Author Interview: Amy Lynch

Welcome back once again for a chance to visit with another wonderful author.  Tonight, Amy Lynch has joined us from Wicklow, Ireland.  Amy, why don’t you get us started with a little about yourself, and where you come from?

  • I’m a wife and mother of two young children. I also have two large rescue dogs, Bella and Roly, who stare at me until they get a walk every evening. It beats the gym! I have been working in the charity sector for over twelve years. I’m currently working in a children’s charity.
  • [What you’ll see on her books and website]
    AUTHOR BIOAmy Lynch is an Irish author of humorous romantic women’s fiction, but not always with fairy tale endings! She has been working in the charity sector for many years, is married and has two young children. When she is not writing, she can be found juggling school runs, packing lunch boxes, tackling the laundry mountain and walking two large rescue dogs who stare at her until she walks them. Talk about multi-tasking!

    Her debut novel ‘Bride Without a Groom’ is a laugh out loud Bridezilla comedy, and
    will be published by Avon, Harper Collins in May 2015. Amy has published articles in Women’s Way, TV Choice Magazine, Sunday Times, and The Irish Examiner. She is represented by literary agent, Frank Fahy.

Do you remember what sparked off your interest to write, and what started your book?

  • I began writing in primary school. A particular teacher really encouraged me to write – I was eight, and she would ask me to stand up on a chair and read my stories aloud. When the class laughed at the funny bits, it gave me a thrill. She then gave me a notebook and said “you have a lot to say, Amy, you should write it down.” Then again, I am a chatterbox, so she may have been telling me to be quiet!My dad gave me a love of reading, which in turn made me want to write. He would read to my sister and I at night – mostly Roald Dahl, who was my favourite author as a child. I love funny books, and have fond memories of my dad reading ‘Matilda’ and ‘The Magic Finger’ and laughing out loud. I loved the illustrations by Quentin Blake, and now I read the same books to my children, who also love them.
  • My interest in writing definitely stems from the stories I read aloud at school, and the positive response I got from them. Writing is something I put on the back burner when I perused a career in the charity sector, but came back to as a hobby. I feel now that I’m doing something I’m good at.
  • OK, confession time! ‘Bride Without A Groom’ is about a woman desperate to get married. When my long suffering husband and I were together for four years, I was quite insistent on getting married. The hints were flying around like you wouldn’t believe. I was the one accidentally-on-purpose directing him past jeweller’s windows and pointing frantically to the sparklers! Every weekend was spent at bridal showers and wedding fairs. Thankfully, I didn’t go to the extremes that Rebecca does in ‘Bride without a groom’, such as booking a honeymoon and a priest before a proposal! However, I’ll be honest and admit that I had the poor man’s head well and truly melted, so I guess you could say this is where the inspiration for the first novel came from.
  • OK, confession time! ‘Bride Without A Groom’ is about a woman desperate to get married. When my long suffering husband and I were together for four years, I was quite insistent on getting married. The hints were flying around like you wouldn’t believe. I was the one accidentally-on-purpose directing him past jeweller’s windows and pointing frantically to the sparklers! Every weekend was spent at bridal showers and wedding fairs. Thankfully, I didn’t go to the extremes that Rebecca does in ‘Bride without a groom’, such as booking a honeymoon and a priest before a proposal! However, I’ll be honest and admit that I had the poor man’s head well and truly melted, so I guess you could say this is where the inspiration for the first novel came from.

If you’re making confessions, does that mean there’s a story behind the title, or that you’ve used your own experiences to write the book?

  • At first, the novel was titled I do, I really Do.  I don’t know where that came from! However, when the manuscript was complete and edited, I had a conversation with my agent. We decided that ‘Bride Without a Groom’ was a catchy, fun title, and stuck with that.
  • I had certain mini bridezilla tendencies, and certainly came across some bridezillas in my wedding planning days! I’m like a magpie, taking funny anecdotes from my own life, and those of friends. I exaggerate them and add a dollop of imagination. Like the phrase goes “careful, or you’ll end up in my novel!”

So, there is definitely an element or two of reality woven into your work?

  • Some readers have come back to me saying ‘I’m so like Rebecca!’ meaning that they think that the book is realistic, and that have planned their weddings before their partners have even proposed. Some women even admit that they have been thinking about their perfect weddings since they were a little girl. However, thankfully, most don’t go to the extremes that Rebecca does.

Going back to your early days, do you have any favorite authors who you’ve looked up to as you began writing?

  • As I mentioned, I adored Roald Dahl as a young child, and have passed that love onto my children.When I was a teenager, I read Alex Garland’s ‘The Beach’ and it was the first time I remember thinking that a book could be un-put-downable! I think I stayed up all night reading it. The fast pace had me hooked.
  • Bestselling Irish author Claudia Carroll has taken me under her wing, and has really helped me towards getting published. As one of the most popular writers in the women’s fiction genre, I approached her for advice when I was pitching an agent. She very kindly wrote the blurb for the front cover, which reads: “Fantastic! Punchy, to the point, and full of energy. Exactly the kind of book I’d take on holidays with me.” Now, I’m signed to the same publisher as her, and one day I’d like to pay it forward with an up and coming author in the same genre.
  • I find Sophie Kinsella (author of the Shopaholic series) absolutely hilarious. Sophie has that amazing ability to take a flawed character, and make her lovable, despite her faults. The reader just falls in love with Becky and her adventures, and roots for her all the way.

