"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!" (Mary Quallo, St Louis)

"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!"  (Mary Quallo, St Louis)
Coming next week - Carla Eatherington

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Hawaiian Paranormal author Amy "Godhunter" Sumida - around the Cauldron

Multi-talented Amy Sumida

Every now and again, my good friend and esteemed colleague Matt Posner (http://schooloftheages.webs.com/apps/blog/)
introduces me to someone for a natter. 

Case in point, the brilliant Hawaii paranormalist Amy Sumida who writes the terrific and extensive Godhunter Series. 

As you see from the interview, Amy is a busy woman and a multi-skilled artist, so I was lucky to catch her on the Wizphone as she scooted from one sun-kissed engagement to another. Amy is a delightful lady, easy to talk to, blessed with the good manners and genuine warmth of the Aloha culture of the Islands, as well as being a terrific writer of great clarity and poise. Here's what she had to say to me from a sunshine island 10,000 miles away

Tell us a bit about yourself, Amy?
I was born and raised here in Hawaii. I went to a public school in Kaneohe where I was Goth before they had a name for it and an artist(to this day, I run into old classmates who know me as “that weird artsy girl”). 
That was pretty rough here, where everyone expects you to be an island girl, wearing cute cotton dresses and surfing in the afternoon. 

Much more like Amy...
I actually hate the beach, there are pictures of me as a child, sitting on the beach with my sun-loving mother, holding a towel over my head. 

Haha...us Brits would be out there in 120...
Hahaha. Not me. On top of that, I'm afraid of the ocean. The soundtrack to Jaws plays in my head every time I enter the water. So I guess I'm not your average islander.

I've been a writer as long as I can remember. The only thing that pre-dates my writing is my art. I was introduced to art by my very creative mother and my father, who was not only an artist but a computer genius. I remember him making me a pad that I could draw on which was connected to his computer. This was when I was maybe eight or nine, so back in the eighties. He was really ahead of his time. 

Unfortunately, he died when I was eleven and never got to market his designs. I was lucky enough to have a family who supported my creativity and encouraged me. So I never really thought of pursuing a career in anything but what I loved to do. I was mostly focused on art until I gave a copy of a book I was working on to my English teacher. 

"A few weeks later, I was strolling through the halls and was accosted by another teacher who I didn't know. She wanted to know when I was going to finish my book because she was dying to read the ending. My English teacher had been sharing my book with her friends evidently. That was when I realized that I might be good enough to pursue writing as a career". 

Still, I didn't actively pursue it till many years later. I went to school for Fashion Design, then became a massage therapist, and finally a tattoo artist, all while painting on the side for extra cash. 

Throughout this journey, I was working on a book. It was a story that had been percolating for awhile and which I'd finally recorded just for my own pleasure. 

"Godhunter, the first book in my series. I sent it to a few agents and got very close to publishing it. Llewellyn strung me along for a year and then finally told me it hadn't passed the last level of executives. I was so upset that I decided to publish it myself and when I saw how easy it was, I published Godhunter. By this time, I'd already written five books in the series so I was able to release them all at once. but just got so frustrated with the game". 

Too many people involved in the Trad Publishing decision making process if you ask me...

Self publishing has worked out very well for me, Wiz. Llewellyn has since released a book very similar to mine but I'm not bitter.  Here's a link to the first book in my series on AmazonUK, you can download it for free: 

FREE Amy Sumida Download on Amazon UK!! HERE

And they're all Sales and Marketing Pros now in Trad. Booo. What happened to the artists. Anyway, you're here and doing brill. What is it like living in the Islands? Is it as chilled and beautiful as us Euros think it is?
It is. 

