I met A.M. during a weekly Tweetchat that I adore called #writestuff (which all writers are welcome to join on Tuesdays at 9pm ET). We have become author buddies, always supporting each other. She writes some of the most thought-provoking pieces I’ve ever read on inclusion, giving a strong literary viewpoint on LGBTQ issues. Since she has featured me on her awesome blog not once, but twice, I had to get her on mine ASAP!
Read on and get to know all about A.M. as she tells us about her latest novel, An Act of Devotion, and why she says that reading diverse lit is important for writers – especially Caucasian writers.
Hi, thanks for joining us today, A.M. In a few sentences, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m an author and freelance editor as well as a book reviewer. I’ve been married to my spouse for almost 19 years, and we have 2 kids, 1 dog, and 1 cat. I’m also a non-professional concert violinist and church musician. Keeps me pretty busy!
How long have you been writing?
On and off since I was 8 or 9. Professionally, only for two years.
Why did you decide to become a writer?
That might be like asking when I decided I needed oxygen to breathe or water to drink. I decided to take it public when I was in my early 30s as a blogger on progressive/liberal religion.
Tell us about your last/latest project.
I write QUILTBAG (fancy acronym for all the stuff most people call “gay and lesbian”) lit. My latest novel, An Act of Devotion, is about a hardcore activist falling for someone with a much more cavalier approach. They topple each other’s notions of what it means to be authentically, honestly who they are. The book also gives nods to some important issues within the QUILTBAG communities—intimate partner violence, health and safety, and various forms of bigotry.
Who is your ideal reader?
Anyone who wants to read my work! Realistically, I probably write mostly for other social-justice-minded folks. I can’t turn off my own inner activist when I write. Though I do seem to have a very loyal following of straight guys, which amuses and pleases me—I write about men in relationships with other men. I’m happy to know so many guys are open-minded.
How do you create your characters and build your worlds? Are you a planner or a pantser?
I’m a mix of both. I always start with a character: who is this person, and what do they want to tell me about themselves? Sometimes I already have two. With An Act of Devotion, I was given one character by a colleague, and the other was already the star of his own short story. From there, I outline the basic plot, but after that, I write as it comes to me.
~ I can’t turn off my own inner activist when I write. ~
Who do you consider your literary influences?
That’s a tough question because the writers I love are all over the map in terms of genre, style, and background. The author whose work inspired me to get serious about writing, though is Elizabeth Berg. For reasons, I mainly write literature with romantic elements. But I would love to be able to do what she does, which is to examine relationships of all kinds.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Sitting down and getting words out on the page. Everything sounds great in my head until I go to type it out.
Name three of your best writing tips.
- Don’t stress about the “rules.” That’s what good beta readers and a good editor are for.
- Read a lot. A whole lot. Not just in your own genre but across the board. Definitely make sure you are reading diverse lit, written by, about, and for people who are unlike you in multiple ways. This is especially important for white folks who grew up with our high school and college classes heavily focused on books by heterosexual white men.
- Make yourself a writing nest, whatever that looks like for you, and keep that space sacred.
What are you working on now?
I’m finishing edits on a novel about a disabled genderfluid person in the aftermath of a trauma (that sounds a lot heavier than the novel actually is!). I’m also writing a sequel to my novel Anthem (about a church musician who writes a song that’s definitely NOT about Jesus), which was out in March of this year.
What are you currently reading?
I just started a novel about intimate partner violence in a relationship between two women. So far, it’s very good. It’s a subject that doesn’t get addressed often, and when it does, many of us are wary because women who love women are already marginalized.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Join up with other writers! I have found that my fellow writers of all stripes are the most wonderful, supportive bunch of people. I can’t recall any other job I’ve had where I appreciated my colleagues this much.
Thanks for joining us today, A.M. Readers, feel free to stalk this awesome author at the following links:
Website & Blog: http://amleibowitz.com