Author Interview with Amanda Thrasher

Amanda ThrasherGet to know Amanda…

Amanda M. Thrasher, born in England, moved to Fort Worth, Texas when she was fourteen and resides there still. After leaving the corporate world to spend time with her family, Amanda started writing full time. She is the author of the Mischief series, ‘Mischief in the Mushroom Patch’ and ‘A Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch.’ The third installment of the series is underway, ‘A Spider Web Scramble in the Mushroom Patch.’ Amanda’s intent with the Mischief series is to bring back the love of fairy tales in a brand new way. There are no scary characters to be found in the mushroom series, as in the original tales, purposely written that way.

Amanda also just finished a novel for middle grade readers, ‘The Ghost of Whispering Willow’ and it will be released in 2012. She spends many hours visiting with local schools, contributes weekly to a blog, and continues to write. For more info, visit her website.

Let the conversation begin!

Would you rather publish a string of mainstream books or one classic?

I strive to build a legacy based on words. Like most writers, I desperately want to write ‘the piece,’ the piece, that my children’s, children’s, children, will still want to read once I’m gone. That to me would be the ultimate achievement; to write a book worthy of standing the test of time, a true classic. I haven’t accomplished it yet, and maybe I never will, but I’m working on it. I personally believe that a writer will likely have to write several, if not more, books to get there. (That’s if they ever do), mainstream or not.

Do you outline?

I begin with the plot/story line. The characters develop as I write. I typically have a general idea, but it never fails, additions or deletions are usually made along the way.

Tell us about the book you’re working on.

I have just finished ‘The Ghost of Whispering Willow.’ I love this manuscript! I do have pieces that are terrible, some are just ok, some are sweet, like the Mischief series, and some are boring and flat, (I file those), and  I have some that I think are good, but are for my eyes only. This piece grabbed me right away. It is a ghost story designed 5th-8th grade girls and boys. The book will appeal to both. The main characters are boys, and yet the girls in the story, are active participants as well. The ghost children are beautiful; can you believe that? The ghost children are beautiful! The plot surprised even me. I have never written a piece that has a scene/chapter that has brought me to tears; this book did that to me as I wrote a particular chapter, two of them actually. The final twist, I can honestly say, I didn’t see coming. I believe that if I love this story, this much, and I do, someone else will surely like it. That’s where it starts; someone likes your story, and they share with someone else. My little readers will be scared at the appropriate times, and in just the right amounts. Only to find a beautiful story, true to my voice, and style of writing. I can’t wait for the release of this book. This is fresh on my mind since we are in official edits. I am currently writing the third installment of the Mischief series, ‘A Spider Web Scramble in the Mushroom Patch.’ I think the title even sounds like fun; with Lilly, Boris and Jack, it surely will be.

What is your favorite quote?

“Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” William Wallace (Sir William Wallace, born 1272, Scottish Knight and land owner). This is without a doubt my favorite quote! It’s so simple, and yet it speaks volumes. We will all die, this is true, but do we really embrace life daily and live? I want too; as best I can, I want to live now.

Who inspires you and how are you a bit like them?

The person that inspires me the most happens to be a writer/author, John Grisham. I do love his work, but that’s not the reason he inspires me. It’s how hard he worked as an author before anyone knew who he was, that’s what gets me. He motivates me to take control of my own path. “’When A Time to Kill’ was published twenty years ago, I soon learned the painful lesson that selling books was far more difficult than writing them. I bought a thousand copies and hauled them in the trunk of my car and peddled them at libraries, garden clubs, grocery stores, coffee shops, and a handful of bookstores. Often, I was assisted by my dear friend Bobby Moak. There are stories we will never tell.” John Grisham.

According to him, ‘The Firm,’ was the book that changed his life. He often refers to life pre-‘The Firm’ and after ‘The Firm.’ Being with a small publisher, it’s imperative that everyone do their part. We work hard to promote and share our work with others. Knowing that Grisham and others did it too, just seems to make the journey a little easier to take.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Don’t be afraid to write a really, really, bad manuscript. You can’t possibly write a good or great one, until you write a bad one. Finish it, learn from it, file it, and start something else. Some manuscripts are just flat. That’s ok. What did you learn from that piece? I have 70-100k word manuscripts that I’d never send out. What I’ve learned over the past few years since writing them, to me, priceless. This is not the same as having a fabulous idea, manuscript, and simply reworking it until it’s perfect. Those you see through and they will come to life and take on a form of their own. It’s magical.

