Amy is a Canadian urban fantasy and horror author. Her work revolves around monsters, magic, mythology, and mayhem. She started writing in her early teens, and never stopped. She loves building unique worlds filled with fun characters and intense action. She is the recipient of April Moon Books Editor Award for “author voice, world-building and general bad-assery,” and the One Book Two Standout Award in 2015 for her Cursed trilogy. She has been featured on various author blogs and publishing websites, and is an active member of the Writing GIAM and Weekend Writing Warrior communities. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, watching movies, taking photos, gaming, and struggling with chocoholism and ice cream addiction.
Amy’s current work includes the full length novels Demon’s Daughter, Dark Divinity, Crimson Sky, and Path of the Horseman, and the novella Needfire. She has short stories in various horror and urban fantasy anthologies such as Call From The Grave, Hotel Hell, Survivalism in The Dead Walk: Volume 2, Dismantle in The Steam Chronicles, Lost Sky in Avast, Ye Airships!, Secret Suicide in That Hoodoo, Voodoo, That You Do, Bring Back The Hound in Stomping Grounds, Charlatan Charade in Lost in the Witching Hour, and her award winning short Dark Intentions And Blood in AMOK! Amy can be found online through her frequently updated blog, Literary Braun (literarybraun.blogspot.ca), as well as on Twitter (@amybraunauthor) and Facebook (facebook.com/amybraunauthor).
The first novel in a brand new series, CRIMSON SKY, the first 238 page novel of the DARK SKY books, marks the beginning of new characters as they forge their way through a shattered world, struggling to erase the perceptions left behind by their families, and relying on unlikely allies to survive horrors that have become commonplace…
CRIMSON SKY is a steampunk horror novel set in the ruined city of Westraven, once a powerful city filled with trade, airships, and daring pirates. Ten years after a cataclysmic event known as The Storm, when the human populace has been desecrated by savage monsters– deemed Hellions– from another dimension, the remaining survivors are forced to hide underground, using their skills and instincts to scavenge and endure. Among these survivors is a young engineer named Claire Abernathy. Claire is shunned by her fellow survivors because of her parents failure in The Storm, and the only light in her life is her younger sister, Abby. But on a scavenging mission, Abby is kidnapped by the Hellions. When Claire is discovered by roguish marauders, she is desperate enough to make a deal with them, and their fickle captain, Sawyer. As their adventures begin and unexpected relationships begin to form, Claire learns secrets about her past, as well as Sawyer’s, and realizes that she could be connected to the Hellions in ways she never imagined.
I’ve wanted to write the DARK SKY series since I was fourteen years old. I love vampires and I love pirates, and I wondered what it would be like to mesh the ideas together. I was tempted to go the obvious route– a crew of pirates crosses paths with a vampire crew, and chaos ensues– but I just couldn’t fall into the idea the way I wanted to. So I left it alone for a little while, and a few years ago, the solution came to me when I discovered the amazingness that is steampunk. It’s a genre where literally anything is possible, and I saw no reason why I couldn’t meld the ideas into something cohesive.
I worked on creating a new, fantasy world with rich history (I made a map and everything!), adding more elements as I worked harder on the details. I did my research to understand what Claire would be capable of creating, and I thought carefully about how desperate people would become after living in a wasteland for a decade, barely seeing the sun. I especially thought about who would hold the power in a steampunk world filled with grounded pirates, and how they would mingle. Or clash. I’ve enjoyed building this world as much as any story I’ve ever written.
Just as exciting was writing the characters of Claire and Sawyer. While I have fun with the secondary characters, both protagonists are at the forefront. I loved writing the banter between them, and they have some of my favorite interactions. They’re both so different from one another, yet alarmingly alike in certain elements. They’re stubborn and strong-willed, loyal and defensive, and they both suffer from the burden of carrying secrets to preserve their family’s honor.
I wrote the story like a madwoman, loving it more and more. When I was presented with the opportunity to submit a story for Mocha Memoirs Press’s steampunk anthology, AVAST, YE AIRSHIPS!, I thought it would be a good idea to test CRIMSON SKY out. This was a new series after all, and completely different from my other urban fantasy trilogy, CURSED. I revised the work into a short story called LOST SKY, and submitted it. I was delighted to hear back from the anthology’s editor, Rie Sheridan Rose, who absolutely loved the story and was excited to include it. I learned a lot during that period, understanding how spotlights and blog tours could help in promoting my work. It definitely helped that my story was well received and enjoyed by many readers.
