Interview with Amy J. Fetzer

After reading two book of two different series, I was very enthusiastic. The author writes historicals, contemporaries and timetravels. I'm looking forward to the next books.

Karin M.: Could you please tell us something about yourself and your life?

Amy: Iíve traveled the world and though I loved it at the time, Iím a basic homebody now. We have our first and last house, since having moved so much with the military. I live in the South Carolina, on the inter-coastal waterways and I adore it. Itís slow and peaceful with long summers for my passion for gardening and wonderful people.

Karin M.: Your husband is a Marine. Did you have to move often?  Would you please tell us in which cities you have lived during this period? 

Amy: Yes we moved often, about every three years with the exception of Okinawa, which was 6 years. Iím not only married to a career Marine but Iím the daughter of a career Marine, so that means, Iíve been traveling and moving since I was 4. Iíve lived in Iceland(as a child), Japan and have visited all of Asia allowed including the Philippines, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Guam etc.  Not to mention California, N & S Carolina and a few other states.

Karin M.: Could you describe one of your typical work days?

Amy: Iím up early during the school year, at about 5 AM.  Thatís part of that military rearing, I suppose. Iím writing this at 8 AM.  After I get my youngest off to school, I work for a couple hours, then stop for breakfast, a shower then back to work till about 4 PM.  Then itís on to the role of wife and mother, and that entails, cooking cleaning, laundry. Glamorous, huh?

Karin M.: I read on your page ( http://www.amyjfetzer.com/ ) about your various jobs: a licensed cosmetologist, secretary, a corporate headhunter, ran a gas station, a makeup artist, and a model.  Would you please tell us how you got those very different jobs?

Amy: Sound like I couldnít hold down a job huh? The constant changes in jobs were because of location changes with my husbandís career. The first one I trained for, and worked at for 13 years, and that included training for make up artist.

I landed the job as a secretary because frankly at the time I was better dressed than the other candidates. I couldnít type well at all then. Iím a quick learner too, and Iím notorious for studying a lot about what I want to do.

Being the gas station attendant was a job that just happened. My husband was a diesel engineer for the USMC and he taught me a lot, which is why I landed the job. Every woman should know how to change a tire, a fanbelt, oil and pop the hood.

The corporate head hunter, that was a new business and out of 500 applicants, I was the only one who, when they asked, Ďwhat can I do for you?í at the interview, I said, Ďyou can give me a job.í Iíve never had trouble talking to people or getting them to talk about themselves, another asset to being marines daughter and a marinesí wife.

As to the model, that was for local commercials and store fashion shows and advertisements.  Nothing big, mostly local work.  But I landed that job because a photographer who photographed mostly exotic dancers took my photo and wanted to use it for his portfolio for more sophisticated shots.

Karin M.: How did you start writing?  Why romances?

Amy: I was bored and a borrowed a book from my neighbor PJ, who read only romance.  I read a few and was instantly hooked. They show a struggle with inner demons, to free oneself enough to accept love. In most cases, its not quite that dark, but the happy ever after is what I wanted in a story. As to the start of my writing career, I read several books that were wonderful, then one that was not. I tried to figure out why, and decided that I could do a better job. Hah!  That was the challenge of a life time. I wrote a few pages by hand and gave it to the only person who knew romance, PJ. She loved it and it pushed me to keep going. I studied books, good books, and pulled them apart trying to understand WHY they made me feel so much and what phrases did that. It  took me 3 years to write my first novel and it was an 180,000 word culmination of everything I loved about romance. It was rejected flat out every where I sent it. I learned how to write. So the next book, My Timeswept Heart, I wrote more sparingly and entered it in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest for unpublished writers. I won a finalist position. The book got the attention of an agent, which got it to my editor at Zebra. Iíve been writing ever since. Ten years now. By the way, I burned that first novel when I sold my 20th.

Karin M.: Did you have any difficulties to find a publisher and did you have influence on the appearance of the Cover or the book title? 

Amy: The first part of that question Iíve answered above, however, I write for more than one publisher now. Silhouette Desire, Kensington,(Zebra) and hopefully soon another. Iím trying my hand at suspense and romantic suspense, which has always been my favorite genre to read. As to covers, well for Kensington, I do a page describing the characters and garment they were predominantly in the story and the cover artist takes it from there . With Zebra Iíve received wonderfully accurate covers. With Silhouette Desire we do an art fact sheet thatís 8-11 pages and often, the artist doesnít use anything I write in that. Once I had the same hero and heroine on the cover of 2 consecutive books and no one noticed, including me, till a UK version came with both stories in one book and both covers on the front. As for titles, I have titled most of my historicals and often but not always, there is a line in the book that will say it somewhere. My Timeswept Heart used to be Voyage of the Sea Witch; Timeswept Rogue was, To Master the Triton, Lion Heart was once The Pirate King, and after that I just put a title on the work that I thought the editors would like. They get the final choice. With Silhouette Desire, the editors title the books. Rarely does an author get to keep her title. Itís all marketing at that point.

