I’m excited to share an interview with Amy Sue Nathan, whose first novel, The Glass Wives, debuts May 14th! Amy Sue Nathan also hosts the popular website, Women’s Fiction Writers. What does it feel like to know your novel will make its debut in a less than a month? Amy Nathan tells us!
~Amy, congratulations on your debut novel, The Glass Wives. How does it feel to know your book will soon be in bookstores and downloaded on e-readers across the nation?
Thank you, thank you, Renee! It’s surreal knowing—imagining—my book in bookstores and being available online. I think writers are equally excited and terrified to have strangers read their work. You know, those are people who don’t have to like it! I think it’s really cool that nowadays books can be impulse purchases. Like the sound of book and you can download it immediately and start reading.
~You created one of my favorite websites, Women’s Fiction Writers. Where did the idea come from? What do you enjoy about hosting the site?
When I hear how much someone enjoys Women’s Fiction Writers it means a lot to me, because the blog is truly a part of me. I spent about year scouring the internet looking for a site or a blog or a group for writers of women’s fiction. I wanted a place where I could find like-minded aspiring or published authors, and also learn about books like the one I was writing. Nothing fit the bill exactly. I finally admitted what I kind of knew all along. There wasn’t anything and I was going to have to create it. So I did. And the best part of running the site has been two-fold: meeting fellow authors and establishing friendships, and learning from their experiences. Okay, there’s a third part of the fold. The aspiring authors who visit the site have really made the community what it is, and have become a real inspiration to me.
~As a single mom of two, how do you find the time to write? Do story ideas come easily to you?
I started writing again after years of what I am calling a “creative hiatus” and while my kids were younger, but they weren’t babies. Many times we all sat at the dining room table doing our “homework.” I wrote only non-fiction for years. When I started writing fiction I found that I had a lot of ideas, but of course, not all of them were good ideas!
~Do you listen to music when you write or do you prefer to write in silence?
I can’t write with any external noise at all. No music, no chatter. It totally rules out becoming part of the coffee shop writing culture, or even writing in the library. I like comfort and quiet. I can do technical stuff with the TV on, so if I have a bunch of blog posts to format, photos to find online, links to embed, etc., I can be part of the outside world.
~What are your favorite ways to procrastinate when you know you should be writing?
Oh, I’m totally a TV gal. I’ll watch anything. I also have started watching a lot of documentaries on Netflix. Of course I consider social media part of the job, so that’s not procrastinating! Nor is answering interview questions when I should be working on my novel-in-progress! 😉
~Were there any characters or scenes that were more difficult to write than others? Do you have a favorite character from your novel? Or favorite scene?
When I started writing The Glass Wives, the most difficult scenes where the ones that seemed so far from anything I’d ever do or say in real life. I knew I was writing fiction, but I was embedding myself in all the characters. Once I let go of that, realizing it didn’t benefit me or them, it was freeing and allowed the characters to grow as individuals. After that, the difficult scenes were ones where the characters challenged themselves or did something they didn’t really want to do. It’s like watching your kid jump off the high dive. They have to do it, they want to do, but it’s still scary. It’s also really emotionally exhausting to write scenes like that because while the author isn’t the character, in order to make it realistic one must dig deep and harness real emotions. Often difficult emotions. One scene in particular (no spoilers) Evie and one of bffs, Beth, are in Evie’s car, in the rain. Nothing like what transpires between them ever happened to me, but the intensity in the scene was driven by memories of some of my own friendships. And not very good memories.
~What are the last three books you’ve read that wowed you?
Wowed me? Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I don’t finish any book I don’t like, so if I read it, I like it. But there are some books that stand out more than others, that’s for sure.
~Favorite TV shows and films have influenced my own writing almost as much as books. Care to share any favorite TV shows or movies?
Oh, I never really thought of that before. Hmm. Asking me to pick a favorite TV show is like asking me to pick a favorite child (I told you I liked TV, right?). I will say that a 1945 movie sparked the idea for my work-in-progress! Considering the new novel is about a blogger you might think it’s a stretch. It is, and it’s not!
