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Interview with Amanda Knight
Amanda’s Path to Publication
Today I chat with the absolutely lovely Amanda Knight, a fellow Australian Author, who shares with us her path to publication. Her novel ‘Situation Critical’ is about to have it’s very first book birthday this April!
I first met Amanda way back in 2010 at the RWA of Australia’s inaugural 5 day Manuscript intensive workshop, and then we touched base again in 2015 at the yearly RWA Australia conference. It was wonderful to reconnect with her, and I think there was something magical in the water at the 2016 conference because since then we’ve both gone on to finally get our debut books published!
And let’s all CONGRATULATE her for being nominated as a finalist in the Australian Romance Readers Awards for 2017, in 4 different categories!! Well done, Amanda, and I’m so excited for you !!
Amanda is one of the loveliest Authors you will meet, and I’m so excited to be able to feature her on my website, and share with you all her Path to Publication. So let’s get started!!
- How long have you been writing for?
I’ve always written—whether it be angsty teen poetry, short stories, blogs, journals or workplace newsletters… I’ve tried to stop—but I can’t NOT write! My romance writing career started around nine years ago when I’d finished a short story, and wanted to ‘learn’ how to craft a page turner, and to find out whether my manuscript had any potential. After Googling books, courses and everything in-between, I stumbled on Romance Writers of Australia.
I went along to my first conference that same year, and pitched my work to a seasoned editor, who’d asked for the first 5000 words of my manuscript prior to the pitch. The book I pitched was loosely in the genre of thriller with romantic elements (and wasn’t finished!) The editor told me that they felt I was stifling something in my ‘voice’ and perhaps it was romance, to let it ‘flow’ within my work and then send it back for review… I went away, stopped pushing the romance aside (which I’d previously done when those characters screamed at me to include it!) and indeed let it flow… and then I was hooked!
- How long did it take you from when you started writing, to when you became a published author?
The next big step along my journey after I decided to get serious, was my selection for the Romance Writers of Australia Inaugural 5 Day Intensive workshop in 2010 (a bit like you Maddy!) That was the catalyst for making me ‘finish’ a book – up until then I’d started plenty, but not finished! (Although that one is in the bottom drawer for now!) As an aside, some of my nearest and dearest friends were forged from that experience!
After 5DI, I dabbled around the edges for the next few years, finalled in a few competitions and then decided enough was enough. I gave myself another swift talking to, which included issuing a self-imposed deadline to finish the book by July 2016, and to pitch the book at the Romance Writers of Australia conference the same year.
Not without hesitation, (many) crises of confidence and a little help from my friends, I did submit the book, and was thrilled when I received the call from Kate Cuthbert at Escape (well, it was an email!) just before Christmas, accepting the manuscript for what is now known as Situation Critical… and the rest, as they say, is history!
- Where do you write from, home, office, coffee shop, etc? And do you have any pre-writing or actual writing rituals (such as lighting a candle, listening to music, etc)?
I write in my office, a little ‘study in the cupboard’ and at my desk (where I can close the door when the family are home) or at the dining table (big windows, lots of light) when there’s no one else around. I also write on the train heading into work (that’s usually scribbling ideas in my notebook), at the library when my home is just too busy for concentration, and sometimes, at my local café where the comings and goings become a little like white noise, that somehow helps me immerse in the words. Although, once, I had a fellow guest tap me on the shoulder, and ask if I was alright – I’d been writing a scene where my villain killed someone, and it seems my facial expressions whilst doing so were a little alarming! Perhaps public writing isn’t such a good plan?!
- Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in-between?
I am definitely somewhere in-between! I used to be an all-out plotter, but found it stifled me creatively. So now, once I have my core idea, and an inkling of my black moment/and or story ending, I spend quite a bit of time ‘listening’ to who my characters are as the initial step, filling in a character bio of sorts (mine is a bit of a combo of the detail in Cherry Adair’s Writer’s Bible, Jami Gold’s Character Worksheets and KM Weiland’s Character Interview with elements of my own thrown in!) I then learn all I can about my characters. I research the specific or unique elements of each of their worlds; see life through their eyes and experiences – a bit of an immersion experience.
