It’s Meet the Author Monday! Each week we meet a new author and get to know a little about them, their writing process, publishing experience, and tips for other writers. Today we’re talking to Amy Q. Barker, author of Rue, Punk, and Bibliointuitive.
About Amy Q. Barker:
Amy Q. Barker is the author of the women’s fiction novels Rue, Punk, and Bibliointuitive. Her books focus on the feel-good place where romance and drama meet.
Amy can usually be found reading the classics, walking the beaches of Siesta Key, or hiking in the woods near her home in Indiana, where she lives with her husband and several nearly tame wild birds. Amy holds a BA from Syracuse University and an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She grew up in Spencerport, New York.
Can something that happens when you are twelve years old affect the rest of your life? Yes, if its fingers reach and spread, insinuating themselves into every dark recess and wide-open space that constitute who and what you are. And if those same fingers stay to bear witness to the results and repercussions of their power.
Riley Cartwright is sane. Or at least she thinks she is. It’s like the chicken and the egg, and she’s never sure which came first—her acknowledgment of her gift or the gift itself. But one thing she does know: when it started. Right after the car accident that would change the entire trajectory of her life and would leave her always questioning: What is intuition? Where does it come from? Why me? What does it mean?
Adam Linder is hiding. From his past and from the girl who makes him think about his past like an imprint of a deep purple scar that he wishes were a pretty, innocuous pink flower left to blossom without hindrance or distraction. But it isn’t. It’s a mark of guilt that stains and lingers. How will he find relief, release, redemption?
Bibliointuitive is the story of how a shared past shaped the future for two lonely survivors. It is also the story of a girl who became a woman when she learned that her gift was a blessing, not a curse.
Author Interview with Amy Q. Barker:
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- What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Most recently (in July) I went on a pilgrimage to the two house museums of Gene Stratton-Porter. I wrote a blog about it on my website because I felt so many emotions while I was there–mostly joy and happiness, but also a sense of connection and purpose. I live in Indiana and back when she wrote her novels, there were several famous Indiana authors, but she was by far the most famous and the only woman in the group! She was so inspiring–a naturalist, a wife, a mother, an entrepreneur, a photographer, an artist, a boss, and yes, also an amazing writer. She sold 50 million copies of her books! I can only hope to latch onto one-one-hundredth of her juju! 🙂
- What is the first book that made you cry?
Gone with the Wind. This was the first large book I ever read (when I was 15) and it affected me so profoundly that I can still remember certain scenes vividly. The ending is so sad, and I always wondered how Margaret Mitchell could have chosen that ending when she knew that readers would be agonizing over it for the rest of all time! In an effort to reconcile the themes and my understanding of the book’s nuanced and archetypal characters, I have re-read it many times, always wondering how she did what she did–taking several rather unlikable characters and making us fall in love with them only to ultimately crush us with their final destiny. It is quite extraordinary. Now that I’m older, I can’t even look at the book because it makes my stomach hurt at the thought of going through the agony again.
- What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I know when I first started writing, I thought (foolishly!) oh, this will be easy, I’ll write a book and send it out and boom, I’ll be published. Well, I can say from first-hand experience that this is not the way it usually goes (unless you’re the one in a billion author!). More than anything, I tell fellow authors who are just starting out, writing isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes dedication, hard-work, thick skin, and beyond everything else: grit and drive. You must stick with it, no matter what, and that may take 3 months or 10 years. And another thing, just because you have a great idea for a story does not mean you are necessarily a great writer. The writing muscle is like any other muscle–it takes time, patience, practice, and skill.
- Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I’m a leader, not a follower–I write all original stories with an all original voice/writing style. I also don’t write series (which I know is all the rage right now). I write all unique/stand-alone books with all original characters, settings, and storylines. When I first started writing, I tried to chase the “shiny object” and write novels that were targeted to the next-best-big thing in the publishing wish-list. After trying this for a while, though, I realized I was losing my authentic self, my original ideas, my unique writing narrative. And quite frankly, I wasn’t very good at it and received a lot of rejections (in retrospect, justified!). Finally, a few years ago, I decided I was going to take the advice of J.K. Rowling and simply write for myself. I began my journey: write women’s fiction novels that I would want to read–about fierce, funny, fabulous women who are strong, thoughtful, energized, and are tackling real life issues with grace, confidence, and strength. Thankfully, making this shift allowed me to become a much better writer and after successfully publishing 3 novels in the past 12 months, my readers seem to be getting what they want too!
- What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Getting a great editor! When you build a rapport with an editor, it’s like gold because this person can completely up your game. My editor is wonderful because she is able to fix the typos and grammar (which of course is important), but she also tells me when something doesn’t make sense, is inconsistent, or needs improvement. For instance, in my book Rue, I was trying to write a love story and the first draft my editor saw, she instantly told me that the main love interest for Rue was (her words) “creepy.” I was like, what? I meant for him to be charming and loveable! My tone was off and I didn’t even know it! She spotted it from a mile away and I don’t know how I didn’t see it right from the start. I had to completely re-write him and thank goodness my editor told me the unadulterated truth on that front because the story would have never worked with the prior version.
- What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I love the works of Nevil Shute. I tout him in all of my books because I would love to have more people read him. He has a subtlety to his writing that is beyond compare, and he can write women and men equally well. I also love how he tackles broader themes–such as moral and ethical decisions–all while couched in the context of an amazing story.
- Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I read every one, Lord help me! Lol. Honestly, in the beginning, it was very difficult to read my reviews, good or bad, because I felt like people were analyzing “my baby,” but now I find the reviews helpful. Ultimately, reading is very subjective. I’m a voracious reader myself and some of my favorite books people hate (I mean, really hate!), so I figure it will be the same with my books–some will love, some will hate. I take everything with a grain of salt, but yes, I really do read them and if I find something rings true and is a criticism then I try to fix that for the next novel. That’s all you can do as an author, just keep swimming!
- What time of the day do you usually write?
I still work full-time at my day job, so I get up at 4:00am every day (365 days a year!) and write for three hours. I’m a morning person, so I always feel at my best first thing. I try to jump right in–drink a quick coffee, do a little checking on email, social media, etc., then begin work on the next book. Some days are better than others–maybe only a page or two a day, but then I can always catch up on the weekends and try to get ten or more pages done in a sitting.
- Where do you get your inspiration?
Mostly from real life (things I observe in real life), or from my own past experiences, and once in a while from a TV show or a movie or a book. As I come across a kernel or nugget (something interesting for a book idea), I write it down in my journal, so that I can come back to it later. By the time I start writing a new book, I usually have dozens of nuggets waiting for me to explore. For me, this is the best time, when I first begin writing a new story, not knowing where it will lead. I’m not one to outline or write a story structure in the beginning, I simply sit at my computer and let it take over and flow. I often wonder where it comes from! Yes, from my own crazy imaginative mind, but also I feel like there’s a little magic that’s sprinkled into my fingertips when a story is waiting to be born.