Friday, January 17, 2014

Author Interview: Amber Foxx: New Mexico is HOME

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Amber Foxx writes the mystery series featuring healer and psychic Mae Martin. Amber’s professional training and academic studies in various fields of complementary and alternative medicine, as well as her personal experience and travels, bring authenticity to her work.  She divides her time between the southeast and the southwest, but Truth or Consequences, New Mexico is HOME.

About her pictures: It’s a way to help readers remember her and her books according to her. The series covers always show a hand holding a crystal, and her images always show her hands. Her hands are in mudras, a contemplative and self-healing practice in yoga.

Also, She doesn’t ever want her face to be famous, only books. Let us welcome Amber on board.

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood.

My favorite early memory is being taken to a live performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s the Mikado. My sister and I were around four and five years old. We loved it and ran around the house singing “We are Gentlemen of Japan”, and learned all the characters and the songs. My parents also exposed us to Shakespeare at an early age. I loved going to theater with the adults. I think this was part of my early interest in story-telling.

About your education …

I have degrees in theater and dance, and in psychology and health promotion. Two bachelor’s and two master’s.

What career did you plan during your education days?

Performing arts, which I did for a while, as an actor dancer and choreographer. Then I went back to school to go into the fitness industry, and I worked in that field for a number of years, as a fitness director, a health coach, a personal trainer,  group fitness instructor and yoga teacher. I still teach yoga as well as write. Oddly, one thing I never wanted to do, which my mother and her father both did, was teach. I saw my mother grading papers all the time as college professor and I thought it looked like a chore. I still ended up being a professor. Some sort of family karma?

What languages you can speak and write?

English.  I studied  French and the Chinese but am no longer fluent through lack of any chance to use them.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

I get my inspiration as a writer everywhere—from people I meet, news articles, peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles, random encounters, dreams—there is no end to inspiration.  Since I have so much, I blog about my inspirations at http://amberfoxxmysteries.wordpress.com

What hurts you most in this world?

I don’t think of this as personal pain, so much as the thing that troubles me the most: indifference to the earth, the global procrastination of major action on environmental issues. It affects all humans, all plants and animals. Everything suffers because of short-term thinking or avoidance coping instead of problem-solving.

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?

Someone from another country, culture, and religion. Someone utterly unlike me in every way so I could develop new insights and compassion.

What is your favorite genre and why?

As a reader I am quite diverse. I read nonfiction—science, philosophy current events—and both literary and genre fiction. It’s hard to claim a favorite, but if I had to it would be mystery. I prefer mysteries that break the mold in some way, and that give me not only a puzzle to solve, but characters I care about, and settings that intrigue me.

When did you start writing?

As soon as I could hold a pencil. I wrote a little book on bright yellow paper when I was still in grade school and stapled it together and sent it to my grandfather, an English professor. He encouraged me to write, and I think his support helped. I had a short story published when I was only twelve.

What is the purpose of your writing?

To give my readers the experience I love in a book: getting totally wrapped up in the characters’ lives, caring what happens next. Human nature loves stories. This may sound circular, but for me the purpose of a story is to tell a story. A good one.

Which of your work has been published so far?

The Calling, the first Mae Martin Mystery

Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

I’ll start with the back cover copy:
The Calling

The first Mae Martin psychic mystery

When an extraordinary ability intrudes on an ordinary life, ready or not, everything changes.

A down-to-earth North Carolina country girl, Mae Martin-Ridley is a former high school athlete whose interests run to sports and fitness, not spirituality or mysticism. The last thing she ever expected to be was a psychic or a spiritual healer. Obeying her mother’s warning, Mae has been hiding her gift of “the sight” for years. When events compel her to use it again, the unforeseen consequences spread to affect every aspect of her life—work, marriage, and family. To qualify for a new job Mae takes a class in Norfolk, Virginia, where she meets people who not only accept her abilities but push her to explore them further. She struggles with the shadow side of her gift. Though she wants to use “the sight” to help people, it gives her access to secrets she could regret uncovering. Torn between those around her who encourage her and those who condemn or doubt, Mae has to find her own path.
Beyond that, without giving any spoilers: The story is not a conventional mystery or what one might expect in paranormal fiction, either. (As I said earlier, I like books that break the mold.)  It feels like a general fiction novel in some ways, the story of a young woman in a small town where she doesn’t fit in. She wants more out of life, and hopes a new job and more education will be the key to fulfilling herself. When she aims for those goals, she encounters people who change her life in ways she hadn’t planned on. The mysteries are: What became of her father when he left so many years ago? What strange powers does Dr. Charlie Tann have, and what does he do with them? It’s not a murder mystery. Secrets are the mystery. The paranormal is blended in through real life situations. I’ve often had people say they like my work  when they normally do not care for paranormal fiction—though I hope that readers who enjoy that genre also will.