Often, I’ll write the first couple of chapters when I’m still in the ‘getting to know the character’ phase, but usually, by the time I’m at chapter four to five-ish, I am fairly well acquainted with my primary characters, and the essential elements of their goals, motivation and conflict. At this stage, I’ll general plot out the main scenes/chapters for the remainder of the book. If I don’t do this, I can end up procrastinating or heading down a rabbit hole that doesn’t end up working!
- What is your favourite part of the writing process?
The part when the tiny idea explodes into an amazing array of characters, scenes and an entire storyline emerges – often faster than I can write it down! I love when I am in ‘flow’ and not really even conscious of the twists and turns that fly out of my finger tips (during the planning and the writing…) it’s super exciting. I also love the feeling of reaching the end, although, by then I think I loath and pine for my characters in equal parts!
- What is the most important part of a novel to you: plot, characters, or setting?
Each of these is as important to me as the other… I do love intricately woven characters and so, perhaps, that’s a little more important than the other two for me! But only by a smidge.
- Describe your writing routine (how long do you spending plotting the novel, time spent writing, editing, submitting it):
Hmmm – that has never been the same! My process now is planning and plotting around four to six weeks. I aim to write five thousand words per week, and give myself four to six months to complete a first draft (depending on the length I’m aiming for). Sometimes, I am able to write the synopsis during this phase, but usually work on that near to the end or when I’m finished. Generally, capturing the tag line and nailing the blurb comes for me after the process. I’d love to sort this earlier, but so far, not a lot of luck! I hold out hope!
I work a full-time job outside of my writing life, and am mum to three children, so I have to be pretty regimented in committing to my writing time, or it just doesn’t happen. At the very least, no matter what kind of day I’ve had, or how tired I am, I force myself to write 500 words a day, and have one day dedicated to reaching at least a 2k word count. I aim for 5k per week, at the very least. I find if I miss a few daily sessions, I lose my mojo, and can then go a number of weeks without writing a thing – super dangerous! So have learned I must make that 500 words happen EVERY day!
- How many books a year do you usually write (or are you aiming to write):
One per year at this stage but would really like to make that two, or even a full length and novella. That’s my next goal!
- How did you get your publishing contract?
I pitched to the editor at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in 2016, and on request, submitted my full manuscript including cover letter and synopsis.
- How did you cope with rejection during the querying process?
It’s an awful feeling, so I do allow myself a bit of a boo-hoo… and then take the time to review the feedback objectively, decide which parts are a great opportunity for improvement or a different way of thinking, and if there’s anything that I don’t agree with… that’s okay too.
- Describe the time when you got ‘the call’ regarding publication:
I was knee deep in a time sensitive project at my day job, had ducked up the road for a coffee and loaded my personal emails… I think I might have gasped really loudly, and then actually, found myself in this weird state of wondering if the words I’d read were actually what they said they were! I immediately called my fabulous crit partner (and the person who’d most closely travelled this journey with me!) and I think she screamed, and cried… and then it kicked in! I shook, cried, laughed, gasped and overall, couldn’t quite believe it! AND then, I had to go back to work, and deliver to my deadline (was super hard, was so distracted!) I saved all the celebrating and absolute excitement for after that! It is such a surreal feeling to finally achieve what I’d been striving for, for so long!
- What were your biggest learning experiences or surprises throughout the publishing journey?
Time… and how quickly you have to move once it’s a ‘yes.’ Editing and all the tasks needed to have your book reach its audience happen at warp speed compared to everything that’s gone before! Also, the amount of dedicated time needed for promotions – this is a definite to be factored into the planning!
- Looking back, what do you think you did right that helped you break in?
Perseverance… you can’t give up, you really have to want this and keep at it. Listen, learn and be respectful. Take advice, consider it – there’s always something new to experience and learn, that may help you hone your craft. Behave like a published author, remain professional at all times and remember that sometimes it’s a long game, and who you are at the beginning, middle and end matters.
