Find a Christian store

Interview with Amanda G Stevens

Amanda G. Stevens is an author who “never didn’t know” that she wanted to be a writer. “Story has been my deepest love since before I could read,” she said. “And I was serious about it.”

Amanda wrote her first story in first grade and has never stopped writing stories that she prays will glorify God. Amanda considers her writing talent to be “God’s good, kind gift” to her heart.

Today, we’re visiting with this talented author. Read Amanda’s interview to find out what she loves about writing, the food/beverage she craves when on deadline, and the source of inspiration for her newest novel, Take and Give.

How do you define speculative fiction? Why is it your favorite to write?
I am an accidental writer of speculative fiction. The first thing in my head is always the characters, not the plot. So for the Haven Seekers series, I had Marcus and Lee very clearly in my head and no plot for them. They seemed like people who would show themselves most clearly if they were fighting some kind of war, something covert like the Underground Railroad or the French Resistance in WWII. But I didn’t want to write historical fiction, which left me with one option: create a story world that fit what I wanted. Now, though, I have a couple other story ideas in my head … and they each contain some speculative element. It seems I can’t create a story without messing with reality.

What do you love about teaching literature and composition to home-school high school students?
I no longer teach, but I enjoyed it, especially our lit discussion classes. I’m a reader; I believe in reading; I think people who don’t read miss out on a vital aspect of life. I loved dissecting stories with my students.

When did you “know” you were a writer?
I don’t remember ever not knowing that. I wrote my first story in first grade. I’ve been writing ever since.

What do you love the most about writing?
I love my characters most. I also love to write dialogue. I love to hear it in my head and get those rhythms onto the page—patterns that make the characters individuals, interruptions and misunderstandings and wit and emotion. And I love to edit. Cutting words is so rewarding.

Is there anything you do not like about being a writer? Explain.
I don’t like the blank page. Birthing a book is a draining process for me. I have to let the first draft be dramatic and difficult and awful. Once I can work on a finished draft, I’m a much happier writer.

Tell us about your latest book, Take and Give. What inspired you to write it? What is it about? Why did you want it to be published?
Take and Give is the third book in the Haven Seekers series, and first of all I have to say they must be read in order. (The fourth book will be out early 2016.) Haven Seekers is what I call dystopian-lite; the world is recognizable in almost every way as contemporary USA. But the state has taken over the church, and a specialized police agency called the Constabulary enforces “philosophical regulations.” As I stated before, I didn’t start out with this story world in my head. I started out with Marcus and Lee, my series protagonists. I wanted this series published because I wanted people to meet my characters and, I hope, fall in love with them.

Who is your hero in your book Take and Give? Describe his looks, personality, strengths and flaws. What or who makes his heart skip a beat? Explain.
While Marcus is the male lead of my series, his point of view is not featured in Take and Give (for reasons that will be apparent if you read the book). Instead, we finally get into the head of Austin Delvecchio, who we met in Found and Lost (Book 2). Austin is a blue-eyed blond twenty-two-year-old scholar at heart with a lean muscle tone he wishes he could bulk up. He loves learning and 70s music and playing his guitar. He is street smart by necessity and has a serious anger problem. He’s trying to figure out the truth about the Constabulary and about the Christians he’s been taught to consider dangerous. As for the girl who makes his heart skip a beat, that would be 18-year-old Violet DuBay (who we also met in Found and Lost).

Who is the heroine in your book Take and Give? What makes her beautiful to the hero? What is her favorite food? How would her fictional friends describe her personality and heart?
Take and Give is also the first book in which we get into the head of my female lead, Lee Vaughn. She’s a thirty-year-old ER nurse who loves to read and cook. Marcus has been in love with Lee for ten years, and she knows it, but she doesn’t consider herself able to love him back. They are, however, best friends: he is the person she trusts in all things, and she is the same to him. Lee is a health nut but she also enjoys Mexican food and the occasional Klondike bar. She is an extreme introvert, reserved and a little chilly even with people she knows, and there’s a lot of bitterness built up in her. But underneath the bitterness is deep feeling and heart. Violet has become her best friend and would probably describe her as “cool and awesome” and say Lee is a person who would do anything for you.

How does your faith in God play into your storytelling?
I’ve certainly worked out things in my own walk with God while I’m writing the journey of a character. But I think the greatest way my worldview influences my writing is in my determination to be honest—about the darkness of the world we live in and about the only true Light, Jesus Christ. And I want to create the most excellent art I can for His glory.

What fuels your desire to continue writing as a lifetime pursuit?
My characters.

What advice do you have for other writers who are not represented by an agent and dream of being traditionally published one day?
Read across genres. Learn to “see” voices: that is, what would this speech look like on the page? If you have to, record people talking and then type out a transcript and really look at it. Work hard and don’t settle for “good enough.” When you’re ready to find an agent, if you want to be published in the traditional Christian market, I recommend attending conferences and entering the Genesis contest.

Who is your favorite author? Why?
Oh, I could never choose just one. But on the list (in no order) are C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Raymond Chandler, Jack Schaefer, Dennis Lehane, Tana French, and Kristen Heitzmann. I love each of these authors for their mastery of voice and for creating characters that matter to me—characters I can cheer for and worry about.

What is your favorite movie of all time? Share details.
I love classics. I love noir and Westerns and sci-fi and character-driven drama. While I don’t have a single favorite, however, Marcus certainly does: Jaws. (And I agree with him that it is basically a perfect movie.)

Do songs inspire your stories/character creation? Explain.
Not until after the fact. That is, I hear a song that’s Marcus or Lee now because I know them so well. But I didn’t use songs to create them. That said, Needtobreathe’s album "Rivers in the Wasteland" is very much a theme album for Haven Seekers.

Share a glimpse into your personal life: details on your family, hobbies, treasured memories or an event that changed your life and favorite beverage when on deadline.
I work a full-time day job and I have a wonderful Truth-driven church, great relationships with my parents and three siblings, and some of the best friends anyone could ask for. My idea of a great weekend would be dinner out with a friend, a few hours browsing used-book stores, and back home for a movie on Netflix. I also love concerts and I’ve been known to marathon a TV show once I’m so into it I can’t bear not knowing what happens to the characters. Life in addition to the rapid release of Haven Seekers has kept me quite busy for the last year or so! When I’m on deadline, I want dark chocolate, white cheddar popcorn, and a salted caramel mocha frapp from Starbucks.

Complete this sentence: As a writer, at the end of the day, I_________________ because ________________________.
As a writer with a full-time job, at the end of the day, I don’t go to bed when I should because this is when I have time to be creative.

Thanks for the interview, Amanda! God bless you!
Thank you for inviting me to share and blessings to all your readers!

For more great interviews, visit our Author Interview Archives.

ACFW Members, click here to apply for an author interview!

Developed by Camna, LLC

This is a service provided by ACFW, but does not in any way endorse any publisher, author, or work herein.