Amy Sparling is a Texas native with a passion for young adult literature. In her free time she participates in semi-professional ghost hunting excursions, attends nerd conventions and invents cooky games with her daughter. She has a full time job, a part time college career, and writes books in what little time is left in the day. Amy Sparling is a pen name.
1. Hello Amy! Thank you for granting me this interview. I’d like to talk first about your book Phantom Summer. How did this story come into being? Thanks so much for having me! This is my first official interview and I’m pretty excited about it. The story in Phantom Summer was inspired from a time when my sister and I decided to go „ghost hunting” in this 200 year old abandoned mansion we found in the middle of nowhere. (See picture) We didn’t see any ghosts, and the police showed up and kicked us out, but we did have fun looking through the ruins of what used to be a beautiful house. The experience inspired me to write about a girl who goes on real ghost hunting adventures.
2. What was the most challenging aspect of creating this character of Taylor Gray? Taylor is broken because she recently lost her best friend and she feels responsible for his death. I’ve never been in that situation, and I’m lucky that I haven’t lost many people in my life, so I couldn’t relate. I had to spend a lot of time inside Taylor’s mind, trying to feel the emotions she was feeling in order to write them in the book.
3. How did you approach the research needed for the book? This part was fun! Like I said earlier, the mansion we visited was a huge inspiration for the book. I also live on the coast of Texas, near Galveston island where many homes are over a hundred years old. My sister and I shadowed an actual ghost tour through the historical part of the island, and I took notes on what was fun about it and what could use improvement in my own story.
4. What are your current/future projects? I have a fun novella called Summer Unplugged that I hope to publish this summer. It’s about a girl who gets grounded from her cell phone and computer because her mom thinks she’s too addicted to technology and social media. She then has to spend the whole summer with her grandparents who live out in the country. She thinks it’s going to suck, but then she meets the cute guy next door and, well.. you’ll have to read it to find out what happens. 🙂 Amy Sparling is actually my pen name for indie published books. My biggest project right now is a teenage superhero book called Powered. I’m working on revisions with an agent and we’re hoping to get traditionally published, but if that doesn’t work out then I will indie publish that as well. You can find more at my other website:www.cheyanneyoung.com
5. If you had to be one of your protagonists, who would it be? That’s a hard question! But I’ll probably go with Maci Might from my superhero book, Powered. She’s a superhero after all…that’s pretty awesome.
6. Who are your favourite writers and why?
RL Stine, because his Goosebumps and Fear Street books were like crack to me as a kid. I read every single one of them, and that turned me into a reader which eventually turned me into a writer. Plus he’s retweeted me on twitter a few times, which is totally awesome.
Sarah Dessen, because she writes amazing characters and stories. I’ve always wanted to be just like her, even though our writing styles are very different. I even named my daughter after Halley in her book Someone Like You.
John Green because he’s awesome in every way.
Jeaniene Frost because she writes the most kick-ass female protagonists.
JK Rowling because Harry Potter shaped my entire life. I started reading the series when I was kid, and when I finished reading the series, I had my own kid.
7. What was the book that most influenced your life — and why? The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. It’s a timeless book. It didn’t follow any of the „writing rules” that tell you how to create a perfect novel, and yet, it is the perfect novel. It’s the only book that I can read over and over again, and it reminds me what it feels like as a reader to read a real character and not some cookie cutter flat character.
8. What are your 5 favorite books —and why?
- The Harry Potter series – because it’s perfect in every way.
- The Catcher in the Rye – as mentioned above
- The Fault in our Stars by John Green. That book hit me really hard. It felt like my heart had been ripped out for days after I read it.
- The Twilight Series – these books get made fun of a lot, but they got millions of people reading books when they otherwise wouldn’t. And anything that turns people into readers is good. Plus, I couldn’t put them down when I read them. 🙂
- Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen – This book is just incredibly *real* to me. I love it
9. What is the greatest challenge you have faced in your career as an author? Finding time to write. I work full time, I’m in college part time and I have an 8 year old daughter. Too often I find myself dying to write but unable to because of homework, house cleaning, meals that need to be cooked, a dog that needs to go on a walk, and a kid that needs my love and attention. If I had my way, I would write all day and produce all the books that are floating around in my head.
10. Describe your writing room. I have dedicated a whole room in my house to be my „Office” for writing…however, I usually end up writing on the couch with my laptop. But for professional purposes, here’s an panorama photo of my office, complete with bookshelf, framed Harry Potter signs, and paper stars my daughter made as inspiration. Also, I have this special book fairy, who often takes the form of a cat who likes to sit and stare at me while I write.
- 7am: wake up early, make coffee and get to writing. I write the best stuff in the morning.
- 7:15am: Realize I’ve been goofing off on Twitter… turn off the WiFi and get to writing.
- 9:30-10ish: The kiddo wakes up so I’ll make us breakfast & get more coffee.
- 11am: Realize that somehow the WiFi was magically turned back on and I’ve been online instead of writing. Get back to writing.
- Then I do whatever the day’s plans are.. which for the sake of this interview, I’ll pretend they’re really awesome things.
After the awesome things, I’ll stay up until about 11pm and write. The only exceptions are Sundays at 8pm where I’ll drop everything to watch The Walking Dead as if my life depends on it.
12. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? I want to say a huge Thank you to everyone who has read my books. When I first published Deadbeat and Phantom Summer, I kind of did it as a fun thing just because I didn’t want those books rotting away on my computer. I wanted people to read them. I had NO idea that people would actually read and like them. I have never asked for book reviews and yet people leave me the greatest reviews ever. It’s just such an honor that people are finding my books and liking them. I think YA readers are the best people ever!
THANK YOU AMY!!