Amanda - I was born and mostly raised in Louisiana. Three years ago, my family and I moved to Mississippi. I’m a Southern gal for sure.
Me- That’s cool, I’m actually making plans to move south by the end of this year hopefully, if all goes well lol! I’ve lived in New York my whole life, and I do love it here. One of my favorite things about where I live is the mountains. We’re surrounded by them here and camp every summer in the Adirondacks.
Amanda- Ah, I love the mountains!! We have a few more Mississippi hills than in Louisiana, but not quite mountains. ;)
What is your favorite thing about where you live, do you have favorite spot or activity?
Amanda- My favorite thing about where I live would have to be the churches in the area; our church is part of a 13-Baptist Church association, so we get together with the sister churches throughout the whole year.
Me- That sounds fun! I absolutely love my church. It’s a little country church that has been around since before the Revolutionary War. We’re a tight knit congregation. I have to say, that’s the one thing I won’t be happy about leaving when I move!
As a writer myself, and one who has always loved the craft, I always like to ask authors whether they’ve always loved to write or if they developed the passion over time?
Amanda- So cool on the church! But I feel you about leaving it. L I’m fairly certain yes. J I have evidence of attempting poetry from when I was about six (since then, I’ve discovered that nope, I’m so not a poet!).
Me- Hahaha I can relate! I’ve attempted poetry…. Ok ok, I still try it every now and then, but I’ve never been successful at it. I keep hoping I develop the talent for it, but I haven’t yet lol.
You said you started writing at a young age, when did you first start writing stories/novels?
Amanda- My first completed story was probably when I was around ten or eleven. When I was in my teens, I put writing aside for a while—which I really believe God used to help me to get focused on writing for His glory. Then, I resumed writing again when I was in my early twenties. This time, I took it more seriously and have been trying to learn the craft.
Me- Wow, ten/eleven, that’s impressive! God truly does know how to refocus us and he also has perfect timing. J
Another question I always like to ask authors is how they got started as an author, can you tell me how you got started?
Amanda- I wrote a few short stories for my younger sisters one Christmas. The following Spring (2015), I was setting up a booth at a home-school convention (for my music: www.withajoyfulnoise.com) and Mom suggested printing off the short stories to sell for a couple dollars there too. It was the strangest thing, to realize that not just my family enjoyed reading my stories and learning from them.
Me- That’s awesome. J
How many books have you written so far?
Amanda- Including “The Secret Slipper” (releasing May 25, 2017), I have published three novellas, one non-fiction (“Me? Teach Piano?”) and nine short stories.
Me- As a writer myself, I’m always interested in other people’s writing processes. Could you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you outline your stories or do you just start writing? Do you model your characters after real-life people (either in your own life or maybe an actor?) Do you listen to certain music? Do you write at a certain time (like mornings or nights)?
Amanda - I will try not to be wordy here. J I’ll just take the questions one at a time.
Outlines? Nope. Well, almost a nope. I have a general idea of the storyline when I begin writing the story, but I’m more of a pantster writer. I have learned my writing style though. I have to write a rough draft and then go back and dress it up. A lot.
Characters. I would say that they’re influenced by real-life people, but more often than not, they are usually their own being.
Music. Not at all. Well, when I’m editing and don’t have to think too hard. I’m a musician. I arrange music. So when I listen to it, my brain starts to analyze it. I can’t concentrate on writing and analyzing music at the same time. ;)
Writing Time. VERY random! Some weeks I write very little. I teach piano and violin 2 ½ days a week, so my writing time is usually on Thursday evenings, Fridays, and the occasional Monday. It usually works best for me to write afternoons, though I have had some morning sessions as well. I basically write whenever I can get the time.
Me- I find it very interesting that each author has their own process, I have yet to come across two that are the same. I’m not much of an outliner myself, I’m more of a just start writing and see what happens type of gal lol. Wow! You teach violin? One of my goals for this year is to learn/start learning to play the violin! Though, alas, I haven’t started yet. L
As an avid reader myself, I’m always interested in authors’ reading habits. Have you always loved reading or did you develop the passion for it over time?
Amanda- Very true about authors. We’re all individuals, aren’t we? J Violin is a great instrument! I’ve heard it’s one of the hardest to learn, but stick with it and it’s beautiful!
I have always, always, always loved reading. Like…get-in-trouble-because-I-was-reading-and-not-doing-chores loved reading.
Me- Lol a girl after my own heart! ;)
I’m curious, what author has had the most influence/impact on you as a writer?
Amanda- Hmm…various authors have influenced me in various ways. The first one I vividly remember was Al Lacy, who always had a salvation message woven into his stories. Janette Oke influenced the real-life type stories.
