Amanda’s passion for books, reading and writing started at a very early age and she is now pursuing that passion, writing fiction full time. Paper Roses, the first in Amanda’s Texas Dreams Trilogy has garnered some lovely reviews and I’m sure Amanda’s stories will be around for a long time to come.
Over to you, Amanda:~
Your first pet’s name?
Ginger. He – yes, despite the name, he was a male – was a blond Cocker spaniel, my family’s first pet.
Your best friend’s name in primary (elementary) school?
That would be my younger sister Cathie. She was always there as my best friend and confidante, the one person who knew my dreams.
I have to admit that that varies by the day. Today’s candidate is author Penelope J. Stokes. I’ve enjoyed her books, particularly her World War II trilogy, and would like to meet the person who created such memorable characters.
If you were stranded on a desert island what one object would you want with you? (Besides your Bible of course)
Since you said I could only have an object, not a person (in which case it would be my husband), I’d choose a laptop. Not an ordinary laptop but one that’s solar powered and has unlimited storage space, so that I could write. Oh, what’s that? There are no solar-powered, unlimited-storage laptops? I guess I’d better not get stranded on a desert island!
What’s your favourite ice cream flavour?
Strawberry sorbet. It’s so easy to make and oh, so delicious.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer. Even though I somehow knew (and don’t ask how I knew this, because I can’t answer it) that it would be a difficult way to earn a living, that was always my dream. The dream came true right before my thirtieth birthday with the sale of a short contemporary romance. I learned two things from that sale: first, that writing was not the way to pay the mortgage but, more importantly, that it was something I truly loved doing. From then until about five years ago, I wrote part-time while I worked fulltime. Other than the long hours, it was a perfect blend of practicality (the day job) and dreams (the writing). Now I’m a fulltime writer.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Greece. I’ve done a lot of traveling, both for leisure and as part of my day job, but that’s one place that I haven’t visited, even though it’s always intrigued me. I studied the classics in high school and think it would be wonderful to see the Parthenon and cruise the Greek islands. Someday, maybe I’ll get there, and then – who knows? – I may write a book or two with Greek settings.
Besides God, who has influenced you the most?
The honor goes to two of my high school teachers. One was an English teacher and advisor for the yearbook staff who believed in my writing and encouraged me to pursue it. The second was a Science teacher who taught me that almost anything is possible if you set a goal and work toward it.
What’s your favourite book?
Growing up, my favorite book was Little Women, and I’m still drawn to it for its portrait of a difficult era in American history. I admire Louisa May Alcott’s skill in blending humor with decidedly serious subjects and her portrayal of the four very different March sisters.
What part of your daily routine do you enjoy most?
Answering fan mail. It’s wonderful to hear from readers and to learn what the liked (and didn’t like) about my books. On a good day, the likes outnumber the dislikes.
What’s your favourite movie?
It’s an oldie: Charade. Besides being a fan of Audrey Hepburn (elegance personified!), I love the juxtaposition of comedy with the mystery. Then there’s the Parisian setting. And the music. And … well, you get the idea.
Where’s the most interesting place you have been?
Singapore. When I first learned that I was going there on a business trip, I was less than thrilled by the prospect. That was before I did some research and learned that it was an absolutely fascinating place, not just a shopping haven (although that was definitely an attraction, since I was scheduled to visit in early December and could do my Christmas shopping there) but also a wonderfully cosmopolitan city with four different cultures.
Most of the trip was predictably boring business, but I did have some memorable experiences, particularly on the second weekend I was there. As a tea drinker, I had what I describe as the perfect day. It started with a Chinese tea ceremony. You know the kind: take off your shoes, sit on the floor, sip tea and eat delicious food, all the while listening to soft, relaxing music. I never wanted to leave, but shopping beckoned. Shopping was interspersed with iced tea at (don’t laugh) McDonalds. The culmination was English high tea at the venerable Raffles hotel. Think scones, finger sandwiches, tiny cakes and strong English tea. It was a truly delightful day. Of course, the next afternoon I broke my foot, but that’s another story.
