What makes you write? Interview with Amy Reade
I’m excited to have USA Today bestselling author, Amy Reade, take part in my second author Q&A. Amy has written two novels: Secrets of Hallstead House and The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor. Her third, House of the Hanging Jade is out on 26th April.
I’m always fascinated by people’s motivation to write. What inspires them? What makes them tick? So I asked Amy to talk about the things which seed ideas in her mind. Amy: over to you.
Thank you Amna!
At first, I was at a loss to explain where I get my passion for writing. But your question serves to make me think about things that are important to me and that make a difference in what I choose to write. And the more I think about it, the more it’s clear that the answer is twofold: I read and I travel.
I read as much as I can, as often as I can. And though I don’t get as much time to read as I’d like, it’s one of my favorite activities.
Writers are readers first. They must have a deep love of the written word in order to be able to spend so much of their time sitting in front of a computer (or a typewriter, or a pad of paper, or whatever is their writing medium of choice) putting words together in new and intriguing ways.
When I read a book, my mind is working, but it’s working in a world that is outside my own reality. In the hands of a skillful author or editor, I can forget everything that’s going on in my head and my home and immerse myself in someone else’s life for a while. And here’s the best part: it works with any genre! Mystery, classic literature, biography, thriller, paranormal, cookbooks (one of my favorites!), YA. The list goes on and on.
I don’t know what it is exactly about reading other authors’ books that inspires me to keep writing, but I know it works. I’ve heard the phenomenon described as “refilling the coffers” and I guess that’s what happens when I’m reading. I’m refilling my coffers for the next time I sit down and try to write coherent and meaningful sentences. I’m not taking ideas from other authors – I’m simply rediscovering my love for the written word with each book I read.
Some of my favorite authors that refilled the coffers include Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Phyllis Whitney, Daphne du Maurier, M. C. Beaton, Tatiana de Rosnay, Elizabeth Peters, Agatha Christie, and Alan Brennert. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but the authors represent a wide range of subjects.
As for travel, I’ve been fortunate to travel both inside and outside the United States, but I don’t have to travel far from home to get inspiration. Sometimes a trip to the library for a change of scenery is all it takes for my creative juices to start flowing.
There’s something about working at a place other than my desk that jumpstarts my fingers and gets them moving rapidly across the keyboard. The last time I visited one of the local public libraries, I met my word count goal in an hour and a half. That’s something I find hard to do at home.
All I have to do on some days is walk my dog to the bay just down the road from my house and I find that I come home with a renewed desire to get to work and with a head full of ideas about the direction my book should take next. It may be the exercise doing that, but I like to think it’s also the change in perspective that I get when I’m not at my desk.
And then there’s “real” travel- the kind that takes me far from home. It’s fascinating to experience other cultures, other languages, other traditions and customs, other climates, and other foods. It’s fun to drive past a place far away and think, “What if….” When a story gets its spark from a “what if” in a faraway place, that’s when the magic happens.
My first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House, is set in the Thousand Islands region of New York State in the U.S. That’s quite close to where I grew up, so I didn’t have to travel far to get that spark. My second novel, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, is set on a plantation outside Charleston, South Carolina. If you’ve ever visited Charleston, you know the area is rich in culture and history. And my third novel, House of the Hanging Jade, is set on the Big Island of Hawaii. I’ve been lucky enough to experience all these places, and each sparked an idea that drove me to write about them.
So here’s the takeaway: read … A lot! And get out of the house! You don’t have to go far, you just have to go.
Amna, thank you for making me think so hard about my inspiration. It’s been a lovely, thought-provoking journey and I’ve enjoyed it very much. I hope your readers do, too.
A big thank you to Amy for taking the time to talk to me. It’s been lovely to hear from someone who has a passion for travel. But it’s true: you don’t need to travel far to get inspired. A person you see, or a conversation you overhear are sometimes enough to trigger a story.
You can find Amy in the following cyberspace places:
Her website: http://www.amymreade.com
Her blog: http://amreade.wordpress.com