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Art & Life with Amber Royer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amber Royer.

Amber, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’m a science fiction author and a creative writing teacher. My Chocoverse series (Book 1, Free Chocolate, releases June 5, 2018, with the second book coming next year) mashes together telenovela drama and space opera stakes, with a dash of sweet romance and a goodly dose of real-world information on the botanical/processing side of chocolate. It’s what I like to call a “kitchen sink” book series. I started with a list of everything I though was cool about the books I had read and tried to fit as many of the elements that made sense as possible into one ‘verse.

This isn’t the first book I’ve written — my previous novels are in the double-digits, but I’m proud this one is my debut. I wanted to be a writer since the fourth grade, when we did stories for an English assignment, and my teacher emphasized that writers were real people, and that with enough creativity and drive, anyone could be one. I joined my first professional writer’s group in Beaumont Texas at the age of fourteen (I was basically their junior mascot), so I had no trepidation about the idea of submitting my work. It was just what you did, part of being a writer.

It took me a long time to find the right match of agent and publisher, and in a way, I’m glad that it did. When I compare this book to some of my early efforts — well, I would be embarrassed for anyone to have seen the first three or four. I think it really is true that your first novel is just about learning the mechanics of storytelling. There’s a few I’d like to go back and revise, because there are characters I love and plot twists that still speak to me. Maybe for one or two I will, now that I have the skill to handle the complexity of what I’ve been trying to execute in my last few manuscripts.

I’ve been a youth librarian and a writing instructor. So, books have always been a part of my life.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I write cheeseball science fiction, with tons of geeky-in references. Basically, I’m always balancing going for the joke with looking for the true emotion and stakes in a story. My agent once told me, “When you’re writing a light book, you’re always pushing back against the darkness.” That can be difficult, without descending into frivolousness.

I love history, and I like to do research and then play around with “what if” and extrapolating the lessons and conflicts into different situations and on different scales (sort of what Douglas Adams did by showing an everyman trying to stop his house from being demolished, to prepare the reader for the idea of Earth being demolished for similar reasons). At times I may be writing about aliens or AIs, and there may be misunderstandings and violence and people who do truly villainous things, but I really want to explore the basic humanity common to all of us, and show that at heart, most of us desire the same things. I like the way Bill and Ted summed up their own journey: “Be excellent to each other.”

That’s the great thing about reading. It’s so easy to ball up into your own self, but when you step into the mind of a protagonist, it forces you to see through their eyes. And if that’s for a reader — imagine what it is like for a writer. Andre Dubois said, “Writing is a sustained act of empathy.” You transform yourself by writing, into a better, more understanding person.

I hope readers walk away entertained, having had a laugh and a cry and maybe even a little bit of a scare. And that they are able to take themselves a little less seriously, and more readily laugh off the ridiculous things that cause so many of life’s conflicts.

Process-wise, I’m a recovered pantser (writer who discovers the plot as they go, also called a discovery writer) turned mega-outliner. I have an extensive wiki file to help me keep the details of each universe I’ve been working in straight. (This is not something I recommend to my students — they probably aren’t working with multiple invented cultures and languages, or multiple timelines.)

I write both novel-length pieces and short stories. I’ve also done non-fiction articles, and a couple of cookbooks. I have a blog on writing craft at www.amberroyer.com, as well as a section on the site with worksheets for writers to help with everything from setting a writing schedule to getting to know your protagonist.

What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
There’s an AWESOME group that can help you find the closest / most genre-appropriate writing organization. Writer’s Organizations ‘Round Dallas serves as a directory, and also puts on its own events. (wordwriters.org) The writer’s group where I am the discussion leader (Saturday Night Write) is a member organization.

Dallas is a great place to be a writer simply because we have member chapters of such organizations as Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, The Nonfiction Writer’s Association and much more. There’s also enough critique groups, you can probably find one that is an easy drive.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
My debut novel comes out June 5. You can preorder it now on Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com, in addition to other retailers. If you are local to DFW, come out June 7 for the Free Chocolate Launch Party being held at Interabang Books (which means you can support an indie bookstore at the same time!)

If you enjoy a book — mine or anyone’s — the best thing you can do for an author in this day and age (other than buying copies of the book for everyone you know) is to leave honest reviews on both Goodreads and Amazon. The more reviews, the more people are likely to see the book.

https://www.amazon.com/Free-Chocolate-Amber-Royer/dp/0857667505/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513029521&sr=8-1&keywords=free+chocolate+amber+royer. You can also take a writing class from me through either UTA or Writing Workshops Dallas.

Contact Info:

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Image Credit:
The cover to my book is by MingChen Shen.

I don’t know who took the pic of me an Jake at the 2017 Chocolate Festival — someone passing by.

Jake Royer took the picture of me holding a cacao pod.

The picture of me and two WordFest volunteers is actually a selfie.

I took the pic of my moon mug and the hot chocolate.

James Knowles of X27 Films and Media took my headshot and also the stack of books pic.

Getting in touch: VoyageDallas is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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