Blogiversary | Interview with Author Amanda Gale

AUTHOR INTERVIEW | AMANDA GALE

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Photo Credit: Lisa Schaffer Photography

Photo Credit: Lisa Schaffer Photography

Q: Would you like to start by introducing yourself?

I’m a former English teacher, now a mother of three and a writer of women’s fiction. I also take on the occasional copy editing job. Like most writers, I’ve nurtured a lifelong love of literature. I enjoy history, art, politics, and food! I’m also an incurable night owl.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your series and the inspiration behind it?

The Meredith books are about an idealistic 30-something woman who reinvents herself after she is forced to accept that life doesn’t always work out as planned. Each of the first three books focuses on a romantic relationship. The fourth book reveals which of the three men she settles down with and what happens to them as they go forth in their life together. It’s the culmination of her journey toward peace and self-awareness. More deeply, the series is about her personal growth, her quest for the “perfect” life and her realization that she must create her own perfection.

As for the inspiration, it sounds funny to say, but I really don’t know! I’ve created characters for as long as I can remember. They seem to come out of nowhere. These particular characters stood out to me as the most interesting and the most complex, which is why I chose to write about them. They first came to me when my oldest son was a baby. I was home with him, adjusting to my new life as a mother, spending a lot of time by myself. I began developing scenes of dialogue around them, and I would think about these scenes as I was pacing back and forth with him or folding laundry. The stories became a release for me, something all my own to keep my mind active, and I cared deeply about them.

Actually, my original idea focused on the three men. I thought I had three separate stories, but as I added details to their personalities and backgrounds, I realized that they had something in common—the woman in their lives—and that they were in fact merely part of a much larger story. Once I began connecting the three stories into one, it became clear that the woman would move from one to the next, always searching, and that the men would have their own baggage, as well. I think this concept, of people’s flaws and insecurities colliding and working either with or against each other, is something everyone can relate to. I loved focusing on the woman, chronicling her growth and creating a character who was flawed but lovable. It seemed very real to me.

Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?

When I was little, I loved to write poetry, and I dreamed of being an author. This was before I was disillusioned by adulthood. When I grew up and had real responsibilities, being a writer seemed like a fantasy, something that I could never practically do. It was only when I began writing the series, during my second son’s first year, that I saw that it could become a reality. That’s when I became dedicated to educating myself and working as hard as I could to make it happen.

Q: What inspired you to start writing and what continues to inspire you to write now?

I started writing because I had these characters in my head that just wouldn’t go away. They were so vivid, and I felt compelled to bring them to life in some kind of tangible form. Discovering that I loved writing and that it would make me feel good about myself was actually a happy accident. It enabled me to grow as an individual with my own identity while I was home with my kids, something I wasn’t even aware I needed. And once I started, I liked the idea that my characters could be as much of an escape for other women as they were for me. That thought spurred me on, and I tried to write stories that were thoughtful and relatable but also sexy and romantic, to sweep readers away. Now that the characters are out there, on paper, in other people’s minds, they are even more real to me, and as valuable as they were to me then, they are so much more so. I continue to write about them because they continue to let me know what they’re up to. They’ve become part of who I am.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

My big project is a novella, a spinoff of the series. It takes place in the 1960s and focuses on a character in his youth, one who in the series is approaching the end of his life. This story has been so much fun to work on. I researched 1960s culture and history and have learned so much by exploring how the Vietnam War and the feminist movement might have affected some people’s motives and decisions. Also, writing about an older character’s younger days is very satisfying to me. The novella can stand alone without the series, but readers of the series will recognize a lot of details. I think new readers, who start with the novella, will enjoy learning in the series what happens to the main character as he grows older.

Aside from the novella, I’m working on a couple of posts for a blog I hope to start this year. Also, I have a short story in the works, another Meredith spinoff. I like taking minor details from the books and placing a magnifying glass to them, to round them out and make them important in their own right. I think part of the attraction is the acknowledgment that every person we meet, no matter how small a role he or she plays in our lives, has his or her own story.

Q: Do you have any writing superstitions or rituals?