- Is there anything you wish you could do differently?
Get serious, without compromise, sooner!
- Best advice you’ve ever been given, or have heard, about writing?
Keep writing; keep submitting… stay true to your voice and your story. Your story will find a place, when it’s the right place to find. J K Rowling said, “Sometimes you have to get your writing done in spare moments here and there.” It’s so true – life is there, and you have to do what you can to keep moving forward… don’t let excuses get in the way! Read – often and widely! Super important…
- Any advice for aspiring writers on writing and submitting?
DON’T give up… be curious – read craft books, listen to podcasts, ready other writers journey stories… there IS a place for you. Sometimes, the road is long and hard, but you WILL move forward… follow the rules when submitting – anything can happen after!
- What advice can you give to other writers on building a platform and gaining a readership base?
Behave like you’re already published… follow and help other writers, join relevant groups, spent time in reader environments (volunteer to help!) and become a great advocate within these environments for when your time comes… be kind and respectful, these people WILL remember!
- What’s up next for you, and what are you working on now?
A Christmas novella with a side of suspense!
- How can people connect with you?
Best place is here: http://www.amandaknightauthor.com/connect-with-amanda.php
- Anything else you want to add?
Thank you so much for your support, time and such a comprehensive interview Maddison! And to all the writers who’ve not yet achieved their dream – whatever that is, keep going… every step forward, is a step!
Thank you so much Amanda for sharing your Path to Publication with us! What an awesome journey, with many more adventures to come. I cannot wait to read more of your books – and that Christmas novel sounds great (after all I just love a side of suspense)!!
And for those of you who want to read Amanda’s fantastic book ‘Situation Critical’ just click on the pic below for more info.
A taut debut novel about a wounded soldier, a courageous doctor, and a dog in desperate need of a rescue.
Soldier, surgeon, traitor, dog…
When Sergeant Nate Calloway is carried into the field hospital with no memory of how he got there or where the other members of his unit are, Australian army surgeon, Captain Beth Harper cares only about repairing his broken body. But it’s clear that something went terribly wrong on the other side of the wire, and as Nate slowly recovers, he becomes more and more anxious to return to duty, go back into the field, and rescue his friends, his unit, and the bomb detection dog that he loves.
The only way Nate can be released to active duty is if a doctor agrees to accompany him, and Beth surprises everyone by volunteering. Her role is to monitor Nate and take him right back to hospital the instant that his health deteriorates enough to put their rescue operation at risk. But as she stays close, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to his courage, his determination, and his commitment to his fellow soldiers.
Instead of a straightforward recovery, however, Nate and Beth soon realise they’ve stumbled on a tangled web of deceit and danger, and the enemy is no longer outside the wire. He is one of their own, a traitor, and he has them in his scope.
Raised in suburban Sydney, as a child, Amanda loved to escape the bright lights and bustle, and visit the home of her mother’s rural roots, deep in Sydney’s Blue Mountains or historical Bathurst, the dusty cattle country her father’s family hails from. The ramshackle farmhouses, and wonderfully unique characters (both animal and human!) along with paddocks fringed with mysterious bushland, provided an endless canvas of sensory delights, and unending fodder for her writerly imagination … and still does!
Intrigued by the machinations that motivate human behaviour, particularly crime, for as long as she can remember, and a little partial to a man in uniform, it seemed only natural Amanda study psychology and marry said man in uniform!
When she’s not writing about psychopaths, soldiers and police officers, or love and loss in small town communities, Amanda fills her cup in the field of people and culture development.
Amanda resides in a beautiful beachside suburb in Sydney with her husband and children, a cranky (but still lovable) Ragdoll cat, and the most gorgeous Golden Retriever dog that ever lived.
Amanda can be found on the following platforms:
|Buy links for Situation Critical||· Amazon Australia: http://amzn.to/2nhpTLX
· GooglePlay: http://bit.ly/2nBp2oP
· iTunes: https://apple.co/2p43wvG
· Booktopia: http://bit.ly/2ub2UoP
· Amazon: http://amzn.to/2IfFAhI