Over this fun-filled holiday weekend I am excited that Amy Wallen, a member of the GCC, stopped by to tell me about her latest book. Looks like some great summer reading!
Tell us about your latest book.
MoonPies and Movie Stars is the story of Ruby Kincaid, the owner of six-lane bowling alley in Devine, TX. When Ruby spots her runaway daughter on a ButterMaid commercial on TV she sets off for Hollywood to find her and make her own up to her responsibilities. Violet, the daugther, left behind two small children. So Ruby loads up the Winnebago and with her rattlesnake rattler earring wearing sister, Loralva, and the runaway daughter’s mother-in-law they make a journey across the Southwest, in the bicentennial summer of 1976.
What pulled you into this story, and as a writer made you think ‘I have to write this’?
I was tired of writing in my journal and so one day I just pulled out a character from a monologue I had written based on my grandmother who lived in a small town in Texas and ran a honky tonk (beer joint). From that day, Feb 3, 1998, I never wrote another journaling entry and the novel just poured out.
Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline or are you more organic?
More organic. About half way into the story I make up notecards with scenes that I’ve already written so that I can keep track of what I’ve done. I have a horrible memory, so these help me not only keep up with myself, but I can also tack them on the wall next to my desk and rearrange them as I go.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
I usually start my writing day at 9am. If all goes well, with a lunch break, I can write until 7pm or until the cats just won’t put up with me ignoring them any longer. But most days there are interruptions. I am working on other projects besides just my own writing. I teach and read student papers, and I’m putting together a national public radio show so my partner and I are busy reading submissions. It’s all fun, but can distract from hours of just writing.
If you could only own and read 5 books for the rest of your life, (excluding your own) what five books would you choose?
Catcher in the Rye. I’ve read it about 7 times. All at different times in my life, and it means something different to me every time. Judy Reeves book, Writers Book of Days. John Irving’s The World According to Garp. I’ve read it twice, but could read it again. David Sedaris, anything by him, because you have to have something that you can laugh at over and over. And my very favorite author is Irish writer, Roddy Doyle. I’d probably take The Woman Who Walked Into Doors of his collection. Tough decision, I htought when I read this question, but I came up with the five I know I would take right away,there must be some truth to it.
If you had to watch only five films for the rest of your life, what five films would you choose?
I let my boyfriend pick the films. He always picks great stuff that we both love. Usually something artsy, funny and a little odd. Like Edward Scissorhands. But this one I can’t answer as easy as the book one.
Do you have a vice that you’ve given up, but long to continue?
Coffee. I had to give up drinking coffee because it was giving me horrific stomach problems. It’s been about two years now and I have become a tea fanatic. I’m a tea connoiseur now, I have all the Kenyan and Indonesian teas, and steep the teas for their respective proper times, etc. But I still long to go to Starbucks for a tall latte.
How do you promote your books? Are you going on tour for this book? Any upcoming signings?
The publicist at Viking says that blogs are the best way to get the word out any more. I also write reviews for the LA Times, so my bio blurbs my book. I went on a tour for the hardcover of my book and that was a lot of fun and I sold a lot of books. And now I’m visiting book clubs or other womens’ groups and that’s really where I have the most fun. I would travel all over the country to go to book clubs. I have yet to meet a boring group of women. I love the questions they ask. And the food they serve!
For you, what is the most difficult part of being an author?
Getting over thinking that it’s all just a fluke.
What do you love about being an author?
That my dream has come true. That no matter what happens from here on out, my dream has come to fruition and no one can ever take that away from me.
What’s next for you?
I have a contract with Hyperion for another book. I’m about half way through. I had an absolute blast writing MoonPies and Movie Stars, but this current project is ten time as much fun. I hope it always just keeps getting better.