You may recognize Amy's name from my post last year thanking my YA critique partners (CPs). But more than likely you recognize Amy Christine Parker's name because her suspense YA debut GATED is due out from Penguin Random House next week and has been getting great reviews in Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. Yay, Amy! Amy and I met on WriteOnCon via a kind of "match up" where you read someone's synopsis on a forum, requested to see more, and then you switched work. If you liked each others writing and found the feedback was helpful BOOM you had yourself a connection. Amy was one of the first people I connected with and I am so, so very thankful for that.
JENN: So, what stuck out to me about Gated was the first line (Shoot to kill, okay) What?!? I was all over it as soon as I read it. And then I kept reading it and you sorted out concerns that we had discussed and perhaps you discussed with Krystalyn and Stefanie as well but what I admired (what I additionally admired) was that you were able to zero in on this stuff and get it done so fast!
AMY: I remember when we met thinking that I loved the way you critiqued. You were just the queen of finding all my inconsistencies. I was beyond excited that I was able to snatch you up! And thanks for thinking that I’m compartmentalizing so well!
JENN: You compartmentalize your time not just as a writer but as a reviewer as well. As a full-time mom and writer and doing everything you do from participating in activities with your kids/their school and reading others work and trying to find time for yourself and your husband it can be so much. That balance is crucial.
AMY: Truth be told I think I spend most days juggling everything like mad and hoping I don’t drop too many balls. Balance isn’t really achieved so much as I make my writing a priority no matter what. I wanted to be a writer--specifically a published writer--so badly that I literally let go of every unnecessary chore/obligation/frivolous time wasting thing that I could. My house is rarely entirely clean. My kids eat takeout just about as often as they get a home cooked meal. The laundry piles up. The balance thing is an ongoing goal I hope to one day come close to achieving. But even if I never do, I’m happy because I’m doing something that I love every single day and my family is happy because I’m much better at being a mom and wife now that I’ve allowed myself to go after my dreams.
JENN: I also realized when reading Gated how specific and unique the story was. This was a story that wasn't being told and could actually happen which upped the creep factor exponentially and it's telling as well that Penguin Random House has so much faith in the story itself but also your writing. Perhaps as writers we kind of zero in on what scares us because there's an internal thrill to it that we can control. When I was a kid my mom had A LOT of Stephen King books. So I read that. And I got into R.L. Stine from there and read some Anne Rice as a teen. I was growing out of BSC and Sweet Valley High/University to reading The Stand. So my mom's taste definitely influenced my own for awhile as I was growing up and lead to me writing this horror story I wrote in high school called "Terror at Bowne." I even did a sequel.
AMY: Stephen King was huge for me growing up, especially his short stories. I was a fairly shy kid and spent tons of time hiding out in the library at school. Uncle Stevie’s books were the ones I pulled off the shelves to keep me company. The short stories were perfect because I could devour them in one library session. To this day, his short stories are what have stuck with me most out of all that I read as a kid and probably had the biggest influence on what I choose to write now. Although...there were also these creepy story records I used to listen to with my cousins when I was really little (yes, I am that old, I had vinyl records AND 8 track tapes). I forget almost everything about the stories on those records, but I will never forget the sounds and the tone of the people’s voices as they told the stories. It made my hair stand on end and afterwards I would have the worst time sleeping. After every “up all night” session I had I’d swear off listening to them, but then I could never actually make myself do that and before long I’d be listening to them all over again. Scary stories have always, always been my favorites which is funny I guess, because my mom is much more of a sci fi/fantasy reader who likes things to stay light. When I tell her my latest ideas, she’s always a little freaked out! She’s wondered out loud more than once where my fascination comes from. I think for me it isn’t so much a thrill I can control, but more of a way of explaining evil and how it works to my readers and maybe most often, to myself. I think on some level maybe I’m looking to understand it so I can see it coming in people or situations and avoid it...but really, on the surface I think it’s mainly that I find scaring and being scared to be a lot of fun!
Amy is being super generous by offering up a GATED prize pack with her debut's release! See the pictures of the items below. Ohhh. Ahhh.