March 9, 2010
Interview with Amy Brecount White
Amy Brecount White is the author of FORGET-HER-NOTS, a novel about high school, emotions running rampant, and flowers. For those who want to see her live, she'll be at the Virginia Festival of the Book on March 20, as will yesterday's guest Jennifer Hubbard. Don't forget to read to the end for a chance to win big at the Spread the Flower Love Blog Tour!
1. Before becoming a novelist, you wrote a number of articles for everything from a health newsletter to The Washington Post. What were some of the differences between the types of writing?
I wrote articles for newspaper and magazines, because I could do my research, write the piece, turn it in, see it in the paper pretty quickly, and get paid, too! Instant gratification was essential while my kids were young. With a novel, it’s more of a gigantic leap of faith. Very few novelists get paid until after they’ve spent years working really hard. Also, journalistic writing is much tighter with a specific word count. I learned economy of phrasing and ruthless editing from my years as a freelancer.
When you started FORGET-HER-NOTS did you know you were writing for a teen audience?
I did. I’d taught high school & middle school for 7 years, so I knew that audience well. I think the teen years are an amazing time of life. Everything’s very vivid, and you get to make real, important choices. You choose who you are then, so I wanted to write to that audience.
2. What kind of flowers would you want in a bouquet from your significant other, based on the meanings you used in FORGET-HER-NOTS?
I’d take anything, but I’d love for it to include gardenias, red tulips, sage, parsley, and a scarlet poppy or two.
3. Like many high-school novels, the prom figures into FORGET-HER-NOTS. Did you attend your own prom(s)?
What do you remember most about that night?
I was with a guy who was a good friend, but I’d actually fallen for another guy who was there with one of my best friends. So the evening was a swirl of complicated emotions, as you can imagine. I did end up with guy #2 at our “Beachcomber” dance, the last and most fun of the year.
4. Many magical realist authors object to the term "magical realism." Do you think the term applies to FORGET-HER-NOTS?
What do you like or dislike about the classification?
I actually like it, because I think it’s the best description for FHN. My novel isn’t fantasy, because it’s set in the real world with one element of magic. I do think flowers release a magic into the world, so for my novel, I merely turned the magic up! I also like magic realism, because it encourages us to look at our real world from a new perspective and to consider new possibilities.
For more on FHN and magic realism, check out the post I did for SharonLovesCatsandBooks.
5. Once upon a time, you were an English teacher. What did you enjoy teaching most?
Senior English, usually British Lit or AP English. I’m a total Anglophile.
6. What do you enjoy doing when you aren't writing or researching? I adore being outside – gardening, biking, walking my dog, or inline skating. If I don’t get exercise and fresh air, I get cranky. I’m a huge reader, and I love making muffins, too. Blueberry or banana are my faves.
What do you think you would do if you weren't a writer? I’d probably still be teaching. I love teaching, so I hope to visit lots of classes and libraries to talk about writing, both fiction and non-fiction. :)
My flower is the zinnia, which represents thoughts of absent friends. I chose it because the very things it reminds me of are absent friends. Zinnia was the name of my first guinea pig. (Spelling my pet's name in first grade was a difficult task.) My mother's e-mail address has the word 'zinnia' in it. We grew zinnias at the house I grew up in. Not only is it a lovely flower with much personal meaning, I like to say it.
Collect all of the virtual flowers this week and you could win DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS by C.J. Omololu and HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins, along with a language of flowers booklet and FHN swag. Click on the button to the right or the link in this post in order to get all the deets.