Thanks for joining us today, Amalie!
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’re currently working on or promoting.
My most recent publication is A Straw Man, the final book in The Clay Lion Series. Each of the books in the young adult series is a stand-alone book relating to specific ramifications of time travel as well as coming-of-age issues many teens face. The first deals with the death of a loved one, the second with adoption, and I choose to tackle addiction in this third novel, A Straw Man.
I believe there is a lot of misconception about addiction as a disease and that many people wrongly assume they don’t have the potential for addictive tendencies. What I hoped to convey in the story is that unforeseen circumstances can lead to misguided decisions, but instead of treating addicts as criminals, we need to treat them as patients who need our care and understanding. Addiction is typically triggered by a catalyst, and I think we need to do better as a society to identify those triggers and prevent addiction before it starts through preventative treatment and counseling.
If you could have a conversation with one person living or dead who would it be?
I’d like to speak with my grandfather on my dad’s side, who died before I was born. I’d like to get to know him – to see how who he was shaped my father into who he became and eventually who I became as well. I’d like to know what parts of me come from him.
Is there a theme/message underlying your work that you hope comes across?
Because I write for young adults, I think the major underlying theme in each of my books is that you are not alone. Adolescents spend an unfathomable amount of time worrying that they aren’t going to fit in or that no one has ever experienced what they’re going through. I like to show teenagers, through my stories, that their experiences and feelings are somewhat universal and in the end, it’s all going to be okay.
If you could be any character in literature, who would you choose to be?
Easy one – I want to be Lucy Pevencie from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. She believes when no one else dares to imagine what could be true, and she gets to have tea with Mr. Tumnus before eventually saving Aslan and becoming a queen of Narnia. What could be better than that?
Pirates or ninjas, and why?
Pirates, no doubt. I’ve been a competitive swimmer my entire life and love the water. I think I’d be a great pirate! I wouldn’t even be afraid of walking the plank. Also, in the interest of full-disclosure, I’m a bit clumsy, so I think stealthy ninja would be out.
What is your number one pet peeve when it comes to writing/reading books?
I’d love more time for both. I do a lot of my “reading” by listening to audio in the car or while I’m running errands. Unfortunately, I can’t truly “write” while grocery shopping, although my mind is always going, and I have scads of plot notes and character analysis scribbled on the back of grocery lists and napkins!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t consider myself a “writer,” for truly, anyone who conveys ideas and feelings through the written word is a writer. I think I considered myself an “author” when I completed my first full-length manuscript. It was the culmination of a life-long dream.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I actually have quite a few writers who I know personally and consider “mentors,” and each of them have assisted me in different aspects of my publication journey. There are several who have been instrumental in teaching me about advertising and marketing, the business side of the industry, as it were. And there are others who were there to pull me out of the proverbial pit of despair, when I was ready to throw in the towel early on. After my very first poor review, many years ago, I was devastated. I wasn’t prepared for how bad it hurts when someone tells you what you’ve written isn’t good enough. I cried. I ate ice cream. And eventually I turned to my wonderful friend Melodie Ramone (author of After Forever Ends) for advice.
She told me writing a book is like preparing food for a dinner party in which I have invited the whole world – and I’m serving meatloaf. Now some people love meatloaf and will love my meatloaf, and they will sing my praises from the rooftops. And some people may have never tried meatloaf and will end up liking my mother’s recipe. And others won’t, because maybe they like their mother’s recipe better. And the vegetarians will be there, and of course, they’ll hate the meatloaf. And all of these partygoers are entitled to their opinions about my meatloaf, but the reality is, nothing anyone says really has any bearing on whether my meatloaf is good or bad – it’s simply about people’s specific tastes. If someone doesn’t like my meatloaf, it isn’t necessarily because my meatloaf is bad. It may just be that they prefer steak. Or tofu. Or bananas. And you can’t please everybody, so there’s no reason to even try. I think of this advice all the time and try to remember that I’m writing for the meatloaf lovers!
Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?
Thank you!! Always thank you!! Without the support of fans, what would be the point? Words on the page are meaningless without someone to enjoy reading them!
Would you rather have one giant bestseller or a long string of moderate sellers?
I’ll go with a string of giant bestsellers. 😉
Do you think a writer should write every day?
Yes. Absolutely. And I’d like to practice what I preach, but the truth is, I don’t. I can’t. I wear many hats, and I tend to run my life like the triage desk at the emergency room – the stuff that’s most critical gets done first, and a lot of times there’s quite a line in front of writing!
What five words would you use to describe yourself?
Tell us something about yourself that few people know.
My body is covered in scars from where precancerous lesions have been excised over the years. It’s not pretty, but when I look at myself in the mirror, I’m reminded that each scar is a place that had the potential to kill me but didn’t. I’ll take scars over death any day. 😉
Give us one piece of sage advice on writing, relationships, or life in general.
I’ll give you a piece of advice that covers all three – BE KIND! I’ve found that no matter what I’m doing, regardless of the capacity, whether it be as an author, a wife, a mother, or a stranger on the street, the best thing to do in any situation is to be kind. It’s free and it just might change someone’s life. Probably yours most of all.
Poetry that rhymes or poetry that doesn’t—which do you prefer?
I love them both, but there’s something extra special about prose that is lyrical through rhyme. Maybe it’s all the Dr. Seuss I read growing up!
What question didn’t I ask that you wish I had?
You didn’t ask about my favorite food, which is a tie between avocados and blackberries. Now you know.
