Traveling to the kudzu-covered mountains of North Georgia to care for her mother-in-law after a fall, Alice fights against inner demons from her abusive past and uncovers ugly family secrets, as devious attacks on her and her family threaten their lives.
Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Amy Rivers about her newest release. I met Amy when living in Colorado for a short time, and consider her to be one of the kindest, most caring people I have ever met. Amy is also very dedicated to her craft of writing. I have read and enjoyed all of her books, and have found each one to be more captivating than the last. If you’re looking for a good read by a smart, accomplished woman who is also an engaging author, then be sure to check out everything on Amy’s shelf. Her ability to create suspense, relatable characters, and a thought-provoking plot makes her work well worth putting on your ‘to read’ list.
‘All the Broken People’ has a very interesting plot. Where did you get the idea for it?It all started with kudzu. I’d never been to Georgia before I met my husband and when he took me to meet his parents, I fell in love with the kudzu. It was everywhere and it was quite possibly the creepiest thing I had ever seen. I immediately started picturing killers and ghosts hiding out behind the leaves, waiting to pounce. My sister-in-law assured me that people stayed out of the kudzu because of snakes, but my imagination isn’t swayed by reason. I started thinking about how kudzu hides things and the story of All The Broken People was born – a story where secrets become the undoing of all the people involved.
There are a lot of twists in this suspenseful book. Did they come to you while writing, or did you have everything planned out before starting that first draft?I’m not an outliner, but I had a general idea of what I wanted to accomplish with the book. That being said, the plot took twists and turns that I’d never anticipated before I started writing. Several revisions in, I realized I was missing a voice and a whole point-of-view character was added. I’m always so jealous of the people who are able to outline the whole book ahead of time but my creative process just won’t let me be that organized.
How has your creative process changed with your growth as an author? Over the years, I’ve learned to add some structure to my writing process. I create character sheets. I do some basic plotting without marrying myself to any of the things I’ve put down on paper before I start writing. Recently, I’ve begun creating a book bible so I can keep things straight in my head a bit more. But I’ve also learned to trust my gut when it comes to my writing. People are complicated, and it’s important to me that I allow my characters to be just as obnoxious and difficult as they need to be to tell their stories faithfully. At the end of the day, I want my readers to see my characters and realistic and relatable, no matter what decisions they make and I find that it’s easier for me to reach that point by allowing the story to grow somewhat organically.
Have you always liked to write, or did this gift reveal itself to you later in life? I’ve always loved to write. I had teachers throughout my childhood that encouraged creative writing for which I am eternally grateful, though I happily wrote nerdy book reports and essays in my spare time as well. My first book was a romance I wrote in 3rdgrade. My family still pulls it out to have a good belly laugh.
As part of my graduate degree, I wrote academic papers on topics ranging from abnormal psychology to US-Mexico border disputes, and ultimately a thesis on the psychology of violence. As I pursued my studies, I started thinking about how works of fiction influence the way readers see things and understand the world around them. I also worked with organizations that provided services for victims of violence and I came to understand that victims and offenders of violent crime don’t always behave the way we think they will.
When I decided to write fiction, I wanted my stories to reflect how people really are—the complexities of their actions and beliefs. I wanted to take an honest look at the ugly things in their backgrounds and how those things both define them and how they are overcome. And I hope to create a little empathy for the broken people of the world.
Now that ‘All The Broken People’ is out there among your old, and soon to be new fans, do you have a general idea of what you’ll be penning next, and can you share a little bit about it? I have two projects that are vying for my attention. The first is a story that involves sisters who get all tangled up in a series of murders while on vacation. The second wasn’t in the cards, but life sometimes has other plans. A few weeks ago, my family suffered a loss. While dealing with the emotional aftermath of that loss, I started imagining the story of a woman who loses her best friend and has to figure out what happened. It’s a vague sort of notion at the moment, but every day the storyline grows stronger in my head and it seems likely that this second story will demand to be at the head of my priority list before long.
That being said, I’m focused on getting All The Broken People into the hands and hearts of new readers. And I’m hugely grateful for the opportunity to introduce this book baby of mine to your readers.
Amy Rivers was born and raised in southern New Mexico and currently resides in Colorado with her husband and kids. Her graduate work focused on politics, psychology and forensic criminology, topics she loves to incorporate into her personal essays and novels. Amy has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Nurses, Novelty Bride Magazine, and Splice Today, as well as several fiction anthologies. She is the author of two novels, Wallflower Blooming and Best Laid Plans & Other Disasters. Her third novel, All the Broken People, will be released in March 2019.
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Amy did an interview with me in return. You can view it here: http://www.amyrivers.com/blog/an-interview-with-kathryn-mattingly