Of course it's not the Hawaii of my childhood, in which people could leave their doors unlocked at night without worry but it's still much safer and more welcoming than the rest of the US(at least in my opinion). I was on Maui once, standing outside a store, when a man drove up on a Harley motorcycle. He turned the bike off, got off of it, and went into the store, leaving the keys in the ignition. No one touched it. 
 Hawaii is so laid back, it's people so kind and trusting, that when people move here from the mainland(what we call the rest of the US) they go through a culture shock. A lot of them can't handle the island way of life and the fact that you can't just drive to another state. I hear a lot that it's a good place to visit, not live - (Huh? Swap, Amy? Ed)

- but every time I try to leave, I end up coming back home. There's no place like Hawaii.

Wemaia - unbelievable...
I like to tell people Hawaii is the best place to live in the US because we have all the trappings of America; the restaurants, military protection, and freedom, but we are culturally an entirely different country. The local people are big on respect. If you treat them with respect, they'll return the kindness. Unfortunately, a lot of mainland Americans can be abrupt, they're not as trusting or loving in their dealings with others and local people don't take kindly to that. So I've known people who've said they haven't had a good reception here. Yet, just this past weekend, I was speaking to a very nice couple who had moved here through the Army. They'd gone to buy firewood(for camping) from a local guy on the side of the road. When he found out they were new to the islands, he invited them to his son's birthday party. 

"That's the kind of people we have here and that's what aloha is about. I always said if I were to ever travel outside of the US, I'd tell everyone I was from Hawaii, not just from America, because it really is a different place entirely".

On top of the people, we have the most beautiful mountains, lush valleys, and of course the Pacific Ocean right there. The weather never gets too hot or too cold and even when it rains, the rain is warm and makes amazing rainbows. Oh and the food! We have a mix of all cultures here and they've intertwined to make some of the best cuisine you'll ever have. Can you tell I love my home?

You certainly do! Back to writing. In what genre do you work?
I write Paranormal romance. I've always loved things that were outside of the norm and those are the things I want to read about. I want a book that helps me escape reality completely and for me, that's anything paranormal. The romance is because a story isn't complete for me without that level of human connection... and why connect with just a regular person when you could instead fall for a god?

Tell us about Godhunter? It seems to be very popular.
Yes, I'm awed and very grateful to all of the people who not only buy my books but reach out to me on facebook and through email to tell me how much they love Vervain. It's so wonderful to have other people love my characters as much as I do. Writing can be such a personal thing that it's scary to put it out there and then just hope that people are kind in their judgements.

Godhunter is about a witch who lives in Hawaii and discovers that the gods are all real but they're not really gods. They're refugees from Atlantis, who spread out across the world and used their advanced technology and magic to deceive humans into believing that they were gods. They accepted sacrifice from humans and used that energy to prolong their lives and strengthen their power. Unfortunately, the sacrifice waned. 

Viv - er, sorry Vervain 
Vervain(not Vivian, thank you), decides that she has to do her part to protect the rest of humanity since they're involved in a war they know nothing about. So she starts hunting the gods. Of course, everything is not as she first believes it to be and she soon finds allies as well as enemies in the gods she hunts

Vervain is an unstoppable force for me. Her story just keeps going forward, getting more and more detailed. I'm about to release book 12, Perchance to Die, and I've already started on the next book which will be entitled Tracing Thunder

You are also an artist. Tell us about that? I am particularly interested, as a student of horror, in your voodoo doll thingy.
My voodoo doll thingy...that's hilarious. 

I try...

I paint, it's my first love, and I especially like to paint people. I'm also fascinated with surrealism. I guess, just like my writing, I'm not satisfied with the real world. So I started doing a series of paintings featuring people who are real life voodoo dolls.

A similar scary thing to Amy's design - *shivers*

 The premise is that through magic, they've become dolls, complete with seams up their sides and pins stuck in strategic places. I like the dark aspect of it but I've also done paintings that are more beautiful than horrifying. I think the idea of getting someone to find something frightening to be beautiful, appeals to me.

I also do ocean scenes, simply because I started painting them for gifts and then got commissioned to paint more. They're not my favourite subject, especially with my fear of the ocean, but I do find them beautiful and I love the response they get. I sell both styles of paintings on Etsy.

