Q&A with Amanda C. Davis

Science and English just don’t mix. Stereotype has it that, if you’re good at one, you’re rubbish at the other.

Amanda C. Davis smashes that stereotype to pieces.

Davis graduated from Grove City, a liberal arts college about an hour north of Pittsburgh, with a degree in mechanical engineering. She found work at Bloom Engineering Co. in Pittsburgh.

After being laid off in 2009, she accepted a job with her current company in Lock Haven at which she helps build industrial boiler burners.

Davis started writing at a young age. It all began in the first grade when her teacher gave the class a prompt, “How to Train a Dinosaur.” Davis has been writing almost constantly since then.

These days, Davis mainly writes short stories in the horror, science fiction and fantasy genres.

She has well over 40 published works under her belt, the most recent being “The Scry Mirror – What Fate Imposes” which was released in September. She also has several poems, short stories and reprints in the works.

Davis is very active with NaNoWriMo – National November Writing Month. Throughout November, participators have a goal of writing a 50,000 word novel. There are many other rules to help make NaNo a challenge. More information can be found at nanowrimo.org.

To better understand the magic behind Davis’s shared love of science and literature, Kate Hibbard conducted an hour long interview with Davis at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Lock Haven.

Here’s an edited version of their talk.

 

Kate Hibbard
What did you want to be ‘when you grow up’?
Amanda C. Davis
I was torn between kinds of engineering – mechanical or nuclear. Mechanical won out because it’s more flexible.

Hibbard
So what led you to writing?
Davis
I’ve been writing forever. The first story I remember writing was in first grade, on the prompt “How to Train a Dinosaur.” I said ‘First you need to hire a dentist to pull out its teeth so it can’t eat you. Then you need to get some shoes for it. Then you need to hire a lion tamer to help tame it.’ I was very methodical. That’s the science part of my brain.

Hibbard
Do you write more than short stories and poetry?
Davis
I have written so many trunk novels, from age 11 on. I’m half proud and half humiliated for having so many in the trunk.

Hibbard
Will any of those come out of the trunk?
Davis
I have five that I think are potentials. I’ve been drafting so hard for the last two years, but I haven’t brought any of them to the point where I could send them out. My goal – if this is going to be on the Internet, now I actually have to do it – my goal is to be querying by spring.

Hibbard
You have a lot of work available to read online for free…
Davis
About half to a third of my work is available somewhere for free. I’m the worst marketer in the world, because I’m always saying ‘Oh, just read the free ones. Don’t spend your money.’

Hibbard
What would you normally sell your work for?
Davis
I’m on a market listing called DuoTrope, which defines pay rates for token, semi-pro and pro writers. I aim for pro. There are plenty of great semi-pro markets that I have no qualms sending stuff to, but I like to aim high because you can’t sell where you’re not sending your stuff.

Hibbard
It’s nice to get your name out there, right?
Davis
Exposure is not my top priority. In speculative fiction, the line is that ‘you can die of exposure.’ The biggest markets pay the most. The readership and the quality and the renown follow the money.

Hibbard
What would you like to read that hasn’t been written yet?
Davis
Those are the stories I write!

Hibbard
So you’re working on NaNo…
Davis
Yes, this is my tenth year participating. I’m also working as a municipal liaison, which means I help arrange events and meetings, be present, help my team meet goals, act as a team cheer leader, and help deal with any problems.

Davis
My story this month is a non-young adult fiction called “The Blighted Branch.” It’s a working title. Here’s the kicker:
                “In the aftermath of the Fae War, a scholar of medical magic finds the key to her research – and soaring reputation – in a homeless soothsayer addled by her constant visions.”

Hibbard
How do you interconnect your science side with your writing?
Davis
I don’t. It’s nice to have a science background to draw from. I like having something to do outside of only talking about, thinking about and interacting with other writers. But I think I’ve always been methodical, like with math games or puzzle solving.

Davis
When you give me a fiction problem, my impulse is to approach it like a puzzle to solve. You need to get your ducks in order before you train your dinosaur.

Hibbard
Have you ever had a pseudonym?
Davis
I do. I mean, I did. The Internet happened when I was about 15 or 16. There were bad people and they might find you. Everyone went in with a handle. You didn’t use your real name, ever. I know it’s completely different now. I had an Internet name for about 10 years solid – I don’t use it anymore.

Davis
I don’t have any writing pseudonyms. They all go under Amanda C. Davis. The ‘C’ is extremely important because I have a million name twins, one of whom is a lauded dead author. If you Google Amanda Davis, you get her. If you Google Amanda C. Davis, you get me.

*Speaking of Googling Amanda C. Davis, you can learn more about her on her web site: amandacdavis.com. From there, you can view her Twitter, her WordPress blog, her ‘read free’ page and much more.

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3 Comments

  1. “Fantasy is a natural human activity. It certainly does not destroy or even insult Reason; and it does not either blunt the appetite for, nor obscure the perception of, scientific verity. On the contrary. The keener and clearer the reason, the better fantasy it will make.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories”

    Been reading Amanda’s work for many years – even did some (amateur) editing work for her, way back when. The way people’s interests interact in writing is strange and hard to predict. When I write, I’m always drawing on music analogies and principles of education, because that’s what I got my degree in. I think it enriches our work when we study things unrelated to our “job”.

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