Amy and I first connected through Randy Ingermanson’s blog. Since then we’ve talked via her blog and email. She has a passion for writing and Jesus, and is eager to share her knowledge of both.
Following is my interview with her about writing, publishing and faith. I know you’ll enjoy the conversation as much as I did:
1. A little about yourself:
I’m married and fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with our two children, now 15 and 12. In my life B.C. (before children) I did bench science research and taught anatomy and physiology at an undergraduate level.
I undertook a personal quest to investigate the claims of Jesus’ resurrection with the goal of destroying them. To do this I studied biblical and extra-biblical accounts of Jesus and numerous commentaries by believers and skeptics alike, listed the facts agreed upon, and began to explore scenarios that could explain what was known. To my surprise and considerable dismay, the evidence kept pointing away from naturalistic explanations and eventually formed a virtually certain case for the resurrection of Jesus. Finally I admitted defeat and became a Christian.
2. Did you always know you would be a writer, or did a specific event urge you to hone your craft?
I was blown away by the case for Jesus’ resurrection, and decided to write a book. Easy, huh?
3. Your bio says you came to Christ by attempting to prove the fallacy of the Resurrection. What spurred you to disprove it in the first place?
Short Answer: The Hounds of Heaven.
I grew up in a nominally Christian home, but didn’t want to be tied to ethics and rules. At the same time, I knew that, if on the off chance Christianity WAS true, then I was truly hosed. Christianity rises or falls on the resurrection (1 Cor 15:14-19), so I focused here.
I studied Biblical and extrabiblical accounts, plus commentaries, of the life and death of Jesus for the better part of a year. Months after I’d started, I remember reading the transcript of a debate between Gary Habermas and Antony Flew entitled *Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?*. I was surprised at Flew’s only position that we couldn’t know what had happened. Habermas rebutted with a list of historical facts that were established, and I knew from my own studies that they were established, but seeing them bang bang bang hit me with a sledgehammer. I suddenly saw clearly that naturalistic theories just would never work to explain what happened after Jesus died. Although I was angry I bowed my head at that moment and admitted Jesus was Lord. Later, I got in touch with Dr. Habermas and told him this story, and he kindly gave me permission to use his list of facts in "A Lever Long Enough."
4. Who or what are your biggest encouragers?
I think ultimately the encouragement must come from within. I am driven to write.
5. Who are your biggest influencers?
My *Role Model*, the person who comes closest to what I want to do, is Dr. Randy Ingermanson. He has a PhD in theoretical physics, designs computer software, writes on the subjects I’m interested in (Jesus, space, time), and has built a wonderful platform of encouragement for writers and marketing.
6. In speaking to new writers seeking publication, what advice do you give on how to best start out?
Don’t expect to produce perfect prose off the bat – just as you wouldn’t expect to play a Beethoven Sonata for your first piano lesson. Just believe in yourself, and persist.
7. Why did you choose self-publishing over traditional?
A few years ago I was able to sign with my first-choice agent. For various reasons things didn’t work out, but not until after all of my CBA contacts had been blown. No other agents wanted to touch Lever. I had three choices: change the name of my manuscript and go through the agents again; write another book; or give it a go on my own. I believed in this book, so figured what the heck? I’m very proud of how it turned out.
8. How did you learn to market your books?
I’m playing it by ear, since I have no contacts and no one to advise me. I read a lot about the biz, and am willing to try anything. So far I’ve had most success with blog interviews such as this one – I’m so grateful for people like you who are willing to allow me to visit! My biggest coup so far is being selected for the March ACFW book club, an internet loop with over 700 members. I have given this book to God, and am content whether it sells two or two million copies. I want this to be a book that God can use to open the mind/heart of a skeptic.
9. What do you recommend for people who are also considering self-publishing?
This is not a decision to be taken lightly, so carefully consider the positives and negatives of your publishing options (traditional, vanity/subsidy, your own company). First, recognize that nonfiction is much easier to sell than fiction. Make very sure that your manuscript is ready. If you decide to go ahead with self-publishing consider forming your own publishing company, since in my opinion you will never be able to competitively sell books using a vanity/subsidy publisher. (these are the companies that produce your book for a fee). Be ready to invest resources (time, money, sweat) into the process.
10. Did the idea for the “A Lever Long Enough” develop over time, or did it arrive at a single moment of clarity?
The kernel came quickly; the rest didn’t. I’d read two novels with a similar premise (Og Mandino’s "The Christ Commission"; Alton Gansky’s "Crime Scene: Jerusalem") but didn’t want to have a long list of character interviews. It was fun to imagine a story that grew organically from the events surrounding Jesus’ death.
11. Most writers add a piece of themselves in each character. Is there one who you relate to more than others?
I love all of my characters, but if I had to choose a favorite, I’d pick Sara. She is very much like me—focused, quiet, but beneath her calm exterior a seething mass of turmoil. Her faith journey also parallels my own—she didn’t want to become a believer, but was pulled in by the strength of the evidence.
12. What are your writing goals in the near future?
I have two half-finished projects. The first project is my prequel, entitled "Nest Among the Stars" from Obadiah 1:4, that follows Sara’s space station disaster. This one is really shock and awe, with a deep theme of forgiveness. The second project is nonfiction, entitled "The Story Template," that is a practical guide for a writer to develop a resonant, complete, compelling story from vague ideas. It’s based on an algorithm I’ve developed during my story studies, and it really works with students I’ve coached. It’s not a formula, more like a description of proportions and guidelines that work with any genre, sin
ce I’m a great belie
ver in the uniqueness of each artist’s vision. You can see a tutorial for preliminary story organization that I’ve put on my website under *resources.*
13. Do you have a favorite place to write and/or come up with new ideas? Describe it and anything else such as the music you play to encourage creativity.
My *office* is the dining room table. I write on my laptop, and right next to it is my little spiral notebook into which I jot thoughts, reminders, or information I want to keep track of. I listen to music when I’m on a writing roll, but if I’m just engaging in a project it’s too distracting. Some artists I like are Maire Brennan, Michelle Tumes, Twila Paris, Fernando Ortega, Mark Schultz, but many others as well. I love Handel’s Messiah. I’ll perseverate on a playlist for a few weeks, and then move on.
14. If you were to change any aspect of writing, what would it be?
Just, that I could manage distractions a little better.
15. Other than writing, what’s your passion?
I greatly enjoy my family. It’s so fun to help coach and guide our kids, and watch them becoming such unique and interesting people. They won’t be home for TOO much longer, so I’m trying to enjoy every minute.
Thank you so much, Amy!
Be sure to check out her website and read her blog. They contain excellent information, and I’m sure she’d love to hear from you.