Amy lives with her wife, Lou, in Derbyshire, England. She attended Keele University and graduated in 2007 with a BSc in Philosophy and Psychology. After graduating, she worked for a while with vulnerable young people, until she moved on to deliver Adult Training Courses.
Amy is currently in the process of setting up my own business which is an exciting prospect. They have two gorgeous cats and a very naughty puppy. Her first novel, Secret Lies, a young adult story about self harm and abuse, was published in December 2013, and her next is due out in December.
Named as a Golden Crown finalist in the Young Adult category we asked her our 6 questions…
1) Who/What is your favorite book/author? Why?
Whoa. That’s a tough question. I honestly can’t just choose one author or book. I know it’s cheating a little bit but I’m going to list three authors.
At a particularly difficult stage in my life I found books helped me to accept who I was and gave me the confidence to live the life I wanted. I’d just graduated from university and was living back home with my parents. I first discovered lesfic one night while doing some shopping online and secretly purchased a book. At that point my sexuality was a source of confusion for me and contention for my family. When the book arrived I stowed it safely away in my room. That night I stayed up reading it until the very early hours. I finished it in one sitting. It blew my mind. It was an epiphany and helped shape the person I am today. That book was Curious Wine by Katherine V. Forrest. I still love that book and have reread it many times.
I also love Gill McKnight’s books. I haven’t read one yet that didn’t make me laugh out loud. Her stories are captivating and always keep me hooked. The humour she injects into her books makes them all the more special. To tell a good story is a gift but to also be able to make people laugh is too, that’s something I aspire to do with my own future books.Last, but certainly not least, I’m an avid fan of Radclyffe’s books. I find it inspiring that she’s prepared to try writing different genres. I appreciate how brave and risky that is for such a well established author. It’s also impossible not to be impressed by Radclyffe’s attitude to writing. She wants to continually improve her writing and works hard to achieve that.
2) What has been your most surprising or interesting inspiration for a book?
There’s no reason or rhyme to the things that inspire stories. I can get ideas from places, people or just random thoughts. For instance, a thought will pop into my head and it will fester and grow to the point that it hounds me relentlessly until I give in, and write it down.
The inspiration for Secret Lies came from a number of places. My personal teenage thoughts, memories, and angst filled feelings. A short story I wrote for my English GCSE coursework when I was sixteen. The biggest influence came from my experiences working with vulnerable young people in care.
The idea for Season’s Meetings came about last December. My wife and I were decorating our Christmas tree. Kimmy, our little Cairn Terrier took advantage of a fifteen minute window of unsupervised opportunity. She annihilated our Christmas tree and ruined some of the more expensive Christmas tree decorations, purposely choosing to avoid the cheap ones. What can I say, she takes after my wife with her expensive taste. After our clean up and a glass or four of wine, my wife and I saw the funny side. From there the idea of a festive romantic comedy struck and refused to let me ignore it.
The idea behind The Renegade is one I’ve toyed with for many years. Being a fan of Stephen King’s The Stand as a teenager and other speculative fiction, I couldn’t help but question what would happen to the few survivors after a worldwide epidemic. Cheery stuff I know. How would the human race rebuild civilisation? Would a lesbian like myself suddenly be morally obligated to reproduce with a man in order to ensure the future of the human race? Would laws and religion mean anything anymore? Fascinating and complex thought-provoking stuff. Out of the three books, this one had been the most challenging to write.
3) Writing is emotional and can be isolating. From where do you get your support?
Writing can be both emotional and isolating. It’s a deeply solitary experience for the most part. I’m blessed to have a very caring, loving, and understanding wife. Without her I wouldn’t be able to write. It means so much to know that you’ve got that unwavering love and support. She’s also my first beta reader. She patiently reads the initial nonsensical drivel that I type manically onto pages and offers back constructive feedback. She showers me with praise but also isn’t afraid to say when something doesn’t work.
