** This giveaway is now closed! I will be contacting the winner today.***
Today I’m so excited to bring you a special post all about my new friend, Amy Matayo. Amy is an award winning author and her newest book, The End of the World is out today! I was privileged to be a part of Amy’s launch team and have really enjoyed chatting with her about her publishing and writing process. Her book reminded me of my own style, so naturally I had to get to know her a little better, and I think you guys will enjoy her and her books as well!
Tell us a little about Amy the person.
Amy the person is much quieter than I seem online. I would rather listen than talk, stay at home rather than attend a party, spend time with a few people rather than a large crowd. Though I can fake it when then need arises. I love hard, cry easily, and love to laugh. I graduated from John Brown University a lot of years ago and have a degree in Journalism. I have four kids and a husband and live in Arkansas.
How did you discover you wanted to be a writer?
I discovered a love for writing when I was young—wrote awful poems, even worse song lyrics, and diary entries when I was a kid. In seventh grade, my English teacher really fostered my love for the craft and encouraged me to pursue it. As for novels, writing one had been in the back of my mind for years before I finally woke up one morning and decided to go for it. That was eight years ago. Despite many vows to do so, I haven’t taken a break since.
I have attended several conferences and wholeheartedly believe in them. I am also a big fans of entering contests. I landed my agent through semi-finaling in national writing contest (the ACFW Genesis), which I later went on to win and subsequently sign my first publishing contract.
Which book of yours is your favorite and why?
Last year, I would have told you Sway. Now my hands-down favorite is The End of the World, and I’m not just saying that because it’s my newest release. With that book, I let myself do what I wanted to do without consciously or subconsciously trying to fit the story into any kind of box. Not a moral one, not an inspirational one, not any sort of box that would normally make me pull back a bit. As a Christian who is known for writing inspirational (albeit very light) material, this was a new thing for me. Now, that doesn’t mean this book is immoral or anti-Christian—it is not. There are no graphic scenes, the language is very mild, and there is a definite redemptive theme running through the story. It just means that I wrote exactly what I wanted to write. I love this book and the characters, and I never throw that phrase around. I’m very self-critical and rarely talk about my work unless asked.
Do your characters ever resemble people in your real life? Do your kids/family anecdotes ever make it into books?
Anecdotes always make it into my books—little details and quirks. But as far as real life, my characters are themselves and I rarely pull things from people I know. Sometimes they might say a line that a friend, neighbor, or child recently said, but that’s about it.
How do plot lines usually come to you? What inspires you to write?
Sometimes plots come to me when I’m watching television. Take The Wedding Game, for instance (my first published book). I was standing in my bathroom, listening to Good Morning America while getting dressed. They were talking about Kim Kardashian getting a divorce from her first husband after being married only 70 days. I had just watched their wedding on television the week before, and I turned to my son and said, “Next thing you know, someone’s going to make a reality TV show where strangers get married for money.” Of course immediately my mind starting spinning, and I had the plot for that book down by nighttime.
Mostly though, I just try to think of something that hasn’t been done before. That’s what I did for Sway, which is a book about forbidden love—my favorite kind of story. For The End of the World, I read a poem. The idea spurned from that.
The End of the World has some mature content that could be difficult for some readers, and you’ve said it is a departure from your past works. Can you explain that? Why did this story burn so deeply in your heart? What triggered this story in your mind (and is it reminiscent of events in your life)?
The End of the World is not my story. I had a good childhood, great parents, was never a foster child. But the story came to me one day and wouldn’t let go. I kept imagining these kids in this house—a house I had remembered since I was very young. I grew up in Arkansas, and about halfway between the Arkansas border and Tulsa there is a house on the left side of the highway. When I was younger it sat abandoned and unfinished, staying that way for a decade, maybe two. Unused rusty cranes and bulldozers flanked each side and became covered in cobwebs. Mounds of fresh dirt slowly sprouted weeds…eventually trees. Even though the house had the potential to be gorgeous, everything about it used to scare me. Every time we drove past I would stare at it, holding my breath, thinking up creepy little scenarios about what might be occurring in that gigantic, deteriorating house. Who might be living there, who might not be. I never forgot those stories. So when the idea for this book came to me, I had to set the story there.
Also, I believe in writing real, raw stories with very little filter. If the character would do it or think it or say it, I try to write the story that way. There are lines I won’t cross—no graphic sex or harsh language—but life can be ugly sometimes. I don’t think we as authors should try to hide that
What does your writing process include?
It includes dropping my kids off at school (yay!) and then deciding where to go. Either home, Panera, Starbucks, a local coffee shop. And then I drink my weight in coffee, open some chocolate, put earphones in my ears, and write for the next five hours. And by write, I mean spend three of those hours trying to stay off social media and stop daydreaming. Then around 9:00 at night, I get my computer out again and work until around midnight. At that point, it sometimes includes wine.
If you had to become one of your characters, which one would you pick and why?
Anna from Love Gone Wild. She’s sarcastic, adventurous, and stubborn. Plus, she stepped out of the box, went on a reality show, hiked through Alaska for a month, and met a hot guy. Who wouldn’t want to do that? (I hope my husband doesn’t read this)
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
If I could move anywhere tomorrow, I would head to Seattle. If I could visit anywhere tomorrow, I would fly to Fiji. If I could disappear anywhere tomorrow…well, I’m not telling you that. 😉
Thanks to Amy for allowing us to peek into her life for a little bit! I hope you all enjoyed this and will go buy her new book and check out all of the others ones (and go here to read my brief review of The End of the World).
But first, you have the chance to win an autographed copy right here! Comment below with the answer to this question, and your email address:
If you had to become a character from one of your favorite books, who would it be?
Giveaway ends Wednesday at 11:59 pm CST, this post will be updated with the winner’s name.
Connect with Amy: