Interview with Author Amber Skye Forbes

My guest today is Amber Skye Forbes.  Hello, Amber!  Welcome back to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you here.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?

My latest book has not yet been released, but here is the blurb for it: 

Alice Sheraton is slated to be executed as a witch; however, her father spares her. He sends her to Finight Hill, a safe house for witches. Here a Shadowman begins to pursue her, and from this Shadowman she learns she has been bound with a terrible fate since birth: either be a martyr to free witches from their misery, or choose to live knowing her existence will bring on more chaos.

So there will be a new main character in The Stars Are Infinite, the sequel to When Stars Die. Amelia is the protagonist in the first book, and her main goal is to protect the ones she loves. At every turn, the antagonists of this book are constantly threatening her, so she is always in a state of hypervigilance. 

When Stars Die came out last October, and you can get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, Smashwords, and even order it from your local library, which several of my readers have done. (NOTE:  This book is currently in the process of being re-released so you may not find it in all of these locations.)

Is there anything that prompted your latest book?  Something that inspired you?

Oh, goodness, it’s been so long, as I started the sequel first before When Stars Die. It started out as a simple dream of Amelia—she was different then—going around and killing all of my friends. Then somehow it evolved into so much more, where I wanted my witches to be vastly different from the witches that currently exist in literature. The A Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy inspired me throughout, mostly through its writing style, dark story, and some details of Victorian life for a girl going to an elite finishing school. Everything else just sprang from this crazy mind of mine. 

Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers? Any advice? 

For aspiring authors, I want you all to know that it IS great to be published, but don’t wish to be in the place of a published author. Wish to be in your own place as an aspiring author. It doesn’t get any easier once you’re published. It gets harder, especially because of sales. After your first book is published, it’s about sales and promotion. Keep writing, but sales and promotion become a crucial factor, ones you will wish that you don’t have to worry about. Published authors are still in the same boat as you, seeking new publishers, trying to hawk their wares, essentially. Being published once doesn’t guarantee publication ever again. Of course I’m having another book published, and then likely the third in the trilogy, and you should keep dreaming, but you also know NEED to know the realities of what happens afterward. If you’re trying to seek glory or fame, you’re in the wrong profession. 

That's true. Being a writer is hard work.

Readers, here is the blurb for When Stars Die.

“Yet, even when stars die, they leave a lasting impact through their light, their diamond brilliance as they scatter their material to form new stars. When people die, they leave the same impact with the footprints they leave on people's hearts. Even the ones who feel insignificant go out, leaving behind dust that can nourish the world anew."

Amelia Gareth's brother is a witch and the only way to save her family from the taint in his blood is to become a professed nun at Cathedral Reims in the snowy city of Malva. However, in order to become professed, she must endure trials that all nuns must face.

Surviving these trials is not easy, especially for Amelia, who is being stalked by shadowy beings only she can see. They're searching for people they can physically touch, because only those they can touch can see them. Amelia soon learns why she is being stalked when she accidentally harms her best friend with fire during the third trial. Fire is a witch's signature. The shadows are after witches.

Now Amelia must decide what to do: should she continue on her path to profession knowing there is no redemption, or should she give up on her dream and turn away from Cathedral Reims in order to stop the shadows who plan to destroy everything she loves?

Here is an excerpt from the book.

