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TBR: Amy Winters-Voss

About the Author: Amy Winters-Voss

What would you like readers to know about you?

“Stories are like air—we can not do without them.” I’ve always had stories swirling around in my head.

Believe it or not, I didn’t start out wanting to be an author. I was a math major and my first job out of college lead me to working as a programmer on the NASA Landsat 7 project. (Landsat is the longest-running series of satellites to study our world.) I loved it. In time, I left to be a stay at home mom. It wasn’t until a year after I visited Japan that I knew I wanted to write a book.

Beyond being an author, I love textile crafts. Nalbinding, an ancient yarn craft done by making loops on your thumb with a large blunt needle, is my favorite. I love the texture and the thick, warm hats and mittens I’ve made. It’s not a common craft. Though, there are growing communities online that share project ideas, tutorials, challenges, and encouragement.

What music do you listen to (if any) when you write?

It depends on what I’m writing and whether my brain wants to chase every squirrelly thought. If I need to concentrate, chill music like future garage is great. Tecnosine and Alivve are some of my favorites.

My music often matches the scene I’m writing. So groups like Smash Into Pieces, Hidden Citizen, My First Story, One Ok Rock, Glitch Mob, or Starset hit the playlist for action. It’s soundtrack style or game music for drama, such as League of Legends, the RWBY soundtracks, Dos Brains, and Myuu.

Tell me I’m not the only one who makes a playlist for the mood of the story, characters, scenes, or locations, please! I made one to characterize Umeji for my first book (, Rise, and it still fits for Guardian. 

What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?

There are many! So, I’ll just pick a few from before I started writing.

I’ve followed Laura VanArendonk Baugh’s work for years now. She’s done both routes, traditional and self-publishing, and she’s super down to earth and nerdy in a fun way. She’s shared her experiences through it all–a super encouraging lady. I sure miss her streams! Her stories about kitsune in a fictional Heian Era Japan really inspired me to write about them too, but in a modern setting. 

Rachel Aaron is another who’s done both styles of publishing. I love both her Heartstrikers and DFZ series. Interacting with her on Twitter is really fun!

About the Book: The Liminal Chronicals: Guardian

What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?

The Liminal Chronicles series is an urban fantasy set in the folklore of Japan, where yokai–spirit beings–hide among the human population. In Guardian, Umeji is ex-yakuza (Japanese ex-mob), starting over and he’s had a tough road. With the support of people (and yokai) who believe in him, he gets the first chance to make something of himself.

Here’s the gist of the book:

“One hundred pieces of gold for every kitsune head laid at my feet!”

Umeji is convinced that his only path to redemption is to become the protector of Nonogawa. So, he requests training from the League of Guardians. But they're skeptical that he's left his yakuza past behind. Meanwhile, Ibaraki Douji is slaughtering kitsune and stealing the weapons scattered across Japan that will allow her to become Shogun. When the legendary sword Umeji carried is stolen, Umeji is blamed for the theft. He's done playing by the League's rules. With family and friends by his side and all of kitsune kind counting on him, Umeji vows to recover the sword and stop Ibaraki.

Will Umeji succeed and prove he has what it takes to join the League before it's too late?

What has been your inspiration for writing it?

After my first trip to Japan in 2017, I wanted to return and to see a dear friend there again so badly I could taste it. Writing was a way I could go on an imaginary journey back to the land that had captured my heart.

Also, an NHK documentary helped inspire the first book. They aired a show in 2018 about a group of friends, all ex-yakuza, turning over a new leaf and opening an udon shop. (Udon is a soup with thick wheat noodles.) Nakamoto-san was the main speaker in the documentary. He talked about how it’s extremely hard for an ex-yakuza to stay on the right path after leaving. There are no good paying jobs, since no one trusts them. They can’t have a bank account, cell phone, rent an apartment, etc. for five years to prove they left. It’s part of the anti-yakuza crackdowns from the Japanese government. Nakamoto-san said, an ex-mobster starts not at zero with nothing, but at “minus” and that each of them had an inner battle to fight now that they didn’t act like the exceptions to the law. 

