Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
AL:Hello Fiona and thank you for interviewing me! Amy Lyle, 46.
Fiona: Where are you from?
AL: The US, originally from Ohio but for the past twenty years, Atlanta, GA.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I live in the suburbs of Atlanta with my husband, Peter, four teenagers and two dogs.
My alma mater is The Ohio State University.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My most exciting news is an Atlanta morning show, Atlanta and Company, keeps inviting me back as a panelist on their Real Talk segment, it’s so fun! It’s hosted by Christine Pullara, she’s very generous and really makes every guest feel so welcome.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I worked for almost twenty years in sales, management and training for a giant talent acquisition firm. Although I wrote many manuals, I did not start writing for myself until after I turned forty. My first venture into writing was a screenplay jointly written with a friend. It all started at a girl’s weekend, our friends had such amazing and funny stories about marriage, divorce, raising kids and jobs, my friend, Marjorie and I started mapping out an idea for a screenplay. My friend ended up getting promoted at her job and dropped off the project. I started from scratch and completed a screenplay last year.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Not until after the age of forty. I work as an actress for a huge non-profit in a re-occurring comical role. The scripts were so funny, I inquired about who wrote them and asked if I could submit an idea. They liked the submission and I’ve been writing for them (freelance) for several years.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
A failure. I wrote my own screenplay, a Bridemaids meets Bad Moms funny female centric comedy under the leadership of Rodney Henson, who was a filmmaker and had vetted films for Disney for a decade. When the script was completed, he told me to call an entertainment attorney that he knew. I called the attorney – he refused to read my screenplay or represent me because “I was a no one, knew no one and didn’t have any money.” After a few seconds I said “That makes me really f****** sad.” he started laughing and gave me some free advice to write a book. Immediately I thought, I have had a lot of failures. I wrote and published the book within the year.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The book is about failures and I thought it would be funny to highlight that I have had failures my entire life, so I titled it The Amy Binegar-Kimmes-Lyle Book of Failures, which makes people question “How many times has this woman been married and remarried?” For the record, I only have been divorced once and remarried once, Binegar is my maiden name.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I am very influenced by comics, especially self- depreciating, observational ones such as Ellen DeGeneres, Tina Fey, Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Seinfeld and Paula Poundstone. I like writing about the issues of everyday life. I would never write a novel as I don’t enjoy describing things in a flowery manner. I love quick, snarky dialog which is better suited for shorter stories or essays.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The book is based on true stories. I did combine stories and/or change names to protect the person’s identity, but my close friends all know who the stories are about. I open the book with “Many of the stories in this book are true. But some are lies.”
Not abroad, but getting out, with the public or with family and friends invariable inspires a story. True life is always funnier and more interesting than I could ever dream up. I get some of my best material standing in line at the grocery store, talking to the people in line, everybody has a funny story to share.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My very talented professional photographer friend Andrea Ferenchik. I know that her work, covers and funny shots, have helped me promote the book.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, and I have been so lucky that readers, especially women, have taken time to email and/or leave a review saying how they felt less alone and more normal after reading or listening to my book. Many of us are trying to work, be good wives, maintain friendships and raise children, it’s hard to not feel that we are failing at something at all times. When someone shares a failure, invariably others start to chime in about their own missteps and every one feels better. Being able to laugh at yourself is a beautiful thing. I love reviews about my book that say by sharing my most cringeworthy moments they were able to laugh, take a break from the world and feel less.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
An author that I have recently discovered is Wendy Paine Miller, the novelist. I just finished her book, After the Glimpse, about how people who had passed were showing up in the (recent) photographs of their loved ones. It’s a great story of loss and recovery. My favorite all time writers are Wally Lamb and Jenny Lawson. I love their honesty and ability to spin humor into even the most dire of circumstances.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My female friends have been amazing. From helping decide on content to include, throwing a giant launch party to promoting my book and introducing me to influential people that have featured the book, my female friends have been very supportive. I also have been so surprised by the writing community, on Twitter and Facebook, we share information about how to gain access to literary agents to navigating the world of Amazon advertising. I have Twitter mentor, Australian author Paula Houseman and we’ve never met in person. Author, Lee St. John, shared your site with me, Fiona. Authors are generous in supporting one another.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. I’m a playwright for a large non-profit, screenwriter and author.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I am so embarrassed to admit this (yet another failure) I was so new to publishing, I thought a content editor and a proofreader were the same. The content editor completed her work and I order 300 books for my book launch that had mistakes in them! It was an expensive mistake. I had to hire a proofreader and then resubmit the book.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
My skin has thickened. I thought it was thick from working twenty years in sales, but nothing thickens your skin more than someone criticizing your work. I wrote a blog about my first terrible review. The truth is, I don’t like every film, book or song, so not everyone is going to like my work. Every person is entitled to their opinion. I’m not sure why people choose to personally attack others but it is out of my control and part of the territory, some people really enjoy being mean and hateful.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Molly Shannon or Kristin Wiig, I love both actors so much.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Read and write as much as possible.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you! I am living a dream come true moment because of my readers! My self-published book is hanging out with my heroes, Trevor Noah, Jenny Lawson, Tina Fey and David Sedaris in the top ten ebooks on Amazon. People have been so generous to share the book with their friends on social media. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on marketing, books are purchased usually because of a friend’s recommendation. I feel so lucky to have such wonderful readers. My readers are also helping me write my next book! Through social media they are sending me their funny failures!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Curriody by Paul Jenkins.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I do not.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Glimpses into real life make me laugh and cry. I’m 46 and am at the point in my life where friends have lost their parents, spouses or even children. Their spirit to not just survive, but to be a source of encouragement to others often brings me to tears. A weakness of mine is to see the humor in every situation. I could be a funeral and notice that the minister’s tie has tiny bass fish all over it, my mind starts racing with how ridiculous it is to have a bass tie on while giving a serious eulogy- did he not have his glasses, did he come from a fishing convention, has anyone mentioned it? Life is so short and serious. The world will not be any less serious if we take a minute to think about the ridiculous.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I would have loved to have met Frank McCourt, the author of Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis. His poverty stricken life in Ireland, commitment to escaping his circumstancing and seeing the humor in even the most horrific moments has stayed with me since I read his books over a decade ago. He would make anyone’s dinner party one the guests would never forget.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Reading, walking, traveling and tennis.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love films about overcoming great obstacles such as Unbroken and The Book Thief . I loved the books the films were based on as well. I watch a lot of comedies and cannot get enough of Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Elizabeth Banks, Reese Witherspoon, and Jennifer Lawrence.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
There are very few foods I don’t enjoy, hence I walk twice a day! My favorite color is orange.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Stand up comedy.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She lived. She loved. She laughed.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes and thank you, Fiona, for having me as your guest.
Book link: http://ow.ly/yGx930fcA3l
Audible.com book link: http://ow.ly/HEws30gVx4B
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/amylyle.me/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Amy-Lyle/e/B071RTSV7F
GoodReads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16866321.Amy_Lyle?from_search=true