Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Amy Durham talks about writing YA books

Today I’m interviewing YA (Young Adult) author, Amy Durham. Amy is a member of my local writing group and Once Again is her debut novel. Publishing any book is incredible, but that first book is the most amazing feeling in the world and I’m very happy to be sharing it with Amy.

Let’s pause here while I do happy dance for Amy. I know she's been working on this a long time.

Okay—that was fun.

Donna: Hi Amy! Welcome to my blog. Tell my readers a little about yourself. 

Amy:  Hi Donna! Thanks so much for inviting me over today. I’m not a terribly exciting girl, but I am a busy one! I like in central Kentucky. My husband and I have three boys (ages 13, 8, & 5), and I’m a full-time middle school teacher. Of course I LOVE books – both for reading and writing – but I also love to cook and experiment with new recipes!

Donna: Why YA books?

Amy:  I LOVE reading YA books! I love that YA books have a “crossover appeal” that makes them readable by both teens and adults. I love that I can read a great YA book, then recommend it to my students at school or my own teenage son. I love that I can have a conversation with a student about a book we’ve both read. I love that YA books can give young readers a sense of hope and encouragement… “If the characters in that book can overcome all those obstacles, then I can surely make it through adolescence, too!”

And I love that we “grown ups” can read YA stories and re-visit the exuberance and excitement of our youth, remember the beauty of first love, and think back on the friends of our childhood. Since I love reading YA books, I figured it was the best “fit” for my writing.

Donna: What is the age range for your YA book? Who do you see reading it?

Amy:  The narrator of my book is a sixteen year-old girl, so it naturally lends itself to girls around that age. However, I intentionally wrote a story that would be appealing and appropriate for younger readers (i.e. no sexual situations or excessively foul language). I also hope romance and mystery of the story will appeal to those young-at-heart YA readers (like me!).

Donna: Was there a real life inspiration for the story line?

Amy:  There wasn’t an actual person or event that inspired the book. The “core” of the Once Again came from my own memories of being sixteen. I started thinking about what I thought and dreamed about when I was that age, and I was such a hopeless romantic back then! I never really got over that either!

When I was a teenager, I loved the idea of love being eternal and somehow transcending time and place. I’d spend long hours thinking about my future-husband, and even though I didn’t know who he was, I knew he was out there waiting for me, dreaming about me. Sounds sappy, I know, but that’s where my mind was during my middle school and high school years!

So, I crafted a story that played off of that idea… that love transcends time and place. The paranormal element of the story is reincarnation, and I think it really allowed me to illustrate the idea of timeless love.

Donna: What YA authors do you like to read? 

Amy:  I’ll admit to loving all the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer! In addition to those, I also really REALLY love Rachel Vincent’s Soul Screamers series. The heroine of that series is a female banshee (bean sidhe), and they are some of the most inventive books in the YA genre in my opinion. I’ve read part of Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, and I’m totally impressed! Jennifer Echols writes really good, true-to-life non-paranormal YA stories as well.

Donna: What’s next for you creatively? Are you working on something else?

Amy: Right now I'm working on the sequel to Once Again, which I hope to release later this year. It's titled Once and For All, and follows two different Sky Cove teenagers as they encounter their own reincarnation drama, as well as an ancient curse that has never been broken. (Hint - readers will meet the hero and heroine of Once and For All in Once Again!)  There may also be a "short story" in the "Sky Cove" series sometime this year. 

And, as if that's not keeping me busy enough, I'm writing the first book in my "Messenger" series, titled Dusk.  "Messengers" are a bit like angels, but not quite the same. You'll just have to wait and see!

Donna: How can my readers find out more about you and your work? BTW readers, Amy does some fun things on her blog. Check it out.

Amy:  Here's my list. Thanks for inviting me!

Email – amybdurham@gmail.com
Twitter - @Amy_Durham
FB – facebook.com/AuthorAmyDurham
Blog – amy-durham.blogspot.com

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