Author interview with Amy ~
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
Like so many authors, I have loved writing for as long as I can remember. It has always been the way I made sense of my world and my feelings and place in it, and I have journals going back to 2nd grade. I graduated college with a creative writing degree but went into journalism and then travel writing for over a decade. Fiction always called to me, however, and I always dabbled in it during the busy years of raising my kids and traveling for work.
Do you have a particular writing routine?
I work full-time remotely as well, so I tend to divide my day into two parts: the morning is for my 'day job' and afternoons are for writing fiction. I tend to block out a couple hours a day when I am drafting, but once I'm in revision or editing mode, I find it most productive to immerse myself more completely until the task is done. When I go into 'editing mode', I can put in 12-hour writing days. It's probably not healthy, but it works for me.
What is something about you that would surprise people?
Sometimes it surprises people to know I currently live full-time in a little town called Ajijic in Jalisco, Mexico. My wife and I both work remotely, and I have a background in travel writing and have always wanted to live abroad. This part of Mexico is a good fit because it is close to a major airport and easy to get back into the States to see grown kids, and parents, and take care of work obligations. Mexican culture is warm, friendly, welcoming, and beautifully paced, and we feel right at home here.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (or this book?)
So. Many. Challenges! I began the first draft of THE WILD BETWEEN US in 2008. 2008! It was certainly not ready to query at that time, so I workshopped it, and rewrote it several more times before querying it without luck. I put it in the proverbial drawer and went on to write two more novels. One of these felt ready to query, so I dove back into the trenches. I queried almost 100 agents before gaining representation. Then my agent and I went on submission with this and one other novel for two years without luck. I dusted off WILD and gave it another round of edits, and got my first contract three years after getting my agent and 12 years after penning the first draft.
Where do you get your ideas, or what inspired this book plot?
Every manuscript I write starts with a sense of place. Before I meet my characters, before I even sketch out a rudimentary plot, I somehow know where I need to be, drawn to a map dot with what feels like magnetic pull. Once I know the ‘where’, the what, who, when, and why tend to trail reliably after. For THE WILD BETWEEN US in particular, I knew I wanted to pay homage to the place I grew up, the Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern California. This place is in my bones, and when I began drafting this novel, I was missing it terribly. It was cathartic to write about these mountains at that time. The plot was inspired by an experience I had as a teenager, when a friend decided to play an ill-advised prank of another friend in the woods. Everything ended up just fine, but later I wondered: what if it hadn't?
Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences?
Yes, quite a bit of it, in fact. In addition to being intimately familiar with the setting of the book, I was also very familiar with Search and Rescue operations. I went back to school for my EMT license when my children were very small, and worked for my county's Search and Rescue organization afterward. I didn't know at the time that my experiences there would inform my writing, but I tapped back into that time as I began to draft my debut. I think the process of learning all the protocols of SAR and being a 'ground pounder' during those years when I had small children at home impacted me greatly. I participated in searches for kids during that time, and I volunteered as a speaker in elementary schools, teaching kids what to do if they got lost in the wilderness.
Finish this sentence: “If I could write about anything, it would be…?”
As a part of the LGBTQ writing community, I feel strongly about writing queer characters and centering them in my books. I have written two novels with gay protagonists, one of which landed me my agent, but as to date, we have not been able to sell these novels. It is definitely my dream to do so.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I mean, we've all heard this before, but stick with it. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take, and all that. Persistence is sometimes the only thing in a writer's favor! I must have heard 'it's just not right for our list at this time' more times than I can count, on three different novels! There are so many factors out of the writer's control, and while you are waiting to find that agent or land that deal, just keep writing.
What are you working on now?
I am excited to say that I have signed the contract for my second novel, currently titled SMOKE SEASON. Set during wildfire season in rural Oregon about two women dealing with secrets riskier than the currently raging fire, SMOKE SEASON is close to my heart as a 20-year resident of Southern Oregon. It is scheduled to publish in late 2024.
To connect with Amy ~