Me- I love Janette Oke, she’s one of my favorites.
Who are a few of your favorite authors?
Amanda- Roseanna White, Alicia Ruggieri, Janette Oke, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Lois Walfrid Johnson. And a few non-fiction authors as well such as Elizabeth George and A.W. Tozer.
Me- One reason I ask that question is that it’s a great way to discover great authors that I haven’t read yet. ;) Aside from Oke, the only other I’ve read on your list is A.W. Tozer, which means I get to add a few more authors to me list! ;)
What are a few of your favorite books?
Amanda- Sweet! You’ve got some good ones to add. ;) As for books… Ooh… hard choice. I know this is a given, but the Bible is my top favorite book. Beyond that, my favorites tend to change. Amazingly, the more I learn about writing, the less amazingly-written some books become. ;) I’d say the best answer to that question is to peruse my 5-star Goodreads shelf. http://ow.ly/lKZW30cckKy
Me- Don’t you just love Goodreads? ;)
Another fun question for which I have an ulterior motive for asking is: What are you currently reading? Any recommendations? ;)
Amanda- At the time of answering this question, I am almost finished with Paige Torn by Erynn Mangum (my first Erynn Mangum book) and it is quite funny. I’m not a huge fan of first-person, present-tense writing, but it’s grown on me.
As for books I recommend…ooh…that really depends on the reader. Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Grace and the Preacher was a good historical fiction read. Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Diebler Rose a great non-fiction. The Viking Quest series by Lois Walfrid Johnson a great teen series (and yes, I enjoyed it in mid-twenties). There to get you started. J
Me- When I was first introduced to your books I found the concept of essentially rewriting well-known fairy tales fascinating. Interest in fairy tales seems to have picked up the last couple of years, what with re-imagined TV shows and movies based on old fairy tales. How did you get the idea for Fairytale Retellings?
Amanda- Well, it all began with “Befriending the Beast.” I just had the idea… “What if the beast was Belle’s father?” I was just planning on it being a stand-alone though.
Me- Can you tell me a bit about your new release the “Secret Slipper”? It is the second in your Fairytale Retellings. What was the inspiration for it?
Amanda- “The Secret Slipper” all began when an author friend asked me, “What about a father/daughter Cinderella story?” Yep…the story came after that.
Now, about “The Secret Slipper.” It is the story of a lord who discovers that his daughter who had died ten years ago really didn’t die. The story of a lass with a deformity whose life gets worse every passing day. And the journey that will either bring them together or permanently apart.
Me- Wow, that sounds intriguing! I can’t wait to read it!
A few fun questions I always enjoy asking authors are:
If you had to pick a favorite character from your books, who would it be?
Amanda- ANY of my books? One that I’ve not written yet. ;) But for those written…hmm…it may be Jolin, from “The Secret Slipper” (A side character—ever notice how side characters are sometimes the most interesting?).
Me- Lol that is true sometimes!
The second question is which of your characters is most like yourself?
Amanda- Thinking through all that I have written, it would be Meg from the short story “Coffee Cake Days.” Her story is kind of a very near-to-my-heart lesson that I learned.
Another fun thing I like to do whenever I interview an author is ask their fans what questions they’d like answered ahead of time. Here’s what they wanted to know:
What are a few of your favorite hobbies outside of writing?
Amanda- Music, though it’s not just a “hobby” as I teach piano/violin and arrange hymns and publish them. Oh, reading too. I really like that. ;)
What’s your favorite holiday?
Amanda- That would be Thanksgiving. Our family gets together and it’s just a wonderful family time where we share how the Lord’s been working in our lives that year.
If you had to live in one book, and it can be any book, which one would you choose?
Amanda- Ooh. Tough one. Wow. Yeah. I…don’t…know. I like so many different genres and books. I don’t have a real answer for that. ;)
Me- What’s your favorite Bible verse?
Amanda- The verses that stand out to me over and again is Proverbs 3:5-7… “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.”
It applies to SO, SO many aspects of life. I also got to feature this passage in “The Secret Slipper.” ;)
Well, I suppose I should bring this to an end at some point! ;) It’s been truly wonderful having you. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this with me, it was great fun! :) Do you have anything else you’d like to say or add before we sign off?
Amanda- Thank YOU for doing the interview!! I had such fun doing this exchange with you. <3
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Born and raised in Upstate NY, Liz Austin has been writing for almost a decade now. She got her start writing for country music blogs/websites, and then switched gears and focused on the world of books. She now works as a proof reader/beta reader/editor for several authors, on top of running The Book Corner Blog and writing her first book.