Amy has just written Three Fallen Women which is currently in pre-release, is available for order through her website and will soon be available at places such as Amazon.com.
Amy grew up all up and down the east coast, left NYC a few years ago and is currently living in Chicago. She has been doing a lot of travelling lately for her booktour but we were able to connect via email so that I could ask her a few questions about being a writer.
Domestic Goddess: Your book covers some fairly dark subjects. Where did you get your idea for the plot and was it hard to "live in" while you were writing?
Amy Guth: Even though I wrote about three women at really difficult times in their
lives, I think the book is about learning to (and being comfortable with) enforcing personal boundaries.
Domestic Goddess: Where did your characters come from. Have they been living in your
head, were they sparked by life experience, headlines?
Amy Guth: I wrote Three Fallen Women at a time when I was seeing a lot of people around me, but especially women, so afraid to stand up for themselves that they were ending up in these really negative situations.
The character Frieda (an abused housewife who had just left her house and husband in order to be safe) is a combination of a neighbor I had years ago, who always seemed so afraid, and then a former coworker who made jokes about her boyfriend that seemed real. The rest of Frieda, I just filled in the gaps myself.
Carmen is struggling with sobriety and addiction, and not succeeding terribly well with that. She isn't really based on anyone, neither is Helen, really, who has just come into a place of self-awareness after some struggles in her life.
I think I just wanted to write about boundaries and crossroads and ended up doing it through the mouthpieces of these characters.
Once you get going, the characters sort of rule you-- by that I mean, if you suddenly write something that seems inaccurate or out of character for them without justifying it someplace in their behavior, it'll show and your plot gets blocked up. You sort of have to keep yourself really open when writing, so things sort of flow.
Domestic Goddess: You were involved with Second City, a comedy troupe. What has the
transition been like going from comedy to writing this novel?
Amy Guth: There are a lot of groups within Ssecond City and the Training Center. I did some work within the Training Center and then with a few other groups affiliated with other theaters. It wasn't much of a transition because so much of the kind of comedy I did was satirical, so it's already pretty straight-faced. Then, I did my share of over-the-top silliness, too... I don't know how that figures in, though there are a few laughs in the book.
In my essay work and my column, I see comedic influence a lot more. I just think you can make a point in a serious essay and reach a few people, whereas in a comedy piece, it diffuses the bomb and makes your idea more accessible to everyone.
Domestic Goddess: What kind of advice would you offer to aspiring writers?
Amy Guth: A few things.
First, make some sort of writing habit. Devote five or ten minutes to writing every morning or every night or carry a little notebook with you and jot down every little idea no matter how small-- whatever. Just make something habitual.
Secondly, and this one is huge-- submit your work. Get it out there and get it read by as many people as possible. I can't stress this enough. People fret about their writing careers all the
time but then admit to never having submitted a piece of work or never having gone after a gig. It's hard, because nobody likes rejection, but it's essential. I made a game out of editing rejection letters with red pen for typos. I heard a story about one writer decoupaging his bathroom walls with rejection letters. Whatever it takes to let it roll off your back.
And third, diversify, just like you would financially. It didn't used to be this way, but now I think it's important to have a little work published online on many different websites, a little in print in many different publications. It's iffy to pin your entire career on just one or two publications.
Domestic Goddess: For my final question, I was looking at your blog and I gotta know - What is it with the Albert doll?
Amy Guth: Haha, good ol' Albert! My friend's nephew did a project for his second grade class where he made a little boy paper doll and then had his parents mail this doll to different friends of theirs who live all over the place and take its photo around landmarks. So, that and maybe the Travelocity gnome sparked an idea. I polled some friends and they decided my Albert Einstein action figure suited me the best. (Second place was a gag gift someone gave me: A Crazy Cat Lady action figure. That one suits me pretty well, too, haha.)
I want to thank Amy for taking the time to chat with me and answer my questions. I wish her the best of luck with her book!