Saturday 22 October 2016

When I made my bucket list for 2016, one of the things on there was to start writing a book, but it's now October and I still haven't got round to it. One young lady who managed to do just that and get it published is Amy M. I caught up with her to find out all about her book Mother's Milk, which is filled with a series of gory short stories to do with motherhood and all about the process of it from beginning to end. 

Hi Amy! I managed to read Mother’s Milk in one sitting, it’s definitely like nothing I’ve read before and I couldn’t put it down. What was the inspiration behind it?

"Hi Giana!  To be honest, there was loads of inspiration behind it (none of it based on real life events), so I’ll try and explain it in chronological order. The first story I wrote for the collection was the very first one that appears, "Nutrition", and I got the idea because of a reality magazine headline that read (spoilers) ‘I made my husband into teabags’. For that story, my main goal was to write something that you could re-read and find something new every time. When I took the story to class, my seminar leader recommended me some really great feminist gothic literature and everything snowballed from there! There are certain texts and media which did inspire me greatly though, and still do. the ones which come to mind are Patricia Highsmith's ‘Little book of Misogyny’, ‘The Virgin Suicides’ and ‘The Book of Lost Things’ which is actually a children’s book! I also did a lot of research for windmill poetry (possibly the best mistake I’ve ever made) which inspired ‘Loyalty’, and Edgar Allan Poe is just always there for me. As are all my other favourite gothic writers… 

I also wanted to write about motherhood because I feel like that’s a topic that everyone (even those who aren’t mothers) seem to have an opinion on. I originally wanted the book to look like a kind of handbook, and each story would be an example of how to take care of your child, with each title being a value that we look for in mothers. Lots of ideas were taken from News articles too."

So a lot of work definitely goes on before even writing! What was the process like writing a book? It’s definitely a great achievement to be a published author.

"The book was part of my university degree and I ran with it. I took part in a module called ‘The Book Project’ where I had to write an publish a book on whatever I wanted. As a result, my writing and editing time was quite short- I started writing the stories in late January/early February and had everything finished and edited on the 18th March. The book is self-published, which means that I did everything about the book myself. The cover I made with my friend Gabrielle and my friend Ashley photographed it. I asked my sister Natalie for some help and she provided all the illustrations. With my class I organised a book launch and any marketing or promoting or selling or editing was done by me. Normally, if you went through a publishing house, you would only submit the written words. Then people would do most of the work that I did myself. Most of my help came from close friends, family, and my seminar leader. 

That being said, support has been phenomenal - I got to go on The Hub as well on GBC and that was fantastic. I’ve mostly been working on getting the book to bookshops and selling them myself, but hopefully I can soon start writing again!"

That's great. I've already recommended that my friends buy the book, especially those that are into gore. So I have to ask you, out of all the mini stories in the book which one is your personal favourite? 

"I always find this question really interesting because a lot of the time I normally think about the story of how the story came to be, as opposed to what the actual story is. I think about the process that led to the story because every story is so individual. The answer I normally give is a cross between ‘Loyalty’ and ‘Nutrition’, but for very different reasons. Loyalty is harsher, and definitely more gory- but I’ve had people telling me that they notice new things every time they read nutrition, which is great because that was my intention. It’s very rewarding! The story of how Loyalty came to be is definitely my favourite though, and in all honestly I really like the originality of the windmill."

I'd probably say 'Protection' was a favourite of mine, I wasn't anticipating that ending! Do you have a favourite book of all time? What are you reading now?

"Tough question! at the moment I don’t have much time to read at all due to my course, but the last book I read for pleasure was Probably Neil Gaiman’s Sandman- a very creepy graphic novel, and really highly recommended! I also read ‘The Last of Us’ by Patrick Ness and managed to get a signed copy! I’m still over the moon about that. I’m also listening to Welcome to Night Vale, which I place between a book and TV show as you really have to use your imagination, even though you aren’t reading it if you like slightly creepy, confusing things-check it out, it’s a podcast. As for favourite books- it depends on my mood. I normally do say though: All Quiet on the Western Front (Erich Maria Remarque), Haroun and the Sea of Stories (Salman Rushdie), Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll), and pretty much anything by Neil Gaiman, Franz Kafka and Roald Dahl. I’m also now a big fan of Patricia Highsmith after the book project! As for kids books, I’d recommend Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Percy Jackson and The Book Thief. My favourite picture book was Nothing, and my favourite play is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the NightTime (my favourite musical is In The Heights). I’d say that those have all shaped my writing just as much!"

Thank you for taking the time to chat with me! Do you have any plans for another novel? What advice would you give for anyone wanting to follow in your footsteps and publish their work?

"It’s no problem at all! I’ve loved chatting with you. Thank you so much! I was writing a sequel to Mother’s Milk and working on a bunch of other projects a while ago but it’s been put on the back burner due to current academic studies. That being said, I would really love to write a children’s book and that’s probably where I’ll try focusing my energies soon! Hopefully people will be interested, but then again I’ll probably write it anyway. As for advice, my only real advice is that you should probably ignore everyone’s advice. Some advice is going to work and some isn’t. Just pick and choose what you like! If anything, just make sure that you have a strong group of people around you that you can show your work to have have them criticise it honestly. I had a fantastic seminar leader and some great friends who weren’t embarrassed to point out the flaws in my writing. I was fantastically lucky."

If you'd like to pick up a copy of Amy's book, head on over here

♡ GS ♡

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