Amy Green is a sophomore professional writing major at Taylor who recently received a book contract for two Christian fantasy chapter books. She’s also a member of the honors guild. We asked her to answer some questions about Taylor, writing, and life, and here’s what she said.
Q: First, tell us a little bit about your books. What are they about?
A: The first book, “Search for the Scorpion’s Jewel” is the story of Jesse, a crippled teenager, who joins an elite group of young people and journeys through the desert to complete a dangerous mission for the king. In the second book, “Escape from Riddler’s Pass,” Jesse and his friends have to rescue their squad captain from the Rebellion prison deep in a maze-like cave. In both books, I deal with questions like, “Why does a good God allow suffering?” and “How can we be sure that God exists even if we can’t see Him?” because those were my biggest questions when I was the age of the kids in my target audience.
Q: What motivated you to become a writer?
A: Ever since elementary school, I’ve wanted to write kids’ books. When I was in sixth grade, I remember running out of books to check out of the library. I decided that someday I should just write books myself so other kids would have more to read. I love words, stories, and people. So it makes sense that I would use words to tell stories about people.
Q: What are the steps you went through to write the books?
A: Everyone has a different method, but mine is kind of like my approach to the rest of life: I plan out a vague outline, then make up the rest as I go. For these books, I started with Jesse moping around and wanting something interesting to happen. Then I decided what that interesting thing would be. The poor kid didn’t realize what he was getting into – I tend to put my characters in peril of their lives about every other chapter. After I got the rough draft done, I edited it like crazy and had several other people make corrections too: my mom, my twin sister, my roommate, my suitemate, and the fifth graders in the small group I lead. After that, I edited some more, fixing the bigger things like plot flaws and fine-tuning dialogue. Then I edited again. And again. Contrary to myth, lots of boring, old-fashioned hard work goes into writing.
Q: What is something you’ve learned through writing these books, or through the process of getting them published?
A: Well, for one thing, I’ve learned that “all that glitters is not gold.” Don’t get me wrong – I’m really excited that my stories are becoming actual books. But along with that comes the not-so-great things: the stress of meeting editing deadlines, the worry that my friends will read the books and hate them, the fear that I’ll start putting my identity in my career as a writer instead of God. My anthem for the past few months has been the verse from “Be Thou My Vision” that goes: “Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise. Thou my inheritance, now and always. Thou and Thou only first in my heart. High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.” It’s good for me to be reminded of that. Sorry – that’s probably deeper than you what you were looking for.
Q: You’re a professional writing major, but you’re also an honors student. Did your participation in the honors program influence your writing?
A: Actually, the two honors literature classes I took, George Macdonald and C.S. Lewis and Friends, helped shaped how I look at fantasy. I especially remember one day when we were discussing Macdonald’s essay “The Fantastic Imagination,” where he talks about the power of myth to demonstrate truth, especially truth about the Christian faith. I knew that was something I wanted to do in my writing. Oh, and my main character, Jesse, would definitely be in the honors guild if he went to Taylor.
Q: Why do you say that?
A: Well, Jesse likes asking questions, especially about God and faith, and he doesn’t accept the easy answers. For him, it’s not enough to know what happened or how things are done – he insists on knowing why. Jesse and I have a lot in common, actually. Except that my life is a lot more boring. I mean, there aren’t any assassins, underground passages, or poisonous creatures on Taylor’s campus. At least, none that I know of.