Wow, that is awesome.  Since you’re with a publisher, I know some of the rules change.  Do you have any news you can share with us, or pieces from your current project?

  • Avon, Harper Collins will publish my debut in May 2015 – Bride Without a Groom. It’s a Bridezilla comedy, set in Dublin, Ireland.
  • Bride Without a Groom is the first in a series of novels that follows the hilarious life of the self-absorbed but lovable character Rebecca. The next novel Does My Bump Look Big In This? Is currently being edited, and I hope to release this next year [2016]. In this second book, we see Rebecca coming to terms with her journey into motherhood, hormones, mood swings and all. The third book in the series is in progress also, and sees Rebecca packing in her job to become a stay at home mum – challenging when her little darlings are quite the handful!

That’s quite a schedule.   Now that you’ve started the author’s journey, do you look back at a point in time, and think to yourself, “there!  That’s when I took the first step to where I am now.  That’s when I became a writer.”?

  • When my children were born, I needed something to do in the evenings – something stimulating, with adult conversation! My husband suggested a creative writing class, and soon enough, what started out as a hobby turned into a compulsion – I started writing every day, getting stronger and more confident. Some days, I only write for half an hour between making the children’s school lunch and collapsing in front of the TV. Other days, I can write without stopping, and when I look at my watch, hours have passed.  The commitment of going to the writing class meant that I could share my work and learn from constructive criticism. Then, I wrote short stories for magazines to build up my exposure. Seeing my name in print was a thrill, and that’s when I considered myself a writer.I knew that I’d stand a far greater chance at getting my novels published if I secured a literary agent, so I persisted until finally one said that he would take a chance on me! We then self-published ‘Bride Without A Groom’ to build up reviews and show the publishers that we meant business! Months later, I signed a book deal with Avon, Harper Collins.

Has the need for adult conversation influenced the way your writing style developed, or do you think it comes from when you were younger?

  • George RR Martin was once quoted as saying “There are architects and gardeners. Architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up.”I definitely fit into the architect box! When I first started writing, I simply blurted it all out on the page without direction. When I read it back, I realised something that something was missing, so I had to thread a sub-plot through the entire manuscript. It was like taking the scenic route, rather than the more efficient, time-saving route. For my second book, I laid down the bones of the book – simply one paragraph for each of the thirty chapters. I then simply added flesh to the bones. Needless to say, the second book was far easier to write, so now I know which method works best for me!

::Chuckles::  And know that is half the battle, I swear.  Along the way to where you are now, have you had outside support on your journey?

  • I pray, I have faith, and I believe that hard work will be rewarded. Life is unpredictable – losing my dad very suddenly and unexpectedly just over two years ago taught me that. When the bottom falls out of your world, you learn to hold onto what really matters, like family, health and following dreams.

Speaking of following dreams, have you found any new authors to catch your attention, or do old favorites still claim  the place of honor on your nightstand?

  • I attended the launch of Claudia Carroll’s twelvth book ‘Meet Me in Manhattan’ and picked up a signed copy. I’m halfway through it – it’s light and funny, exactly the kind of thing I like to read at bedtime.
  • Although Jojo Moyes isn’t a new author, I’ve only just discovered her. I finished ‘Me before you’ in record breaking time, and loved it.

Since you like to read on the lighter side, does that mean you weave lighter messages into your work for your readers to find?

  • [Not always.  In Bride Without a Groom] the message is forgiveness. Rebecca is a strong lead character. She’s bossy, and determined to get married. She takes things so far that her long suffering boyfriend is forced to take a break from the incessant pushing, and goes on a business trip having doubts about their relationship. The reader wonders: will Barry forgive Rebecca? Meanwhile, however, Barry is not exactly a saint, and his head is turned by a colleague on the business trip. The reader then wonders if Rebecca will forgive Barry. I wont say any more in case I spoil the ending!

Has writing become your career?

  • Most definitely. When I was signed by Harper Collins recently, I made it my goal that one day I’ll have writing as my day job, rather than trying to squeeze it all in around work and kids! I’d love to drop the children to school, turn the car around, put a pot of coffee on and thrash out a couple of thousand words before school pick up.

Sounds like a wonderful plan.  And, it sounds like you’re well on your way to achieving it. What issues have you encountered, and learned from along the way to where you are now?

