Please welcome Amalia Theresa to The Clog Blog! Amalia, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
All my life, I’ve wanted to be a writer. Even as early as second grade, I was getting up for show and tell with tiny little “books” I’d written and illustrated on scratch paper and stapled together to share with three classes of kids, and now I’m the author of nearly two dozen novels/novellas and a handful of short stories spanning the genres of historical fiction, fantasy, and romance, building off my degree in Classical Studies and English, both.
I was raised extremely Catholic in upstate New York but realized Thor had been knocking on my door for maybe the whole of my life sometime in my early twenties, and after writing a sprawling romantic fantasy series to make sense of it all within the context of how I was raised and what I was supposed to believe, I embraced Norse Paganism/Heathenry, and now I continue to write about what it means to be pagan as I continue a spiritual journey I never expected to take.
Of course, I also just write fun stuff, too, which is why this year I launched a THIRD pen name, Amalia Theresa, for sexy rom coms that don’t fit under my Amalia Dillin (fantasy) or Amalia Carosella (historical fiction/women’s fiction) brands.
How do you make time to write?
I’m a full-time author so making time both to read and to write is literally my job and has been since 2009! But I find that making sure I start putting down words FIRST THING when I sit down at my laptop makes a big difference to my productivity for the day. And, it’s taken me a long time to realize it, but making time to refill the well with reading and enjoying other story-telling formats and let myself have fallow periods is just as important as the time I spend writing.
What genre are your books & what draws you to this genre?
As Amalia Theresa, I’m writing sexy rom coms for the sheer JOY and DELIGHT of accompanying these characters on their romantic journeys. I’ve always enjoyed reading romance, and I’ve particularly fallen in love with contemporary rom coms in the last five to seven years or so, so while I was in denial for a while, it really isn’t a surprise to find myself writing a few, myself. They’re just FUN, and I needed a little bit more fun, to remember that writing, for me, is about the fun of discovery and spending time with characters I enjoy as much as it is everything else.
Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?
As Amalia Carosella I took part in the History 360 Team’s A SEA OF SORROW: A NOVEL OF ODYSSEUS, which was a collaborative novel comprised of a novella by each contributing author that when read together form a complete narrative (but said novellas can also be read individually as well!) It was a lot of fun to find my way back to the Bronze Age and an interesting challenge to incorporate the perspectives of a handful of other authors alongside my own!
I also wrote a goofy, just for fun series on my blog with Mia Hayson, called Thor in Zombie Land—it’s comprised of two adventures, Wheels on the Bus and Aesir Legal, both about the girls Amalia and Mia, who get caught up in a lot of trouble thanks to their thundergod and their zombies respectively. We had a BLAST writing it together! (And periodically talk about writing more, someday.)
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Not Writer’s Block, no, but periods in which I am tapped out and need to recharge and refill my well creatively, absolutely. There have also been times when writing a particular story was not something I could emotionally take on because it became too real or too resonant to something that I was experiencing or echoed unfortunately somehow in another respect, but I’ve found each time that there were bigger reasons in addition for why I had to break from that project and work on other things instead—that the project was enriched by the time I spent away from it, writing something else because the lessons I learned in writing those other things meant I was better able to do the story I had to put aside justice.
For example, one book that I had to step away from and came back to YEARS later and feel I did absolutely right by in doing so, was FROM ASGARD, WITH LOVE. If I had not written DAUGHTER OF A THOUSAND YEARS between starting and finishing FROM ASGARD, I could not have written the book it needed to be—and I’m incredibly proud of how it turned out as a result.
I see you have three pen names, Amalia Dillin, Amalia Carosella, and Amalia Theresa, why do you choose to write under a pen name and why three? 🙂
To be fair, I’m not sure I really chose my second pen name (Amalia Carosella) so much as it was deemed necessary by the industry in order to launch myself in historical fiction after publishing fantasy as Amalia Dillin (I had published with a micro-press and my sales were not Traditional Publishing Impressive). My Carosella books and my Dillin books, though the former are historical fiction and the latter are fantasy are thematically not SO different from one another—I’m asking and answering a lot of the same big questions about what it means to be a human and engage with myth and the divine, I think, under both names.
That said, my sexy rom coms were such a huge break from what I had previously been writing that I felt like I did definitely need to distinguish them from the rest of my work, and by using the names we shared (Amalia Theresa) I also wanted to honor my great aunt, who said once that if I wanted to be successful as an author, I needed to learn to write the sex!
In my PLAYING TO WIN rom-com series, I think I can confidently say that I have, in fact, learned how to write the sex! *fans self*
How are you publishing your latest book and why? (*e.g. Indie, traditional)
Publishing is such a tricky business.
