About Amanda Witt:
Amanda Witt’s short story “Night Rose” was chosen by international best-selling author Jeffery Deaver for inclusion in the MWA anthology A HOT AND SULTRY NIGHT FOR CRIME. The story was called “hottest of all” by Kirkus Reviews, so after this early short story success, Witt did what any rational aspiring author would do: she launched straight into a four-novel series. She has taught at various universities across the U.S., homeschooled her children (now mostly grown), and manages the online Zazzle shop River Jude Designs. Witt has a Ph.D. in English and has been married to her college sweetheart for more than a quarter century.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve always loved writing, but for a long time I focused mostly on freelance articles and essays–short things that I could squeeze in here and there. Then my teenagers and their friends cornered me in the kitchen one day, and said, “You’re always writing. Why don’t you write something for us?” They wanted a series of books, and they had definite criteria. Hence The Red Series was born.
Tell us about your writing process.
For me the writing process begins long before I set pen to paper (or finger to keyboard). I brainstorm extensively and then, at some point, a vivid image comes to mind and just won’t go away. That becomes the seed of the novel.
While I do try to figure out the basic points of the plot, I can’t outline too extensively without losing all creative energy. There has to be something of a discovery process–the characters have to take on life and start making their own decisions–and if I’ve plotted too carefully beforehand, they won’t get up and start moving around. They just sit there like chess pieces and I have to make all the calls, and everything feels stilted and boring.
And I am a big believer in revision. I’m an English professor, after all (and I’m married to a professional editor/former creative writing professor).
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I listen to them. Sometimes I have to nudge them in the right direction, and if they won’t listen, I take a step back and approach the scene from a different angle.
What advice would you give other writers?
Read, read, read. Read books that are good, both in terms of plot and characterization, and in terms of syntax and style. Notice what makes them good. And read lousy books and notice what makes them bad.
Sometimes when I’m struggling with a particular issue, I’ll re-read an author who is particularly strong in that regard. This can be very helpful.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I started out intending to go with traditional publishing. I sent out query letters with the first chapter to a list of agents, and six or eight of them requested the full manuscript. Then came the bad news: they loved it, I was a great writer, blah blah blah, but they didn’t think they could sell it to a publisher. The next big thing was supposed to be contemporary problem fiction–and that wasn’t what I was writing.
Well, my own teenagers and their friends HATED contemporary problem fiction, and they loved the novels I’d written. So then I started looking into indie publishing, and saw that plenty of traditionally published authors were going that route as well. And I decided to give it a shot. The four books are now up as Kindle ebooks, and I’m in the process of formatting them for paperback as well, because I’ve had requests from people who “like to smell the pages.”
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think traditional publishing will always be around, but I suspect it’s going to be keeping a close eye on the indies. Indie publishing is a low-cost way to find out what people are wanting to read. It’s a grassroots sort of thing. And, particularly in the United States, this appeals to people. We don’t like being told from the top down, “this is what you should read.” So I would expect to see indie authors getting picked up by traditional publishing houses who can offer more services than we authors can manage on our own–translations, etc.–but the publishing houses may have to sweeten the pot to make this happen, or authors won’t be willing to give up control of their product.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: young adult, science fiction, thriller, psychological thriller, romance, mystery, suspense
What formats are your books in?: eBook
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.