How did you begin writing?
I started writing as a kid—bad poems, even worse song lyrics, angsty diary entries—so I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing in some capacity. As I grew up, the writing changed to more complex (but still bad) poems, articles for my college newspaper, halfway decent greeting cards for a company I worked for after graduation, and magazine articles. Through that, I always knew that I wanted to write novels, but the idea was a scary one. It seemed daunting, the prospect of writing an entire book. Finally in 2008, I woke up in early January and decided to be done thinking about it. I wrote my first chapter on January fifth and finished my first (unpublished) novel in May of that year.
Take us through a day in the life of you, the author (because some of us picture you rise from bed, calmly pour your coffee, sit in a sunny little alcove, and write for eight hours before getting ready for a luxurious dinner out with your special someone) ;)
Some of you are hilarious. The only thing right about that description is that I rise from bed, but it’s more like I jolt out of bed after pushing the snooze button a few times, then start yelling at my kids that we’re all late for everything. Then I throw food in lunch boxes, yank shirts over heads, hand out money for gas, then shove everyone out the door as I drive the one child who can’t walk/drive himself to school because he’s thirteen and his school is too far away (the inconvenience). And then finally, I after stopping at Sonic for a lemon water, I make my way back home to work.
And that’s when I check email. Make more coffee. Get on social media. Decide my closet probably needs organizing. And what about my sock drawer—don’t get me started on that. And then maybe I should paint the bedroom. Mop the floor. Go to Starbucks. Change my outfit because what am I wearing? I can’t post a selfie on Instagram wearing this awful shirt.
And this is how my brain works until around lunchtime, when I realize I have only three hours until my kids get home and I’ve gotten exactly nothing done. So I write furiously. And edit furiously. And somehow out of all this chaos and procrastination, a book is born.
Tell us where you got the idea for your latest book and why you developed a passion to write it?
About a year-and-a-half ago I had this image that wouldn’t escape me. I kept picturing these kids—a younger boy, a slightly older girl—living in this abandoned house I remembered from my years growing up on the Arkansas/Oklahoma border.
About halfway between the Arkansas border and Tulsa, there is this house on the south side of the highway. It’s a beautiful house...now. But when I was younger it sat empty and unfinished, staying that way for a decade, maybe two. Unused rusty cranes and bulldozers flanked each side and became covered in cobwebs. Mounds of fresh dirt slowly sprouted weeds...eventually trees. Even though the house had the potential to be gorgeous, everything about it used to scare me. Every time we drove past—which generally averaged to be two or three times a year—I would stare at it. Hold my breath. Think up creepy little scenarios about what might be occurring in that gigantic, deteriorating house. I never forgot those stories.
And so I kept picturing these kids living inside this house. And the strange part was that I went to bed one night thinking about nothing out of the ordinary and then woke up the next morning with the image of these broken, homeless kids who just wanted to be loved and understood by someone. Maybe I dreamed about them, maybe I didn’t. But they were there and they weren’t leaving. Not that day or the next or the rest of the month.
I told my agent about that image and explained the plot in detail. She told me I was crazy for veering away from the norm, but then she told me to write it anyway. So I did.
Who is your favorite character in this book and why?
Shaye and Cameron equally. They both have their own voice in that they alternate chapters, and they bring different strengths to the table. Shaye is independent and fierce, but she’s also bruised and broken. Cameron is broken too, but he is an optimist, an encourager. They are my version of two people meant to be together, meant to prop each other up and blend their strengths and weaknesses into one ideal pairing.
What is the most important takeaway from your book that you hope your readers see?
That you are not stuck in your circumstances. That your past does not define you, that your present does not have control over you, that your future is not written in the dismal stars, and that no one—not one single person—is unworthy of true and lasting love.
If you were to be offered the opportunity to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro or to back pack deep into the heart of the Swiss Alps, which would you do and why?
Backpack deep into the heart of the Swiss Alps. One, because Switzerland. And two, because I wrote a book that centered around this concept (Love Gone Wild) and I would LOVE to live it out.
And while you’re on this grand adventure, would it be necessary for you to have coffee or tea? (‘cause we’re split evenly in preference here at the CCC blog)
Oh no, the pressure! Coffee for daytime and tea for nighttime. BUT if I were forced to choose one, I guess I would go with coffee. Because surely I would get sleepy at some point and need coffee to keep going, right?
If you had to write your novel long-hand, would you use a fine point Sharpie, a roller ball pen, a fountain pen, or a pencil?
A fountain pen. I know this because I wrote my first book longhand, which seems to ridiculous and time consuming to me now. But I used a fountain pen. I still have that draft.
Your favorite flavor of pie …
Chocolate for all the time, pecan for Thanksgiving.
What are you currently working on in the book world?
I’m working on a Contemporary Romance called The Thirteenth Chance for Waterfall Press. It stars a professional baseball-playing hero and a neurotic school teacher heroine that are (of course) thrown together out of necessity. It’s been fun and challenging to write, and it’s completely different from The End of the World. It’s currently in edits and will be released in September.
Lastly, will you leave us with a snippet from your book that is one of your favorites and gives us a glimpse into its pages?
Though this book is not my story, it is the most personal one I’ve written. There are lots of favorite parts, but this is my favorite passage:
“He is my connector. The only person in the world who understands me. My exact missing piece...the piece that when picked up and placed next to me fits as though it’s been there all along. He has fit perfectly with me from the first moment we met. I may never make love to him or kiss him or even hold his hand, but I can’t breathe unless he’s around me. When he’s gone, a part of me is gone. And when he’s here, he fills the room with so much of his presence that all of me is content in the fact that I could share his space forever. Because he is my soulmate.”
Amy Matayo is an award winning author of The Wedding Game, Love Gone Wild, Sway, In Tune
With Love, and A Painted Summer. She graduated with barely passing grades from John Brown
University with a degree in Journalism. But don't feel sorry for her--she's super proud of that
degree and all the ways she hasn't put it to good use. She laughs often, cries easily, feels deeply, and loves hard. She lives in Arkansas with her husband and four kids and is working on her next novel.