CRIMSON SKY had a fair amount of editing to do once it was finished. It was the first time I’d used a professional Beta reader, and I was amazed at how in depth they could be. I made some important changes and worked with my editor to revise and perfect the story. Every reader gave me positive feedback, particularly with the characters of Claire and Sawyer.
I continued to work with Deranged Doctor Design for the cover and promotional work, and while their covers for my CURSED series have been absolutely gorgeous, I got the best responses for CRIMSON SKY. The promotional material is incredible, and I find every opportunity I can to use it.
I think every author gets nervous when they have a new book released, especially one that’s part of a new series, but at time of putting this media kit together, I’ve found I’m not as terrified as I think I should be. I mean, yeah, the nerves are still there, but I feel confident with CRIMSON SKY and the DARK SKY series in general. I think a lot of readers will like it, and find it different from traditional vampire and steampunk stories. It’s a mix of everything– steampunk, horror, post-apocalyptic, fantasy– so hopefully it will cater to a wide audience. I loved writing it, so hopefully there will be people who love reading it.
Q & A: Amy Braun and Crimson Sky– MINOR SPOILERS BELOW.
Q: When you began writing Crimson Sky, did you know the direction the series would take?
A: Yes and no. I had an idea of what I wanted the characters to achieve, but I had no idea how they would get there. I didn’t really know what Claire’s key from her mother would be used for, and I was still working on the history between her parents and the Hellions. But the more I wrote, the better understanding I had of the series and how it should progress. Hopefully readers will want to continue reading into the second book, which will be just as exciting as the first.
Q: What were the challenges in writing Crimson Sky?
A: To be honest, I don’t remember the story being that challenging as compared to some of my other work. Oh, there were times where I had to sit back and really think about what I was doing, and the research was bland as ever, but I knew I had to move past the roadblocks and just get the story done. The more I wrote, the more eager I was to reach the end, just to see how it ended.
Q: What inspired the design of Westraven?
A: One of my favorite movies is The Lord of the Rings. They’re beautiful films and the set design is incredible. I loved the look of Gondor, and I actually based the setting of Westraven off that city. A flatter, less medieval version to be sure, but I liked the idea of a crumbling city of white stones. I have another steampunk series planned that follows the more traditional ideas of a derelict steampunk town, but I didn’t want to write the same setting for two very different series’. I also think that Westraven’s stony, broken look gives a certain, haunting echo to the story, and I think a lot of readers will like it. There are still places in and outside of Westraven that haven’t been seen yet, and I can’t wait for readers to see them.
Q: Why did you choose vampires as the monsters?
A: It’s true that vampires are overused in fiction. It’s not something that’s lost on me. But the thing with vampires is that they’re such a changeable species, and when you stick to the tradition (more or less), they will always be terrifying. I modeled them after the vampires from Thirty Days of Night– they hide in the shadows, are super fast and savage, and have their own, animalistic language. I can’t read those books or watch that movie without getting chills when I see those vampires. Plus, I like the idea that even after its destruction, the Hellions continue to suck the life out of Westraven and its inhabitants. That definitely seems to raise the stakes.
Q: What can we expect in future books in the series?
A: Dark Sky will be a collection of three full length novels and two prequel novellas when it’s all said and done. Right now, the sequel, Midnight Sky, is scheduled for release in August 2016, with the novellas to be released in October and December. The final novel is scheduled for February 2017. Midnight Sky will have a lot of surprise reveals and twists, and an ending I seriously doubt anyone will expect. There will also be a lot more chemistry and interactions between Claire and Sawyer, which I think will leave a lot of readers happy. The novellas will focus on the secondary characters, Gemma and Nash, and chronicle their adventures before they joined Sawyer’s crew. I won’t say anything about the third and final novel, because I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say that things are going to get dark for our heroes, and they’ll find themselves in places they never expected. And that’s a good thing, because you can’t write a steampunk pirate story without some wild adventures.