Monday, April 23, 2012

Author Interview and Book Review: The Prophet by Amanda Stevens

Title: The Prophet

Author: Amanda Stevens

Publisher: Harlequinn Mira

Publication Date: April 2012

Genre: Adult Mystery/Paranormal Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Three

Synopsis can be found here.
NetGalley review.

Amelia Gray returns to Charleston after an ordeal at Asher Falls. Being back in her town, she is ready to start work again and continue on with her life. But a ghost of a murdered cop has other plans for her. As she begins her investigation, all ties lead back to her cop, John Devlin. The man she loved and left behind. The man with his ghosts, ghosts who won't leave Amelia alone.

A fantastic book to the Graveyard Queen series.
While books one and two read more like ghost stories, this one veered more into detective story drama. Make no mistake, the ghosts are still there and still as dangerous and down right scary as the previous installments. But this book had a different feeling, not at all unwelcome.
Amelia is investigating the murder of a copy, and in the process, investigating Devlin too. Who is he really? And how will the information she uncover change her relationship with him?

I love the third book. Amelia is still strong and clever character, real and complex. Her range of emotions is every bit believable. I loved her mixed emotions towards Devlin, this other woman who keeps showing up, her fear of uncovering the truth and what that means. The answer is right there, just outside her grasp until the very end, which makes this a very enjoyable story. 
And yes, dear readers. Our friend Devlin is back in all of his complicated, tortured glory. You may have missed him in Book Two, I know I did. His character goes through a lot in this story and by the end, I was wishing book four was available already just to see how Devlin is doing.
The storyline has some great surprises. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll leave it at that. But I want to say everyone has some greyness to them, which makes these characters and their story so much more interesting.

I devoured this book. Do yourself a favor, buy the series. Sit down with some tea and a blanket and start
reading. Oh, and clear your weekend. You'll be glad you did.

Rating 10 One of The Best

 Author Interview with Amanda Stevens!

Thank you Amanda for stopping by!

What inspired you to become a writer?
Not a what but a who. Mary Stewart. I’ve always loved her romantic suspense novels and have read them so many times I can recite first lines by heart, lol. I credit her for giving me a love of visual writing. Her imagery is breathtaking, her descriptions so vivid and lush it’s like being transported to Crete or Delphi or Damascus.
A few years ago, my writing took a distinct turn into what I call creepy Southern fiction. It’s no accident this change came about after I saw The Gift, a paranormal thriller starring Cate Blanchett. The movie made such an impression that I decided right then and there I wanted to delve more deeply into my own Southern roots for inspiration.
There is also a book from my childhood that had a major impact on my writing—The Diamond in the Window, my first foray into paranormal fantasy and I loved it. 

What was the last book you read?
Die for Me, a young adult by Amy Plum about a group of revenants in Paris. Currently, I’m reading Practical Magical by Alice Hoffman. I never read it before and I’m a little taken aback at how different it is from the movie. Although that’s almost always the case so I don’t know why I’m surprised.

What sparked the idea for The Graveyard Queen series?
I really, really wanted to try my hand at a paranormal mystery/romance and I wanted my protagonist to have an unusual occupation, one that would be paramount to the story. So I Googled strange jobs and up popped cemetery restorer. It was the perfect vocation for the character I had in mind and the tagline—Every cemetery has a story; every grave, its secrets—practically wrote itself.

Amelia Gray is a cemetery restorer. I loved all of the shop talk! What kind of research did you do to become familiar with this line of work?
Exploring old cemeteries has always been a passion of mine so you can imagine how much fun I have researching these stories. Plus, there’s a wealth of information about cemetery restoration and graveyard folklore literally at my fingertips on the Internet. The deeper I dug (pun intended), the more fascinated I became with headstone symbolism and burial traditions, and I knew I had to put all of that to good use in the series.

