AM: When you sit down to write a story, do you usually have the full story in mind or just an idea?
GA: An idea. A scene, or a conversation, or an image. All my stories start from one simple idea that then puts down roots, and flourishes into something more complete as I write.
AM: Where do your ideas come from? Or, how do you come about conjuring ideas? How do you keep track of them?
GA: I have a notebook with a shit-ton of ideas, which I really should look at more often. Because often I get the idea down and then forget about it, only to write something else then rediscover the idea months later and kick myself for abandoning it in the first place. Ideas can come from anywhere: a movie, a book, a picture, personal experience, a song, a conversation, anything at all. Like I said, I’m a heavily visual person and I spend a lot of time walking around listening to music, so I think a lot of my ideas germinate from processing the things I see when I’m exploring. I like to explore.
AM: You also work with NoSleep, a popular horror podcast. How did that come to be, and what do you do for/with them?
GA: I cannot express how much the show has changed my life, and enabled me to be the writer I always wanted to be. Everyone involved in making the podcast, including the wonderful podfather himself, David Cummings, are the very best of people, and it feels like family to me now.
I still write and send stories regularly to the show (not all of them make it past editorial, haha), and I’ve just written two scripts which are currently being performed live on stage as part of their first ever UK and European tour, which means I can officially say I’ve had something I wrote performed live at London’s West End! The final show of the tour is in Stockholm, where the team is performing my script, ‘The Train,’ in front of an audience of seven hundred-plus, which is a massive, massive thrill. As I said: life changing.
AM: I have also seen mentions of Shadows at the Door, Calling Darkness, and Whisper Ridge. Could you tell me more about those projects/outlets?
GA: Shadows at the Door is a lovely, atmospheric podcast where the hosts narrate spooky stories, then chat about them after. I write stories for the show and also voice act in Season 2. Calling Darkness is the horror-comedy, audio-drama podcast I co-created with fellow NoSleep author, S.H. Cooper. It stars TV and film actress Kate Siegel, and is about six girls who accidentally summon a demon. Whisper Ridge is my paranormal cowboy audio drama that I haven’t had the time to get off the ground, yet.
AM: You have your debut novel, White Pines, on approach. What can you tell us about the story?
GA: I described it the other day as a cosmic-folk-Celtic-cult-horror novel, so take from that what you will. It is about a town that disappeared one day, taking its inhabitants with it. Further than that…I don’t want to ruin the surprise, wink-wink, nudge-nudge.
AM: That book was also reader-funded to some degree, correct? What was that process like?
GA: It was entirely reader-funded via Kickstarter, which was a terrifying process and I was utterly gob smacked to hit my funding target, and then some. As I said: the support from the people in this community has been incredible, and I owe my backers everything. It’s probably why I am agonizing over this book more than anything else I have written: I owe a debt, and I want my backers to get the best possible book in return for their generosity.
AM: Aside from Till the Score is Paid (out now) and the upcoming White Pines novel, do you expect to have any other releases in 2020? Will you beat out your huge workload of 2019?
GA: I have grand plans! Whether or not I achieve them, I don’t know. Girl on Fire, the novella, will definitely be out soon. I’ve signed a few contracts for a few things that are VERY exciting, and have a lot of other material I would like to release too, so watch this space.
AM: How did writing begin with you? Did you stumble into it? Was it something you always thought about or did?
GA: I’ve always done it, since I was a child. I used to make and cover my own books when I was a kid, hand-written fantasy epics about dragons and gold and women with long hair who could shoot a bow and arrow. I’ve always been a writer. It’s a compulsion with me, not something I can really choose not to do. It’s like eating or sleeping or any other basic life task. I gotta write, so I do.
AM: How about the jump to making it your career? Has that been scary? Are you happy to have done it?
GA: Very scary, and very worth it. I’m the happiest I have ever been, career-wise. I wish I had had the balls to do it ten years ago.
AM: What are some words of wisdom you can provide to your readers and potential writers looking to you as an inspiration?
GA: (Haha) Go read someone far more worthy!! I’ve still got an awful lot to learn, so I try not to dish out too much advice, as I feel it makes me sound like a bit of a prick. BUT the one thing I tell people wondering how to improve the craft is this, which you’ve heard a thousand times before but holds true: write every single day, if you can. Even if it is only ten words. Or one. Or three hundred, or a thousand. Get that bum on the seat and write. It doesn’t have to be good, in fact fifty percent of the time it will be garbage; but eventually, you will start to see an improvement, a loosening off, and the words will fit together more easily the more you get used to pushing them out. So write every day, that’s my advice.
AM: In this world (in general), the male sex is always favored in jobs, writing, and what not. Luckily, women have been on the rise and proving that no sex is greater than the other. Everyone is capable of great things. What do you think of the progress we are seeing in the writing world right now? In the past year, I have seen way more female writers coming out on top than ever before. Several of my new favorites, like yourself, are female writers. What is your take on it all? What are some recommendations you have on the subject?
GA: This is a big question, and probably worthy of an entire article on its own, to be honest. In a nutshell: it’s very complex. I swing between feeling happy and hopeful that any writer of any gender or identity can have a voice and be heard and read and appreciated, and then feeling enormously depressed that so many publishers and editors and readers and institutions favor the same old group of dudes circle-jerking each other off year in, year out. Which may sound like a tired, old take, but it really isn’t, when you hold a light to the issue and start examining what gets published and lauded and what doesn’t.
My attitude at the moment is to just keep plugging away and writing the best stories I can possibly write, and try not to think about it too much on a day to day basis, because I am making progress in my career and that is the main thing I choose to focus on, in this moment. That being said, I am a passionate advocate for my fellow women in horror, and for any author who has been or still feels marginalized, and I will die trying my best to be as inclusive a person as I can possibly be, especially in terms of the media I consume.
Gemma Amor has a ton of material out in the world for you to digest, so get moving. I have yet to tackle her podcast discography, so even I have work to do!
Add Gemma to your watch list using these important links:
Official Website: http://www.gemmaamorauthor.com
Shadows at the Door: http://www.shadowsatthedoor.com
Interview conducted by Aiden Merchant
Photo of Gemma’s books by Sadie Hartmann. You can follow her on Twitter @SadieHartmann.