I am a poet and mother and sometimes writer/photographer-for-hire. I have two incredible kids and a fine, fine honey. We live in NYC, a city for which we’ve thrown all caution to the wind – uprooting ourselves entirely from the Midwest nearly 8 years ago and for whom we weather craziness like Hurricane Sandy, Nor’easters, and somewhat strangling housing costs.
Why do you write? What got you going?
I write because I’m a writer. I can’t not write. I’m just wired this way. I get a thrill shopping for office supplies and love the feeling of an HB pencil across a nice sheet of paper. I write daily (most of it dreck) and read everything I can get my hands on.
I woke up with the first scene of Lovely, Dark and Deep in my head. Wren was there, her voice clear and ready to lead me through her story. I am so grateful for that! I think she showed up because after the loss of a friend I was having trouble focusing on reading or writing. By following Wren into her woods, I was led out of my own.
Which of your characters is your favourite? How is she or he different from yourself?
Mary is one of my favourites. She is optimistic and sets herself forward no matter what. She differs from me in that while I try to practice “forward” as a philosophy, it’s not native. I tend to spot the negative first. Perhaps Mary does too and that’s why she’s so resolute, I don’t know (maybe she’ll show up again in a story sometime and let me know more about herself in that regard). I have more than a few Mary’s in my life and I’m thankful for every one of them.
Would you like to see your book turned into a movie? Who would play the main characters?
It would be incredible to see Lovely, Dark and Deep made into a movie. The characters felt so real to me at times I would go to Google them as if I could check in on how they were doing. I think having a movie made of your work would be a lot like when you see a movie adaptation of something you read and loved. I would probably cringe at each instance that didn’t match up to what was in my mind’s eye, but then, if the filmmaker and actors put themselves into it, a new thing would arise, the story living again through another medium, another person’s eyes. I think that would be thrilling and fascinating – a kind of relay collaboration with another artist.
How do you balance storytelling with real life? Is there a line somewhere or do your realities get blurred?
I was a complete flop at balancing my real life with Wren’s world. I wrote all day long, took a break for dinner, and went back to it until late. I wasn’t able to write on weekends and I had a distinct sense of falling out of the story and landing with an unsatisfying thud back into the calendar of my regular life. And I have a great life! I have easy-going, interesting kids and a honey who keeps everything rolling when I fly off into another world like that. I wish I could write in a more balanced way, but after working this way for so long I have to accept that this is how it is for me.
If you weren't writing what do you think you'd be doing?
I come from a words/books-oriented family and as a result I didn’t really look at the larger world much beyond the realm of language and the imagination. I often wish I had done. I’m fascinated by neuroscience, the mysterious life of the brain, and the philosophy of consciousness. I love, love the current thinking that most of who we are is conducted by the vast, pre-thought, unconscious mind and then conscious mind comes up with stories in order to maintain our comfortable illusion, “I meant to do that.” Had I some kind of science influence earlier in my life, I might have taken another path entirely.
What was life like for you when YOU were a teen?
I loved and hated being a teenager. I was aware of coming into my powers, leaving behind childhood, but I was also convinced most of the time that I was the only freak like me and that everyone else had it all figured out. I was serious and not much of a joiner. Both qualities not the easiest to peddle in the larger world. And when I was in high school (John Hughes movies, anyone?) there was a far greater emphasis on everyone being alike. This did not work for me. To follow your own path was much higher stake. Now it seems like individuality is prized, which is wonderful. I wish I hadn’t been so blind to the fact most people feel like a secret freak at one time or another. Would have spared me some agony.
What is your favourite tv show? Favourite movie?
Right now I’m utterly sucked into Homeland. It’s so well done. The writing is tight, marvellous and feels like life in that people are conflicted, flawed, and trying hard to do what they think they need to do. Claire Danes and Damien Lewis totally earn their acting awards. I love it. We’re also caught up with Suburgatory. My hands-down favourite television show is the all-too-brief Arrested Development. 30Rock still makes us laugh.
I rarely meet a movie I don’t like, and favourites include the incredibly violent, but funny Kick-Ass, Rushmore, In Bruges – another violent one, but so well-acted. My daughter and I just saw and really enjoyed The Perks of Being a Wallflower and before that Moonrise Kingdom.
Is there a Y.A. novel you wish YOU wrote?
There are many I admire. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey tops the list. John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is masterful. I really liked Peter Cameron’s Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You as well as Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Morgan Matson’s Second Chance Summer is so dead-on and powerful at the end I had to lie still awhile after reading it. Nina LaCour’s truthful Hold Still. The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont, which wasn’t marketed as YA but is entirely about teens, is so beautifully written I couldn’t put it down.
What advice would you give your teen readers about life?
Open your eyes wide and your heart wider. Err on the side of being generous, truly generous, expecting nothing in return. You’ll never regret it. Control is overrated; the most interesting bits take you by surprise and show up in the overlooked places.
Thank you for sharing with us, Amy! Find out more about Amy and her book Lovely, Dark and Deep below:
Since the night of the crash, Wren Wells has been running away. Though she lived through the accident that killed her boyfriend Patrick, the girl she used to be didn’t survive. Instead of heading off to college as planned, Wren retreats to her father’s studio in the far-north woods of Maine. Somewhere she can be alone.
Then she meets Cal Owen. Dealing with his own troubles, Cal’s hiding out too. When the chemistry between them threatens to pull Wren from her hard-won isolation, Wren has to choose: risk opening her broken heart to the world again, or join the ghosts who haunt her.
Find it on IndieBound, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Barnes & Noble.
Or add it to your Goodreads list.
About the author:
Amy McNamara is the author Lovely, Dark, and Deep (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) and a manuscript of poems, the new head chronometrist. Her poems appear in a wide variety of literary journals and have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is married to the artist Doug McNamara and they live in New York City with their two children.
Find her on her official website, blog, Twitter (@amynkmcn), Facebook, and Goodreads.