I don’t have any superstitions, but I do have a ritual. I like to go for long drives on the highway late at night and think about the characters and plot lines. These drives help me refocus after the rush of daily life. I’ve thought of a lot of my best ideas during these drives. If I’m having trouble figuring out a way to tie up a loose end or close a gap in the story, a long drive usually helps me come up with a solution. Non-writing days become thinking days, which to me are just as important.

Q: Where is your favorite place to read?

I’d have to say my living room. It’s dimly lit with red walls, and it feels cozy for reading.

Q: What are some of your favorite books to read?

I gravitate toward the classics, literary fiction, and sometimes toward poetry and non-fiction, but I love mysteries and women’s fiction, as well. In recent years, some of my favorite novels have been Pillars of the Earth, Atonement, and The Red Tent. I’ve also enjoyed “modern classics” like I Capture the Castle and Auntie Mame. Agatha Christie remains one of my favorite authors.

Q: How do you keep yourself motivated to write?

Many writers will tell you that you should write every day, whether you are inspired or not. I have not found this to be true. This is one of those rules that work for others but not for me, and I don’t try to force it. I am motivated when I feel inspired by the characters, and when I’m not, I use that time to think. After publishing the Meredith series, I spent months trying to write, but it was tedious, and I felt lukewarm about the results. Since I was struck by the inspiration for this novella, the words have been more forthcoming. I’m in love with my characters again, and it’s such a wonderful feeling. The presence of the characters, the pressure I feel to bring them to life, is what keeps me going.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring authors out there?

I would advise aspiring authors to worry less and do more. Don’t worry that it won’t be good, because you’ll edit it. Don’t worry that no one will like it, because you are writing for yourself. Don’t worry that there will be obstacles and setbacks, because there absolutely will be. With hard work, you can overcome them—just don’t stop until it’s done, and learn as you go. Also important is to be able to navigate all the advice. Don’t feel pressured to follow any one writer’s process, because your process will be your own, depending on your goal and your project. Make your work the best it can be—develop a thick skin, solicit and accept feedback, and take constructive criticism seriously—but also recognize that you will never be able to satisfy everyone. Most importantly, trust your gut, and don’t be intimidated by the magnitude of the work. It’s a lot of work! But having done it, you’ll look back on where you started, and you’ll feel like you can accomplish anything.

AMANDA GALE GIVEAWAY

Amanda has generously provided an e-book copy of the entire series. Her giveaway is running from March 22nd-29th.

Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

STORIES UNFOLDED BLOGIVERSARY GIVEAWAY

Don’t forget to enter the Stories Unfolded Blogiversary Giveaway that’s running from March 1st – March 31st.

(1) Grand Prize Winner

  • $25 Amazon Kindle Gift Card
  • (1) Signed physical copy of The End of Feeling by Cindy C Bennett
  • (1) Audiobook of The End of Feeling by Cindy C Bennett
  • (1) Signed physical copy of Family Inheritance by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) Signed physical copy of From a Grieving Mother’s Heart by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) Signed physical copy of For a Grieving Heart by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) Physical copy of Finding Zoe by Brandi Rarus and Gail Harris
  • (1) E-Book copy of the Off The Map Series by Lia Riley (Upside Down, Sideswiped, & Inside Out)
  • (1) E-Book copy of any Ginger Scott book
  • (1) E-Book copy of Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds by Jacqueline Smith
  • (1) E-Book copies of three children’s books by Alva Sachs (Circus Fever, I’m 5, & On Your Mark, Get Set,Go!)

(1) Prize Winner

  • $10 Amazon Kindle Gift Card
  • (1) E-Book copy of any Ginger Scott book
  • (1) E-Pub copy of Family Inheritance by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) E-Pub copy of From a Grieving Mother’s Heart by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) E-Pub copy of For a Grieving Heart by Terri Ann Leidich
  • (1) E-Book copy of Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds by Jacqueline Smith

(1) Prize Winner

  • $5 Amazon Kindle Gift Card
  • (1) E-Book copy of The End of Feeling by Cindy C. Bennett
  • (1) E-Book copy of any Ginger Scott book
  • (1) E-Book copy of Cemetery Tours and Between Worlds by Jacqueline Smith

(1) Prize Winner

  • $5 Amazon Kindle Gift Card

Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Amanda Gale week continues tomorrow with her guest post.

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