While Singapore was the most interesting place I’ve visited, the prize for most unusual goes to Carhenge. If you’ve never heard of it (and few people have), it’s a site in western Nebraska where an enterprising family attempted to recreate Stonehenge by burying old cars in the ground. Since seeing is believing, I’ve attached a picture.
What’s your most fervent prayer?
That I may use the talents God has given me to His glory.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Would you count it brave to swim with the dolphins in Florida and snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef when you’re deathly afraid of deep water? The truth is, I don’t think I’m a very brave person.
What gift have you received that you will always treasure?
My paternal grandmother had very little money, but she wanted each of her grandchildren to have something special. In my case, it was a vase that had been in her family for years. I’ve never put flowers in it, because I’m afraid something might happen to it, but I used it as the inspiration for Sarah’s birthday present in Paper Roses.
What is your favourite Bible verse (or “one” of your favourites) and what does it mean to you?
Although there are others that I turn to at various times, Joshua 1:9 is the one that brings me the most comfort, for it reminds me that God is with me, no matter what happens, no matter where I go.
Why historical romance as opposed to other genres?
Although I’ve written both contemporary and historical fiction, I have to admit to a strong preference for tales of days gone by. I love fiction because of its ability to transport us out of the here-and-now into a different world, and what’s more different than an earlier time? I also love learning about (and writing about) different eras, seeing how the social constraints of the time influenced characters.
Please describe your main characters with one word
What characteristics did you want Sarah to have most?
Though she hasn’t been physically strong since the riding accident, I viewed Sarah as a woman with great inner strength and courage. After all, it took courage, strength and determination to travel thousands of miles to marry a stranger, to care for her young sister, to overcome the town’s prejudices and to seek the identity of Austin’s killer.
How prevalent was the tension between the German and French settlers as depicted in your story?
Since most of the Hill Country was settled by Germans, the tension between them and the French was minimal — mostly because there weren’t many French immigrants. But Castroville, the one town that was founded by settlers from Alsace, did have tension between the two groups. (Portions of the founder’s journals that are available online confirm this.) I used the fact of Castroville’s existence to create my fictional town of Ladreville, and I exaggerated the conflict for dramatic reasons. Still, having lived in both France and Germany and seeing the historical enmity between the two countries, I don’t doubt that the tension could have been even greater than what I depicted.
Your second Texas Dreams novel releases in March, 2010 ~ a sneak peek, please?
As part of the titling process, my publisher asked me to describe the book in two sentences. For someone who’s hard-pressed to stay within word count limits, that was a challenge, but here’s what I wrote for them.
All her life, Priscilla Morton has longed for adventure, and so she heads for Texas, never dreaming that the adventure will leave her alone, badly injured and dependent on a handsome rancher who reminds her of her worst nightmare. Zachary Webster knows he’ll never marry, for that would involve admitting the biggest mistake of his life, but how can he refuse to help Priscilla, even if she’s a reminder of his sin?
(You’ll note that those were two rather long sentences.)
All three books are set in the same fictional Texas town and feature characters who are introduced in the previous book. Since one of the things that annoys me as a reader is having to read books in order, I’m careful to have each of mine – even when they’re part of a series – stand alone.
What is in your writing pipeline now?
As I write this, I’m putting the finishing touches on the third of the Texas Dreams books. This one is tentatively titled Tomorrow’s Garden and is scheduled for publication in March 2011.
I recently signed a contract for a trilogy set during World War One, and I’m currently working on a proposal for three books set in Wyoming. I’m excited about both of these projects. The WWI series features men and women who stayed home but were nonetheless involved in the war. That’s why my proposed series name is Home Front.
As for the Wyoming books, I’m looking forward to introducing readers to my adopted home. Although most people have only vague impressions of Wyoming, its nickname is “The Equality State” for good reason. It was the first to give married women the right to own property in their own name. It was also the first to grant women suffrage and to allow them to serve on juries. The list of “firsts” goes on, but if I tell you everything, there won’t be a story left.
Thanks so much, Amanda ~ it sounds like you have some fabulous books to look forward to.
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