The sound is a dagger scraping crosshatches on a frosted windowpane, its echoes loud in this insensible room I’ve been locked in for the past few days. I want to remedy my fears over the sound, but I’m more terrified of the impending trials that will determine my readiness to be professed in the Order of Cathedral Reims. The trials are the reason I have been locked in here.
Colette sits beside me, lost in knitting a scarf she has been working on for a week—the amount of time we’ve been trapped in here with minimal food, water, and sanity. Her ability to shut out the world with a click of the needles is something I have always envied. For her, the world is nonexistent.
But not for me.
The sound strips my nerves raw, so I tighten my shawl and rise from the creaking mattress. My boot-clad feet meet the floor, and in spite of my stockings, cold still shoots through the soles, hibernating in my bones. Pulling in a deep breath of biting air, I tiptoe over to the door and press my eye to the keyhole that overlooks a bright hallway. The air freezes in my chest. I knew I heard those blasted shadows, the eerie, almost impossible sounds they make whenever their black cloaks trail along the cobbled floors of Cathedral Reims. Sometimes I wonder if
they’re witches, people born of the Seven Deadly Sins and considered worse than murderers in the eyes of the law. Then I remember my little brother is nothing like them. They are mere shadows. Mere shadows.
Two of them stand outside the room. I recognize them. The tall one is Asch, and the little one is Sash. I don’t know where I heard their names. Here, in my dreams, in nightmares, or somewhere else.
I wish they would go away. I wish, I wish, I wish. I close my eyes. Open them. They are still there. Why must they be here? Theosodore, our Mother Superior’s lackey, could gather us any moment for the first trial, a trial that will test everything we are made of, and here are Asch and Sash teasing my nerves with their cold, white fingers. But I don’t know what it is about them. They haven’t done anything in the two months since I’ve started seeing them, but their presence makes sharp fear burrow into my muscles and knot them. I believe I’m the only one who can see them. This frightens me. Perhaps waiting for these trials has made me mad.
Colette’s voice rises behind me, a quiet thing in the tremors of my mind. “Are you searching for those shadows again?”
I look over my shoulder and into eyes that reflect a blue sky. I have no reason to tell her that I am. She puts down her knitting and tightens the standard gray shawl given to all girls being tested for the Professed Order. Winters are bitter in the city of Malva, especially in this winter of 1880, though the unpleasant chill is a mere prologue to the upcoming trials.
“Amelia, it’s stress. We’ve all been stressed about these trials.” She shows me her bloodied fingers. “See? I’ve bitten them to the nub! Now why don’t you come over and let me braid your hair?”
I shake my head. I will admit nothing. And yet, I don’t know why I can see them and Colette can’t, or why they’re even here. I keep opening my eyes and closing them, hoping they will disappear. But they don’t. For whatever cryptic reasons they have, they are here and have been watching us all for the past two months.
Colette puts a hand on my shoulder that I shrug off. “Stop this nonsense, Amelia. You know how fretful you make me when you act like this. It’s stress. I promise you. Just stress.”
Stress. Yes, just stress. But does stress truly conjure shadows of the darkest thoughts in one’s mind? I thought of tearing my hair out in clumps to reduce the stress of these trials. While I have awaited this period in my time as a sister, knowing that my performance hinges on whether or not I stay and continue on as a nun is trying. I don’t want to go home. I can’t go home. Home is where I’d spend days in my room, sometimes comforted by prolonged sleep, other times tortured by an unquiet mind. Cathedral Reims was the only thing able to give me some purpose, and here I am, and here is where I need to stay.
I turn back toward the door and curl my fingers against it, tapping my nails on the wood. I will not argue with Colette. Even trying to convince myself they are not real is like trying to convince one of our priests to remain celibate.
“Don’t bother with me, Colette. I’ll be--” Wailing erupts far down the corridor. The sound is loud enough to break the icicles clinging to our window. I’d join, but I already ache from stress. That crying has been intermittent since we were shoved and locked in these rooms. The trials are that dreadful, though we have no idea what they consist of. The screams of those being tested assure us they are far from pleasant. I look at Colette and gesture in the direction of the crying. “At least I’m not at that point.”
She sighs again. “All right, then. Once this is all over, I’m certain you’ll stop seeing things.”
I hear the skirts of her gray dress rustle across the floor and the creaking of the mattress as she settles back on it.
I first saw the shadows on the roof of the south transept while Colette and I were in the orchard, picking plums for jam. My little brother Nathaniel was with us, but he was too busy climbing trees to take notice of anything. There were five of them, I remember. I turned away from them and whispered to Colette, “Do you see those things on the roof?”
“What things?”
“There are five of them, all in black cloaks.”
She dragged me deeper into the orchard so that foliage and plums obscured my view. “You’re starting to lose your mind, just like Sister Marie did. Remember what happened to her? She was so stressed about the trials last year she slit her wrists, miraculously survived, but had to be put in an asylum. Don’t end up like her! Don’t bring them up again. Ever. If you do see them again, just keep telling yourself they’re not real.”
But it’s hard to believe they’re not real when I see them every day, amassed in different numbers, engaged in indiscernible chatter. If they were just illusions, wouldn’t I have gone truly mad by now? Wouldn’t I have started seeing other things too? Wouldn’t I--wouldn’t I have ended up like Marie by now? Because I haven’t frightens me even more, for what could this mean? Marie’s sanity fell apart in just a month, and even then we sisters could see it unwinding when she started hallucinating. She saw things, like the suffering witches on the stained-glass windows, or the statues of witches nailed to stakes talking to her.
We have such harrowing propaganda around Cathedral Reims.
Colette’s knitting needles start clicking away. I press my eye back to the keyhole. Asch and Sash now speak in hushed tones.
Asch balls his white fists. These shadows have skin the color of clear-day clouds and eyes an endless black. The eyes alone tell me they are far from human. I hold my breath in anticipation of what he’ll say. Sash, however, throws a hand over Asch’s bluish, scarred lips. Thick, disfiguring scars cover Asch's entire face as though someone took a serrated knife to him. Sash narrows his eyes and opens his mouth. What comes out is loud enough for me to hear.
“You do realize there might be some people here who can see us?”
A painful cramp overtakes my stomach. He has a boyish voice. A boyish voice. He is a child. They cannot be real. They are illogical. They are demons spawned from a stressed mind whose darkest thoughts contemplate all the ways I can hurt myself to feel something other than this impending feeling that I may be inadequate for the Professed Order. But there they are, those shadows, acting, living, breathing, speaking, doing human things.

Catch a character interview with Amelia here:

Thank you for visiting us today, Amber!  :)

Author Bio

Amber Skye Forbes is a dancing writer who prefers pointe shoes over street shoes, leotards over skirts, and ballet buns over hairstyles. She loves striped tights and bows, and will edit your face with a Sharpie if she doesn't like your attitude. She lives in Augusta, Georgia where she writes dark fiction that will one day put her in a psychiatric ward...again. But she doesn't care because her cat is a super hero who will break her out.
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Amber's Books:


Coming Soon:


When Stars Die Cover


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