The Short Answer is: Since PLAYING TO WIN, the first book in the series skewed toward the New Adult end of the romance spectrum and the traditional side of the industry has not quite figured out how best to capture that market, especially not at PLAYING TO WIN’s length, I opted to self-pub/indie-pub my PLAYING TO WIN series.
The Long Answer involves the ghost of my great aunt and some spiritual experiences that felt as though they were telling me to just get the books out into the world because they mattered, but I think it is probably a lot to get into in this kind of interview! Ha. (I am getting weirder and weirder the longer I live this author life.)
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Build time off from writing into your writing discipline/practice. It is JUST as critically important as the time you spend doing the actual writing. Do not fall into the trap of “I should be writing” guilt that sucks all the joy out of any scrap of time you have to enjoy your other hobbies. Yes, show up for your writing time, but make the time you spend NOT writing, refilling the well of your creative self, just as sacred. Burn out isn’t something I’d wish on anyone.
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
I’m most active on twitter as @AmaliaTd and @AmaliaTheresa, but you can also join me on Patreon https://www.patreon.com/Amaliad and of course my main website/blog www.amaliadillin.com, and on Facebook, too, at https://www.facebook.com/AmaliaDillin
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Thanks so much for having me and I’d be THRILLED to share a taste of my third rom-com: From PLAYING HOUSE, releasing today! August 13th!
“Hey, Mom,” Abe said, pressing his phone to his ear and sliding his cereal bowl back onto the table. He’d settled onto one of the stools at the breakfast bar like he belonged there, watching me fish out silverware and dishes as if he were waiting for the pop quiz on where to find things later. Until his phone had started buzzing, anyway.
Now his eyes had locked on mine from across the room, narrowing slightly. “Sel called you?”
I grinned. It had been simple, really. Shoot a couple texts to Sully talking about how spooky the house was at night. How I’d scared myself awake because of some stupid shadow on the ceiling, woken myself up screaming the night before and it had taken me hours to get back to sleep, knowing I was alone, thinking about how if anything happened to me if someone tried to break-in, we were too far from any neighbors for anyone to hear my scream.
Of course, Sully wouldn’t be able to resist. He called Will his fixer, but Sully had the same impulse. Always wanting to help. Ready to lend a hand or do a favor for the people he loved, whether they wanted him intruding or not. Pair my (totally real, for the record) nightmare with what Sully would of course know about his brother’s ambivalence in returning home, and it was a no brainer. He’d call his mom, tell her I needed some extra support and oh, by the way, since Abe was in town maybe he could offer it, and then Dr. O’Sullivan would connect that with what I’d told her over Abe’s phone the night before—and here we were. Abraham O’Sullivan on the phone with his mother, staring at me with something like awe.
“Yeah, we didn’t really talk about it, but I can see that. She was pretty jumpy about keeping the lights on,” he said, then paused, listening for another span. “No, I don’t have any solid plans. But you can’t really think Midge is going to want me hanging around, imposing myself…”
He trailed off, listening again. “Yeah.” He shook his head, his eyes bright with amusement now. “I mean, I can only offer. It’s up to her to say yes.” Silence again. “All right,” he said, pretending doubt. “I’ll leave that up to you, then.” Quiet again. “Love you, too, Mom.” Pause. “Bye.”
“Well?” I asked.
“Should I be afraid of you, Violet?” he asked, his lips twitching. “Because I’m starting to wonder.”
I laughed. “If you needed to be afraid of me the question of whether you should be would never have crossed your mind. Didn’t we go over this last night?”
“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “Don’t let the people you’re trying to dupe cotton on to the fact that you’re duping them. But you also said Sully knows what you’re capable of, and from where I’m sitting, you just worked him and my mom like puppets on strings.”
“Then I guess you’re just going to have to take your chances,” I said, lifting a shoulder. “But either way, a bet is a bet, and I own you for the next two weeks.”
“Not quite, Midgelet. You’ve still got another call from my mother to field,” he said. “Without giving away the game.”
“Pfft.” I waved that away. Dr. O’Sullivan may have been a psychologist but getting her to come up with the plan of having Abe stay was ninety percent of the battle on this one. And even if she thought I might be manipulating her, as long as she didn’t realize it was Abe who was looking for an excuse not to go home, I was still in the clear. “Child’s play.”
“Wouldn’t want you to get cocky, there, Champ,” Abe said, laughing. “Are you sure you’re not some kind of psychopath?”
“Nah,” I said. “I definitely care about people’s feelings. But working in the restaurant business, you really hone your people skills. Learn how to work them so they leave happy, even if their meal or their service wasn’t perfect. Will’s pretty good at it too, when he wants to be, and if you’d ever seen my Gramps in the dining room…” I kissed my fingers and raised them in salute to the genius that was my grandfather’s talent. “The man could have sold fur coats to sunbathers on the hottest day of the year. That Fowler charm was legendary.”