~Okay, Amy, I won’t ask for the title of the movie since we writers have a right to our secrets, but can you be more specific about the TV shows you watch? I wouldn’t have any idea about Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey, for instance, if a writer friend hadn’t turned me on to them. So…?
Okay, I’ll spill. I am a devoted General Hospital fan. I have been watching GH for thirty-five years. I DVR it and watch every day. I don’t miss it. Ever. When the news preempts it, my mood plummets. I’m retiring to Port Charles, New York, land of beautiful people, quarantines, and age-jumping, but no bathrooms. Let’s not forget the good-hearted mobsters. Could it be better?
~A young writer wants your advice. What three things do you tell her?
1. Keep writing. 2. Heed to kind criticism. 3. Ignore those who belittle your dreams.
~Describe your perfect Sunday.
What makes Sunday different for me is that I get up, make a pot of coffee, get back into bed, and read. For hours. Sometimes I read a whole book by 9 or 10 am (I’m an early riser). As a writer working from home, all the days are the same to me, and I’ve learned that running errands like the grocery or big box store are more time-efficient on a Tuesday. So on Sundays, I’m definitely working.
~I’m not sure how you ended up in my Facebook newsfeed, but as soon as I saw the cover of your novel combined with the title, The Glass Wives, I immediately “liked” your author’s page and knew I wanted to read it. Was the cover image your idea? Did you have an easy time coming up with the title?
I had nothing to do with the cover, except that when I met my editor, Brenda Copeland, last summer, she was kind enough to introduce me to my cover designer. The only thing I said was that I didn’t want the reader misled. I like when books really convey the tone of the book within. The team that worked on and approved the cover for The Glass Wives really nailed it!
And, I don’t know how you ended up on my Facebook page either, but I’m glad you did!
~What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
Revisions. I like taking the first draft drivel and refining it. I tend to be a big rearranger too, meaning I get the whole story out but it’s not always in the right order. Actually, that happens in my blog posts and essays too. I guess in a first draft I bury the lede!
~Finish the sentence. Writing a novel is like…
Swimming upstream but in warm, crystal clear water. Does that even make sense?
~Based on your Twitter profile you’re a “non-apologetic chocoholic.” Do you have any particular favorite brands of chocolate you can turn us on to? If calories didn’t matter, what chocolaty things would you pig out on?
Honestly, I don’t have a favorite. I’m an equal opportunity chocoholic.
~That’s it? Come on, indulge your chocolate fantasies!
Don’t be disappointed but I’m just as happy with a bag of M&Ms (the regular kind, peanut on occasion, none of those newfangled ones) as I am with some fancy brand. I tend to be a purist. I like my chocolate in candy form. And it’s a food group, not a dessert.
~If I were to visit Chicago, what are a few places you’d suggest I see? Do you have any personal favorite hangouts?
Don’t miss the lake front. If you’ve never seen Lake Michigan from Chicago, or Chicago from Lake Michigan, it’s a sight to behold. Growing up in Philadelphia the ocean was only two hours away. Lake Michigan and its beaches look like the ocean. The only problem is, you don’t get that salt air smell. When I go to beach towns in Michigan, I always expect it to smell like the South Jersey shore I grew up on. But no matter how hard I hope, it just doesn’t! I’d also recommend taking a Chicago River cruise where you can learn all about Chicago architecture. One of my favorite places is Millenium Park with its fountains and sculptures and gardens—and its bridge to the Chicago Art Institute.
Chicago is a great food town too. But unlike New York and Philly there are no street vendors. That was a strange thing to get used to!
~Care to tell us about what you’re working on now?
A novel about a single mom who anonymously blogs about her dating escapades. The problem is, she’s not dating at all. She makes it all up. But, her blog gets so much traffic that she’s offered the opportunity to write a relationship column for a popular website—and she takes it.
Amy’s website: http://www.amysuenathan.com
To read an excerpt of The Glass Wives:
Women’s Fiction Writers: http://womensfictionwriters.wordpress.com/