Guest interview: Amanda E. Alvarez

Welcome, Amanda! Please tell us about your upcoming release from Carina Press. Do you have a review you could share with us?

A: My upcoming release, Hunting Human, is about a young woman desperately trying to outrun her past. Haunted by the memories of the savage attack that killed her best friend, Beth is doing her best to move forward... with Braden Edwards, a charismatic man that tempts Beth to embrace the present. But the past is closer than she realizes. An old enemy is fast approaching and Braden has been keeping secrets of his own. With suspicion at odds with their attraction Beth and Braden must learn to trust each other if they are to have a chance at a future together.

A review of the novel can be found here.

What inspired this story?

A: It all began with a single scene of a woman running through the woods. From there I wondered what she was running from. That led to me wondering what would happen if she was caught. From there the story continued to spiral out until I had a full plot.

Wow. Interesting! How did your story’s setting impact your plot or characters?

A: The majority of the novel spans three different locations: Portland, the Edwards family home and the Russian wilderness. The Russian wilderness in particular took on a life of its own. It provided the back drop for the events that changed Beth's entire life. The setting was integral to helping me establish the right feel and tone for those scenes. Beth was in the fight of her life and the backdrop to that fight presented further dangers, obstacles and a sense of urgency and menace.

Why did you choose your setting and why was it perfect for your book?

A: I always knew that the setting for my book would be (at least in part) in a heavily wooded area. I chose the Russian wilderness because I happened to be traveling through parts of Europe at the time I was sketching out the opening scenes and the grandeur and immensity of some of the wilderness I saw stuck with me. Those impressions helped to fuel some of the darkest moments of the book.

Fascinating! Which of your characters is most like you? Least like you? And why?

A: This is a really tough question! I don't think I'm very much like any of my characters, though each of them have characteristics that I admire. I love the way that Lucy is always easy going. I love the loyalty and self reliance that makes Beth who she is. Braden has a knack for balancing his impatience and short tempered nature with a soft core and an ability to admit when he's screwed up. Chase has a really dark past but puts his adoptive family first, even if that's not always obvious and I think that's really admirable.

How do you choose names for your characters?

A: Ugh! This is an agonizing process for me. I use name websites and generators and I try to chose names that have meanings that I think fit the characters personalities. But the truth is, at the end of the day, the right name will just feel right when I say it.

Did you choose the title of your book and if so how did you do it?

A: Funny story. I originally had a different name in mind for Hunting Human but shortly before I started going through the submissions process I found out it had been done before. So I was left with the task of renaming my project at the last minute. Hunting Human was one of the first titles I tried out and the only one I didn't hate. Since I'd been told that authors generally had little to no say in their titles I decided to run with Hunting Human rather than waste days or weeks trying to come up with something better. Imagine my surprise when the publisher liked the title. Titles and characters names continue to be really difficult for me to come up with.

I love the title. Please tell us about your favorite character in the book.

A: Chase is and has always been my favorite character. He's got a really interesting back story and he's constantly at war with himself. Of all of the Edwards children he's got the longest road ahead of him and I can't wait to take that journey with him.

Which element of story creation is your favorite?

A: Characters are by far my favorite part of story creation - they are also the first thing that becomes solid when I'm in my initial stages of plotting. They influence every aspect of story creation from there on out.

What's next for you?

A: Right now I'm working on a new project completely unrelated to Hunting Human. It's a romantic suspense with strong paranormal elements and I'm really starting to get excited about it. I'm also giving a lot of thought to the next story in the Edwards family saga.

Would you like to ask readers a question?

A: As readers, do you tend to engage with characters or the the events happening to those characters? Which is more important to you?

Thanks for being our guest today, Amanda!

Hunting Human will be released March 28 but it's available for preorder now from Carina Press and other sites.

Please visit Amanda's website at


Carly Carson said...

Characters all the way! That's what draws me in and that's what sticks with me. Though I will say the Russian wilderness sounds like an interesting setting. Good luck with the release!

Susanna Fraser said...

Definitely characters! I like a tight, solid plot too, of course, but I'd rather read fascinating people talking around a dinner table than flat, wooden characters saving the world.

Pamala Owldreamer said...

If I don't connect with the characters I don't connect with the story. I finish the book and give it away and usually I don't buy another of the author's books.When I connect on a personal,emotional level with the hero and heroine I really feel as though I am there experiencing what they do and can imagine myself a part of the story or even one of the characters.

Janni Nell said...

Characters definitely. I'll read almost any story if I like the characters.
By the way "Hunting Human" is a great title. Love it.

Rae said...

I think...both. I love great characters, but unless something happens to make them reveal their inner wickydiddles, the story is dead in the water.

Love the title, and the book sounds fabulous!

Karen Cote said...

I care more about characters than most anything else. They can be sitting on the couch for all I care as long as the interaction between them is entertaining. Of course, the story matters but not as much as the characters. Love, love the cover.
Great interview.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Hunting Human sounds like an interesting story, Amanda. I look forward to reading it. For me, it's character first, story a close second. If I don't care about the charaters, I'm not going to care about the story.

Amanda said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by today! I can't believe it seems to be unanimous in favor of characters - I feel the same for the record, though a good plot will get me through most books, the books I constantly go back to are character driven.

Also glad to see so many people liked the title, that one was tough for me. :)

Nicole North said...

Thanks for visiting with us today, Amanda! I enjoyed it!

Caroline Clemmons said...

I am engaged by characters. They draw me into the plot.