Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
From my parents. Both of them were great readers and so I grew up around books. When I was ten my dad handed me The Hobbit and basically said, “if you don’t like this book, then we’re going to have a problem.” He also would take me to the bookshop every Saturday and buy me the new Trixie Belden as soon as it came out. While my mom would tell me about how when she was a child she’d get in trouble for reading books under the sheets using a flashlight – which of course just adds that bit of danger every child reader needs to be totally hooked!!!!
They also never censored what I read so it never became a chore or something that I didn’t want to do.
How long have you been writing?
I published my first book, You Had Me at Halo ten years ago and I started writing seriously about seven years before that. Which is crazy because every time I start a new book it still feels like I’m just getting started – such is the joy (and terror) or writing!!!
What kind(s) of writing do you do?
I write YA, middle grade and romance books, which sounds like I’m split in a few different directions, but actually I write them all pretty much the same way (though some books have less kissing in them!)
How does your book relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?
I LOVE this question!!!! My spiritual practice is hugely important to me and when I’m not reading YA books I’m reading self-development and spiritual books because that’s what I’m drawn to. I meditate and practice mindfulness (and even try very hard not to kill bugs – though that’s a tough one because bugs are ick!!!)
However, I’d never want to write a book where I’m preaching or trying to teach people a lesson, because that sounds the polar opposite of fun, not to mention hard work! However, my core belief is in the transforming power of love. So, my writing is all about characters who are being pushed out of their comfort zone and forced into transformation as they fall in love and become open-hearted.
What do you think most characterizes your writing?
I love being ridiculous and I’m a sucker for a good one liner so my writing is always light-hearted with some silly side character shenanigans!
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
This was one of the easier books I’ve ever written and my favorite part was chapter one. I hadn’t even been thinking about a YA romance and then the chapter almost fell onto the page (which is such an annoying thing to say, I know!) I just really liked Cat’s character and the fact she was sitting under a tree wearing her pyjamas, and that image really drove the whole story.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Ursula Le Guin and Raymone E Feist are some of my all time favorite authors – and I re-read their books all the time. They all create such amazing worlds that make it hard for me to leave. And while my own books don’t really reflect these books in setting, tone or world building (hahaha – or anything) they have all inspired me to step into being a storyteller and to keep learning the craft!
What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
When I first started writing I did a short course that was very dry. It gave me lots of character interview sheets and lots of rules of what I should and shouldn’t do and it almost turned me off. In the end the most useful thing I did was to just start writing. And the more I wrote the more I figured it out – and I still did lots of courses and reading along the way, but it was by starting the book that I actually began to work out my own system (which never includes character interviews – so if you ask me what Cat or Alex’s favorite color, I couldn’t tell you!)
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I’m a part-time writer and this works best for me. I have been a full time writer before and discovered that if I have too much time on my hands I just figure out strange and interesting ways to use that time up (and not by writing). It sometimes involves the internet, sometimes it will be meeting up with other authors and talking about writing instead of actually doing it, and in one very low moment I even resorted to cleaning the oven! These days I schedule in my writing into shorter spaces and while my oven is no longer shiny, the words do flow better. For the rest of my time I help other authors manage their journey on the creative path and also work in a library.
What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
I’m a part time children’s librarian, which, if you’re going to have a day job is a pretty great one to have! And honestly most of the time it doesn’t feel like work at all. I get to hang out with kids and send them home with huge reading piles, while also having great conversations with their parents (because I LOVE parents who make it a priority to bring their kids to the library). It really is such a joy to be part of someone else’s reading journey!
What do you like to read in your free time?
I read lots of YA, Fantasy and self-development books. I’m currently reading Into the Wilderness by Brene Brown and Warcross by Marie Lu
What projects are you working on at the present?
I’m writing a middle grade series called Midnight Reynolds, under the name Catherine Holt and I’m just about to start book three. Plus I’ve got some women’s fiction small town romance books coming out next year, which I’m about to dive into!
What do your plans for future projects include?
It’s been awhile since I’ve done a YA single title and so that is something I’m planning to do.
Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?
There is actually something magical about water and I do a lot of my thinking in the shower and when I’m out walking! But as for daily habits, I must confess that I don’t have a writing desk. Instead I take my laptop and follow the sun around the house! In winter I’ve been known to write in bed. Right now I’m at the breakfast bar because that’s closest to the coffee!!!! Every now and then I attempt to train myself into staying at a desk but so far it hasn’t stuck!
What book do you wish you could have written?
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Um, wow! I love that book so much!
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
Naming characters is so much fun! There are lots of baby name sites that will break it down by popular names for each year, not to mention meanings. Some of the less obvious places are movie credits. For some reason the people who work behind the scenes in movies have The Best Names Ever!!!! I’m constantly finding cool ideas in the credits. Also, thanks to being in the library I get to meet young kids all the time who are rocking amazing names. I enrolled a young girl the other day whose name was Stevi and you can bet that I’ll be using that one sometime soon!!!
What do you want your tombstone to say?
Can I steal from Buffy? Her tombstone in season 6 read: She saved the world. A lot.
What literary character is most like you?
I’m a huge Jane Austen fan and I’d like to say I was Elizabeth Bennet but I have the sneaking suspicion that I’m more of a Bridget Jones!!!
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
Italy! When I was backpacking through Europe we went through Italy on the way to Greece and on the way back and for some INSANE reason, we never stopped there. That’s something that needs to be fixed. And I really want to visit New York City! I
If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?
A red panda. Those guys are soooo cute.
If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?
Too funny! I’m from Australia but have lived in New Zealand for a long time, plus in my husband’s home town of Liverpool, England (the land of the Beatles). So I have a very weird accent. I would trade it in for a nice English accent any day of the week!
About The Heartbreak Cure:
How to get over a heartbreak:
Step one: Eat your body weight in brownies.
Step two: Throw yourself into your dreams of becoming a famous writer.
Step three: Beg your (hottie) ex-neighbor to act as your fake boyfriend.
Step four: Skip step three unless you’re ready for some serious fallout.
After being dumped and humiliated over the summer, Cat Turner does what any sane girl would do. She asks bad boy Alex Locke to be her fake boyfriend and show the world (and her editor at the school newspaper) that she’s fine. Problem is, the more time she spends with Alex, the more she risks getting her heart broken. For real this time.
Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a swoony bad boy who will melt your heart, brownies, and witty banter. One, two, or all three might prove addictive…
About Amanda Ashby:
Amanda Ashby was born in Australia but now lives in New Zealand where she writes romance, young adult and middle grade books. She also works in a library, owns far too many vintage tablecloths and likes to delight her family by constantly rearranging the furniture. She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two children. Her debut book was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award, and her first young adult book was listed by the New York Public Libraryʼs Stuff for the Teen Age. Because she’s mysterious she also writes middle grade books under the name, Catherine Holt and hopes that all this writing won’t interfere with her Netflix schedule.
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