Name Amy Lynn Spitzley (though really I’m Amy. The Lynn is just to sound more professional!)
Where are you from
From Holland, Michigan, USA, but have lived in Traverse City, Michigan, USA, for 19 years.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
Let’s see…pretty average background! Shy, eldest of two kids—my brother’s two years younger—nice, happy home. I went to college at Northern Michigan University and graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts degree that included a Creative Writing major, an Art minor, and a Native American Studies minor.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Wow. I wish I had some! I’m trying to focus on a story that’s quite different than my first two, but it’s still a work in progress.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I know I entered a story in the Young Authors competition in 6th grade. That same year, when I was 12, we went out west for a vacation and I got a little notepad with blue flowers on it at Wall Drug Store and started writing. I kept track of the amount of animals I saw—several herds of buffalo, 20 prairie dogs, that sort of thing. That was really the beginning.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess a few years ago. I’ve been doing this for a while, but I didn’t call myself a REAL writer until maybe two years before I got published. I figured I’d paid my dues at that point, and even if I never made it to publication, I was still A WRITER.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The first book I wrote was Viola Doyle, and that came from a writing group I used to attend. Someone brought jewelry one night and we had to pick a piece and write about it. I found a hatpin, and when I started writing, Viola just hopped out.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I tend to be informal often. I like strong women, but not so strong that I can’t identify with them, if that makes any sense. I like little bits of romance to be thrown in, too, but I don’t think I could write something where that was the entire plot.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Oh man, I suck at titles! Viola is just her name, and Scrapbook of my Revolution is seriously the only good title I’ve ever come up with. I just got lucky on that one!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Absolutely, in Scrapbook, but I didn’t write it with that in mind. I just wanted to tell a teenage story in a different way, but Amber and her friends are basically mutants, so it very quickly became about equality and a specific sort of racism. I’d like it if my book helped people become more tolerant, but that’s a tall order nowadays.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
For Viola, it’s meant to be a Victorian fantasy, so the basic setting is realistic. Same with Scrapbook, I guess—I take settings and people and give them that bit of a fantasy tweak.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No…though with Viola, she does maybe look a little like a better, younger version of me!
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Ooh, I hate this question! There are so many good books out there. I never know where to start, and I’m afraid I’ll leave something out. I don’t have a mentor, so that’s easily answered, but the book thing…well, I’ve always loved The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. I like a lot of YA fantasy. Tithe by Holly Black, too. I rarely read adult books, but a buddy got me hooked on Lamb by Christopher Moore this year. I’m agnostic with a strange sense of humor, so I loved that. Kept wanting a happy ending for poor Joshua, though!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Just finished reading Tamora Pierce’s Daine books again.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I don’t really know. I tend to go to the library and grab what looks good. I don’t really pay attention to whether an author is new or not.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Revising a story called The Midnight Trees. It’s the edgiest thing I’ve ever done, about people in a society where the rich ones live high in the trees and the regular ones live on the ground. There’s a drug called Stem that’s distilled from the same trees, and it’s getting most of the society hooked. A few people are trying to figure out how to combat this, including a brothel-owner’s daughter named Angel.
I also would like to finish a funny idea I have for a picture book of sorts—more of a coffee-table book, I guess, for adults and kids alike. It would be a rock’n’roll ABC book, with little poems about each band and a short blurb describing their history, and it would be highly illustrated. A for Aerosmith, B for Bon Jovi, that sort of thing. I’ve never done anything like this, and I don’t really know quite how to proceed, but I still love the idea.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I’ve got pretty supportive friends and family! I hesitate to name just one person, because the minute I did, I’d think of someone else. Quite a few in the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators have cheered me on over the years, and in my critique group, and on Facebook…you see what I mean.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes! Now if only it would pay me. What I really need is a job, so I can afford to follow my career.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Yes, but I won’t get into specifics. I think that’s just a creative person thing. We’re never quite happy with our books or art or music or dances or whatever, are we?
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Pretty much with the Wall Drug notebook thing, as I mentioned above.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
How much would you like to see? Here’s a few paragraphs that I think introduce Angel fairly well… I love my home. This is a truth, a certainty, a fact.
I love my home, and yet every day that passes I know I cannot stay here.
