We managed to pin Amanda down and get her to share a selection of her top 3 favourites just for you!
You’re home alone, there’s a fire! Top 3 things you’d grab and save from the fire.
First my birds! I have a budgie with an amazing vocabulary, and a singing canary, so they’d be the first out of the house. Then I’d probably grab my daughter’s favourite stuffed dragon and every book and photo album I could fit in my arms.
Top 3 Favourite authors (dead or alive) and why
Neil Gaiman, Patrick Ness, and Rainer Maria Rilke. For Neil Gaiman and Patrick Ness, I love their work so much. They aren’t afraid to go into the dark places and confront what they might find there. Their books are edgy and unpredictable, and that’s why I love them so much. Rainer Maria Rilke is my favourite poet. His observations on life and love and the eloquent way he describes them resonates with me. Letters to a Young Poet especially speaks to those who want to be writers, and so he was there for me when I was starting out.
Top 3 Favourite snacks while writing and why
Ooh, this is an easy one! Japanese milk tea, Pritz (pretzel sticks), and cream horns (cream-filled pastries). Each of these brings back strong memories of living in Japan, which in turn helps me write all the descriptions of life in Shizuoka. In fact, I’m hesitant to write if I don’t have a glass of my milk tea!
Top 3 Favourite books that inspired you to write and why
Growing up, one of my favourite books was Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander. I loved all of the Prydain Chronicles, but this one in particular spoke to me. It was about finding your place in life, and I loved how it treated me, the reader, with respect. It was a kids’ book but it didn’t talk down to me.
The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness was also a huge inspiration. I’d never read a book that was willing to let anything happen, whose pages couldn’t be trusted to necessarily bring you out of the danger. I had to keep reading, not sure what might happen—anything could! There was such an energy to those books, and such depth to all the characters, and so this series is a huge inspiration to me.
My other favourite book growing up was Mort by Terry Pratchett. I love how Pratchett is hilarious, and yet makes you question life and ponder deep thoughts throughout the book. Mort was especially moving for me, since it dealt with issues like time and mortality.
Sorry, I’m going to cheat and add the Oz books. Ozma of Oz was the first novel I ever read, and I knew then I wanted to be a writer.
Top 3 favourite songs to listen to while writing and why
They have to be instrumentals or I get distracted. I love writing to the soundtracks from Japanese dramas and video games. They really help me set the mood. In particular, I like the Hana Yori Dango soundtrack, Maou, and Final Fantasy songs. Also, BigBang’s Monster sets the mood and I always listen to it right before I work on The Paper Gods.
Top 3 favourite techniques to overcome writers block and why
The best is to step away. I think of my writing power as a well. When it’s full, I write and write. Eventually it drains, and then the well is empty. There’s nothing left. I have to step back and let the well fill up again. I can only see so far into my story’s future. At some point I need to wait until the story chooses to show me what will happen next.
My second strategy is to write through it. Sometimes I’m really just stuck because I’m tired. It’s the middle of the book and I want instead to follow that shiny new idea. The only way out is to keep going, one sentence after another, until I’m out of that tough patch. I can always come back and revise!
My third technique is to try something new. Take the story a different way. My characters often rebel and have their own ideas, and so I’ll follow them. Usually if it’s the wrong direction, I’ll feel that pretty early on and delete the idea, but at least it gets the thought of it out of my head, and then I can try something else.
Top 3 musicians/bands/groups and why
Arashi for life! I love the Japanese band Arashi. Their lyrics are very uplifting and encouraging, and they’ve been there for some tough times in my life. They never fail to cheer me up!
Secondly, Enya. I’ve been a fan since I was very little. Her music is so ethereal and it makes me feel as if I’m in another world.
Third is a tie between BigBang and B2ST. You can never have too much KPop!
Top 3 favourite movies of all time and why
The Neverending Story because luck dragon.
My other favourite movie is an obscure kids’ movie called Mio in the Land of Faraway (based on the book by Astrid Lindgren). I could never get enough of the beautiful rich fantasy world it created.
And my other fav movie is Kimi Ni Shika Kikoenai (Only You Can Hear Me). It always makes me cry. Like, ugly cry.
Top 3 favourite animated movies and why
Beauty and the Beast, because what’s not to love about beast-princes locked in enchanted castles?
I also loved Sleeping Beauty growing up. There’s so much charm in those old fairy tales.
And lastly–this isn’t really a movie, but we’ve established I’m a cheater—Disney’s Gargoyles TV series. That show is awesomesauce. Not only is it drenched in mythology and Shakespearean lore, but monsters living in the city? It was where I fell in love with the Urban Fantasy and Paranormal genres.
Top 3 favourite movie moments and why
The ending of Moulin Rouge. I don’t want to spoil it, but I love the kind of dramatic irony that kicks you in the teeth. Angst and suffering!
And I love the moment at the end of The Truman Show, when the boat reaches…well, again, don’t want to spoil it.
My favourite movie moment of all time is at the end of The Wizard of OZ, when the Tinman says “Now I know I have a heart, because it’s breaking.” Oh man, I ugly cry every time.
Top 3 favourite actors/actresses and why
I watch way more Japanese dramas and movies than I do western ones, and I have to admit, I really don’t know western celebrities very well! But I do really like Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He seems like a really nice guy and I’ve always found his acting really authentic.
I also love Jennifer Lawrence, again because she has a really down-to-earth attitude and seems genuinely nice.
My favourite Japanese actor is Matsumoto Jun. Besides being a talented singer (and being freaking gorgeous), a lot of his performances have moved me to tears, particularly in the drama Smile.
Top 3 favourite gadgets and why
Yeah, I’m one of those people who can’t live without her phone. I just got a smartphone last year and it saves me all the time. I can look up bus routes, tweet, and read books even if I forgot to bring one. It also makes a sweet English-Japanese dictionary and translator when I need a word I don’t know.
I also have a cute little pink mp3 that’s great. How else could I scare my neighbours singing Japanese pop songs at the top of my lungs?
And lastly, I love the GPS, because I enjoy not getting lost all the time. :)
Top 3 favourite dream destinations and why
Well, Japan, even though I’ve been many times. There are so many parts of Japan I still want to visit—Okinawa, Fukuoka, Hokkaido. I hope I’ll have the chance to visit all of these in the future.
I would also love to go to Egypt. I’m an archaeologist by training, so I’d like to go see all the ruins that I studied in school.
And along those lines, I want to go to Pompeii and wander through the streets of the city that the volcano left trapped in time. I think we have a tendency to look back with a feeling that we’ve progressed and changed from the old times, and while we have, I think we have far more in common with the people of the past than we realize. It’s seeing what we have in common—family, friends, struggles, achievements, dreams—that unites us as human.
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