Love this....

Is writing art?
I think it is. It's the art of being able to envision something in your mind and describe it eloquently enough that you can get someone else to not only see it but feel it, smell it, experience it. I write in the first person because I want my readers to be able to put themselves into the role of the main heroine and experience the stories as Vervain does. I think that's the art of writing, creating a world from only words.

I hear also that you are a tattoo artist? Do you keep an online record of your work?
I do. I have several pictures of my work on my facebook pages as well as my website for people to check out. I'm licensed with the state of Hawaii and have been tattooing for about four years now. 

I love it,  it's a way for me to become a part of someone's life forever. My art goes with them and I'm always a little awed that people trust me enough to put pictures on their skin that can't be rubbed off.

Can you create a non-painful tattoo of a dolphin for a complete wimp?
Actually, I was trained by a F/X artist who works on movies out here. She's one of the best creators of fake tattoos in the world. She was the one who did the tattoos on Wesley Snipes in the movie Blade So I do know how to give someone a fake tattoo. One that will even survive immersion in water.

Keep thjose nasty needles away from me, Amy!!! 

Maori tattooists row over to the Islands and kidnap you for purposes unknown. You are thrown in a big cave with only a parrot for company. Luckily, you discover a sack. In it are two books, two CDs and a DVD. What would you like them to be?
For the books, I'd have to go with Terry Pratchett's Monstrous Regiment and Neil Gaiman's American Gods. If I ever met Terry Pratchett, I think I'd drop to me knees, start bowing, and declare over and over “I'm not worthy!” 

For the CDs, Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits and Great Northern's Remind Me Where the Light Is

For the DVD, I think I'd have to go with Tank Girl, which is one of my all time favourites. I can practically speak along with the dialogue like a little kid watching their favourite Disney movie. What's the parrot's name, by the way?

If you were given a free air ticket to travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I'd like to go to Scotland and see the underground city in Edinburgh. I had a friend who used to travel for work a lot and she said its beautiful there. Plus I love those accents; Scottish, British, Irish, bring 'em on, they're all fantastic. You people know how to talk. Even when I don't understand you, I'm happy to hear you.

Underground City? There's also one where I live. Nottingham
Caves - people LIVE in there...

Why, Polly the parrot,of course! What did you have for evening meal last night?
Last night I went out for Thai food with a friend of mine; thai toast, pad thai noodles, and pineapple curry with sticky rice. Damn, now I'm hungry.

And finally, what do fans of Amy Sumida have to look forward to in 2014?
I've been asked several times if I'm ever going to stop the series and I always say, no. I love Vervain too much. I'm going to write until I run out of gods for her to fight.
I'll definitely be releasing books this year.  I've just started my first erotic novel involving the fey. It's going to be called An Unseelie Understanding. Vervain's Twitter and Tumblr blog will also be getting more active, showing fans a glimpse of her daily life, and I'll be continuing my own blog on Goodreads. I've also just released a free app that allows people to follow Vervain's blog on their android device. It can be downloaded at Google Play.

Amy, what a great interview. I, and all the Wizardwatchers, wish you all the best in the future and thank you for coming round.
My pleasure, Wiz. It's been fun...

You can find Vervain on Tumblr at: http://vervainlavine.tumblr.com/

You can get the free app to follow the blog at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.Godhunter&hl=en

My Goodreads blog can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7200339.Amy_Sumida
Vervain's Twitter handle is: @VervainLavine

My Twitter is: @Ashstarte

The Godhunter Facebook page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Godhunter-Series/323778160998617

Same age as me!!!

Jamie Hewlett - Tank Girl
Polly Parrot - Amy's Island cave companion
Follow my blog with Bloglovin


  1. Great interview. So, does your voodoo doll thingy really work? Just think of the millions you'd make. Keep up the excellent interviews Great Wizard.

  2. Sounds like another great author I need to get onto :D


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