Maybe I should just let Amy's badassery speak for itself below, but I can't neglect to tell you that she's also generous: Scroll down for a chance to win signed copies of her books -- and keep an eye out for her second novel, The Women in the Walls, coming this Tuesday!
Amy: I write horror novels, and I freaking love it. It's fun, intense, and rewarding. My first book, Daughters unto Devils, came out in 2015, and my sophomore novel, The Women in the Walls, comes out this September 27th. I have two more books on contract-both horror, one of which is called The Ravenous and was pitched as The Virgin Suicides meets Pet Sematary, and comes out in 2017. The fourth book hasn't been announced yet, but it'll come out in 2018.
It's strange, because even though I've always adored reading, writing, and watching scary movies, I never imagined that I could become a horror author someday. My hometown is small and very conservative. I didn't really have any serious career aspirations, except for a period of maybe two months in early high school, when I became obsessed with the idea of becoming a journalist for a big-name magazine for teen girls.
When I researched the financial realities of moving to and attending college in New York City, as well as discovered how imperative an unpaid internship would be to landing the job, that dream died pretty quickly. (The unpaid internship thing specifically is kind of funny to me now, considering that I spent six years writing novels before I actually sold one.)
After high school, I didn't have anything I wanted to do badly enough to justify paying for college, so I never went. Instead, I went through a little local program to learn how to be a dental assistant-which was super fun until I had to, you know, actually assist the dentist. So I worked as a front office medical assistant for a while instead, then got fired unexpectedly a year in, which sent me into a spiral of worrying about my future and wondering what in the hell I was supposed to be doing with myself. During that time, I found solace at the local library, which I hadn't visited in years. I rediscovered this intense love of reading that I had as a child, and after I finished a book that I wished had ended differently, it finally dawned on me that hey, maybe I could write a story of my own. I spent the entire next day outlining my first novel, and I never really looked back.
Kate: Do you have any (other) creative outlets? How do they influence/affect your main work (if at all)?
Amy: I find a lot of joy in playing video games when I can find the time, as well as participate in the occasional Dungeons & Dragons campaign with my friends. I love to paint with watercolors (even though I am not very good at it). I also adore cooking, which is probably the creative outlet I engage in the most. I used to watch my great-grandmother and my Nonny cook all sorts of delicious dinners for my family as a kid, and now I find the hobby to be pretty influential on my work-I've noticed that all of my books have pretty vivid descriptions of food, haha!
Kate: What's your biggest challenge?
Amy: In the past, it was being patient. Even when I only had a single chapter written of my first book, I wanted to be published now now now, to the point where I would rush through my work and not do nearly as great of a job on it as I could have. I think that had a lot to do with why my first three novels didn't sell-I never really slowed down and concentrated on what I was actually doing, particularly during the revisions process. It took awhile.
Once I realized that it wasn't going to happen as quickly as I'd dreamed, I took a step back to assess: what did I really want to write, and what would creatively fulfill me the most? That was when I decided that I would try to write my very first horror novel, which was my fourth book and would eventually be my first sale.
Now, I think my biggest challenge is writing on deadline when I'm creatively drained. My second book, The Women in the Walls, was particularly challenging in this aspect, but thank goodness I had my editor and agent to help me get through it without losing my sanity! It was really rough, but that made it all the better when I finally finished writing the book and proved to myself that it can be done, and in a way that I was still proud of. The book I'm currently working on could not be more different of an experience, but I'm vaguely aware that if it happened once, it could happen again. And this time, hopefully I'll be a little more ready.
Kate: Tell us about a time that you bounced back from failure.
Amy: There was a time before I was published that my debut novel, Daughters Unto Devils, came so close to selling. I had an R&R with a big house (R&R stands for revise and resubmit, where you work with an editor on your book without a contract, in hopes of an eventual sale.) I had my heart so set on getting that book deal-I worked with the editor for months to completely rewrite the book from the ground up, only to have it rejected in the end. I remember my brother-in-law was sitting next to me on the couch when I got the call, and I got so embarrassed at how much I cried about it. I'd endured so much rejection by that point, but it was easily the most devastating thing I'd gone through in my journey to becoming an author. I had been so fucking close.
Still, that one rejection ended up teaching me the most invaluable lessons about my own writing process that I never could have learned otherwise. I learned to trust my artistic instincts if an edit suggestion didn't feel right, whereas before I would have done whatever edits were asked of me if it meant getting a sale. In the end, it was that blind willingness that prevented me from writing a book that was capable of selling-there was just no heart in it, no real creative input on my end. I took those lessons with me when I picked up the pieces and attempted another R&R, on the original draft, with a different house...but this time, the novel ended up selling in a two-book deal.
I cried my eyes out at the time that big rejection happened, and I felt like the biggest failure ever. But now, I wouldn't change or trade the experience for the world. It made me so much stronger and had a direct influence on making me the writer I am today.
Amy: I think I nearly fainted when Paul Tremblay approached me before our panel at San Diego Comic Con and told me that he loved my book. It was the kind of moment I literally never would have believed was possible when I was aspiring-the fact that I was at Comic Con for writing horror, and the fact that an author I had so much respect for actually knew who I was, and liked my work.
What I think I'm most proud of, though, is that I've come into my career while simultaneously raising a small family, without having it hold me back. So many people love to talk about how having kids ruins your organic creativity and any chance at a legitimate writing career, and that just couldn't be further from the truth. Personally, the experience has had the opposite effect-it's enriched my life in a way that carries over into everything I do, including writing. That's not to say that it's easy or that it's for everybody, but it is absolutely possible, especially when you have a spouse that is so understanding and supportive. (Hi Eddie!)
Kate: Did you have any defining moments that galvanized your understanding of and/or commitment to feminism? How does it inform/inspire your work?
Amy: Before I started trying to get published, I didn't have anything to go off of beside what I observed in my direct vicinity, and like I mentioned earlier, my town is small and conservative. Once I started getting into publishing and living online a little more, I was able to see new perspectives from people in other places, and among other eye-opening things, I learned that 'feminism' was not nearly as dirty of a word as I had previously thought.
Before, I sort of equated the word with hating men, and being bitter, and making mountains out of mole hills. But then I learned that a feminist is simply someone who believes in the political, social, and economical equality of both sexes, and any other connotation that people carry along with the word is on them. It does not demand that women be treated more specially than men, it simply points out when things aren't equal and it does it in an unapologetic way. It doesn't have to be something that requires constant rage and shouting (although I do sometimes find those reactions from others to be liberating in a way, since sexism is so frustrating). All that is encouraged, in my perception, is a healthy amount of awareness.
Kate: What are the best ways to support other women?
Amy: Do just that-support them. Support them in their dreams, support them in their accomplishments, be aware when someone has been wronged directly as a result of misogyny and don't be afraid to point out that you've noticed.
Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?
Amy: Take good care of yourself. Try to spread kindness where you can. Read. Tell the voice inside that insists you can't do it to kindly shut the fuck up.
Win a signed hardcover of The Women in the Walls
as well as a signed paperback of Daughters unto Devils! (US only)
as well as a signed paperback of Daughters unto Devils! (US only)
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