I meet so many fun and interesting people while writing The Island Wanderer blog, and Amber K. Bryant fell right into those categories. We met through Patrick Gulke while touring the “Art is Happening” event for September’s First Friday Art Walk at the Bainbridge Island Public Library (I cover these monthly events in my blog), and I was taken by her exuberant personality, as well as the excitement surrounding her from having just published her debut novel— naturally, I was inspired to write about her.
Amber grew up in Wisconsin and migrated west after grad school to take a librarian position in Silverdale. She and her husband spent six blissful years living in a sweet little cabin with a big oak tree here on Bainbridge Island. Although they’ve since moved off island, they still love it here and are frequently venturing over to enjoy all that BI offers.
As an avid reader and a librarian, it would seem almost natural that Amber would want to write, however, it wasn’t until she was in her mid-thirties that she started thinking about “creating content rather than just consuming it”—and like many of us, she needed a creative outlet. In 2012, she decided to take the plunge and start writing, two years after she began writing, a few friends suggested she join the Wattpad community—it was a move that changed everything for her.
Wattpad has been instrumental for Amber, and her stories have garnered over ten-million reads, allowing her to develop a worldwide fan-base. Although Wattpad isn’t traditional publishing by any means, it does give the writer an opportunity to share their work (almost always for free), and perhaps catch the attention of agents and large publishing houses. For Amber, the success has been overwhelmingly wonderful. Via her Wattpad platform, she has won several high-profile contests hosted by Wattpad, including several judged by Margaret Atwood. Another contest win allowed her to co-write a short story with R. L. Stine, and she has sold the game rights to one of her most popular stories, which has since been made into an interactive video game. She has also been able to pitch her work to Hollywood executives. Last fall, Wattpad invited her to be a panelist for their convention in New York City.
Her debut novel, Blood King (Spirit Seeker, book 1), is a paranormal romance with a fast pace and whimsical characters. The book was inspired by a short story, The Blood Ages, which she submitted to a Wattpad contest. The story did well in the contest and her readers clamored for more, specifically a full-length book—so she gave it to them! Amber enjoys the challenge of writing outside of her comfort zone, and her debut novel is a perfect example of that.
“It has vampire-type monsters in it, which is a turn off for some people and a selling point for others. My challenge was to write something that would please both audiences, subverting well-worn tropes without ridicule or malice and hopefully giving readers something unexpected, engaging, and fun.”
Like most writers (myself included), traditional publishing is a terrifying pursuit—finding a good publisher, be it small, medium or large press; soliciting and waiting for reviews – then working up the courage to read those reviews, which can be either wonderful or brutal (truly one of the worst aspects in my opinion…); and of course learning how to network and promote your book. Balancing all of that with a full-time job and a family can be daunting, but she’s up for it and based on her success with Wattpad, I have no doubt she’ll do well.
As I mentioned above, Amber has a super fun personality, and in doing this interview, I asked for a few fun factoids, which I couldn’t resist sharing below:
My stories on Wattpad have been read by people in every country in the world except for the few that don’t allow Wattpad (sorry, North Korea).
One of the most rewarding aspects of sharing work online is the interaction with readers. Here are a couple of comments I’ve received over the years:
I stayed up so late reading your story that I missed my bus and was late to work (from a reader in the Philippines—this struck a chord with me because I realized I was able to affect someone’s life on the other side of the planet).
I cried more reading your book than when I watched the Notebook (wow, I did not see that comment coming!).
My heart literally shattered into a million pieces reading your book (I resisted my Ravenclaw inclination to point out to her that she wouldn’t be capable of typing if that literally happened. She was so sweet!).
I have a fascination with Sasquatches. Someday I’m going to write a story in which it turns out they’re highly intelligent beings from an alternate reality who occasionally pop into our reality to check it out and confuse humans.
The Blood King (Spirit Seeker) is available in paperback at Eagle Harbor Book Co. and most on-line book retailers (click here for the Amazon link). Amber plans on capping the series at three books (book two is written and in the hands of her editor and book three is in the works).
*Images provided by Amber K. Bryant