Today, I'm continuing with Amy Guth's Q&A. We're talking about Three Fallen Women, her first novel.
SRR: I found it interesting that the jacket says the story is part anti-love story, where I actually felt it was perhaps more pro-love-of-self. In fact, I feel several of the "love" stories are beautifully tragic. Care to comment?
AG: I completely agree. I think it's a very inner-love sort of story. It isn't about what's happening in the relationship between Zach and Helen that is dictating Helen's actions toward Zach, but a sense of wanting to take care of herself. I think that's a good move, looking after yourself, that is. Because really, how available can anyone really be to a relationship, especially a romantic involvement, if you don't feel whole and relatively fulfilled yourself? Not very. And, sometimes, it hurts quite a bit to clear that personal space and set those boundaries for yourself. Always worthwhile, though, I think. To not do it is to put other people's feelings above our own and that never turns out well! Ha!
(SRR: Tell me about it!)
SRR: TFW is a far-from-comic, yet you began as a comedian/comic writer. Was it hard to separate your humorous inclination when writing about the intense characters and situations in this book?
AG: Strangely no. I think I tell a story in a certain literary voice, like every writer does, and sometimes the stories are tragic, and sometimes they are lighthearted and funny, but I think they all come from the same place. Dark stories resonate because we can identify with the character's struggle or pain and moments are funny when they're based in truth. It all boils down to truth and vulnerability, I think. Ha, also, people always comment on how quick I am with gallows humor, so maybe that's just me. I kind of feel like things just are what they are, not really categorizing things as good or bad. They just are. Most things are a balance of both and we opt to look at, or ignore, certain aspects.
(SRR: This gives me hope.)
SRR: Because I tend to focus on marketing on my blog, how did you decide upon So New Publishing, a rather new indy publisher? Did/do you have an agent?
I was working with an agent for a time and wasn't feeling heard at all. So, I took matters in my own hands and decided to do it myself. Everybody thought this was far too ambitious, but it made sense. I knew the kind of home I to find for Three Fallen Women. Once I found So New, I knew I wanted to work with them. They weren't taking manuscripts at the time, so I did the worst thing possible! I wrote as asked them to read it anyway! I hit send and thought "What the hell did I jsut do?" But, somehow it worked. It got down to SNM and one other publisher that I liked, but ended up going with SNM. And, I'm glad. James Stegall, the brians behind the operation there, is so talented and intelligent. I really had such a positive experience during all of it, but especially during the editing process. So many people told me to go in ready to fight for my words and pick my battles in the editing phases, but that wasn't the case at all. He and I worked through the manuscript and he gave every change such thought and care. We were very in synch and I feel like he really understood different complexities I was trying to show in the book and helped bring them out that much more.
(SRR: Again, more hope.)
SRR: I know from your blog, music pushes you into gear; does location stimulate you as well?
AG: In a strange way. It's hard for me to write about the environment I'm in. When I am in cities, I find myself writing about rural environments more and when I'm in the middle of nowhere, I can capture cities how I want to. I went to southwest, in the desert, to pull Three Fallen Women together, which I'm glad I did because it made me miss living in an urban environment enough to be a sort of taskmaster. I mean, I can write about the environment I'm in at any given moment, but I find it is easier to write from memory than sight.
(SRR: This is just cool!)
SRR: Finally, I'm dying for the next novel. Can you tease us with a few words about your novel-in-progress?
AG: Which one? Ha! I have five manuscripts coming along. Two are dangerously close to being out into the world, but I'm keeping my cards pretty close. One is set in the late fifties, and explores some feminist themes again, though different ones, and the other soon-to-be-ready one touches on a lot of things, but is mostly about, uh, what is that one about? Well, I guess I don't have my "elevator speech" down for that one just yet. So it goes.
SRR: Wow! That's amazing (and actually seems like what I do) – and I have to say, I'm also relieved. So many renowned writers promote the "one-at-a-time" mode- it seems I've always heard NOT to work on more than one project at a time. . Maybe I have masked ADD. But seriously, has your writing process always been so free? Did you have to break some binds of traditionally taught structure and method?
AG: I think that one-at-a-time thing was tried on me, but it didn't stick. I get bored far too easily, just generally, so I tend to bounce between projects until then are all finished, while creating new things as things wrap up. I think there is a good amount of workaholism at play there, too. (laughs)
Amy, again I want to thank you, and please let us know when that next novel comes out. I'm in line!
If I had to put one word to THREE FALLEN WOMEN, it would be "honest." It takes a particular brand of truthfulness to dole out such brutal situations and treat them with an empathy I don't see often, a realization of undisguised life.
And I'd like to add that my impression of Amy Guth is reflected in this passage from TFW:
"Beauty is beauty but gusto and passion make the world's skin burn. Not passion as in fucking, but passion in little moments that make up the day in the life. Smirking and ohhing over a delicious lunch, singing your head off in the shower, walking down the street with headphones on with a fucking groove in your shoe. Beautiful women are a dime a dozen, and really, quite and extremely dull, but take any woman and have Tinkerbell sprinkle the magic glitter of passion over her head and suddenly she's radiant."
I think Ms. Guth has that gusto and passion.
HERE is Part I