ThrasherCoverWhat book was the easiest to write? Hardest?

Without a doubt the easiest book so far for me to write was, ‘The Ghost of Whispering Willow.’ It’s one of those that as a writer, you know, you were supposed to write. It flowed so easy, I never once struggled with plot or characters, dialog, scenes, and I loved writing it. The hardest manuscript to write is my adult novel. I’m still writing it, and have been for years. It’s not because I don’t like it, because I do, but I’m not equipped to finish it. That’s growth. When you know 150k words into a novel that you’re not equipped to finish it. I need to spend time researching certain areas; specific things that I will need to complete the story line. I know the story line. I know how it will end, but in order to make it believable, and the characters that I’ve created come to life as they should, I will need the additional information.

Do you let anyone read your work-in-progress?

If I’m really excited about a project, I will talk about it. Occasionally I will read an excerpt. It’s not that I’m trying to keep it a secret; it’s that I’m still working it all out in my head, and that takes time. Once my story is well on its way, I might share. Usually, I’m almost finished by the time I do this.

Earliest childhood memory?

I’m adopted, and I have always said, “I have no idea who I am, but I know exactly who I’m supposed to be.” Many people have it the other way round. My mom, adopted mom, was a huge part of making me who I am today. I love this memory, and share it often with the school children that I visit. My mom had a gift; she knew how to embrace imagination, and encouraged us to do the same. She was also a fabulous story-teller. She would tell us beautiful stories. I must have been about four years old, because my sister was at school and she was two years older. I was in the garden playing, and suddenly burst into the kitchen, no kidding running into the kitchen, and startled my mom. I was talking very fast, and she slowed me down. She squatted down and looked me in the eye while I proceed to tell her, “Mummy, (mommy/English) I have just seen the fairies. They were dancing on the grass, jumping from blade to blade.” I remember she smiled, and without hesitation she said, “Were they beautiful?” NOW….years later I realized there were a million things she could have said, “Don’t be silly,” or “There’s no such thing,” “Go play,” “It’s your imagination,” etc. But she didn’t steal that from me; she knew I’d figure it out. Of course there were no fairies; but at four years old, did it matter? I will never forget the look on her face. Now as a parent, I wish my kids could lose themselves from time to time by using their imagination. They don’t; kids might make fun of them, but what a beautiful place to escape, isn’t it.

Daily word count?

I don’t set a daily word count for myself; I’ve tried, and I can meet the word count, but the words are flat. I write/create, while it’s good. Leaping off the paper with ease, flowing, making sense, and if it’s not, I don’t write that day. I may clean up what I’ve written the day before, but I do not force a word count. To me, there’s no point. I only have to go back and re-do it anyway, because, it’s flat and boring. I think this is one of the reasons that I don’t, or haven’t, (knock on wood), struggled with writers block. If I can’t write, I don’t. 

How long do you take to write a book?

Honestly, for me, as long as it takes. The Mischief books tend to take around five to six months a piece. My ghost story, took about a year. My adult novel, I’m still writing, and I’ve been working on it for years. I know exactly what the story line is, where I’m going with it, and how it will end, but I get side tracked with the children books. I love those. I go back to the adult book from time to time, but I do need to do a little more research, in order to develop my characters the way that I believe they deserve. I have other pieces that I’ll never send out, they’re boring to me. If they bore me, surely they’ll bore my little readers. Some of those pieces have taken over a year to write. After reviewing them, they a beginning, middle, end, plot, characters, etc. but they’re flat. File them. 

What initially drew you to writing?

I love words.  From a very early age I started writing things down because I couldn’t focus unless I did. To this day, I carry a common book 24/7.  I love poetry, and I love beautiful stories. Being able to write a story, that someone else loves, is amazing. Not everyone will like, let alone love your story, but the day a child says, “I read those books and I loved those stories,” it’s amazing. I want to create stories that I love to write, and that hopefully kids want to read over and over again. I don’t know if I’ve done it yet; but I will, or try really hard too. 

If this was your last day on Earth, what would you do?

Kidnap the people I love the most, make them drop everything, and go crazy! Play, laugh, dance, eat, talk, and enjoy whatever time we had left together. Preferably by the water, beach, lake, anything like that. 

If you could spend a vacation with three authors, who would they be?

Jane Austen, John Grisham & C.S. Lewis….. I know, odd combination, but I admire them all!

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