author of The Window
Author, I Never is a new segment in which I interview fellow authors about the writing process, breaking into the industry, and breaking rules. I try to mix it up a little and ask some hopefully novel questions along with some of the old standards, and finish it up with a round of I Never (kid friendly version) to find out what cardinal writing rules we've broken.
Question the first: Amelia, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I always enjoyed writing fiction while I was growing up but I never really thought about writing a novel until about ten years ago, when the first seeds of the idea for THE WINDOW came into my head. But it took another five years or so for me to actually start writing it.
Question the second: What has been your proudest or most exciting moment as an author so far?
Getting the email from my current agent saying that she wanted to set up a call. I’d totally given up on this manuscript by that point, and had assumed that signing with my first agent had just been a fluke, so it really came out of the blue for me.
Question the third: At what point did you think to yourself "I've made it" or at what point do you think you'll feel that way?
I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like I’ve made it, but I did feel like this project had made it after both my agent and editor gave their thumbs up to a pretty substantial revision of it that I did. It came as a huge relief to learn that they both liked the new direction, and I felt like I could bring it home from that point.
Question the fourth: Did any experienced authors or industry people mentor or give you helpful guidance on your journey to publication?
I’ve taken a number of classes at StoryStudio in Chicago, and all my teachers there have been experienced authors and just so helpful and encouraging. Also, I was originally totally ready to start querying with a super unpolished first draft, just to see what would happen, and then I went to a conference session led by Chuck Sambuchino, and he told us all, umprompted, that was something new writers did all the time and it rarely worked out well. So I sighed deeply and then proceeded to spend the next 8 months working on it—which was all time that it deeply needed. So, thanks, Chuck.
I wish I had been at that conference. Question the fifth: Have you ever had a time when you've felt like giving up?
Oh, yes. You’re supposed to have a thick skin in creative fields, and mine is gossamer thin. Also, I am self-critical in ways that are occasionally helpful but are often, uh, less so. So giving up is a thing that happens basically every other Tuesday.
Question the sixth: What was the most inconvenient time or place you were struck by inspiration?
I am still haunted by how I once woke up in the middle of the night and was certain that I’d figured out an easy and perfect solution to a major plot issue. And I, of course, did not write it down, and I’ve never been able to remember what it was since.
Question the seventh: Can you give us hint to help us find an "easter egg" or hidden item to look for in one of your books? Maybe an obscure clue if there's a mystery thread, or a reference you threw in to a favorite book or song?
Okay, I’m really bad at this (why didn’t I deliberately include cool “easter eggs”? Why?!?) but here is my attempt at a clue:
The presence, or absence, of something in the box of Anna’s things matters.*
*That wasn’t a great clue. Apologies.
I'm thinking back, and I can't figure out what that refers to! Curses! Okay. I'm going to mull that one over for a bit. In the meantime, here comes the...
I Never Round
The basic rules of I Never, the kid friendly version- I state a generally established writing rule (or at least a norm). If you've broken that rule, state your guilt for the record.
I never made up a word in my manuscript, and stood by it during copyediting.
I never had an amazing idea right before bed, and decided sleep was more important.
I never started a story with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, or in a bathtub.
All the time I do this. In my defense, I try and change it later if I can, but I love starting with characters waking up. I haven’t done the bathtub one yet, but now I want to.
I never worked on two manuscripts at once.
Oh, I’ve totally done this.
I never went several days or even weeks without writing.
I want to say that I don’t do this one, but this is another definite yes.
I never wrote "for a long moment."
Forgive me, Stephen King, for I do this A LOT.
I never cheated during NaNoWriMo.
Thank you so much for appearing in Author, I Never! When and where can we look for, preorder, or buy your next or most recent book, and where can we follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for having me!
My book, THE WINDOW, is coming out on April 3rd, 2018. Penguin Random House has a nice list of places that you can pre-order it from when you click the “preorder” button on this page:
It’s also on GoodReads at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32928935-the-window
You're so welcome! Bonus question. If The Window had a theme song, what would it be?
A song that I listened to a lot while writing it was Breathe Me by Sia. It is moody and sad and super pretty.
DJ Spotify, can you do moody and sad and super pretty?