A former director of Information Technology, Amanda has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. She’s delighted to now be a full-time writer of Christian historical romances.
Her Texas Dreams trilogy received critical acclaim, and Waiting for Spring, the second in her Westward Winds series, was released earlier this year.
The following is a March 2013 interview with Amanda.
I’m the oldest of four siblings. (You won’t get me to admit that I was a bossy sister as so many oldest children are, but my sibs might have a different opinion.) Although I’ve spent most of my life in the suburbs of metropolitan areas, my early childhood years were in a small Texas town. Why is that important? Because it’s influenced my writing and led me to set many of my stories in similar towns. I never forgot the friendliness of small town life, the feeling that everyone knew everyone else and that I was safe, no matter where I went – except for the cemetery, which had rattlesnakes. My lifelong fear of snakes has its roots there. And, yes, that’s what inspired one scene in Summer of Promise.
On a lighter note, my belief in happy endings and the reason I write romance can be credited to my high school sweetheart, who’s been my husband for literally decades. He and I’ve lived in a variety of places ranging from Germany to the suburbs of Philadelphia and are now living happily ever after in Cheyenne.
2. How did you become a novelist, and did you always want to write?
I really cannot remember a time when I didn’t write – or at least want to write, and so I wrote sporadically until I was almost 29. Since then I have come to believe that authors have at least one thing in common with oysters, namely that we need irritation to produce our pearls … er … our books. For me, that irritation was moving to a new area and discovering that what had appeared to be an ideal job was truly awful. Unfortunately, that happened at a time when jobs were hard to find, so I stuck with the one I had for over three years. But the irritation was enough to remind me of my goal of selling a book before I was thirty. I started what was to become my first published book just before my twenty-ninth birthday and sold it one week before my thirtieth. If this were a fairytale, I’d tell you that I became vastly wealthy and was able to quit my day job. The reality is, for many years (no, I won’t tell you how many) I wrote on nights and weekends, while I worked full time for Corporate America. Now I’m fortunate enough to be a full-time writer.
For me the most important thing about Christian fiction is the way it blends a faith element into the story. I heard another writer describe the result as a braid, with the three elements – hero, heroine and God – forming an unbreakable cord. I believe that the characters’ faith adds a depth to stories that simply isn’t there in secular fiction.
4. How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write?
My most fervent prayer is that my stories will touch readers’ hearts and deepen their faith.
5. What responses to your novels have affected you the most and why?
After reading my answer to the last question, you probably won’t be surprised that the notes from readers which have touched me the most were the ones that told me my stories had changed their lives. When I wrote Scattered Petals, I knew that I was taking a chance by having my heroine endure almost unspeakable tragedy. Not only are her parents killed by bandits, but she’s raped. I wasn’t sure how readers would react to that, but a number of readers have told me that watching Priscilla heal helped them heal as well. Even though they knew they were reading fiction, seeing Priscilla struggle and eventually triumph helped them realize that they too could overcome what seemed like insurmountable obstacles. Notes like that are worth more than any royalty check; they truly are the reason I write.
6. How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?
It has deepened my faith in Him. As I look back on my life, I see how each event – both good and bad – has led me to this point.
My current goal is to help aspiring writers become published. That’s the reason I organized and continue to lead Front Range Christian Fiction Writers and why I’m an informal mentor to a number of writers.
8. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Like most writers, reading is one of my favorite pastimes. I also enjoy cooking, sewing and knitting, although I have to admit that multi-colored knit patterns are beyond my skill level. (As a sidenote, the picture shows an historic costume that I made for the launch of Waiting for Spring. The biggest challenge was combining pieces from four different patterns to create something that a woman might have worn in 1886.)
Even though it probably sounds like it, I don’t spend all my time indoors. My husband and I enjoy traveling, especially by car, and have visited all fifty states. No, we didn’t drive to Hawaii, but one of our most memorable trips was driving the Alaska highway.
My most recent release, Waiting for Spring, is the second in the Westward Winds trilogy. Like the other two books (2012’s Summer of Promise and With Autumn’s Return, which will be released in January 2014), the heroine is one of three sisters who finds love, adventure and a bit of danger in Wyoming. As for the specifics, since I have a terrible time telling a story in less than 100,000 words, why don’t I share the back cover copy with you?
“After the loss of her husband and the birth of her baby, Charlotte has had a long, hard year. But she can find no rest from the ghosts of the past and flees to Cheyenne to put the pieces of her life back together.
Wealthy cattle baron and political hopeful Barrett Landry must make a sensible match if he is to be elected senator of the soon-to-be state of Wyoming. He needs someone with connections. Someone without a past. Yet he can’t shake the feeling that Charlotte holds the key to his heart and his future.
Will Charlotte and Barrett find the courage to look love in the face? Or will their fears blot out any chance for happiness?”
Summer of Promise (Westward Winds #1)
[Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]
Waiting for Spring (Westward Winds #2)
[Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle]
10. What stories can your fans expect from you in the days ahead?
Publishing schedules being what they are, I’m working on my 2014 releases. I’m waiting for copy edits on With Autumn’s Return, the third of the Westward Winds trilogy. That’ll be a January 2014 book. In addition, I’m excited to announce that I’ll have a novella in Revell’s first novella collection, also due out next January. Each of the four stories in the collection is written by a different author, and each features a woman whose life is changed when she receives a letter. Having read that, you won’t be surprised to know the title of the book will be Sincerely Yours.
My heroine is an heiress who needs to marry a man of her own social standing within two months or she’ll forfeit her inheritance. The special letter she receives leads her to a handsome carousel carver – obviously not the man her parents had in mind for her. But the carver has a secret. As a side note, I developed an incurable case of carousel fever in early 2000, so when I started thinking about this story, I knew my hero would be one of those incredibly talented men who turned chunks of wood into fabulous painted ponies.
11. What would you like to say to your fans in New Zealand, and others worldwide?
First of all, those of you who live in New Zealand are fortunate to be in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I had a brief stop-over there and would love to come back for a long, long, long vacation. Secondly, I’m delighted that the Internet makes it possible for us to communicate easily and inexpensively. I’m absolutely delighted to hear from readers, wherever they live. Your notes brighten my days and remind me of the reason I write – you!
12. Do you have any parting words?
Thanks so much for inviting me to be part of your blog, Ellie. I’ve enjoyed our time together.