Young Adult author, Amanda Ashby, is yet another example of a writer who did not give up. It took six years for Amanda to get published, her first book being You Had Me at Halo. Here’s a closer look at Amanda’s journey from inspiration to publication.
Hi Amanda! Thank you so much taking the time to do this interview.
You’re welcome. Interviews are always a lovely distraction from work and as you will discover, I’m a girl who likes distractions!
We can all be guilty of getting distracted! As a writer who pushed through six years before getting her debut novel, You Had Me At Halo published, what kept you motivated and focused?
Honestly, the main thing that kept me motivated was the feeling deep in my gut that one day it would happen to me. I can’t explain where it came from (certainly not from my early drafts, which were hideous!) but it was there right from the beginning. Then over the years I used to take great hope in every small break through I had, like winning a competition or moving from form rejections to personal rejections or from getting partial requests, through to full requests.
What is your writing routine like?
It’s pretty shoddy! Like most writers, I’m easily distracted by the Internet (not to mention snack food, glittery objects, and the sudden need to clean the house). However, because I know what I’m like, when I’m working on a book I always set myself a word count to hit—normally about 2k—and then if I choose to spend the entire day being naughty, I’m forced to sit at the computer all night until I hit the words. Which, by the way makes me delightful to be around the following day!
Are you an outliner? How do you prepare before writing a novel?
I’m a pantser who longs to be a plotter so I spend a lot of time making notes and outlines that I’m doomed to never follow. I find the whole thing quite frustrating and get very jealous of writers who can do lovely outlines. However, I’ve sorted of accepted that my process is messy and so I just try and write my way through it.
What’s your latest book, Fairy Bad Day about? What was it like writing it?
Argh. For a light-hearted comedy, Fairy Bad Day was ridiculously hard to write. I wrote about two or three drafts for my agent and then it had about three rounds of revisions from my editor. In fact, the only easy part was the title!
What are you currently working on?
I’m revising the second book in my upcoming Middle Grade series, Sophie’s Mixed-Up Magic, about a girl who gets turned into a genie the day before she starts sixth grade.
What inspires you the most?
Books! I was a reader long before I was ever a writer and it’s still the same. I really love reading great books and every time I do, as well as getting wildly jealous that I didn’t write them, I’m also inspired to do a better job with my own books.
If you could have dinner with any writer, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer, because I love humor in books and they were both the masters of it! Plus, they both seem like they would be very well mannered, which means they probably wouldn’t complain if I had a second helping of pudding.
Considering your journey from your first novel to getting published for the first time, can you share some advice with aspiring novelists?
Take time to find your voice! Voice is one of those strange things that we often ignore when really it is what will help make your books stand out in a crowded market. So don’t be afraid to write the story the way you ‘really’ want to write it as opposed to how you think you should write it.
I say this because for six years I kept coming up with all these weird paranormal romance ideas, but because I was trying to write regular romance novels at the time, I would carefully cut the paranormal elements out of each book (I really wish I was kidding about this but I’m not). However, when I finally had the idea of a dead girl who gets kicked out of heaven and sent back to earth in a guy’s body, I realized that there was no way I could cut it all out, so instead I finally embraced the voice that I had been trying to stifle for so long and I wrote the book in all of its glorious weirdness.
Oh, and it goes without saying but eat lots of chocolate. It might not make you write a better book, but I’m sure it will make you feel better!
To learn more about Amanda and her books, visit her website!