Amber Lough has lived all over the place – including Japan and the Middle East.
“It would take a while to explain what growing up overseas was like, but I will say it suited me. I love adventure and change, as well as learning about other cultures and landscapes,” said Lough.
Her debut novel, The Fire Wish – out in July from Random House Children’s – is set in Iraq.
“I wanted to honor the culture there. Also, I’ve grown up lured by the adventure and mysticism of 1001 Nights. When I lived in Baghdad, I tried to mentally superimpose the history and beauty of the region over what I dealt with every day in the war,” explained Lough.
The story focuses on “Zayele, an unwilling bride who captures Najwa, a jinni spy, and makes a fateful, selfish wish.”
Lough’s road to publication began with another book – the one that helped her acquire representation with her agent, Laura Rennert.
“When that book didn’t sell, I went back to the drawing board. Laura has been wonderfully supportive the whole time, and I’m pretty sure we were both elated when Random House made the offer for The Fire Wish. I worked on that manuscript for three years before it sold.”
So far, Lough has enjoyed the process. “It’s a bit like being completely lost in the most beautiful place you’ve ever dreamed of. Frankly, I’m happy to be lost in it.” Although she did admit that, the first time she had to pass her book off to an editor, she was “Nervous, excited, and apprehensive.”
Throughout the journey, she’s had the support of the OneFour KitLit group.
“I was part of the initial group of people who set it up, and we mostly met on Twitter. The group is a wonderful way to band together during this time. There’s no pressure to do anything but help and support.”
Lough only has a few more months to wait until The Fire Wish hits shelves. In the meantime, she’s already hard at work on other projects, including the sequel to The Fire Wish.
“I am currently working on the revisions of the sequel, and I have two other books I’m eager to start writing once the revision is turned in. One of the books is a contemporary magical realism and the other is an adult historical fiction.”
While Lough’s current work in progress is a secret, she did say she’s had to Google some pretty crazy things for it.
“I had to find a forest, camp in it all alone – strung up between trees in a hammock – and allow my imagination to run wild until I was scared out of my wits. That required a lot of Googling just to prep for. Also handwarmers and a saw.”
When she has down time from writing and revising, she loves to read – and there are “about fifteen I’m really looking forward to, both from established authors and debuts! I’m very excited to read the sequel to Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina!”
Knowing what the journey to publication can be like, she has some advice for the 2015 debut authors: Don’t stress.
“As far away as the publishing date feels, it is coming, so do not stress too much. Do your revisions to the best of your ability and allow your editor to help you shape the book into the best it can be. And love your fellow debut authors, because they’re your new sisters and brothers.”
Be sure to visit Lough on her website and on Twitter.