comes up to his stirrup. The two of them together just make me squeal.

Because of the mental link and soul-bond between horse and rider enabling riders and their horses to have verbal conversations, as well as other story aspects, Race Against the Dark has been compared to Mercedes Lackey’s Arrows of the Queen by several readers.

4. How did you celebrate the first sale of this book?

I squealed. Seriously. I scared my cat so bad that my skinny little tortie, Punks, fluffed up to three times her size, and hissed at me. She never hisses. When I squealed again, I think she hid under the couch for at least an hour. Then I went and squealed (in all caps of text) to my writer groups, because I just couldn’t contain myself.

This is my debut book, and to see it actually make a sale made me realize that this is real and not the dream I thought it was.

Other than that, I went back to work. I’m packing to move house, so I’m pretty strapped for time between writing, packing, and coordinating things between my landlord and roommate. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to publish on time because of it, but I’m so glad I pushed through.

5. Tell us about some of the learning experiences or biggest challenges you faced throughout the writing and publishing process.

As far as writing is concerned, the biggest learning experience was actually how to tell a story. My previous works will never see the light of day, but they helped me reach the level where with Race Against the Dark, it finally clicked and I zoomed through it on a high that I imagine would be akin to being on something illegal.

Publishing-wise, it was mostly trying to find a cover artist. I had one, but I had to let her go for financial reasons due to my current move. The cover on the face of Race Against the Dark currently is my own work, though I plan to rebrand sometime in the near future after my move is complete and I’m settled in.

6. Do you get creative blocks or burnouts? How do you get out of those, if and when you do?

Burnouts, definitely. In 2013, I wrote Race Against the Dark in three weeks during April, Healing Wounds in ten days during JulNoWriMo back when that was still a thing, and wrote or finished three other books. In 2014, I wrote three more books. I was on fire. During that JulNo session, one of the days I wrote 25,000 words, and when I came down from that manic episode, I could barely string together three words. My writing group was so worried about me that they literally sent me to bed that night. I’m bipolar, but my medications usually keep my swings even. But those two years, my mania had me pretty productive, and I’m still suffering the crash.

I was so burnt out from all that, that in 2015 I couldn’t even look at another story without my entire body feeling like lead. I couldn’t read, edit, or anything, and it just about killed me.

I’m just now starting to get out of that burnout phase. To ease myself back into the swing of things, I’m editing stories and getting things ready for different events. I’ve been reading voraciously, having gotten back my love for it, and have been trying out different genres. M/M Paranormal Romance is one of my new favorites to read because it’s so close to fantasy.

But, basically, I’m putting aside time to refill the creative well. Re-reading old stories, re-reading stories I wrote, and putting butt in chair and getting at least some words every day has helped immensely. I try to also keep up with my editing, so as I push through the block, I’m still productive.

7. Tell us something personal about you that your readers may be surprised to know.

One thing that very few people know is that I was ordained as a non-denominational minister back in 2003, I think it was. A pagan friend wanted me to officiate over her wedding, but after I became ordained and just before getting my license to officiate over weddings and funerals, she and her fiancé decided to elope.

As I didn’t have a calling to be a minister in any religion, it is now simply a pretty certificate in one of my folders. Writing was far more fun and interesting.

Another thing that few people except close friends know, is I own a roleplay chat site. It’s in Alpha testing, but most of it works. I will probably be putting out the call for roleplayers soon. It’s pretty exciting because roleplay is how I help flesh out some of my characters. Having that outside interaction with another player’s character really helps to force you to figure out what they would do in different situations, how they would deal with different people, and overall what their personalities are. It’s super fun!

Not so sure those are actually personal. For something really personal, I am a rape victim. As such, I tend to enjoy writing M/M Fantasy Romance more than heterosexual stories as they are less of a trigger for me. Once the 9 stories of the Kings of Kal’brath series are finished, I will primarily be focusing on that niche unless something sparks my interest to do otherwise.

8. What do you do when you are not writing or reading?

Oh, goodness. What don’t I do? For the most part, I chat with other writers or play video games. Currently, I play mostly World of Warcraft and sometimes Guild Wars 2. I love the communities in those games. For single player, my all-time favorite is still Dragon Age: Origins. The story in that is fantastic and is good for flooding me with plot and character bunnies when my creativity well starts running low.

I also have a habit of taking a full day to binge on Netflix. Right now, I’m on season three of the original X-Files. The nostalgia in that series is awesome. I forgot how much I loved it. And, when not watching that, I tend to binge on Anime or things like Ghost Hunters or monster hunter shows. I love creepy things and myths and legends.

