Interview with AMY PASSALUGO

What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest - and first - book is a romance/chick lit novel, and no one is more surprised than I am. I enjoy reading chick lit novels but never envisioned myself writing one. My lead character, Jacey, was hanging out in my head for months before I began writing; her partner, Liam, was a newer friend. One thing lead to another in my head, and one day, they came together and it was like a switch was flipped. This story has very little reflection on my own life; it truly is THEIR story. I love them both for who they are separately and together, and I hope readers love them, too!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing is the liberation. Whether it's my story or my character's story, there is nothing like the feeling of freedom when you just let loose. Sometimes, what I write is garbage; other times, it's legitimate. But no matter what I do with it or where it ends up, I feel lighter when I write. I'm in a better mood when I write, even if the topic is a difficult one. It has been like this as long as I can remember.
What are you working on next?
Right now, I'm working on the final stages of publishing my first novel, but like any truly possessed writer, I have several characters and ideas floating around in my head. If there's one thing I've learned over the 20+ years I've been creatively writing, it's that you cannot rush your muses. They will come to you when they want, how they want and with what they want. They very much dictate my writing process, so right now, I'm enjoying the experience of being a first-time published author while waiting for them to tell me what to do next!
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh, I have so many. Classically, I love Jane Austen. I know it's cliche, but I can't help it. Elizabeth Bennett comes second to no one in literary history, in my mind. Close behind her is Edmund Dantes (aka The Count of Monte Cristo). More modern - I am obsessed with Jodi Picoult. I have read every one of her books, several times. The depth she takes her characters to, the research she puts into her novels, is something I hope I can achieve one day. She is truly an inspiration. I also enjoy reading Alice Hoffmann. She is a little wacky, in the sense that nothing I read of hers reminds me of anything else. I like that. She balances the unknown/fantasy stuff perfectly with the real stuff.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Well, the need to survive helps. I have a corporate job 40 hours/week, although I fantasize about quitting and roaming the world for a few years. But outside of my job, I love to spend time with my family. I have three siblings and eight nieces and nephews - plus several nieces and nephews I've picked up along the way - so I'm usually pretty busy with them. I love being an aunt. I love to spend time with my friends, who are just as wacky as I am. Mostly, I get out of bed in the morning because I CAN, and that's not something I like to take for granted.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote was about a Native American boy who talked to wolves. He lived somewhere snowy, and the wolves pulled his sled. He fell in love with a young girl from a neighboring tribe (I guess I'm a closeted romantic?) but his dad had her killed because he didn't like her (I'm also a not-so-closeted wack job). I was in third grade, and I wrote it on the huge, early-90s style computer in our family's basement.
What is your writing process?
I don't follow a traditional process. I cannot write continuously without going back to edit. I am one of those weird writers who also loves to edit - grammar, punctuation, spelling, format, etc. - so I find myself writing chunks and then going back and editing them. Sometimes, I edit right away; other times, I don't go back for days. Either way, I find it's necessary for me to know I'm at least in an okay spot with my writing in order to move forward. Plus, if I've been away for a few days, it's a nice way to get back into the mindset of my characters. Otherwise, I do what the muses tell me to do!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first book I ever read that wasn't a children's book was one of the Sweet Valley Kids series. My sister - who is six years older than I am - read the Sweet Valley High books, so when they came out with the younger versions of the Wakefield sisters, I was pretty pumped. While they weren't particularly deep stories, I remember just getting lost in them. I loved the characters and the storyline that carried from book to book. I used to beg my mom for a new book at least once a week because I read them that quickly. I knew then that I wanted to write books.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1) Pride and Prejudice because... what's not to love? Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy are such strong characters in their own right, and to see them grow and evolve together. I love the elegance of the time period, the way they used to do things. Jane Austen provided enough drama to keep you interested while also maintaining the love story behind the two main characters.
2) The Count of Monte Cristo. The drama and suspense that began from the moment Dantes got arrested until the final pages when his revenge was complete. It's a genius work of art that many authors may have butchered but that Alexandre Dumas managed to weave with subtlety and grace.
3) Plain Truth or Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. Plain Truth was my first Jodi Picoult novel, so it'll always hold a special place in my heart. Leaving Time is just a remarkable story. The research and the twist she puts in her stories is mirrored by none I've ever met yet.
4) The Hunger Games or Divergent series. I know I'm cheating, but I can't decide which I like better. Both have strong leading female characters, and both provide a realistic yet fantastical view into a post-apocalyptic world. The characters are what make these stories - they're real and raw and wonderful.
5) A Painted House by John Grisham. I love all Grisham novels, but this one is definitely my favorite. To be able to tell such a powerful story through the eyes of a little boy is an incredible talent not many would be able to do. Grisham does it perfectly.
Describe your desk
My desk is a couch. I sit on my comfy couch with a warm blanket over me. I usually have a drink nearby - water or if I'm feeling crazy, orange juice - and a snack of some sort. I set my laptop on a pillow on my lap and just go to town. It's very laid back because I don't like to feel pressured when writing. Writing, to me, is liberating... why would I want to be uncomfortable while doing it?
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small suburb of Rochester, NY. I'm not sure that it influenced my writing aside from the fact I knew I didn't want to write a story based in this city. It's a great place to live but not all that exciting. I've wanted to travel the world for as long as I can remember, so my stories tend to be set in places I've either been to or want to go someday. The small-town dynamic shows a little through my work, but only a little.
Published 2016-01-15.
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Books by This Author

Stay Under the Stars
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 81,180. Language: English. Published: July 7, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » Chick lit, Fiction » Romance » General
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
"We need to talk." Jacey Jamison isn't sure how they found her, or how long they've been watching her... only that they finally discovered what she has been trying so hard to keep concealed. Now, after one innocent Facebook post, she is faced with her past love and her present secret.