Today we’re chatting things up with the am-A-zing Amy Brashear, who’s debut novel, Condemned, will be released in 2017 by Soho Teen. Amy is a fellow writer over at Kick-Butt Kidlit and is represented by Mr. John Cusick at Folio Literary Management. As I’m sure you’re about to find out, Amy is truly a kick-butt writer and an all around gem of a person. You can follow her blog by clicking her image below, and don’t forget to connect with her on Goodreads and Twitter!
Amy Brashear was born in Arkansas and grew up in Southwest Kansas. She is a graduate of the University of Arkansas where she majored in English and played the clarinet in the Razorback Marching Band. Condemned is her debut novel.
Condemned is a retelling of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood from the point of view of Carly, friend to Nancy Clutter.
- First, let’s talk about Condemned! I’m always curious to know what triggered the idea for a story! How did Condemned come about, and which came first—the premise or the main character?
There’s always one question that I ask when I have an idea: what if? Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood has always been one of my favorite books. And growing up in Southwest Kansas I heard about the Clutter murders. Living in the same town (Garden City) that Capote was writing about made it even more real. In In Cold Blood you get a pretty good picture of the murderers, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, but that what if question kept on popping in my head. I always wondered what it was really like for the townspeople and Nancy and Kenyon’s friends. I tried to answer that what if question with Condemned. My main character is named Carly and she is what I imagined a friend would go through living during those months in 1959-1960. The grief, the anger, the fear of the unknown.
- What’s one juicy fact about yourself readers may not already know? And please, provide tons of details!
I played the clarinet in the Razorback Marching Band at the University of Arkansas. It was a lot of work for one credit hour. But it was fun. Once after pregame, I was running off the field and I got hit by Alabama’s head football coach. I had a good bruise on my shoulder. My only ever football injury. Ha! I get hot flashes thinking about that wool uniform during one of the early games of the season.
- What does a writing day look like for you? Do you have any habits or quirks you can share with us?
Staring at the blank screen counts as writing, right? Ha. Lately I’ve been writing in the afternoon. When I sit down to write I like to have something to drink and eat. My ultimate writing crutch is a Coke Icee and a package of almonds. I have a small moleskine notebook for each WIP. I keep all my notes and timeline. I have Scrivener open. I love that program. Now I know I don’t use it to the full potential it offers but it’s prefect for me, someone who likes to write out of order. I’m not really an outliner but I’m getting better. The WIP that I’m working on now I have an outline for. It’s strange because I’ve always been a pantser.
- What do you do when you’re faced with “no-writing-feels”—those days all writers face where we’re certain we’re not meant for this writing-thing?
Lately when I have the “no-writing-feels” I turn on Netflix. I’m working my way through re watching the Psych series. I’m on season 2 if that says anything about having the “no-writing-feels.”
- What’s your favorite writing resource—or the one you simply can’t live without?
Google. Honestly, I remember the time when I would have to write papers and I’d have to go the library. Or Encarta. Do y’all remember that program? I like to write historical fiction and I do a lot of research. For Condemned I spent a lot of time on the newspaper archive website. Seeing articles based on the Clutter case was fantastic from a research standpoint. I can’t live without Google. Usually I have tons of tabs open at once. It’s chaotic.
I have to stop and say I laughed out loud at this part! I haven’t heard the word ENCARTA in *ages* – we’re showing our age, Amy!
- We hear a lot about the intense revisions writers go through with their agents, and then again with their editor once the manuscript has been acquired. Can you share what the revision process is/was like for you and Condemned?
When I signed with John I got to work on revisions right away. I worked on Condemned for a year. Three rounds before he decided it was ready for submission. So far… it has been painless working with an editor.
Okay, Amy’s interview is so good I just have to stop again. As writers we hear a lot about books that were rejected by tons of agents and tons of editors before someone finally took a chance on them and BOOM! — they reach amazing success! Then we want to shout — See! See there! They were wrong! What few people stop to realize though is that during all those rejections, the smart writer was revising, revising, revising. And who knows how many rounds of edits their book went through with the person(s) who “took a chance” on them before being published. What I’m trying to point out is that all those examples of successes that were met with seemingly endless rejections early on, may look little, if anything, like the original rejected manuscript. Never give up, but always revise.
Okay. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
- One of the least written about topics is the submissions process itself. Can you share what that process was like for you once you and your agent decided Condemned was ready? How did you stay sane while on submission?
Condemned went out on submission last summer. It was crazy. I would constantly check my email. Hitting refresh and refresh over and over again. I tried to stay sane but as my family can attest to– I didn’t. Ha! I read a lot. Wrote some. But I was very excited when I got that “I have good news when would be a good time to talk” email from John.
- What were a couple of your biggest surprises about the publishing process itself?
Publishing is slow. I call it the hurry up and wait industry. Ha!
- If you could whisper in the ear of the writer reading this, what ONE piece of wisdom would you share with them?
Writing is different for everyone and that’s okay. Everyone has a different way of doing it. Be you. And don’t get up!
- What’s next for Condemned and its illustrious author?
I’m finishing up the revisions on a 80s YA historical and I recently bought a new mini moleskine notebook for an idea I have. Another YA historical. I would love to write a middle grade one day. I just need the right idea.
I told you she was a gem! There’s a lot of wisdom packed in this one interview! Be sure to give a shout out to Amy on Twitter and follow her blog, if you haven’t already! 😉