Karin M.: What did you feel when your first book was published?

Amy: Absolute ellation. I was living in Okinawa and my agent called to tell me the news. Now remember the time difference of 13 hours. It was 7 AM and I was getting my son off to school. The poor child was jumping up and down with me and had no idea why. My youngest just giggled and my husband was deployed. I had no family I could call at that hour besides neighbors. So instead I took a bottle of champayne Iíd been saving, went out side shook it, popped the cork and drenched myself in it then drank the rest. I was slighly hungover when I got a call from my editor that night. It was a great day. I couldnít believe that they were not only going to publish my novel, but bought 2 more. 

Karin M.: How do you handle your writing and family? What does your family say about your writing and about the success of your books?

Amy: My family is great about it. Very proud. And they treat me the same as always, like mom and wife. However, it was my husbandís blind support that kept me going. He never questioned my need to write, understood why I stayed up late to work in private, and gave me my first computer. (Iíd been writing by hand or on a typewriter for 3 years) I donít think they understand the publishing industry all that well, nor care to and thatís fine with me. Niether of my sons can recall when I didnít write so they respect my time. Unless its summer, when I get little done for all the interruptions. I didnít make a lot of money in the beginning years. In fact next to nothing because I was slow at writing, and not paid very well. When I started writing short contemporary for Desire, I started to see some money and that was in 97. I sold my first book in 93. Thatís a long time to wait for a return on the investment, but then, thatís not why I write and my husband understood that.

Karin M.: In Germany only two of your historicals have been published.  One of each of your series: "The Irish Princess" and "Rebel Heart" What gave you the idea to write entire series?  How did the series emerge?  And could you please tell the German readers a little bit more about both series?

Amy: Letís start with Lion Heart, the first the Montegomery brothers, so mentally we can get them straight. Lion Heart introduces Ransom and Aurora and the cabin boy Dahrein, who later becomes the hero Rein in Rebel Heart. The bastard brothers sort of happened as the plot developed for Lion Heart. It was never my intention when I started page one, to make the books connect. And they only connect through lineage, not story line. Ransomís father was a playboy in his youth and the results were all these gorgeous sea captains, so when I needed another character, I added another brother to the end of the book, then later did their story. In Lion Heart we meet the young boy Dahrein, half Indian, half English. I thought heíd make a great character. Raised in the diamond mines, heís lived on the streets till Ransom took him in. He fought like a man, and a former pirate and a white witch later raised him into adulthood. How could he not be unusual and a full-bodied character? Ransom and Aurora are a small part of Rebel Heart, but there are no new brothers, except Colin and heís the next generation.

Royce Tremayne, the hero of a novella in the Timeswept Summer anthology collection, was at the end of Lion Heart, the last page, and I was looking for a satisfying way to end the story and make you see how the characters had changed. Renegade Heart, which for now is the last Montegomery brother for a while, is about Pirates in the Spice Islands. Raiden, the hero, knows of his brother Ransom but has never met him. I introduce Roarke Killgarern, another brother and if I ever get the chance to write another Montegomery, he will be next. The ĎRí names, was just a quirky thing that hooked the men to each other.

With The Irish Princess, I got the idea for that story about 6 years before. Since I was under contract for other books I couldnít stop and write it. I fleshed out the plot, and the characters lived in my head for a while, which I donít get the opportunity to do anymore. It also, was never intended to be a series.  I had to cut an entire chunk of plot from the book because it wasnít working and I needed a safe place for the heroine Siobhan to be while Gaelan searched for her. But the reader didnít know she was alive and well. So I created Fionna, the witch, and when Gaelan leaves Raymond DeClare behind to watch over Siobhan. Fionna & Raymond strike a strange brief bond when he is injured and she uses magic to save his life.  It was the readers, asking for their story that generated The Irish Enchantress, the second book in the trilogy. In The Irish Enchantress, I needed to give Fionna secrets and a reason to be a woman with a jaded, yet hopeful heart. So I gave her a child, born out of wedlock and kept secret from the entire world except for 2 trusted women. The wild child, Sinead wasnít in the book when I originally plotted it but when she immerged as a character I saw that could cause humorous trouble and at the same time, open the hero up to feeling more for her and her mother. In The Irish Enchantress, when Sinead tells Connal (Siobhanís son, in The Irish Princess) that he is her heart mate, then I was stuck. I know, I know, Iím the writer and could change it, but it worked so well, I couldnít pass up the opportunity.  The Irish Knight, which Iím finishing up now, is Sinead and Connalís tale and the final story. 

Karin M.: How do you research for your books?