  • I was lucky – I self-published ‘Bride Without a Groom’ and was able to take feedback from readers and improve the book. I then, with the help of my editor, made the main character a lot more likeable, and a little vulnerable. Rebecca volunteers in the animal shelter, and is less self-absorbed! I think the reader will find the manuscript stronger because of these changes.
  • While writing ‘Bride Without a Groom’ I learned how to write a character based story rather than a plot driven story. You see, Rebecca, the main character of the novel, has such a strong personality and a very loud voice. She whispers funny ideas at midnight when I’m falling asleep, and I jot them down with a pen and pad on my bedside locker, because she won’t simmer down until I do. In between laundry piles, school runs and a full day in the office, I find time for writing before collapsing into bed. Sometimes I wonder if Rebecca lives inside my brain, dictating the manuscript to me, and I am just her exhausted typist. To me, it is as if she is a real person.

Interesting.  I’ve listened to my readers (and characters) as well, and agree – they can help improve a work.  During the writing phase of your book, what would you say was your biggest challenge in getting your stories completed?

  • Lack of time! Until someone invents a time machine, I’m stuck with just 24 hours in my day.Like everyone, life is busy. I work part-time, there are endless laundry piles, lunchboxes to fill and two dogs staring at me, desperate for a walk. However, I strongly believe that if you really want something, you make time for it. As the old phrase goes, “find a job you love, and you’ll never work again.” For me that job is writing, and although it takes up a lot of my time, it doesn’t feel like work.
  • The toughest thing about writing is the lack of time, as I mentioned above. I have yet to experience writer’s block, but I know that this is something that all writers face at one point in their careers. Usually when I sit down to write, it comes to me faster than I can type it, which is great. For me, eight o’clock in the evening is writing time. The kids are asleep and the house is quiet. My husband is very supportive. If I’m trying to finish a chapter on the weekend, he will sometimes take the kids off to the playground, and come back an hour later to find a more relaxed me! That’s why the dedication reads: “To Eoin. Sorry about all the burnt dinners, darling. As you can see, I’ve been a little busy…”

::Chuckles::  I’m so glad you said that.  I’ll agree it can be a bit annoying needing to be in five places at once.  Often, the feeling comes along when I’m working on the visual side of a project.  Did you have to develop the cover yourself, or did you work with others?  (and save some of that precious time along the way)

  • The fantastic team at Harper Collins designed the cover, and I think they did a brilliant job. They were aiming for bold and striking, and they nailed it!

And the big question of the day:  What advice would you pass on to other, newer, writers?

  • Persistence! The world is filled with talented authors, but in order to succeed you also need persistence, and I think that drive is what really gets you to your goal. I finish projects that I start, and I keep knocking on doors until someone answers. I’m like those annoying contestants on the XFactor that keep coming back year after year until they catch a break, refusing to take no for an answer.Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ is a wonderful read. It’s part biography, part writing tips. One of the recommendations is to write one thousand words a day. This may seem hard to achieve when you’re drowning in a sea of paperwork, kids and chores, but for me it’s important to make time for writing.  Some days I can write for hours when the kids are at school, losing track of time. Other days I can squeeze in thirty minutes before I need to dash off on the school run. That’s fine. It’s all about flexing that writing muscle – some days it gets a great cardio workout and other days it gets a little shuffle around the block. Little by little, you feel your skills sharpening and your confidence growing.

 

Thank you Amy for coming over to visit.  Before I wrap this up, any last words for our readers?

  • Life is too short for dull books! I’m fickle, so if a book doesn’t hook me straight away, I give up by about chapter three. Choose something that absorbs you, takes you away from the real world, or makes you laugh.

I’ll try to remember that.

Folks, that all the time we’ve got today.  If you enjoyed the interview, and wish to connect with Amy, you can find her on her WebsiteFacebook, Amazon, and Twitter.

If you would like to get a copy of Bride Without a Groom, you can head over to Amazon, and pick up a copy Here.

 

If you enjoyed the interview, and wish me to host one for you, please stop by my Offered Services page, and send me a submission.  I’ll get back to you soonest to discuss details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
ABOUT THE BOOK

Rebecca has chosen the most luscious, five tiered, wedding cake. The engagement ring that she has selected is celebrity inspired. The wedding singer is on speed dial. He doesn’t usually do Michael Bolton, but as it’s for a first dance he’ll make an exception. Father Maguire is checking dates for the parish church as we speak. The deposit on the white sand honeymoon is paid for in full on Barry’s card. She has fallen for an ivory lace couture gown that is to die for. The down payment may require her to sell a left kidney, but it will be worth it. Isn’t that why you have two?

There’s one teeny tiny problem. It’s nothing, really. No need to panic! It’s just that Barry has yet to propose. Says he’s not ready! He can be a bit of a kill joy that way. In fact, he’s gone away on a business trip and says that he needs some space. Meanwhile, Barry’s tie loosens, the Tiger beer is flowing, and his colleague Shelley is providing more than a shoulder to cry on.

Back in Dublin, Rebecca worries, putting Operation Win Back Barry into action. But who is the mysterious dark haired woman that is so keen to talk to her, and what is it that Barry wants to get off his chest?

Published by Harper Collins, Ebook 99p, paperback £7.50

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