Amy Harmon is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Amy knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and she divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story. Her books are now being published in seventeen different languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Levan, Utah.
Amy Harmon has written eleven novels – the USA Today Bestsellers The Bird and The Sword, Making Faces and Running Barefoot, as well as From Sand and Ash, The Law of Moses, The Song of David, Infinity + One, Slow Dance in Purgatory, Prom Night in Purgatory, and the New York Times Bestseller, A Different Blue. Her latest novel, The Queen and The Cure, book two in The Bird and The Sword Chronicles, was released May 9, 2017.
FULL INTERVIEW for Jeri’s Book Attic
1) What is the first book you read that comes to mind?
Why is it so important to you?
The very first book I’ve read? Wow. I don’t know. It was so long ago. I think about Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables fame. She was one of my earliest friends, and I still see her that way. She was smart and passionate and competitive, and she loved words. She had great imagination and great heart, and I wanted to be just like her.
2) What made you start writing books?
As a voracious reader, I was always looking for the kind of books I LOVED to read, romantic, epic love stories, with characters that I could fall in love with. Writing has always been my creative outlet, but writing a novel is daunting. I don’t know what made me take the leap initially—I just remember wanting to see if I could do it. I kept at it, bit by bit, and finally finished, with no idea of what I would do to get it out to the world.
3) How much of you and/or your surroundings is a part of
your stories? Is the influence based on a conscious
decision, or do you periodically recognize yourself
in one of yourcharacters and it wasn’t planned?
I don’t always recognize myself in my characters, but I recognize my voice, my feelings, and my convictions in the paths my characters take and in the plot lines and the dilemmas in which they find themselves. It’s hard to separate the character from the story because I believe the characters ARE the story.
4) What author/actor or musician do you ‘fangirl’ over?
Oh gosh. I would really, really like to meet Brandon Flowers of the Killers. I would really like that. I love his voice and his vibe and I think he’s cute. On second thought, it would probably be better if I never meet him.
I don’t know if I have any authors I fan over. If a book is wonderful, I rarely think of the author at all, which is as it should be. A book should breathe on its own. I want people to love my books. I don’t need them to love me. So it is truly a compliment, as far as I’m concerned, when my books are loved and no one thinks twice about the fact that I wrote them.
I have several actors who I think are delicious and/or fascinating. I would love to see if there is more beneath the surface. Maybe get stranded on an island for a week or two and see what makes them tick. But I’ll keep my fantasies to myself. LOL.
5) What does your perfect writing day look like?
Do you plan when and how long you write,
or does it happen without planning?
My perfect writing day starts early in the morning (ha ha ha) with comfy clothes, a cold diet pepsi, and something to nibble on. Preferably rain and quiet, with maybe a little ambient music on to get me in the zone. No interruptions, nowhere I have to be or no time that I have to stop. That rarely happens. But a girl can dream.
I have four kids and I work from home, so most of the time I just have to commit to sitting my rump down every day and doing my best to hit a word target in between the chaos. I always take a little time off between projects too, just to avoid burn out and to give my family a little more of my attention.
6) What genre is the most intimidating when you think
about writing in it? Explain why!
Historical is the most intimidating because it is so exacting and grueling. You can’t just sit and write when you are writing historical. Everything must be authenticated and researched. It is the hardest writing I’ve ever done.
7) What do you like to do when you are not writing?
What do you think your profession would be
if you were not an author?
I’m a mom, so that takes up so much of my non-writing time. But I love to read (surprise, surprise) and I love music. I used to be a teacher, and I was good at it, so if I wasn’t writing, I would probably still be teaching.
8) What is the most touching reaction you have ever
received from a fan?
There have been a few times when my readers cried upon meeting me. Those times are incredibly humbling, because usually they aren’t crying because of ME, but because I wrote something that touched them deeply, and their tears are an expression of that. That’s always cool.
9) In your opinion, what is the most important
feature a book needs to have?
Soul. No matter the genre, the book needs to have heart and soul, and so many don’t. The soul comes from the characters, and if they are one dimensional stereotypes, the story will be as well.
10) What is the most difficult part of writing a book,
(including the preparations and after-publication-process)?
The hardest thing for me is getting started and being persistent. It is a grind to write a book. It is bliss to finish, but that bliss is short-lived because eventually you have to start again. It’s like this mighty gearing up and then once you have begun, making yourself stick with it and see it through. It’s hard.
11) If you had the chance to influence the questions
people ask you in interviews, what question is the most
annoying and you would love to never hear again?
What question would you really like to answer that you
have not been asked yet, and what is your answer
to that question?
“Where do you get your ideas/inspiration?”
That is the most annoying question. Everyone asks it, and no one really cares what the answer is. The truth is, ideas and inspirations rarely have a definitive source. They are simply a spark that you might not even recognize at the time. That spark triggers a small flame, and suddenly there’s an idea and you’re not even sure where it came from. I liken stories to weaving a tapestry. Thread by thread, the story is built.
I’ve never had anyone ask me what I regret about being an author. Like anything else in life, I’ve made mistakes and missteps along the way. I think my number one regret is that I didn’t use a pen name or a variation of my name. I feel very vulnerable and exposed a lot of the time. Social media is frightening and people try very hard to destroy or harm each other who might have different viewpoints. I don’t feel like I can express myself honestly and must constantly guard what I say and feel because without fail, my opinion won’t be popular with someone, and I’ll get blasted or unfriended or shamed. I don’t like the way people engage with each other in this day and age. The discourse is so ugly.
12) Name three characteristics of your writing style
that are important yet different from other authors.
I tend to write in layers – parables, so to speak – so everything is meaningful. I think that’s why fantasy suits my writing style. I also write in a certain rhythm, and get into a rhythmic flow with the words I choose and discard. I will stay on a paragraph until the tempo of the language resonates with me and with the tone of the story. I also think I put more emphasis on love stories rather than romance, and that sets me apart from some of my contemporaries.
13) Which of your characters seems to be the most
independent, and has taken on a life of their own?
I hope all of them. Truly. If they don’t live and breathe separate from me when I’m done writing a story, I know I haven’t done my job. I do think Bailey Steen has burrowed himself into the hearts of everyone who has read Making Faces. Maybe that has given him more life than the others, simply because he is so loved.
14) Every author probably has a favourite character
they have created. When you look back on the
books you have written, which character would
you like to meet if it were possible to do so?
(name / book) What would be the first
question you would like to ask him/her?
I don’t have a favorite character. I really don’t. I worked so hard to love and give life to every one of them, that I can’t choose. I would, however, love to sit down with Moses and watch him paint. Of all my characters, he was the one who tried the hardest to make me hate him. Luckily, I persisted.
15) What do you want tell your readers at the end
of this interview?
Thank you for reading my stories and caring enough about them, and that you want to read this interview!