Hi there, guys and dolls! Well, yours truly was one happy glamper this week when my good friend Amy Beth Arkawy’s name floated up to the top of the martini pitcher to be picked as this month’s Take 5 guest. So why don’t you all settle in and get to know the delightful Ms. Amy and find out more about her Goodship tales?
The series revolves around Eliza Gordon-retired child star and soap actress who now runs Soup Opera, the popular eatery in the suburban hamlet of Goodship, NY-and her best pal, radio DJ Midge Sumner. Their personal lives: Eliza’s a young widow romantically involved with Tom Santini, Goodship’s dishy police chief (yep, her sleuthing strains their precarious romance); Midge has a philandering celebrity chef hubby and two kids, are intertwined with their sleuthing escapades. I am as intrigued by their lives- as well as those of their fellow Goodshipians- as much as the mysteries they try to solve. So I hope to dig deeper and create richer story lines as the series unfolds and evolves.
2. What is your writing process like? Do you thrive on routine or work spontaneously as the whim takes you?
A little of both. As a creativity coach and writing teacher I always encourage folks to be disciplined and carve out writing time in their daily schedules. I try to adhere to that practice and commit to at least two hours daily. But life’s juggling act sometimes gets in the way. Sometimes you have to cajole the muse and sometimes the muse puts you in front of the page at 3 AM.
3. What exciting moment or moments that made you realize that you were really an “author?”
That’s a great question because I’ve always been a writer, but author connotes a certain level of accomplishment. I guess it’s been a series of firsts. The first time I saw one of my plays produced and took in the audience’s uproarious laughter and applause. The first time I signed a book contract, saw my name on published book, first fan letter, first book signing, first royalty check. It happens over and over. And it’s always both a delightful rush and a sense of well earned achievement. I hope it will always take me a little off guard. The trippy reality helps celebrate the joy and excitement while motivating the hard work to take my talents and career to the next level.
4. What do you do to spark up your creativity when you feel the well of inspiration is running dry?
To be honest, the well seldom runs dry for me, but I often suffer from “idea overload.” When too many stories and characters are rumbling around your head, it’s hard to focus. I try to wait for the loudest voice to come through; that’s the character whose story needs to be told next. But when I’m in between projects, I’ll go story shopping at the local coffee shop. Listening to snatches of conversation, people watching, taking in the whole scene is a great creative jumpstart. And I have a prompt bag I use for writing workshops-photos, song lyrics, movie lines, objects, ideas-and I’ll just pull one out and see what it sparks.
5. Who are some of your favorite authors and how do you feel they have influenced your desire to write?
Another tough one, BJ. There are so many. I have a rotating shelf filled with favorites. I love Virginia Woolf; she was the first author who gave me permission to delve into the subconscious, to play with a character’s interior life. So I guess it’s no surprise that I’m also a big Michael Cunningham fan; his Pulitzer Prize winning The Hours is an homage to Mrs. Dalloway. But I enjoy his earlier novels, too. I like a lot of mystery and suspense authors. I’m a big fan of Patricia Highsmith, author The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train. Again, I am drawn into the psychological exploration as well as the way she deftly interweaves it with suspenseful plots, And I’ve gotten hooked on Gillian Flynn, author of the bestselling blockbuster thriller Gone Girl. Recently I read her first book, Sharp Objects. While she engages in a little more of what Elmore Leonard called the hoopdedoodle (too much description of settings, etc), for my taste, Flynn is a wonderful writer with an uncanny ability to lure in the reader. She also delves into the dark side with raw, authentic emotion and a literary finesse I hope I can pull off in my forthcoming psychological thriller.
I’m also a lover of short fiction; Raymond Carver, Jayne Anne Phillips, Alice Munro and Ellen Gilchrist are among my favorites. I am re-reading and savoring Flights of Angels a fabulous Gilchrist collection. There’s something so vibrant about her writing, the way she plays with point of view and develops fascinating characters that is both intimidating and inspiring.
It was nice to get to know you better, Amy Beth! Be sure to visit her website — Amy Beth Arkawy, her Amazon Page and Twitter. She also does a fab Blogtalk Radio Show, which I’ve had the pleasure of guesting on as my alter ego authors Andrea and Heather. And don’t forget Facebook, you can connect with her there, too. I heartily endorse her series — Eliza Gordon is my kind of gal–a savvy, sweet and ‘souper ’sleuth!