Thank you to Amanda Fleet for interviewing with us here at Fanfiaddict! Amanda is the author of the Urban Fantasy series Guardians of the Realm, with book 5 coming out April 29th! Links for her Guardians of the Realm series up to book 4, a preorder link for book 5, and her other books are included below!
The Guardians of The Realm series (Series Link)
Chaos (Guardians of the Realm #5) Preorder
Aegyir Rises (Guardians of the Realm #1)
Aeron Returns (Guardians of the Realm #2)
War (Guardians of the Realm #3)
Invasion (Guardians of the Realm #4)
1) Tell us a little about yourself
I’m an ex-university lecturer who now writes part-time. I left work 6 years ago after a spell of ill-health, and now share my time with family, my writing and a dictatorial cat. I live in Scotland, and love going on vacation in the highlands and islands of Scotland. They are just so beautiful and so inspiring.
2) What is a great book that you’ve read recently and why should we read it?
I thoroughly enjoyed “Piranesi” by Susanna Clark. I was maybe a bit late to that party and all your readers will know all about it by now, but I found the world-building really interesting and the characters engaging. The plot reminded me a little of Scarlett Thomas’s book “The End of Mr Y”. As with other books by Susanna Clark, it would probably be classed more as magical realism than straight fantasy, with the main character living in a set of strange halls, which he has plotted out and named. There is another person in there (whom he merely calls the Other). All seems very settled until strange messages begin to appear and there is a new person in the place. Is the new person friendly? Or a potential enemy? I was really drawn into it and enjoyed it immensely.
3) Were you a big reader growing up?
Oh, huge! Thankfully, we had a local library, otherwise I suspect I would have bankrupted my parents! I learned to read very young and perhaps read things that would be considered odd for a primary school (age 5-11) child (James Herriot, Gerald Durrell, Agatha Christie). I’ve almost always got a book on the go. I still use my local library all the time.
4) What made you want to become an author?
I’ve always written stuff, generally to get it out of my head. Books (or book ideas) have a tendency to nag away at me, chirruping in my head and driving me crackers until I write them down! I only pursued actually publishing any of it quite late on (I was in my 40s), mostly because friends were suggesting I should.
5) Tell us a little bit about Guardians of the Realm. What are some themes explored? In your own words what type of series is it?
The Guardians of The Realm series is mostly set in an alternative world, connected to Earth via a portal that only a few groups of people can cross. The first book is set on Earth, and in it, the main character – Reagan – is plagued by odd dreams, and strange items keep appearing in her house. Also, lots of people around her are dying. An ancient being (Aegyir) has been released and is seeking revenge on a woman called Aeron, who is a Guardian of The Realm. Aegyir is convinced Reagan is in fact Aeron.
I suppose one of the themes is about being in the wrong place. Is Reagan really Aeron? If so, why is she on Earth and not in The Realm? Reagan was adopted as a child and has never felt as if she really belonged anywhere; she’s always felt like an outsider. Another theme that’s strong through the later stages of the series is the difference between wants and needs. The Realm supplies everything a person needs, in exchange for service. This is absolutely not the same as supplying everything a person wants.
I would say it’s a series for adults at the early stages of “being a proper grown-up” (that may be a bit of a British phrase!) where the challenges are over being able to afford rent; contemplating marriage and children; finding a foothold in a career rather than working any old job to pay the rent. That point where you start to feel comfortable in your own skin. Throughout the series, the main character is in a stable, loving (albeit occasionally feisty) relationship. In the later parts of the series, she’s married and they have a child and the parents make a real power-couple. I think that’s unusual in most of today’s UF books.
6) Why write Urban Fantasy?
Well, my first book (which will remain forever unpublished!) was a thriller. Then I wrote a dark romance (it will also never be published). My first published book was a crime novel, and then I had a thriller published. It was only after all that, that I really got into writing fantasy. Essentially, these were the stories in my head, though I seem to have settled on fantasy now. I think a lot of the time, I’m escaping from Real Life by writing, so a non-real world to escape to is quite fun. I enjoy creating new worlds that play by very different rules.
7) What is one thing that you love about the current state of fantasy and what is one thing that you wish you saw more of?
I love the breadth of ideas (check out the books in the SPFBO competition to see just how varied fantasy can be). I would like to see more books where the main characters are in stable relationships, or in that period of life that comes between the end of school and the start of a mid-life crisis! There are a lot of UF books aimed at late teens/YA and then others at women in their forties and not so much in between.
8) Who are some of your favorite authors and why?
I read for character more than anything else, I think. Right this moment, I seem to be in a bit of a Lee Child (Jack Reacher) phase (yes, late to that party, too!). No, it’s absolutely not UF, and to be honest, not really my kind of thing usually, but I’m gripped. Harry Bingham (UK crime writer) could essentially write out the telephone directory and I would read it, if it featured his character Fiona Griffiths. I’m looking forward to Justin Lee Anderson’s follow-on from “The Lost War” – again, because I just loved the characters so much. I’ve loved pretty much all of Patrick Ness’s books, especially the “Chaos Walking Trilogy”.
9) I love book quotes. Do you have a favorite, non-spoiler quote from Guardians of the Realm that you’d like to share?
A quote out of context often doesn’t make much sense to someone else, so here’s a small snippet from a scene. It’s from “War” (the third book in the series) and typifies the culture differences between the two main characters (one of whom grew up on Earth, the other in The Realm). Aeron has just given Faran a small carving as a gift. It’s a sweet moment between them.
He looked at it again, turning it around in his hands. “What’s it for?”
I laughed. “What’s it for? It’s a gift. To cheer you up and make you smile.”
“It is just for that?” He turned it over, studying it as if there might be some hidden mechanism in it.
“You say ‘just’ like it’s something insignificant, but making you happy isn’t something insignificant.”
Clear green eyes met mine. “But it doesn’t have another function?”
Ah, The Realm. A place where if you needed something, it was provided, but possessing anything that didn’t have a specific function relating to your role was totally unnecessary.
“No. It’s entirely to make you happy and show you I care about you…”
10) What’s up next for you as a writer?
I’m currently recording audiobook versions of all of the Guardians of The Realm series, which will keep me busy until about October! After that, I have two books brewing in my head, and another to edit, so I shall be keeping busy for a while.
Amanda Fleet is the author of the contemporary fantasy series “The Guardians of The Realm” as well as the crime novel “The Wrong Kind of Clouds”, and the psychological thriller “Lies That Poison”.
Although she has been a stationery addict all her life, she suffers from the condition: “this notebook is actually too nice to write in” and consequently has a huge store of glorious, pristine notebooks, while all her best scribblings are done on scrappy bits of paper held together with elastic bands. She writes for the stationery company Nero’s Notes.
She lives in Scotland with her husband and a cat, and is most at home in the country, where she can often be found walking or running.
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