“Seems like you’re not so far behind him,” Abe said. “Little Miss Snake Oil Saleswoman.”
“Are you calling me a conman again, Abraham?” I asked. “Because once again, I must remind you that I’m doing all this for your benefit.”
He shook his head. “I don’t believe that for a second, Midgelet. If I were a betting man—” (Which clearly he was.) “—I’d put money on the fact that you really are getting jumpy alone at night in this house. Did you have some shitty customer give you a hard time after your parents left or something?”
I flushed, spinning on my heel and opening the fridge as if I were looking for something more to eat while my stomach twisted in memory. It was kind of inevitable. There was always one asshole who took doing my job as an invitation of a more personal nature. And once in a very great while, even after I had them thrown out, they might linger in the parking lot around closing. But that could happen to anyone, in any service industry. In any industry at all, really, where you worked with other human beings. It wasn’t anything I hadn’t dealt with before—and I certainly wasn’t going to admit that coming home to an empty house with my skin crawling from a close encounter had turned my resting state of anxiety up a notch. I didn’t really need Will worrying about any of that. He’d probably try to come home if he found out.
“Hey,” Abe said, and suddenly he was behind me, his hand covering mine on the refrigerator door. Closing it and urging me back around. “You know we’ve all got your back, right? If some asshole is creeping on you, just point me in the dude’s direction and it’s done. He won’t even so much as look at you again without his balls trying to climb back up inside his body.”
I made myself laugh. “It’s not anything I can’t handle.”
He ducked his head, catching my eyes. “I’m not questioning your ability to handle it, Midgelet. But if you want a little back-up, there’s no shame in asking for it. Or using me for the purpose while I’m already houseboying, for that matter. If I’m going to be running errands and providing maid service, why not add bodyguard to the mix?”
“I don’t need a bodyguard,” I said firmly, stiffening. “I don’t need help or support, but it would sure be nice if people stopped acting like I can’t handle myself or the problems that come with running a restaurant when I’ve literally been training for it my whole life.”
“All right.” He backed off, holding his hands up. “You don’t need help or support; you’ve got this all by your onesie. I’m sure that’s all true—but it doesn’t mean that a little help or support wouldn’t make it easier. That having a team doesn’t still help, even if you can skate circles around the rest of us.”
I shook my head. “The minute I even so much as think I need help, you know how it’s going to be. My parents and Will all worrying about me, feeling guilty for leaving and immediately making plans to come back. I have to do this, and right now I have to do it alone.”
“Well, if you ask me, that’s bullshit,” he said and when I straightened, opening my mouth to argue, he hurried on. “Bullshit of them to make you feel like you don’t have any other choice but to do it all by yourself, without any kind of support, because otherwise they’ll think you can’t. Everyone needs a hand once in a while, even when they’re pros.”
“So why are you so pissed about having to accept some help of your own?” I asked. “You’re doing everything you can to drag out moving back home.”
“I haven’t turned you down, have I?” he asked. “I’m accepting your offer to stay here instead. At least for a couple of weeks. You help me, I help you—I don’t see what the problem is.”
I didn’t really know, either. Why shouldn’t I accept Abe’s help? It wasn’t like he was going to run home to his mother and spill all my secrets. Clearly they didn’t have that kind of relationship. And even if he did, Dr. O’Sullivan wasn’t going to break his confidence. That wasn’t how she operated, and she’d understand that I wanted to do this without giving my family reason to doubt.
It was just that he was Abe. I didn’t want to get used to having him around. And telling him he could stay here—that had already been a lapse in judgment. As good as he looked, and as ridiculously kind as he’d been (this Midgelet nonsense aside), I was basically asking for heartbreak.
“No one ever finds out,” I said despite myself. “Not that you’re trying to avoid moving back in with your parents, and not that I was nervous about being alone because of one asshole at Fowler’s. The story is that I’m just a little afraid of the dark, and you just happen to have nothing better to do with your time.”
“Suits me just fine,” he said. “Whatever you need to feel safe the next two weeks, I’ve got you.”
“How do you feel about dropping in every evening for a beer or whatever, and then walking me out?” I asked. “That and knowing you’re in the house at night should be all I really need. I don’t think anyone is going to be loitering around the parking lot if they know you’re with me.”
“With you or with you?” he asked.
I shook my head. “No fake relationships. That never ends well for anyone.”
Abe laughed. “All right. Just physically nearby. I can do that.”
“In addition to being my house and errand boy,” I said. “A deal is a deal, after all.”
He grinned down at me, so beautiful I practically melted into the floor. “Assuming you don’t still manage to tip off my mother, of course.”
But I think we both knew that on that score, I’d already won.