Today, I’ve invited Amie McCracken to my blog. Author, editor and designer, Amie’s the publishing director and Vine Leaves Press and helping to whip my latest novel, Small Forgotten Moments, into shape!
Amie edits and typesets novels for self-published authors and helps writers polish their work. She is an imaginist, with a lot of ideas floating around in her head and a long list of places still to visit. She’s been swimming in books her whole life, therefore having a career as an editor and book designer was only natural. There’s always a book or three on her nightstand and a manuscript in progress on her laptop. There’s also a possibility she might be addicted to tea.
Welcome to the Fountain Pen, Amie. What else is there to know about you?
I have aspirations of living inside a story book. So while I would relish the invention of a teleporter (I love to travel), I think I would much prefer a machine that allows me to physically enter the worlds of the stories I read. I am obsessed with story. Hence I am an editor, book designer, and author.
How did your writing career begin?
Is it cliché to say that I’ve been scribbling in notebooks since the dawn of time? I have, but I didn’t publish anything until after I had my son almost six years ago. Since then I have published a book each year. Crossing my fingers and working my butt off to make sure that happens again this year and I don’t break the streak! There was something about having a child that created immediacy in me. I have no idea what I did with all of that precious time before I had him. I wish I could get it all back. But now, I work full time, spend as much time with him as I can, and write on the side. I am always busy, and I suppose productivity begets productivity.
What do you hope your readers take away from your work? What are you trying to achieve?
I love the concept of “what if.” All of my books centre on a major question like that, as most stories do, but I like to take the real world and add a bit of magic to make my adventures slightly more adventurous while still seeming plausible. My first novel, Emotionless, asks what would happen if we could remove the hormones from our bodies and continue to live because I am diabetic and rely on the artificial hormone, insulin, to survive. But if I didn’t need insulin at all, along with any of my emotions, what would life be like? My most recent novel, Leaning Into the Abyss, asks what would happen if your intended partner were to die the night before the wedding? It’s a major crossroads that you think leads one direction but really has a million different options. So the story looks at reality: Rhea’s husband-to-be passed away; and imaginary: what if he had lived?
Where do you see your writing career heading?
I used to publish my books as the final check on my to-do list. The publication was simply to declare the project finished. But I’m starting to get hungry for more. I want people to actually read my books, and so far I have not sold very much. Most of that comes down to the fact that I publish and then do nothing. Being an indie author, I know that I need to be promoting and making my work visible amongst the piles of books available. So the next step is to take everything I have learned in the past fifteen years (almost) in the publishing world and apply that knowledge to my own work.
How do you approach a new project? Are you a plotter or a pantser, or somewhere in between? Where you do get your ideas?
This process has changed significantly for me over the years. I did finish NaNoWriMo in 2009 entirely on a one sentence idea, no plan whatsoever. That book will never see the light of day. Since then I have gradually learned that planning is not a rigid process, that it can be just as creative as the writing itself, and that there is nothing set in stone. So I now do a decent amount of plotting and character work before getting to drafting, and will usually revisit the planning stages when I start my second draft. Each time I start a new story I find myself diving deeper into the planning because I know how beneficial it is to creating truly satisfying stories.
Planning is something I’m trying to teach myself, but it’s not going very well! What’s next for you?
In light of the fact that I want to start making income from my publishing, I am planning a series. It’s not your typical series, as I am intrigued by the idea of a serial. Serials used to be common to gain wider readership due to lower costs. Charles Dickens made it popular with The Pickwick Papers and many classics were published as serials. The story I am writing will be five novellas culminating in one complete story. Each novella will stem from the same origin but come from a different character’s perspective. In the first novella, one boy in a group of teenagers drowns. The rest of the group grows up with the weight of feeling guilty in some form or another for the death of their fellow.
That’s sounds fantastic, and a unique way to approach a series! Good luck with it, and thank you for talking to me today.