For this weeks spotlight we invited Author Aria Michaels to take part in our author interview. Aria is a writer of Young Adult Fiction, Paranormal adventure, Fantasy and Romance and still recovering from her time recently as a signing author at Utopia!
Q: For those who are new to Aria Michaels, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books?
Aria: I am the author of the bestselling young adult dystopian adventure, The Icarus Series; Killshot (#1), Before the Sky Fell (prequel novella) and Ballistic as well as contributing author in the apocalyptic short story anthology ATZ's Chronology of the Apocalypse. In addition to my career as an author, I am an avid reader, die hard zombie fan and enthusiastic lover of bonfires and red wine. When i'm not glued to my computer pouring out the voices in my head, I can be found in the dirt playing with my boys, painting, or binge-watching The Walking Dead. That all sounds innocent enough, but don't let my mild-mannered smile fool you....I am a woman with lofty ambitions that include complete global domination. I am determined to live in a world where every pair of yoga pants comes with a free book, an iced caramel macchiatto, and a magic force-field which repels the sound of screaming children (of which I have several). In the meantime, I am hard at work on the next instalment of the Icarus Series, revelling in my role as instigator of literary mayhem and stealth assassin of fictional characters. For more information about me and all my goings on, visit my website at: www.ariamichaels.com "you are never more than one choice away from a different future" ~ Aria Michaels
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration, do you ever in some ways use real life experiences?
Aria: It sounds cliche but I truly find inspiration everywhere. Music, art, nature, and life are a sea of endless story ideas. The Icarus Series is actually based on a reoccurring nightmare that I've had since I was a child. The chaos and events that lead to the end of the world as it happens in the dream have evolved over the years, but one thing never changes; I am never alone. I always have a group of trusted friends at my side, helping me overcome the dangers of my new reality. The Icarus Series highlights the importance of friendship and how those bonds have the power to redefine family.
Q: Do you need peace and quiet to write or do you have a playlist to keep you going? If you do would you share it with us?
Aria: Sadly, I cannot write when music is playing. I have battled with ADHD my entire life, and while it makes me a complete boss when it comes to multi-tasking, I am extremely influenced by sensory input. Music inspires me, and I listen to it when I am mulling a story over in my head, but when I sit down to write, I need silence. I even have noise cancelling headphones which drown out the sounds around me so I can completely immerse myself in the world I am creating. I do have an AWESOME playlist for the Icarus Series on Spotify, though. Feel free to check it out! Icarus Tunes: https://open.spotify.com/user/ariasmusicbrain/playlist/2VUpCmXX3k1nuedgNC7oJ3
Q: Are your characters always a complete work of fiction or is there an element of someone you know to start the ball rolling?
Aria: My characters are a broad mix of inspiration and spontaneous combustion. Some of them are based on real people in my life (Liv is actually based on me) while others have snuck up on me as the story progressed. It's the strangest thing to be a writer. There's power in it. Creating an entire world, giving life to something that was little more than a fleeting idea, but ultimately becomes it's own entity. My Characters are real to me, and to my readers. They have their own thoughts and beliefs. They've loved and lost. They've hurt and healed. They are human, just like you and I, only....well, not. It's surreal.
Q: What are your experiences of being an Indie Author? Do you find that social media is a help or a distraction to your writing?
Aria: My experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. I was accepted with open arms by my peers. Both veteran and newbie authors from all genres stepped up to support me. We've all heard horror stories about bullying and trolling that can exist within the indie community, but ultimately it comes down to the people you surround yourself with. I choose quality over quantity. I choose close bonds with amazing authors, bloggers, readers and bibliophiles over shouting into the void of social media. I published Killshot in 2014, and I had NO idea what I was doing. It was a big leap of faith for me putting my words out there into the universe. I didn't know a lick about the indie community, only that I wanted to be a part of it. So, I put myself out there. I searched far and wide for positive, uplifting influences to help nurture my passion. I have been extremely lucky to have been adopted by really amazing groups. The first ones to fly my banner with pride were Wendy and Claire at Bare Naked Words. They taught me the ropes early on and shouted my name from the rooftops. I will forever be grateful to them for their never ending support and virtual hugs. Soon after, Cheer and ER from Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans brought me into the fold. The connections I have made in that group are lasting and meaningful, and I promise you that you will never find a happier group of doomsdayers anywhere. The Horde over at All Things Zombie is led by Jeffery Clare. These folks really know their stuff. ATZ is another really fun group where fans of the zom-poc and apoc-fic genres gather to share their love of all things undead, from books to comics, to art and cons.
Ultimately, the best piece of advice that I can give any author is this: surround yourself with positive people and focus your energy on writing. Social media is a valuable tool and an amazing way to make connections, but if you are not careful, it can also be a black hole. You have to be careful to toe the line so you don't get sucked in.
If you are interested in connecting with some awesome people be sure to check out my apocalyptic family below
Q: What are you currently working on or is it a secret?
Aria: I am working on book 3 in the Icarus Series, a co-author project with a friend of mine (stay tuned for the reveal in a couple of months) and spearheading a top-secret anthology project with some amazing and talented authors.
Q: I hear that you recently attended Utopia. How was your first experience at a signing?
Aria: AMAZING. Utopia was...(sigh) life changing. I sat in on panels, spoke to veterans with amazing wisdom, and I had the privilege of sharing oxygen with some of the most talented authors and bloggers in the indie world. I learned more than I could have ever dreamed and made lasting connections with so many wonderful indies and it was absolutely surreal meeting fans that had travelled from thousands of miles away just to meet me (and the other amazing wordies). I was even asked to participate in a round table discussion with some of the most up and coming talent in the genre. I drank the Utopia Kool-aid, y'all. I have already started filling my piggy bank for next year and I have some exciting new ideas I plan to bring along.
Q: If you could be any character you have written, who would you choose?
Aria: Tessa from Ballistic. She is a bad-ass chick who doesn't take crap from anyone. She overcame an abusive relationship, drug addiction, and a male dominated military organisation to become the amazing force of nature that she is in the story.
Q: What are you currently reading?
Aria: I just finished Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher. O...M...G if you haven't read it, you should. Seriously, go now and get your copy. That book is raw and gritty and honest. I loved it hard.
Q: Fictional dinner party. Give me 5 fictional characters or authors that you would have as dinner companions.
Aria: Margot from Marrow by Tarryn Fisher because she is bad-ass. Zander from the Icarus Series because in my head he looks like a young Ian Sommerhaulder (and yummmmmm). Liza from Gods of Anthem by Logan Keys. She is the ultimate survivor. You must give this book a read if you haven't yet https://www.amazon.com/Gods-Anthem-Book-one-ebook/dp/B00ZUA2X3M Steven King, mostly just because he is Steven King, but also because he pretty much says whatever he wants nowadays. An unfiltered genius would be excellent company. Rachel Higginson, because honestly I would LOVE to pick that woman's brain.
Thank you so much Aria for taking the time to take part in our interview. The Icarus Series is definitely on my TBR and I will be sure to check out the other reads you have recommended. Excited for the new projects you have mentioned too, be sure to keep us updated!