Amanda Dykes is a drinker of tea, dweller of redemption, and spinner of hope-filled tales. She spends most days chasing wonder and words with her family, who love a good blanket fort and a stack of read-alouds. Give her a rainy day, a candle to read by, an obscure corner of history to dig in, and she’ll be happy for hours.
Currently working on a new novel for Bethany House Publishers, she is also the author of the critically acclaimed Bespoke: a Tiny Christmas Tale, a contributing author to The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection, and enjoys connecting with her readers at her website, as well as on Facebook and Instagram.
Welcome to the blog, Amanda. I’m so happy to have you join us. Congratulations on your upcoming release with Bethany House Publishers. I’m so excited to read it!
Thank you for having me, Savanna! I loved getting to meet you last fall, and it’s an honor and joy to spend this time with you.
I loved meeting you too! 🙂 So thrilled to welcome you here today.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
In second grade, my teacher took stories that we had all written, and using her sewing machine, bound them each into individual volumes so that we would have our own “published work”. I have always loved to write, but that’s the first vivid memory I have of experiencing the thrill of a bound book in my hands that I’d scribbled some words in… and wondering if maybe someday, I might be able to keep doing that. Teachers are incredible inspiration and influences in fostering hope and dreams– so thank you, to all the teachers out there!
What a special gift and beautiful memory. Sounds like she was an unforgettable teacher.
What is your upcoming book about?
Short answer? Redemption. Somehow, every story I write leans on the age-old whispers of that hope. I think it’s because on some level, we can all relate to the soul-deep yearning to be gathered up, to have our broken pieces cradled with care, and turned into something of worth. That is what God does for us– and that is what (I hope!) this story will reflect, too.
The longer answer is that it’s a little bit of everything. Village-lit (I don’t think that’s an actual term, but think Mitford and Avonlea, Cranford and Lark Rise), some romance, a backdrop of war, a strong thread of brothers and brotherhood– and a blustery boat captain I’m excited to introduce. It’s a small-town story set on a big-world stage– meaning that the quirky nuances of life in a coastal New England fishing village find themselves enmeshed in the throes (and aftermath) of World War II on a deeply personal level. Their struggles as a town (and the protagonists’ family) end up intertwining with the whole nation’s struggles in a way none of them ever expected– and in the decades that follow, a sort of healing they never anticipated weaves itself through family, town, and nation.
I’m itching to get more specific than that, but all in good time! 😉
I love every part of your description. Can. Not. Wait.
Which heroine from any story would you like to be? Why?
Ooh, good question! Hmmm… could it be some combination of the following?
Katherine, from Stepping Heavenward– I adore her spunk and her yearning to grow and learn.
Jane, from Jane of Lantern Hill– because I love that she goes traipsing about an island, learning to live and experience life deeply.
Beth, from Little Women– because she’s so kind!
And if I could expand the question to be “which character”, I’d add Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings trilogy– because, Oh, Sam! Loyalty and sacrifice and humble courage and light in the dark, and the backbone of the story in so many ways! Imagine the series without him. It would never be the same.
At the moment, I also wouldn’t mind being Molly from Wives and Daughters– especially in the movie adaptation when young Molly falls asleep under a tree in the sunlight. I know it’s not the most heroic moment, but a sunlight-bathed, tree-sheltered nap sounds divine!
Love it!! 🙂 So many great characters.
What do you love most about the state you live in?
That state would be the state of insanity. Just kidding. But if you don’t mind me turning that question on its side a little bit, I will say that lately, I’m learning how truly miraculous every single “ordinary” day is. E.B. White said, “Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” I believe God has such a different idea from what we tend to think of as wondrous, miraculous, extraordinary. And that it’s not found in the places the world thinks: the spotlight, the getting-of-things, the climb to higher “status”, the trouble-free days, or the bells and whistles of whatever’s caught everyone’s attention at any given time. But that it’s right there in the grit of the trenches, in every breath, the ones no one witnesses but us and Him. He’s preparing wonder for us in every moment, bathed in his remarkable grace.
So maybe it’s not one of the 50 states, but that’s what I’m liking about learning the state of wonder. 😉
That’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing that perspective.
What’s one of your favorite books on the writing craft?
Wired for Story, by Lisa Crohn. I don’t necessarily agree with everything she says, but her talk of pacing and story structure is incredible. I’m also a huge fan of K.M. Weiland’s YouTube channel and blog for writers– again, especially when it comes to story structure.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
One thing I haven’t shared online yet is that this upcoming novel release with Bethany House– it will actually have a prequel novella coming out just ahead of it, to invite folks in to the fabric of the life in and around the coastal town that I can’t wait to introduce you to. Look for it in Spring of 2019– I can’t wait for readers to come populate this village! That’s a ways off though, so if anyone would like updates along the way, please feel free to come join the merry band of newsletter subscribers (here: http://amandadykes.com/newsletter-subscription/ ) or join us over on Facebook, here: https://www.facebook.com/authoramandadykes/ . I’d sure love to have you along for the journey!
That’s all so exciting, Amanda. I’m looking forward to following your stories as God continues to lead you. Hugs!!
Thank you again, Savanna! I’m so excited to get to visit your wonderful blog.
READERS, tell us about a teacher who made a difference in your life.