Welcome to the blog, Amanda. I’m thrilled to have you here today. Congratulations on your debut release, Roots of Wood and Stone. I’m SO excited to read this!
Thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here!
Which character from this story would you say you’re most excited for the readers to meet? And why?
Although he’s not a POV character, I’m most excited for readers to meet Jack Brennan, our past hero. He’s one of those characters who sprang to life fully formed and takes over each of his scenes in the most delightful way. An Irish-born pioneer in Sedgwick County, Kansas, Jack is a dreamer and a dedicated family man who’s had a rough go of it recently. He needs to dream again…and our past heroine, Annabelle Collins, just might be the one who gives him the courage to try.
I can’t wait to meet them both! 🙂
What will you remember most about writing this book?
I think what I’ll remember most is the joy it brought to my mom. She’s a hobbyist genealogist who’s traced our family history for several decades, and while I don’t have the patience and dedication to research that she does, I’ve always been intrigued by the stories she’s uncovered. Roots of Wood and Stone is inspired by the stories of a couple of our ancestors who were early pioneers of Sedgwick County, and the farmhouse that inspired the book is a real one built in the 1890s that was the home of my great-great-grandfather on my mom’s side, Francis Thomas Little. From my earliest years I remember her pointing out Grandpa Little’s house as we drove by.
As is the sad story with many of the old farmhouses around here, the home has been abandoned for over a decade, and the land sold for development. I often wished I had the resources and the wherewithal to buy the house, fix it up, and live in it, but since I don’t, I did the next best thing and tackled that very issue in fiction. And during the course of writing the book, I discovered that a distant relative of mine who still lives in the area had access to the house and was gracious enough to give me a tour of the inside. Of course I invited my mom, and it was so much fun to see her face light up as she saw the inside of the house for the first time after so many decades of learning about our family.
Oh, I love this so much! There’s something so special about discovering stories from your family’s generations past. And I love that you were able to share in this journey with your mom. So cool!
Do you have a favorite setting, a particular place, in Roots of Wood and Stone that you enjoyed spending time at with your characters?
My book is set in my hometown of Wichita, Kansas, which despite being a great place to live isn’t exactly a tourist destination (although honestly we locals like that just fine). As a result, not many books take place here, so it was so much fun to put some of Wichita’s most iconic landmarks—the Keeper of the Plains, the Cowskin Creek, and the Sedgwick County Historical Museum—into the pages of my story. Some kept their original names and some I had to change enough for the story that I fictionalized their names (the creek and the museum both got new monikers), but there are lots of fun little Easter eggs for local readers to find. As a kid, I wanted nothing more than to get out of Wichita, and I did; I went to college and grad school out of state and for a long time had no plans to move back. But God had a different plan, and now, after being back in Wichita nearly the same amount of time I was gone, I am so very grateful that He did.
I love how He gave you fresh eyes and a fresh love for your hometown. Just hearing about some of those landmarks makes me want to plan a visit to Wichita now. 🙂
What would you say is the easiest part about being a writer and what is the hardest part?
The easiest part is definitely that rare moment when the characters take over and tell me their story in no uncertain terms, and I’m just watching them do their thing and trying to keep up with them on the keyboard! And while I wouldn’t describe this part as “easy,” I honestly think my favorite part of writing is the revision process. I’ve heard drafting described as scooping sand into the sandbox, whereas the revision process is using that sand to build castles. There’s no more satisfying feeling as a writer than to take that sand you scooped and shape it into a castle!
For me, the hardest part is definitely the time aspect. With three kids and a day job I dearly love (I’m a professional cellist and pianist, and that life involves a lot of rehearsals, performances, and individual practice time), it’s a constant challenge to carve out time to write (and then actually WRITE once I’ve carved out that time instead of doing laundry or playing around on Facebook!).
Ha! Tell me about it! That struggle to find enough time is REAL! I’m thrilled to see you and your family are making it work! 🙂
What was the last book you read and what will you remember most about it?
I just finished The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano, and I absolutely LOVED it. It’s the story of a young Victorian-era woman who finds a mysterious love note in an old writing desk and is so moved by the words that she’s determined to find out what happened to both writer and recipient. That note is one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever read, and it’s just vague enough that it impacts everyone who reads it completely differently. Like all of Joanna’s books, this one is filled with twists and turns that definitely kept me guessing, as well as utterly beautiful sentences and an ending that blew me away. I feel very comfortable saying this book will be one of my favorites of 2021, if not THE favorite.
Ahhh, I can’t wait to read it! I’ve loved every one of her books I’ve read! 🙂
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
I’m working on an as-yet-untitled sequel to Roots of Wood and Stone which God willing will release from Kregel sometime in 2022, and I just started book 3 in the Sedgwick County Chronicles series! Once I’m done with that, I’m kicking around a couple ideas for some split-times that might be a bit more suspenseful than my current offerings. As our wonderful agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, likes to say, stay tuned…
That’s so exciting, Amanda! Thanks for sharing with us today. Looking forward to reading your future stories!!
Amanda has graciously offered to give away a signed paperback of Roots of Wood and Stone to one lucky winner. Enter below and it could be YOU! 😉
Thanks for entering! Contest ends April 15, 2021 . The winner will be notified by email. Happy Reading, everybody!