Every yakuza has to smother their conscience. And Nakamoto-san and his friends left the Kudo-kai, the most notorious and violent of the clans. On top of that, Nakamoto-san had been quite high in the leadership. So, they were facing some serious stigma beyond the government’s ever increasing laws. But what really caught my attention was the humility they had. These guys knew they had a lot to make up for. To show their intent, Nakamoto-san volunteered in quiet, unobtrusive ways such as sweeping the sidewalk every day to build up trust from members of the covered mall where he has his shop. 

The dedication these guys showed in starting their own path and the humility it took really touched me.

Side note for you. Over the years, I kept checking to see how Nakamoto-san and his friends were doing with their little udon shop through YouTube videos. I’d see comments from someone who had visited and shared that Nakamoto-san’s shop was still open and had amazing beef udon. When my husband and I visited Japan for the second time, early this last spring, we stopped by. I had the opportunity to give him a signed copy of the book he’d inspired and got to try the raved about udon and receive a copy of the book about him. It was emotional for us all. And yes, the udon was amazing! I’ll be sending him a copy of book two, as well.

Inspiration for the second book came from the idea of my main character, Umeji, having to face people from his yakuza past. He would have to work hard to prove he’d left it all behind. Another source was stories about Japanese paranormal legends and yokai folklore. There are so many fun tales about them - some sweet and many spooky. is a great reference if you’re interested.

What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?

Hmm. Choices, choices. I’ll share my favorite from early in the story. It’s where Umeji encounters the main antagonist, Ibaraki, as she lays siege to his teacher’s estate. Umeji really gets to shine by showing his loyalty and determination as he evacuates a stubborn kitsune who doesn’t want to be rescued.

I also loved writing the ending, putting all the pieces in place and leaving a questions to answer in future books. Though, I can’t say more without giving too much away!

Where can your book be purchased?


Apple Books:

Barnes and Noble:


And more!

The full list of stores for both books can be found at: 

To the Future Writer:

What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?

Learning to be the best writer you can be takes time. It’s not a race. But don’t let it stop you from writing or starting your book. You can learn along the way, too. Remember the adage about practice makes perfect? It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. If you feel called to write, do it! (I started in my later 40s.)

Finding a writing group to encourage you and guide you on your journey is essential. Even if you’re an introvert like I am, you can’t write in a vacuum. You need feedback and people to bounce occasional questions off of. When the evil brain weasels get to you and make you doubt yourself, you can ask another who’s been through the process to put your feet back on the ground and get in touch with reality again. Nearing release for my first book, I had to ask my friend, Dianne Morrison, “Is it normal to want to throw my computer across the room?” She assured me it was. 

Don’t be afraid to be ruthless in your editing. If a section does not advance your story, cut it and save that section in a file. Those tidbits may end up as story fodder later. 

Also, it’s oh so important to take breaks and celebrate your accomplishments, even if the ways you treat yourself are small. Self care is imperative, and that includes breaks for your mental health! Did you finish a chapter? Great! A special cup of coffee or a walk may be just what you need. Write down those accomplishments, too. There will be days you won’t feel you did much. But looking back at that list over time will help you realize you did something amazing!

And my last tidbit for you: Write the story you want to read.

What’s next for you? Any events, upcoming pubs, etc.

My daughter’s high school graduation is in a few days, so I jump from one huge project to the next! Beyond that, I’ll slow down to recuperate and tinker with things I haven’t had a chance to try before or work on projects I miss. I want to go back to recording audio for my short stories. Also, I’ll put out the summer issue of In Threads, a collection of stories from the vssCollab (very short story) challenge community that I run.

After a break, I’ll start on book 3 and likely crowdfund it.

Where can we find you?





Other places:

What’s on your TBR list?

Again, there’s no way to pick a single book. First up is The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett–one of the few of his I haven’t devoured yet. I want to just sit down and read it. Ironic, no? But I listen to audiobooks most often lately. I can listen while doing chores. This summer, I’m going to slow down and do some recovery self care, like reading a physical book–just for fun.

I hope to finish Noble Roots (Spells, Swords, and Stealth #5) by Drew Hayes and So Wild a Dream by Larissa Brown while on break too. 

Rachel Aaron has a new DFZ (Detroit Free Zone), called By a Silver Thread, releasing this month and I can’t wait to read it! I’d been going through withdrawal.

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