Please share your social media links with us, including where the book(s) may be purchased:
Thanks so much for joining us, Amalie. Please keep us posted on your latest developments.
A Straw Man
What if you could go back in time to save the person you love the most?
Nate’s funny. He’s a football player. He’s ridiculously handsome. In fact, it seems as if Melody’s dating the perfect guy, until an unexpected tragedy changes everything about him.
Based on her own family’s experiences, Melody knows traveling in time to help him could have disastrous results – the tiniest alteration of the past can have huge repercussions on the future. But with careful planning, she’s confident her trip will be a success.
What she doesn’t anticipate is that sometimes there are consequences which can never be foreseen and changes that can never be undone.
SPRING SEMESTER – SECOND YEAR
I picked up the last card from the stack and placed the three of hearts on the four of spades and the ten of diamonds on the Jack of clubs. One by one, each of the cards found a home on top of its designated suit until four neat piles topped with kings lay on the end table beside me. It had taken me seven tries and the better part of an hour to finish one complete round of solitaire.
“Finally,” I said with a burst of relief, readjusting my position as I slid my feet from beneath me back onto the floor so I could turn my attention to Nate.
In the chair on my left, he continued sleeping peacefully. His head was tucked into his chest and a trickle of drool pooled at the corner of his lips. My instinct was to wipe it away, but I knew better than to disturb him. With the stress of the night on top of everything else, there was only one explanation for how he was able to nod off so quickly while the rest of us remained steadfast in our vigil. And although I would have welcomed his company, I could not deny him respite, especially when for him sleep was such a precious commodity.
It had been a difficult year for the two of us. Nothing had been the same since the accident in September, the night Nate changed forever. As I listened to his shallow breathing, it brought me comfort to know that despite his struggles, he was still beside me, even if it was only because I couldn’t bring myself to give up on him. He was a whisper of the man I’d fallen in love with our first year, but as I turned to gaze at him, snoring softly through parted lips, there was still a glimmer of the man he used to be. Most nights, even sleep didn’t offer relief from the burden of his guilt. I worried for him, although I was out of ideas for ways to help.
His path of self-destruction seemed to have no end.
After suffering for three consecutive hours on the uncomfortable waiting room chair, I stretched my arms above my head and worked at relieving the fatigue in my joints. As I glanced around at my family, it felt selfish to be thinking only of Nate when they were also in need of prayer. The middle of the night phone call from my brother Charlie had been filled with both frantic exuberance and fear. Today would be a big day for him. And for his wife, Brooke. And for me too, I supposed.
Brooke’s mother rested awkwardly under the crook of her husband’s arm. Their eyes were closed but they weren’t asleep. My mom stared blankly at the pages of an outdated magazine, but I hadn’t seen her turn a page in over half an hour. She chewed the tip of her thumbnail nervously, humming softly to herself. For everyone’s sake, I hoped we wouldn’t need to wait much longer to find out what was going on in the ward beyond the double doors.
My stomach growled. The clock on the wall indicated the sun would soon be rising, but there was no natural light in the waiting room, only the harsh glare of the fluorescents overhead. I had just decided to set off for the vending machine around the corner for a donut when Charlie burst through the doors wearing ill-fitting scrubs and a smile that stopped my heart.
Everyone was suddenly wide awake.
“It’s a girl!” he cried.
In one swift motion, we crossed the room to him, swept up in the emotion of the moment. Mom wrapped him in her arms, and as tears built in her eyes, the tightness in her jaw released.
“And she’s fine? She’s going to be okay?” Brooke’s mother asked.
“They’re both fine,” he replied excitedly. “They had to take her via cesarean, as we expected because of the placement of the placenta, so Brooke’s gonna have a longer recovery. But the baby, even five weeks premature…” He trailed off, a small smile playing at his lips. “She’s itty-bitty but she’s perfect.”
Brooke’s father squeezed Charlie’s shoulder affectionately. “So when am I going to get to meet this new granddaughter of mine?”
He shook his head and ran his fingers through his tousled hair. “I don’t know quite yet. Brooke’s been moved to recovery, and they’ve taken the baby to the NICU just to run some tests and make sure everything’s okay. She came out screaming and her APGAR was a nine, so as long as she doesn’t need any help breathing, it shouldn’t be too long before you can go back.”
It didn’t surprise me how natural talking about all the baby stuff seemed for Charlie. He’d been a father figure to me long before our father’s death, acting as my supportive male role model for as long as I could remember. When he announced Brooke’s pregnancy to the family in the fall, everyone else seemed relieved that they had finally decided to start a family. But unlike the others, I was glad they waited a few years into their marriage, giving them more time together as a couple before becoming parents. Both of them had been pushed to grow up too fast too soon, with Brooke’s younger brother Branson’s untimely death and the unusual circumstances surrounding Charlie’s adoption.
But now, after witnessing how attentive he’d been to Brooke throughout the pregnancy, I was certain that it was finally the right time for him to become a father to his own little girl.
I approached my brother, locking eyes with the person I admired most in the world. “So, are you going to tell us now, finally?”
“Tell you what?” he replied playfully, nudging me in the arm.
I smiled at him. “It’s time for you to tell us what you’ve decided to name her. We’ve waited long enough.”
My demand was bolstered by a chorus of agreement from the others, including Nate who had sidled up beside me.
He welled up at the request and bit at his bottom lip to keep the tears at bay.
“It was Brooke’s idea, if it was a girl… she wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
We waited patiently for him to continue.
“We’re naming her Victoria,” he said finally, “after my mother.”