I am thrilled to introduce Amy Sue Nathan today. Amy and I met through an online class offered through WritersU in the spring of 2010. While we were comparing our writing backgrounds, we realized we both had recently been finalists in a pitch contest offered by Querytracker.net. We’ve stayed in touch ever since. Read our winning pitches, here.
Kris: Thanks for joining me on my blog today, Amy! I’m so excited to have a chance to showcase you to my readers.
Amy: You’re sweet, Kris! It’s hard to think of myself as “someone to be interviewed”!
Kris: You're totally worthy of being interviewed!! You recently signed with an agent. I know you had an interesting journey getting there. Can you talk a little about that process?
Amy: Absolutely! I spent about four years getting my book to the point where it was actually ready to be seen by literary agents. I sent 127 queries in 10 months, with about a 27% request rate. (I know writers like to know the numbers). To me, the more queries I sent, the more chances I had I’d connect with the right agent. In the middle of the process I entered that same QueryTracker contest you did. We were both winners – and I signed with Jason Yarn of the Paradigm Agent, who served as the contest judge, seven months after that. I always say I could’ve had a baby in the time it took me to get an agent!
Kris: I love success stories where people were persistent! Congrats on signing with Jason! Can you share a bit about what you and Jason are working on right now? Is your relationship with him what you expected? Or completely different?
Amy: My novel went out on submission and I’m not embarrassed to say that there were rejections. Based on the little bit of feedback received, Jason and I found a thread, and I’ve been making changes to the manuscript based on that. I just finished those revisions and will get the manuscript back to Jason soon – and I hope it will be circulating among some agent again this spring. My relationship with Jason is exactly what I’d have wanted from an agent. He’s hands-on but he doesn’t hover. He’s honest but diplomatic. He has been instrumental in helping me kick up the book a few notches.
Kris: Good luck with your next round of submissions! Exciting! How long have you been writing? What made you start to write seriously? What genres do you write?
Amy: I wrote a book about Barbies when I was in elementary school, took pictures with a black and white camera, developed them in my dad’s darkroom and made my own book. My work has always included writing – but it was corporate and non-profit organization writing – yes, before the days of the internet! I didn’t write for a long time when I had my kids and then started again about eight or nine years ago. I started publishing about five years ago after I read a column in the Chicago Tribune and thought “I could write that.” I wrote essays and articles for about three years before I tried fiction – and it wasn’t an easy switch. Now I write almost exclusively women’s fiction – with a bit of a literary slant, which I think means it’s accessible, but smart. I can live with that!
Kris: I also did a lot of black and white developing as a teen--something I didn't know we had in common. Cool! Can you tell us anything about your current work-in-progress?
Amy: Well right now I’m re-reading all my revisions to THE GLASS HOUSE, which is my novel that will go back out on submission. I wrote a second novel that’s now living under my mattress, so my third novel is in the first draft stage. At the moment (because these things change) it’s about a divorced mom (all my protags are divorced moms) who lies about being in a relationship so her friends and family will stop nagging her to date. Then she’s asked to become an online relationship expert and has to live the lie for much longer than she intended. Of course in the end she has to come clean and doesn’t know if she’ll end up more alone than she was before because of her lies. Like I said, it’s VERY first draft!
Kris: My book club will definitely be reading your book. Where do you find your inspiration?
Amy: Around me. The inspiration for THE MARRIED HOUSE, which is the working title for novel #3, came from the 1945 movie Christmas in Connecticut. In general I take one thing – like a lie about what someone’s home life is really like – and build a story around it.
Kris: I love classic movies--also great inspiration. Are you a full-time writer? What is your non-writing life like?
Amy: I’m a full time writing-related professional. I freelance write and edit and I work for Backspace (www.bksp.org) which is a writer’s organization. I have a son in college, a daughter in high school and two dogs – I’m a divorced mom like my protags, but my life is much less complicated than theirs!
Kris: What is the biggest challenge you find with your writing?
Amy: Organizing my thoughts. Sometimes they get jumbled, especially in the beginning stages. I’m working on that!
Kris: I think we can all relate to that. I know I can! What are your favorite books or movies?
Amy: How much time do you have? I’d say a movie I can watch over and over again is Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. Also in that category is Who’s Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. My favorite book is much harder! Two books that really affected me were Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood and Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner. I was either late teen’s or early twenties when I read Cat’s Eye and that’s when I became conscious of wanting to write well. I read Good in Bed only about four years ago, but I realized that fictional characters can be “really real”. I also was blown away by a turn-of-events mid-book and knew then that I wanted to be able to do that for my readers.
Kris: I haven't read either Cat's Eye or Good in Bed, they're going on my "to read" list ! Do you have a favorite “guilty pleasure” you can share?
Amy: CHOC-O-LATE! I am a non-repentant chocoholic. I don’t even share chocolate with my characters, I have them enjoy things I don’t enjoy – it’s much more interesting to write! Evie, the main character in THE GLASS HOUSE, loves to bake. I do not like baking. It makes too much of a mess, and who needs cookies drowning out perfectly good chocolate chips?
Kris: Now I know why we get along! LOVE Chocolate, HATE to bake. If people would like to get to know you better, do you tweet? Blog?
Amy: I tweet, I blog, therefore I am. ;-) I blog at www.AmySueNathan.com and at www.backspacewriters.blogspot.com where I’m a contributor and the coordinating editor. I tweet as @AmySueNathan and @bksp_org.
Kris: Amy, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I wish you the best of luck with THE GLASS HOUSE and with the new WIP. I can't wait to see both of them in my local bookstore! And readers, don't forget to check out my 99 followers and counting contest--here.