Amy: I do a lot of research and I start with the period Iím writing in. Then if there is political conflict, as in The Irish Princess (Englandís invasion of Ireland) and Renegade Heart (pirating East India Company) I read what I can about it. I try hard not to give a history lesson, so I read the research make a few notes, then put it all aside. That way the feeling of the period comes out and not the facts of history. Iím also my feeling that sentence structure and syntax play a roll in the reading of an historical. Even the narrative has to remain in character point of view and SOUND like they are saying it. It makes for more words but it gets the job done.

Karin M.: Have you ever been to the places, you write about?

Amy: Iíve been to the Caribbean where I set My Timeswept Heart.  But other than that, itís all from research.  With Contemporaries, I set them all in South Carolina.

Karin M.: You write historicals, time travels, and contemporaries.  Which do you like most?

Amy: Thatís hard to say because they all take different amounts of work. Time travels are more fun because you get to be the traveler. Historicals, there is more than you can get away with regard to plot because things like solving a mystery are left up to the thoughts of the characters and not true police work and forensics. Historicals take a lot more brain power because I have to think 12th century Ireland, write the narrative in 12th century and keep the tone consistent and watch that I donít write the reader out of the time frame. But I love taking the reader back so cleanly that they donít hear me, but only the characters. Contemporaries are less stress on my brain writing wise when Iím doing Desires for Silhouette because they are strictly relationship books. Nothing else interferes.  The big contemporaries Iím trying to sell now take more work in plot and research and less effort with the writing. Right now I know as much about police, FBI and forensics as I do about 12th century Ireland history. I have a terrible flaw of becoming bored very easily. The changes in what types of books I write and when, help with that.

Karin M.: Please tell the German readers a little bit about your contemporaries.

Amy: Silhouette Desire publishes my short contemporaries, which is known in the industry as category.  I did three unconnected books, then developed a series called Wife Inc.  Women who are hired to be temporary wives and mothers, like baby sitters, cooks, kid wranglers for a widower, etc.  The company is owned by Katherine Davenport and her college sorority sisters, at certain points in their lives, need work and she plays a little match making when she hires them. The big books that Iím trying to sell are romantic suspense and suspense, so unlike the others Iíve done, which makes in a fun challenge.  Iíll post on my web site when I sell one.

Karin M.: Do you have a favorite hero/heroine from your books?

Amy: I like them all. I couldnít create a character I didnít love, but it I HAD to make a choice, Iíd say Siobhan, from The Irish Princess was it.  Iíd waited so long to write that story and loved how it unfolded and the characters interacted.  She was used as a pawn for peace before and was determined this time to get something out of it for herself. It was fun.

My favorite hero was Rein, in Rebel Heart. He was by far the most well rounded, open minded male I ever created. I received my German copies recently. The cover is lovely but man, is that a big book.

Karin M.: Have your books also been published in other countries besides the US and Germany?

Amy: Oh yes, there are editions in several languages, Chinese, Spanish, Dutch, Greek, Chec, Russian, Italian, as well as UK editions and even Icelandic.  

Karin M.: Which are your favorite authors or books?

Amy: Hum?  My tastes run to the eclectic and I read all sorts of books.  In historical romance I love Kathleen Kane, Jillian Hunter, Linda Needham, Teresa Mederios and Katherine Sutcliff.  In Short contemporaries, definitely Maureen Child.  Funny stuff.  In Long contemporary romance and romantic suspense, Nora Roberts and Cherry Adair hands down, both very different styles and stories.  And SuspenseÖLisa Gardner.  She is fantastic!  I also read a little Tom Clancey, Steven King, Tess Gerritsen,  Dean Koontz, and I always grab the chance to read a new author. 

Karin M.: What are your plans for the future?

Amy: As I said before, romantic suspense and suspense.  I have a twisted mind, and like to create big stories from the lives of ordinary people.  I think reader relate more to things happening to people like themselves and it Ďupsí the supense because readers think, ďthis could happen to me!Ē  Iíve always had a mystery to solve in my historicals, a bad guy to catch and pay for his crimes.  When I wrote the time travel, Dangerous Waters, which is about a female bounty hunter chasing a serial killer through time, I knew that this was where I was going someday.  I had to keep reminding myself it was a romance and not a serial killer story.  And the sad thing is right at this moment, historical sales are way down and publishers are buying very few.  It will come back up, it always does, but I have to make a living like the next person.  And with new turn in the industry comes a new challenge for me.  Something I never pass up is a guantlet thrown at my feet and the words., ďI dare you.Ē 

Karin M.: Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions!

Amy: Thank you, its been fun.  Happy Reading, Amy.

© Isolde Wehr und Karin Mundorf, Juni 2001, Die romantische Bücherecke

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Dieses Interview entstand im Juni 2001 zwischen Karin M. und Julianna Lee für:



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