It’s all research. I swear it is! Kinda…

9. What's next?

Next is Healing Wounds, though the title may change. It is in the editing phase and should be published by the end of May. It is book two of the Kings of Kal’brath series, and book one of the Mother Duology. Other than Race Against the Dark, most of the series are sets of two. The last three will be a trilogy to tie the first six together and end the series.

There will also be M/M Fantasy Romance side stories for my fans who prefer such. I’m super excited about those. I want to finish Exile before I start putting those out, though, even if the duology does happen between Race Against the Dark and Healing Wounds in the timeline.

Blurb, you say? Here, have a gander!

Fifty years after Mother's awakening and the resulting cataclysm, humans have become an endangered species. Continents changed, islands were lost while others rose from the sea, and landscapes were changed forever.

The Summerland's Elves were called forth by Mother's will to clean her wounds, rid her of the filth that humans left behind, and somehow save those who had survived the world-wide catastrophe.

Elan, however, has more on his plate than just saving humanity from extinction. The Nymph population has sent assassins to hunt humans to finish what Mother had started. Their true goals unknown, Elan is fighting a war that he doesn't truly understand.

Amid the hidden war, Elan struggles against his desires and his duties. His true love, Jenna is may not survive the soul-bond that most elves only hope for. However, Linolde, who wishes to marry him, is arrogant, abrasive and only wishes to mate for his power.

With all this weighing on Elan's mind, he must find the ones responsible for his father's murder and somehow keep his people from revolting while still taking care of the humans he has grown close to.

Impossible tasks keep mounting. Can Elan save everyone, including himself?

For more about what’s In the Works, feel free to visit my site, where I keep the list updated. Any changes will be reflected there, as well as in my newsletter.

10. Lastly, any special thoughts for the readers?

First, I’d really love to thank everyone for reading my ramble. You all are awesome. Never forget that. And thank you for your support. Without readers, a writer’s job is worthless and unfulfilling. Readers make this job fun, and I can’t wait to show you more. As an indie author, your thoughts, concerns, input, and reviews are what keep me going and help me to create more of what you want to read, and get it to you faster. Contact me anytime. I’d love to hear from you! Love or hate the book, your thoughts are valuable. Thank you.

Race Against the Dark

by Jennifer Amriss

Page Count: 287
Published: February 29th, 2016
Publisher: Magelight Press
Genre: Fantasy, Romance


Plagued by visions and auditory hallucinations, Haylie is crazy with a capital C. When she discovers an injured elf, she’s brought into their world, where she finds out that everything she thought was true is a lie.

Now, she’s a changeling come home—and her name really is Ka’lei.

Affected by a strange spell that artificially accelerated her growth, Ka’lei struggles against the elven council to prove her adulthood and her right to love whom she will. Her birth mother attempts to kill her during the Council meeting, thrusting her deep into her ancestor’s ancient plot to destroy the human world and use its power to conquer the elves.

Ka’lei must rally dubious allies, racing against the Dark in a battle to not only save two worlds, but those she loves… and somehow, hold onto the only place she’s ever felt sane.

Warning: Graphic sexual content.
Intended for mature audiences only. 18+

Buy the book

About the author

A world traveler, Jennifer spent most of her childhood experiencing the Mediterranean, traveling Europe, and constantly on the move with her military parents. Now, she has settled down in the hilly region north of the Allegheny National Forest where she lives alone with her tortoise shell cat, Pumpkin Spice. With so much culture and scenery engrained in her psyche, she froths at the mouth to squeeze it all into the different worlds that seem to come to her at the most inopportune times.

With an imagination larger than the Alaskan wilds, and more gumption than common sense, Jennifer has been working on turning her writing into a career since 2003. Her first story, Tepith’s Quest, turned out so horrendous that it has been relegated to the abyss in hopes it never breeds. It served its unfortunate purpose, and in April of 2013 Race Against the Dark didn’t suck half as bad. After making many sacrifices to the writing gods in the form of hot chocolate and biscottis, she now considers it passable. We shall not speak of the first train wreck again. Move along.

When not creating worlds, people, or generally playing God, she plays MMORPG and single player video games, dabbles in website design, digital art, and watches obscene anime. She even sometimes deigns to talk to lesser mortals. However, she is shy, so if you see her, please bring cookies and chai latte, and only approach once your offerings have been devoured. More on this after your scheduled public service announcement.

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