Q&A With Amy Pine
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Q&A With Amy Pine
Today’s Q&A is with USA Today Bestselling author Amy Pine who also writes under the name A.J. Pine. Under Amy’s A.J. She wrote The Crossroads Ranch Series and Meadow Valley series, Kingston Ale House series & If Only series. Under Amy Pine, Amy wrote The Bloom Girls and its follow-up, The Cottage on Glass Lake, coming out on June 27th of this year.
Q: Amy at what point in your life did you realize that being an author was your calling?
A: I’ve always been a reader, but writing and the sort of need to write my own stories didn’t hit me until my 30s. At the time I was teaching high school English, and my school (shout out to Fremd High School) had this amazing event (still does) called Writers Week where for a full week, students, teachers, musicians, professional writers, etc. take the stage in the auditorium and share their writing in front of a “sold out” crowd. Seriously, this event is standing room only. And it was seeing my students get up there and being vulnerable to share their own writing that made me want to do the same. I will always credit my students and colleagues with motivating me to be brave enough to try telling my own stories.
Q: What made you want to write romance? What is your advice to anyone on writing great romance?
A: The first book I ever wrote (that is not published) was a YA dystopian novel. I was trying to pitch it to agents around the time that Hunger Games was at its height, and series like Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy were hitting shelves. It was really hard to get anyone’s attention with yet another dystopian story. Then I read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, and I realized that not only was my favorite part about writing my dystopian story the romance between the heroine and hero but that in a contemporary romance like Anna and the French Kiss, the romance could actually be the story. I was hooked. I wanted to write contemporary romance. As far as advice? I mean, there is no magic pill that will make a story resonate with every reader. But I think the trick to a good romance is knowing that your readers go into the story knowing how it will end, with a happily ever after or happily for now. So your job as a writer is to make the journey between the beginning and the end worth it.
Q: If you deal with writer’s block, what advice do you give to anyone on how to deal with writer’s block?
A: Write through it. There are times when I’m on deadline, but I’m just not feeling a scene I’m writing. So I write a crappy version of it knowing that I’ll get to revisit it again in edits and make it (hopefully) not so crappy. Or, if time allows (and I’m not holed up in the writing cave trying to hammer out the last 5K words), I close the laptop and step away so I can do something to clear my head like watch a K-drama or cue up a boxing workout in my VR headset. Staring at a blank page is never the solution for me.
Q: Can you tell me and the readers a little bit about The Bloom Girls?
A: The Bloom Girls is my love letter to one of my favorite TV series, The Gilmore Girls. It’s a story about women figuring life out at different stages of the game: Gabi, a recent college grad who fell in love and got engaged on a whim while backpacking across Europe, and Alyssa, her almost forty-year-old mother who accidentally got pregnant after one night of nostalgia with Gabi’s father (they’re no longer together) and now has to figure out if they’re ready to be parents again when they are finally on the cusp of being empty nester adults. If you did the math, yes, Gabi’s parents accidentally got pregnant once before, as teens. What ensues is a lot of wedding planning hijinks, pregnancy hiding, romance—both new and second chance—with women all at the forefront of the story. The Cottage on Glass Lake, that releases in June, is the follow-up to The Bloom Girls. The Bloom Girls ends with a cliffhanger (something I’ve never done) concerning a secondary character, and The Cottage on Glass Lake picks up there.
Q: Is it fair to say that the characters and places in your novels are based off of people and places you know and been to in real life? I love it when authors can create fictional worlds and people by using real places and people as inspiration.
A: Yes and no. It depends on the book and what real-life observations I’m making at that point. The Bloom Girls takes place in the Chicago suburbs, which is where I live, and all the characters are Jewish, which I am as well. But everything else is very much a work of fiction. But yes, there are characters in some of my books who are loosely based on people I know or have known, but I definitely stress the loosely in loosely based. Still, I always warm people to be nice to authors because you never know how they may write you in a book.
Q: What’s your advice to new authors on how to deal with negativity whether it’s from reviews, online trolls and family and friends who are unsupportive of their writing goals?
A: One thing I’ve learned writing romance is that it is a constant struggle to defend the genre from people who think every book cover includes Fabio ripping a woman’s bodice or that the stories are only for horny housewives. In reality, romance novel sales make up almost a quarter of adult fiction sales, and the stories cover everything from dealing with addiction, teen pregnancy, grief, or the trials and tribulations of planning a Jewish wedding, and those are just issues I know from my own books! If I’m put in a position to defend the genre, I’ll do it, but mostly I try not to engage with anyone who trolls it. As for reviews, I don’t engage there either. Once the book is published and out of my hands, I can’t change it to please a reader who finds my writing isn’t for them. No one author will appeal to all readers. That’s why there are so many of us. There’s room at the table for plenty to tell their stories. So I stopped actively reading reviews a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate reviews, good and bad, especially when they are thoughtful. Plus, quantity of reviews changes the algorithm and helps sell books. But it’s a slippery slope to pop onto Amazon to read your five star reviews and then just spiral out on the couple of one star reviews that are there as well, so my advice is basically know yourself. Know how thick your skin is and how much you can take. Then, read at your own risk.
Q: Does Hollywood have any interest or rights to any of your novels? Hollywood is long overdue for originality and they could get it from doing more wonderful novels.
A: As of writing this answer, I have not sold movie rights to any of my books…yet. But let’s put it out there into the universe, especially or The Bloom Girls. I’d pitch it as Gilmore Girls meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I’d watch the hell out of that. 😉
Q: If you’re writing a new book now, can you reveal any details about it?
A: I am currently working on the second of two small town romances that take place in the fictional setting of Summertown, IL. The heroine is an elementary school teacher from Chicago who—for reasons—quits her job and leaves the big city for a job as a librarian in a small town. The hero is a former resident of said small town who, for reasons of his own, is back home and trying to figure out his own life. I’m really early into the story, but I’m thinking of tossing in a forced proximity trope where they have to be roommates after having met as strangers in a hotel bar the night before…Stay tuned! This one’s not out until 2024.