An interview with Amanda Jeffery

Interview by Nadia Brown

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Drayton Valley, Alberta, a small town about 150 kms southwest of the capital.

Tell us your latest news?

I’m working on another book that follows The Fourth Year Spell. The working title is The Intuitive Mage. This story will take place in the same world, but one of the focuses will be on Drena, which is Declan’s sister. Some of the characters from TFYS will also make an appearance.

When and why did you begin writing? 

I’ve always loved writing stories. In my elementary school years I was always proud of the marks I received for my stories and it encouraged me to do it in my spare time. I’ve always loved the idea of magic in the real world and stories helped to bring magic to my world. Some of those first books were great for me during tough times in my life, and now I’d like to share my own stories.

When did you first consider yourself a writer? 

When I first published a news article I wrote. I had this hang up that in order for me to comfortably say I was a writer, I had to receive money for my work. When I started working at the newspaper and made my living that way, I promoted myself to Writer in my mind.

What inspired you to write The Fourth Year Spell?

I was part of an online writing group. There was a challenge in the group for writers to create a short story as a gift for someone in the group. The person receiving the story would provide a word prompt and the writer would go from there.

That’s how The Fourth Year Spell came to be.

Do you have a specific writing style? 

I tend to write with a more realistic feel. I get caught up in the details of reality, even in my made-up worlds and I try to make sure that everything makes sense. For example, the magic system in TFYS is one that is logical to me. There is a realistic explanation for it.

As a result, some of my stories tend to have a darker turn to them.

How did you come up with the title? 

To me, this title came easily. The whole reason Declan is in the mess he’s in is because he needs that one last ingredient for his fourth year spell. If it weren’t for that, he would never have been in Vellieren and never have interfered with the thieves.

What books have most influenced your life most? 

When I was younger I really enjoyed reading Dragon Lance books, Belgariad, and the Xanth novels. Fantasy was always my favourite genre.

However, it was the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling that has always remained at the top. 

What book are you reading now? 

I tend to read many books at once, because sometimes I’m in the mood for something different. I’m currently doing a re-read of The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (I’m so excited for the show to air on Amazon), Page Fright by Harry Bruce, Year One by Nora Roberts and The Last Odyssey by James Rollins.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on another book in the same world as TFYS. I’ve also got another one on the back burner, but it needs to percolate a little bit more in my brain before I can get it going. That one will be based here on Earth, but of course, there will be some magic involved.

Do you see writing as a career?

Writing as a career is something I’ve always dreamed of. Whether that’s as an author, or content writer or blog writer. 

I think I would love being a full-time author. The idea of getting to spend time creating worlds and telling their stories sits nicely with me. It would be a dream come true.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I would have taken more notes. When I was writing the story, I was on a tight deadline, so world building happened on the fly. I never really expected to write another story in Elnar, and I wish that I’d taken more care to jot down my original thoughts about the place.

With this new story, I find myself having to answer many questions that I hadn’t thought of with the first one. Maybe that’s something that I will always have to deal with, but I feel I could have been better prepared.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 

Favourite authors is a tough one. There are many that I love and jump at the chance to read their latest books.

I’d say Robert Jordan is probably my favourite, though. The world he created was magnificent. It was so detailed that, to me, it feels like a real place. I used to dream of visiting the White Tower or Emond’s Field. And I always had a crush on Mat.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? 

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome was the hardest for me. I love writing, but I always wondered if other people would enjoy my stories as much as I do. It was difficult for me to publish TFYS, because that meant I had to take a leap of faith and I might have to grow a tough skin.

Do you have any advice for other writers? 

My advice would be to take writing advice with a grain of salt. Everyone has their own way of telling their tales. Some people meticulously outline every detail. Others don’t know much beyond what the next sentence is going to say.

There are lots of different elements that go into play when writing a story, how someone navigates those elements is an individual preference. It’s an experience that no one else can really tell you how to live.