Author Spotlight Interview: Amy Bernstein
Today’s interview is with multi-talented author Amy L. Bernstein. Amy writes stories across many genres, all sharing common themes about social injustice and human rights. It was an honor to learn more about Amy’s work and future projects to look forward to!
HG: How would you describe yourself to somebody who isn’t familiar with your writing yet?
AB: I refuse to limit myself to writing in a single genre, so I can’t be pinned down as a writer who specializes in a certain kind of material. That said, whether you read my paranormal romance, mystery-thriller, or magical-realist mermaid book, they all share common themes about social injustice and human rights, in one form or another. I try not to hit you over the head with that stuff, but it’s there.
HG: Awesome! Tell us a bit about your publishing journey. Has author always been your dream job?
AB: I wouldn’t call it a journey so much as meandering combined with striving. I wrote my first novel in 2008, self-published it, did nothing whatsoever to market it, and then forgot about it until 2020, when a publicist suggested I reissue it before my newer books came out. So I did that, and it’s now an audiobook too (Fran, the Second Time Around, for the YA market). For my more recent books, I tried and failed to land an agent before getting happily published with small presses that do a great job supporting their authors. I could go on and on about why I don’t have an agent, but I’m happy with where I am now—getting books out into reviewers’ and readers’ hands.
HG: Thank you for sharing that. What have been the challenges you’ve faced in your publishing career?
AB: Writing and publishing are hugely challenging endeavors—separately and together! The biggest challenges for me so far are (1) getting good traditional publishing deals; (2) getting my books noticed; and (3) handling rejection. Writing well is hard, of course, but these challenges are almost harder!
HG: Totally understand! Is there anything you’d do differently? Advice to aspiring authors?
AB: My advice to writers who have not yet published is to believe in your work and your artistic vision and do not let rejection stop you. At the same time, you must expect rejection—a lot of it, usually. The key is to not let it define or discourage you. Also, be patient; writing and polishing a book, and finding a good home for it, and getting properly edited, can take a long time.
HG: That’s fantastic advice. How is writing for stage different from writing for the page?
AB: Writing for the stage requires a heightened use of language. What I mean is, a good play is driven by dialogue; characters, conflict, and plot lines are propelled by the spoken word. (This generalization doesn’t necessarily apply to work that is purely experimental.) The words have to work hard and convey a lot meaning. Writing a script, I focus most of my energy on changing the words and the rhythms of speech.
Writing a novel, dialogue is important, of course, but there are many other tools in the toolbox, including inner dialogue (unspoken), description, and the opportunity to be inside one or more characters’ heads.
These are crude generalizations, really. I will say that writing drama has helped me write better dialogue in my novels, I think.
HG: Ah, that makes a lot of sense. Great explanation. The Nighthawkers is your most recent release. Congrats! Tell us about this book, why it’s important to you and what readers will love about it.
AB: I really wanted to try my hand at a romance novel, and I also wanted to have fun with it. I also wanted to see if I could stick to the necessary formulas (e.g., a happily ever after ending) without copying other books. So I tapped into my mild obsessions with archaeology and ancient artifacts and time travel and voila! I had a story about an archaeologist who must choose between her handsome first lover and the irresistible stranger who helps her discover a powerful destiny. Really, it’s a story about feeling lost, and learning that you can’t choose the right partner for you, until you know yourself.
I hope readers love the magical elements, which are almost whimsical, such as ancient objects that speak to the heroine. Also, there’s a love-interest twist that I don’t want to give away. And a serious message behind the fun, about finding where you belong and realizing you are capable of being so much more than you thought.
HG: For fun, if The Nighthawkers were turned into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
AB: Kristen Stewart would be the protagonist, Pauline Marsh. Her fierceness! I want it! For Pauline’s first love, Grey Henley, I’m thinking Liam Hemsworth. And for the mystery man who disrupts everything: gotta have Sam Heughan. Oh, yeah. Of course, I’ll need to spend some time on set…
HG: Oooh, nice! Any other projects in the works that you can tell us about?
AB: I wrote a lot over the last few years. In addition to The Nighthawkers, my serious mermaid fantasy (as I like to call it), Dreams of Song Times, will be available on July 5. (FYI: I’m running Goodreads Giveaways for both these books, so follow me there for updates!).
Then, on August 2, The Potrero Complex arrives. This is a post-pandemic mystery thriller that centers on a missing teen and the weary journalist who must find out what happened to her.
HG: Very exciting! We’ll keep a lookout. Switching gears, what do you enjoy doing when not writing?
AB: I carve out as much time as I can to support arts and culture in my community (mainly, Baltimore City) by volunteering for a variety of activities, including judging student poetry and essay contests, participating as a judge in the annual Maryland History Day event, and teaching artists how to write grants.
HG: That’s fantastic! For fun, before we wrap up, let’s do a fast five! First one…coffee or tea?
HG: Bonfire or fireplace?
HG: Are you a morning bird or night owl?
AB: Morning bird.
HG: eBook or paperback?
HG: Tropical beach or rustic mountains?
AB: Rustic mountains.
HG: It was a pleasure getting to know you and your work! For readers that want to find out more about your stories and keep up with you, where should they go to connect or learn more?
My website has all the details on my books, and anyone who joins my email list there will receive a free literary prize.
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