Recently, my self-confidence and belief in my writing abilities has suffered a mini crisis. I’m still not entirely sure why. My wife has persevered with the task of helping me to build it back up. Truth be told, she’s pretty frigging awesome.
With the exception of walking our dog in the evening, I can sometimes go days without seeing and speaking to anyone except my wife. Fortunately, my family all live within close proximity so they like to check up on me and make sure I’ve not turned into a total feral recluse. My friends also keep in touch regularly and have shown infinite patience with my lack of replying to texts and answering calls. My excuse is that I’m a technophobe. I don’t think they’re entirely convinced.
I also absolutely love to hear from readers. I take the good feedback with the not so good, and try to improve my writing. I’m still new to this so there’s a lot I’ve yet to learn. Each learning curve is something I embrace wholeheartedly. I want to improve my writing and don’t believe I’ll ever stop persevering to improve. I never realised before having Secret Lies published how important comments and feedback from readers are to a writer. They can make your whole day and week even. They make all of the hard work, tears, stress, late nights, and cider drinking worth it. Whenever I read a book I enjoy now, I always try to write a review and also let the writer know how much I enjoyed their book.
4) What does it mean to you to see your work in print and then up for an award?
Words cannot do justice to how amazing it feels to see Secret Lies in print. When I first got my author copies I literally spent the whole afternoon carrying a copy around with me. It’s such a buzz to see the end product after all the hard work and sacrifices.
When I have a bad day I go and hold that first copy. I dedicated it to my wife and it’s on our bookshelf. It calms me down. It reminds me that I can do anything I set my mind to… well, almost anything. I’ve begrudgingly come to accept I’m never going to grow taller. I shall forever be a shortarse.
Finding out that Secret Lies is a finalist for a Goldie Award is incredible. I swear I never thought in a million years it would happen. It’s an honour and a privilege. The Young Adult finalist category showcases very talented authors. Many of which I’m a huge fan of. I just feel proud to be included, especially for my debut novel.
Without the support, guidance, and hard work of so many people at Bold Strokes Books Secret Lies would never have seen the light of day. My editors, Lynda Sandoval and Sternglantz took my story and helped me to make it into something I’m truly proud of. This award demonstrates their hard work and commitment, as much as it does mine. I hope everyone at BSB knows how much I appreciate their hard work.
5) What is next on your personal bucket list to accomplish?
Everything! There’s so much I want to do.
I’ve got a summer of editing Season’s Meetings ahead in preparation for its December release date. I’m so excited bout this book. Honestly. It’s a huge change from the feel of Secret Lies. It’s sweet, festive, funny, and romantic. Plus it stars Kimmy, our very own little dog on the front cover.
I’m then going to be working on the editing of The Renegade due for provisional release in the Spring of 2015. As this is speculative fiction it’s a little daunting writing a new genre. It’s got a few gritty elements and is significantly more action packed that the previous two books.
On a personal note, I’ve got the same goals that I set for my New Resolutions. Lose weight, get fit, meet Dolly Parton, eat less chocolate, and win the lottery. Nearly six months into 2014 and so far I’ve not really achieved any of them. I’m a fairly positive person (or perhaps just deluded)and so hold out hope that there’s still time for me to achieve them.
6) What are you working on now and what’s next up for publication?
Season’s Meetings is up next for publication. It’s due to be released this December coming. I can’t wait to share it with everyone. I’m already counting down the weeks and trying not to dwell on the prospect of the hardcore editing that’s fast approaching.
My wife and I are huge fans of Christmas. We love everything about it. As soon as December 1st arrives we’re decorating out house without a hint of hesitation. It’s a time for family, laughter, fun, indulgence, and love. I tried to incorporate all of things we love into the story and I had an absolute blast writing it.
I’m currently finishing writing The Renegade which is my first attempt as speculative fiction. It’s very different from the other two books and has been more challenging to write. It’s provisionally due for release in Spring of 2015. I’m hoping to have a cover release in the not so distant future. So watch this space…
Thanks Amy – great answers and we look forward to Season’s Meetings! Find out more about Amy on her Authors Page