I live in the city of Hierro, in the country of Castilla, in the house of my father whose name is whispered about the marketplace as though he is something evil, something soft and foul that sticks to the bottom of one’s sandal.
He is not. My father is a wonderful man, and I love him dearly, even as I love this city that does not return my feelings. My name, too, is whispered in dry gray tones, turning “Angel Alderete” colorless and uninteresting.
The few who truly know me do not find me uninteresting.
The whispering happens whenever I go to the marketplace, as I do now. Calypso needs lemons for the women of the Casa Mariquita, the house my father owns. She soaks sponges in lemon juice for them to use in their practices. It keeps the babies away, and if they come anyway she has teas to drink for that. I do the errands for her because it lets me stretch my legs, even if my mind still feels encumbered.
As I leave the kitchen I take my white headscarf off the hook where it hangs. The day is gentle, warm with a slight breeze, but in Hierro women often cover their hair. It is best if I comply with society when I can, despite what my father does for a living, and it amuses me to wear white when so many assume I am impure.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I’m better with characters than with plots! I repeat certain words a lot, though I think we all do that…but the really evil thing is writing a synopsis. Man, I HATE that.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
You’ll probably think this is odd, but I really don’t have one! I love The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, but I don’t like all of her stuff. I like old Mary Stewart books, but I’m not a fan of her Merlin novels, which she’s most famous for. It’s like that with most authors for me.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I’d love to travel for my books, but so far, no.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Artists were assigned by my publisher. The Scrapbook artist was Ricky Gunawan, and the Viola cover was done by Alexandra Thompson.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Seriously, the synopsis! And query letters aren’t really a walk in the park, either. You spend all this time and effort to write a novel, and then you have to go and explain it in one page. Not fun.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Well, more about plotting and pacing and the technical details, I guess. And how the entire business works—or sometimes doesn’t!—not just the writing end of it.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just the standard “keep plugging away at it,” lines that most writers give. It’s such an individual thing. Some put aside time in their day and always write then, others go in doses and then have non-writing spells for a while. As soon as I give advice, someone else will likely contradict it. That being said, staying dedicated, joining an organization, and finding a good critique group do hold true no matter what.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Hi! Very glad you liked my stuff!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Ohmigod, I don’t! Is that bad? I was always reading, and my parents both read to me, so books were there from pretty much day one.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
You know that site Damn You Autocorrect? That makes me almost fall off my chair laughing. My eyes water, the whole thing. No idea why. Whose Line is it, Anyway? Does too, and The Big Bang Theory, but that autocorrect really gets me.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I admire people, but I don’t know if I’d like to meet them or not. I’m afraid they’d disappoint me, or vice versa. I’m still really bummed that Robin Williams is gone—I think he left a hole in the universe that nobody can ever replace—but I don’t know if that means I’d like to meet him or not. I just wish he was still HERE.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Headstones kinda creep me out, to be honest! I think I’ll go the cremation route.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Sure! I was an artist even before I was a writer and I’m trying to break into that more, but it’s not an easy path. I mostly do fantasy collages. I love to hike, too, and read, and hang out with my husband and kids. We watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D together and often The Big Bang Theory. Geeky, I know.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Oops! Just answered that. I’m seeing good things in Supergirl, too, and my husband and I are still miffed that Forever got cancelled.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Corn chowder. Homemade bread. Apples. Purple. Green. Brown. Blue. U2. Kongos. Oasis.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
There’s the art thing, but if we’re talking total dream world, I’d really love to have had some physical talent. I’m smallish—5’2, 120 lbs—and I have double-curve scoliosis, so I don’t consider my body to be my strong suit. I’m shy too, but in my deepest daydreams I’d really have liked to be able to perform. A dancer, maybe.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
If you go to www.tinyurl.com/amyspitz you can see my artwork. I’ve been really bad about keeping up with the writing/blogging thing. I think the books should speak for themselves, you know? Plus there are so many writers with blogs out there. I’m not really sure I’d add anything to that scene. Sounds like an excuse, doesn’t it? Yeah, I thought so too…
Amazon Authors Page http://www.amazon.com/Amy-Lynn-Spitzley/e/B00DI8UKTW/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1