7 Questions With Author Amy Martin
Amy Martin wrote and illustrated her first book at the age of ten and gave it to her fourth grade teacher, who hopefully lost it in her house somewhere and didn’t share it with anyone else.
The first book she published as a grown-up, In Your Dreams, was a semi-finalist in the Young Adult category of the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. Her books for young adults include the In Your Dreams series (In Your Dreams, As You Wake, Before You Sleep, and Beyond Your Dreams) and The Perfects series (Perfectly Normal, Perfectly Weird, and Perfectly Imperfect-the fourth book in the series will be out in 2019).
Amy currently lives in New York with her husband and a ferocious attack tabby named Cleo. When not writing or reading, she can usually be found watching sports, drinking coffee, or indulging her crippling Twitter habit (and, sometimes, doing all three at once).
In today’s interview, Amy speaks about the myths surrounding the writing industry and how she juggles life and writing. If you are a writer, please stop by to check the best tips & tricks From Writing To Publishing and sign up to my Newsletter for the latest & greatest.
Esther Rabbit: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I start every project out as a plotter and end up as a pantser. Whenever I get a new idea, I sketch out a rough outline, usually chapter-by-chapter, and the outline serves as a guide as I start to write.
Eventually, my characters get ideas of their own and start taking the narrative in new directions, at which point my outline falls apart. So, I guess I’m a “plantser.”
Esther Rabbit: How does a day in your author life look?
The answer to this question depends on where I am in my writing process. I’m not as young as I used to be, and my hands cramp up and start to hurt if I spend too much time on the computer.
To give my hands a break, I dictate most of my first draft, so on days when I’m getting this draft together, I spend most of my time walking around my house, speaking into my phone or my iPad. I always hit my step goals on my fitness tracker on those days!
I generally take a break in the middle of the day for lunch, and I quit working once my husband’s home so we can spend some time together. Depending on how much time I have in the evening, I might go back and look at my day’s dictations—dictation software can be kind of wonky, so I like to re-read my dictation as soon as possible to correct missed/misspelled words.
Once I’m past the first draft, my days are mostly spent in my home office, writing and revising what I’ve dictated, and editing days are similar. If I’m really into what I’m writing, I’ll have to remind myself to take breaks, eat, exercise… I’ve found if I push myself too hard on one day, my hands will cramp up and force me to take a day off to rest.
Esther Rabbit: What were some major setbacks of this profession?
I think one of the major setbacks of this profession is getting people to take writers seriously. There’s a perception that the only writers who matter are the ones with million-dollar book deals and legions of fans; those of us who don’t have those things aren’t “real writers,” and, therefore, what we do is just a fun hobby.
Closely related to being taken seriously is the fact that there’s so much competition for readers’ time and money. With self-/indie publishing, more people are writing and publishing than ever before, so standing out from the crowd within a genre can be difficult.
Esther Rabbit: What’s your definition of the first draft?
As I mentioned before, I tend to dictate my first drafts. I almost always have a solid idea of where my story should begin, so to me, my first draft is complete when I have a beginning and a middle dictated out.
Ideally, I’ll get the beginning, middle, and end dictated out, but sometimes I’ll hit the climax of a story and am not quite sure if the story should end the way I originally thought it would (and I’ll refer you back to my pantser vs. plotter answer—my characters sometimes have minds of their own).
But if I have the beginning and most of the plot dictated out, I can start going back and clarifying my characters’ voices and motivations with a goal to reaching an end—and that end could be quite different from what I had anticipated when I first came up with the idea.
Esther Rabbit: How do you manage to juggle life and writing?
When I was working full-time, I struggled to find time to write. I’d squeeze in time at night or on lunch hours, but Sunday was usually my reserved writing/editing day, mainly because Sundays were the days I was the least busy.
Weekday evenings were always difficult—I’d stop at the store on the way home or run some other errand, and by the time I’d get home, make dinner, and unwind, I was just too tired to concentrate.
I’m currently not working full-time, so I have more time to write. But I’m still amazed at all the distractions (Netflix! Snacks! Errands! My cat!), so I find myself struggling just as much to focus on writing as I did when I had a forty-hour-plus work week.
I try to maintain my focus by having a designated work space and doing all my errands on one day during the week if possible. Setting deadlines for myself helps as well.
Esther Rabbit: What should readers expect from your next novel?
My next novel will be the fourth and final book in my young adult fantasy series, The Perfects. So far in the series, readers have gotten to know three young women who were childhood friends, but one of them dumped the other two in favor of popularity when they started high school.
A series of strange events set in motion by one of the girls leads them to discover that they are distant family members with magic powers, and they begin to heal their friendship. In the fourth book, the girls band together to deal with a threat to their family and try to right some of the wrongs perpetrated in their town by previous generations.
Esther Rabbit: We all know this industry is full of surprises. Can you share an unexpected experience?
I published my first book, In Your Dreams, in 2012, and made contact with a young book blogger from Mexico who was interested in reviewing my book. Not only did she give the book a good review—which is always nice—but she mentioned in her write-up that In Your Dreams was the first book she had read in English.
I was so honored that something I’d written had connected with someone for whom English was not their native language.
Find Amy here:
Are you in the Writing Industry?
Shoot me an email, I’d love to interview you!
And if you’re a fan of Paranormal Romance, check out Lost in Amber:
“A new Interplanetary Alliance ambassador on an earthbound mission.
A handful of genetically altered humans to be rescued.
Meeting her changed everything.“