Amelia also sees ghosts. I loved the Southern setting of your novels, the old ghost cities and the Gothic tone. How did you decide to set the series in Charleston? And did you talk to or interview any people who claim they can see ghosts? You know, for research purposes?
As I mentioned earlier, I made a conscious decision to return to my Southern roots in my writing and the setting just seemed a natural fit for these stories. I’d visited Charleston a few years ago and remembered it having some of the most beautiful graveyards I’d ever seen. I mention in The Restorer that if New Orleans is midnight, Charleston is twilight, all soft and misty and mysterious. The perfect place for ghosts.
I talked to several people who’ve had paranormal experiences, including a childhood friend. One incident she recounted freaked me out so thoroughly that it inspired one of the creepier scenes in The Kingdom.

John Devlin, dreamy haunted cop and love interest, appears again for The Prophet. In fact, the third book is mainly based around his past. How did you envision his character at the beginning and has he changed in your mind from The Restorer, Book One?
He really hasn’t changed from my initial vision at all! He and Amelia were firmly ingrained in my head at the very start of the series, and I knew their back stories—hers is revealed in The Kingdom, his in The Prophet—before I ever wrote a word. But there are still more secrets to be revealed for both of them, so stay tuned!

All of the characters in your series are well developed and may I say, a little bit haunting. Who is your favorite character to write?
Amelia. I definitely relate to her, although I don’t see ghosts, lol. But I’m a bit of a loner and I tend to live inside my own head. I also really like Dr. Shaw. That man has some deep, dark secrets and I can’t wait to revisit him in Book Four.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing your novels?
I’d never written a continuing character series before so the challenge was in keeping the stories fresh and the characters interesting and evolving. That’s why I took Amelia out of Charleston for the second book. I needed to shake things up a bit.

How do you like your potato?
Mashed with garlic and chives. Southern comfort food. Yum.

Do you have a favorite literary character?
Oh, that’s a great question! It’s hard to beat Sherlock Holmes for a mystery lover like me. He’s just so clever and moody and eccentric! Bohemian, according to Watson (another great character, btw).
Years and years ago I read a fantasy series called The Eternal Champion by Michael Moorcock. The hero was an albino warrior named Elric. Loved him.
This may be cheating a bit since I’m basing my admiration on the character in the movie rather than the film novelization, but Ellen Ripley from Alien is one of the strongest protagonists ever created, a real female hero rather than a heroine.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
Read, watch movies, play on the Internet, go for long walks. I like to travel, too, when time permits. I have a road trip to Marfa, Texas, coming up which will kick off the research for a new series.

Will there be more Graveyard Queen stories with Devlin and Amelia? (I hope so!)
Yes! I’ve sold three more books in the series. I’m so excited!

And what new books are you working on now?
I’m currently working on the fourth Graveyard Queen story tentatively titled, The Keeper. I’m also plotting the first book of my new YA series for Harlequin Teen.

And what is the one question you always wish someone would ask you, but haven’t yet? (Answer too please!)
If I could go back and start my life over, what would I be. I posed that question on my Facebook wall once and the responses were so interesting, but no one asked me, lol. The answer is…I’d work for the FBI. Not as a profiler or field agent, but as one of those geeky researchers that hole up in windowless cubicles pouring over mountains of data looking for the most obscure clue that would break the case. 

Thanks for stopping by Amanda!
Looking forward to reading more Graveyard Queen books and your new YA series!

You can visit Amanda Stevens here or follow her on Twitter at @AmandaStevensTX


  1. Thanks Heather! I love this series. I keep telling all my friends to read them! :)

  2. Thanks, Kimberly! BTW, I LOVE the artwork on your page. So whimsical. :)

    1. Thanks Amanda! and thank you for the interview. I can't wait for more Amelia!

  3. Great interview! Love these books and can't wait for the next one.

  4. This is an awesome premise! So original with great characters. I love author interviews and it's great getting to know them better:)

  5. This sounds like such a great series. I have heard so much about it, and I rarely hear anything negative. Thanks so much for the great review and I really enjoyed the author interview!