Amber Vilate grew-up in Houston and fell in love books as soon as she could read. As an adult, Amber balances her time between writing a paranormal mystery series and editing and publishing one of Houston’s newest literary journals Young Adult Literature Review. Recently Amber stopped by to chat about her inspirations as a writer and how she overcame her fear of revision.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I’m one of those cases where I’ve loved writing and reading since I knew what a book was. I’ve been writing stories since I was young. I have one story I wrote in high school that I’d pass around in class as I wrote scenes. But I really got serious about writing a few years back when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out. I’d just moved back home and started a job that could definitely be called ‘dead-end’ and I was looking for something to help me out of the rut. After reading Order of the Phoenix, I decided that if J.K. Rowling could do it, so could I and I started working on a novel soon after.
I can’t stand revising, so I started the Undead Crimefighters series to overcome my aversion to editing. It’s much easier to edit a 5,000 word story than one with 75,000 words.
The first episode of Undead Crimefighters is "Sophie and the Wolf," where the reader meets Sophie, a recently created vampire, and her friends, who are all some form of immortal or undead creature. With Alex, their mentor (a zombie), they try to keep the humans around them safe from the undead monsters lurking around. The first story is pretty light and introduces some of the major players. I’ve had some good reactions to it, which is really great, and the second episode will be available soon.
You’re an editor and publisher as well as an author. Tell us about the Young Adult Literature Review.
Well, YA Lit Review really encompasses several things. It started out as just a small podcast where we reviewed books. The podcast has since grown to incorporate audio fiction as well as author interviews. I added a review blog last year to support the podcast. The magazine was introduced as a further extension of the podcast. I’ve been frustrated by a lack of outlets for short stories for children and young adults, and wanted to give authors another place to submit. It was a bumpy start at first but now the journal is really catching-on. There’s certainly no shortage of submissions!
The journal is really for readers of all ages. It’s rare to find a literary magazine outside of schools that is geared toward fiction for children and young adult. I love to hear about people enjoying the stories, reviews, and poetry in the magazine. It’s important that we don’t lose ability to connect with short stories. There are several publications for adults on the market, but it’s just as important for children to have the experience of a literary magazine.
Right now, we’ve switched to an e-newsletter format for the rest of 2010, but we do still have hardcopies of the first few issues. The magazine is available as a subscription, or as a single purchase. All the information is at our website, www.yaliteraturereview.com/literary.html.
Who are your favorite authors and why?
Top of this list would be JK Rowling. I’m pretty well immersed in the Harry Potter world and I marvel at the details in her storytelling. I can credit Rowling with leading me back into the world of YA and for making me believe I could be a writer.
Next, I think I’d have to include Rick Riordan. He’s a brilliant and exciting storyteller. I also would mention Scott Westerfeld. I love his brand of science fiction and would love to see more of this genre available.
There are so many authors that I love so much that I probably couldn’t begin to mention them all, but I also love C.S. Lewis, Holly Black, and Joan Bauer, all of whom are amazingly talented.
What’s next for Amber Vilate?
The second episode of the Undead Crimefighters will be coming out soon. Watch for it! On the Young Adult Literature Review, we always have book giveaways on the blog (youngadultlitreviewblog.blogspot.com). Also, I’m announcing a new contest for the magazine this month. Our contests for the magazine are open to anyone ages 12-17 and usually involve writing fiction or essays. Please check the website for details!
This interview first appeared in the September 2010 version of the HOUSTON BANNER.