What are your forthcoming writings?

The next book in the series comes out at the end of February, Shamans’ Blues.
Shaman’s Blues
                 The second Mae Martin psychic mystery
        Mae Martin gets a double-edged going-away gift from her job as a psychic and healer: beautiful music by a man who’s gone missing, and a request to find him.
When she arrives in her new home in New Mexico, aiming to start life over as she comes to terms with her second divorce, she faces a new challenge in the use of her gift. Her new neighbors are under the influence of an apparently fake psychic who runs the health food restaurant where they work. When Mae questions the skills of the peculiar restaurateur, the woman disappears—either to Santa Fe, or another dimension. The restaurant’s manager asks Mae to discover which it is. Finding two missing people proves easier than finding out the truth about either of them, or getting one of them, once found, to go away again.

What are your future plans?

I have three more books in progress and ideas for more. This series has the protagonist’s whole life ahead of it.

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

     Characters. The readers have to care about real, complex people.
      Research. I like to make sure I don’t have errors in the believability of a setting or situation.
     Plot, of course—keeping each scene ending on a hook for a “page-turner” reading experience, keeping the conflict and the tension going, and keeping the surprises coming.
      Language. Words have power and beauty and precision, and I care about how I balance them.

Your dream destination on Earth?

I already live there. New Mexico. I’m lucky.

Your country of origin :

US.

And other countries you have visited?

Only been to Canada.

What  are the best things you liked in these countries?

I like the climate in parts of the US, and the diversity of cultures, especially the Native American and Hispanic cultures of my homes state. I loved the French part of Canada, especially the old part of Quebec, and I found Toronto to be the most livable big city I’ve ever visited. The black squirrels were cool, too. They looked like tiny bears.

Your favorite time of the day?

Night.

Your zodiac/ sunsign?

Scorpio

Your favorite color and why?

Orange. It gives me energy.

Your favorite book and why?

It would have to be the one I have read the most, and can never exhaust: The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats. I love his powerful language, his mysticism and imagery, his unique voice, his passion, his insight into love, politics, theater, and his own heart.  My praise falls short.

Your favorite celebrity and why?

I don’t have one. I confess that I often see supposedly famous names and faces and have no idea who they are. I admire a lot of not-famous people, though, the activists who change their towns and cities for the better, the people who save a wetland here, a neighborhood there, the ones who run for local office and do the daily work of making the world a better place. My favorite “celebrity” is the ordinary person with courage.

Your favorite food?

Green chile pistachios.

Some quickies:
Sun or Moon: both
 Laughter or Smile: both
 Morning or Evening: Evening
 Coffee or Tea: coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon
 Mountain or Sea: Mountain
 Long Drive or Short Drive: Long drive with a good audiobook.
 Silence or Conversation: Each in their turn is beautiful. Love my friends, and my contemplative stillness.
Water or Fire: They come together in the hot springs of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. No either-or to that—bliss!
 Air or Earth: Earth. I love rocks.
 Mars or Jupiter: Mars.
 Tulip or Rose: Rose
 Red or Blue: Red rocks, blue sky. New Mexico
 Left or Right: I’m ambidextrous
 Glance or Stare: Examine.
What three words come to your mind for each –
Technology: Liberating yet Enslaving
 Life: Notice it now
God: The Great Mystery
Humanity:  the story-tellers
Terrorism: Blind cruel egotism
 Racism: Can be unlearned
 Childhood Abuse: Three words? Inadequate to that topic.
 Love: Goes beyond romance
 Parenting: World’s hardest job
 Old age: Wisdom, grace, humor

State your best quote:

“This is not the dress rehearsal. This is IT.”

The last line of your autobiography would be…

I’ll never write an autobiography, but I like this for my epitaph: “Wow. Now what?”
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