I have a flurry of author interviews and posts coming throughout March and I'm delighted to kick things off with the fab Amy Blythe!
Here we go...
Amy Blythe lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, with her husband, two kids, and one enormous fluffy cat. She’s a High School English teacher by day (and sometimes night), and writes whenever she gets the chance.
Author: Amy Blythe
Series: Have Heart Will Travel, Book 1
Genre: Romantic Comedy
List Price: 12.99
eBook Price: 4.99
Meet Jean: a nanny with a plan… that just went out the window of a taxi cab headed for Heathrow. So long, London! Bonjour, Paris! …is the sum total of Jean’s French, but her maths is fine and this apartment does not have enough bedrooms. Jean has a brilliant nannying gig in London, but when the kids’ uptight father suddenly ups and takes them all to Paris, everything starts to go wrong.
Who are you and what do you write?
I'm a teacher, writer and mum, living in New Zealand, which is home. One of my children was born in Paris, while we were living there, and I've certainly drawn on my experiences of Paris, though all my nannying jobs were in NZ and decidedly (and thankfully!) dull compared to what Jean gets up to in my book. I write romantic comedy, a bit of poetry, sometimes short stories, even flash fiction, and the occasional blog. I've been super involved in local writing communities, in Paris and at home, but since returning to full-time teaching I've been flying under the radar a bit.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
I wrote from a very early age and toyed with the idea of becoming a writer, on and off, throughout my teens. I love teaching, so trained for that, but kept writing on the side. I'd written (drafted really) two novels when my first child was born, and started taking my writing more seriously during his infancy. Naptime was writing time. This continued when we moved overseas and a writers' group in Paris inspired me to try my hand at a wider range of writing styles. I found my voice through all that experimenting, drafting and redrafting, reading and critiquing.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
I was pretty one-eyed about wanting to go trad. And I got pretty close with an earlier version of What's French for Oops? I had a NY literary agent and we did several edits, back and forth, but as I addressed the pacing and voice and tension and point of view issues the book changed. It had been more women's fictiony, and it became a romance. Which my agent didn't represent. So we parted ways, amicably, but still I was gutted.
The Romance Writers of New Zealand were fast becoming my favourite writing community at that point, and the next year I placed third in their unpublished novel competition - with a regency romance. A couple of months after that, a dear friend and award winning NZ author read What's French for Oops? Her review is quoted on the cover. It gave me the confidence I needed to stop waiting for an agent or publisher to put their stamp of approval on my book. So I started learning more intentionally about self-pub, playing with software and covers and connecting with editors and reviewers. I got a bit of a practice run when our local Romance Writers chapter put together a summer romance anthology. Rising Heat came out just three months before my book - a perfect lead!
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
Letting go is hard. Hitting publish when I've been through so many edits and changes, and there were so many times in the past I thought it was DONE. And it never was before, so it's hard to really believe it might be now.
The most enjoyable is probably Tania's review. And the DMs complaining she'd stayed up half the night and woke up early to finish it. Closely followed by my boss, the Head of English, rushing up to give me a hug at work, and saying well done. And then complaining she'd done nothing else all weekend but read my book.
Would you go back and change anything?
I wish I hadn't held onto traditional publishing quite so tightly. That said, if I'd self-published sooner, I probably wouldn't have done it very well.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? And 10? Or, what are your plans for the future?
Over the next 18 months I'd like to put out the rest of the 'Have Heart, Will Travel' series. Book 2, What's Dutch for Damn? will be out later this year, followed by What's Gaelic for Gonner? and What's Italian for It's on? in 2021.
After that, I have a regency series waiting in the wings. An Heir out of Place is next-to ready, but the sequels are currently very rough drafts full of notes-to-self.
And somewhere in there, I'd like to publish my modern f/f retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion.
An exact timeline is hard to pin down, what with parenthood, a full time job, and a tendency to jump on exciting opportunities (like flitting off to Paris when the job was offered, despite the fact we had a one-year-old, spoke no French, and I was pregnant... c'est la vie!)
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
Find your tribe. A writing community makes all the difference. Sure, they'll beta read and tell you which online courses are scams, and help you design covers and write reviews for you, but they'll also commiserate and feed you, encourage and celebrate with you. And you'll get the privilege of being a part of their journeys as well.
Ketchup or Mayo? Can I say aioli?
Night or Day? Night.
Inside or Outside? Outside.
Dogs or Cats? Cats, even though I'm allergic to them. They're just lower maintenance.
Twitter or Facebook? Twitter, a thousand times.
Ebook or Paperback? Paperback, but I always have both on the go.
Sun or Rain? Sun.
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? Keyboard, but I switch between, sometimes because it's just more convenient, other times, I find it helps me get unstuck.
Comedy or Drama? Comedy. Although I love a good Dramedy. They were a thing in the 90s. I swear, it's not just me. They really were a thing. And since the 90s is back... a girl can dream right?
Chips or Chocolate? Chips.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!