by C.J. Darlington
Amy Wallace Interview
dream has its sacrifices and tough days, but the best place in the
world is walking with God, seeing Him smile, and knowing you're doing
what you were created to do."
-- Amy Wallace
Amy Wallace wears many hats---wife, homeschool mom, writer, Bible study teacher, chocoholic. And that’s only a small snapshot. She is married to, in her words, “an awesome, incredibly good-looking, and God-honoring man.” Together they homeschool three amazing daughters. Some of her favorite moments are the ones she spends laughing, reading, and being goofy with her family.
C.J.: Have you always wanted to write, or did you discover your desire later in life?
AMY: I’ve always written, whether it was angst-filled teenage poems or my journal, but I didn’t ever plan on becoming an author. God, however, had other ideas, and He let me in on some of those related to writing back in 2002.
Let’s start right off talking about Ransomed Dreams, the first book in your Defenders of Hope series. Where did you get the idea to write the series?
The idea for RD came from a literal dream where I saw a mom in trouble and an FBI agent with a haunted past. My husband literally shoved me into the writing world with his insistence that I should write my dream as a novel. He even went so far as to find a Christian federal agent for me to talk to for research. God, of course, orchestrated David meeting the Secret Service agent, but my hubby played a huge role right from the start. The meeting with my federal agent advisor and my research then led to developing the other two books in the series.
So the books have no doubt required a lot of research?
Yes, tons of research happens before I even start writing and plenty more as I’m writing. Because the books are set in DC, an area I’ve only visited, a lot of research and calling on friends in the area help me with little details. I’ve also read a bunch of FBI books and I cruise the FBI website all the time.
In learning about the FBI and secret service, what surprised you most about their jobs?
What surprised me most was how in reality there are far more boring paperwork days than the Hollywood adrenaline days. My federal agent advisor said it’s about 90% boring and 10% hang on to your seat.
Can you share with us an interesting story someone shared with you about being an FBI or secret service agent that maybe didn’t make it into your books?
My Secret Service friend told me tons of great stories that were fun to listen to, but didn’t make the scope of my book. One story he shared with me was about a “funny” T-shirt some Secret Service guys have that says, “One to the chest or one to the head, we’ll take ‘em breathing but prefer them dead.” I know from hanging out with cops that type of humor helps keep them sane.
You talk on your website a lot about how parents can protect their children. What are the top three things you share with parents?
The top thing I try to share is that praying for our kids isn’t just a nice Christian thing to do---it’s vital for our sanity and their safety. Second would be to talk with your kids about ways to stay safe. There are so many great website tools and other products out there to help make that a fun and educational time. Third is to pray with your kids for the men and women who serve us in law enforcement.
What was the hardest part about writing Ransomed Dreams?
The hardest part was the constant checking and double checking my facts for all the little details. The FBI website doesn’t make it easy to research federal work. That’s fine because the good guys aren’t the only ones checking out our federal sites. But it does make it harder to be sure the things I write aren’t totally a figment of my imagination.
Tell us about the rest of the books in the series.
Book 2 in the Defenders of Hope series is due out in April 2008. It explores how an FBI agent and his oncologist wife handle the pervasiveness of cancer and a serial killer who eludes capture. Everything is reduced to one all-important question: Can God be trusted?
Book 3 is my current project and it’s due out in April 2009. This story intertwines a woman’s healing from sexual abuse with the FBI action plot centering on a racially motivated killer. The main question explored in this book is: What is justice?
Share with us a little about your publication journey. How were you discovered?
I think my editor at Multnomah must have heard a voice from heaven commanding her to accept my manuscript. That’s the only way I figure I got my foot in the door. The nuts and bolts of that occurrence started with receiving ten rejection letters from most of the major publishing houses, pretty much all but my dream publisher. Then I waited 18 long months to hear from them, finally figuring that I hadn’t even rated a form rejection. In the meantime, I moved on to write other novels. But then out of the blue my agent sent me an email with a ton of paperwork to send to Multnomah about me, my series ideas, and all these questions about RD that I had no idea how to answer. That started a nerve-wracking and payer filled three months of back and forth emails with Multnomah before they offered a contract. The contract offer came a few days after Christmas, and is one of my favorite holiday memories after the initial shock and wanting to go throw up passed.
What do you know now that you wished you’d known when you first started writing?
That waiting on God’s timing and resting in His sovereignty is the only way to survive this very tough business.
What would you love to write someday but haven’t yet?
I have a few novels written that lean more toward the funny side than suspense, and I’d love to write more books in that series. I also have some women’s fiction novels that are burning in my heart, and I’d like to finish out that series someday too.
Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what are some of your favorite bands/artists?
When I first started writing, I needed silence to work. But I live with three little ones and that sweet soundless environment is a pipe dream. So I started writing with a few of my favorite CD’s and found that’s a huge boost to my spirit. My fave writing music is Chris Tomlin and Casting Crowns.
What authors or books have had the most influence on you as a writer?
Dee Henderson’s books were my first fiction teachers, and she remains one of my all-time favorite authors. But there are also wonderful people I know in real life like Beth White, Deb Raney, and Mary Griffith who long ago took this wannabe author under their wings and taught me so much about writing, living and giving back.
Tell us a little about your time living in Germany. Did those experiences help shape your writing as well?
I lived in Munich, Germany from first to third grade. I don't remember much of that time, but I do know I fell in love with Germany's beauty and her people. When we lived in Berlin, I was in high school so I remember that time well. We had bomb drills often which probably seems almost "normal" today given the world we live in. But over twenty years ago, this was something I never experienced back in the States. We traveled to East Germany often and my brother and I mugged it up for the KGB cameras and invented spy games all the time. My dad would only later confirm that we were indeed followed at times and more happened than we could have ever imagined. I remember distinctly one time when we were eating in a very high-end restaurant, an oddity because the East Germany we saw was typically very poor. I watched three or four pairs of men in black suits coming and going from a large and secluded back area of the restaurant. I pointed it out to my dad and laughed about it. But not too long after that, he insisted we leave. Him being in full military uniform required us to stay far away from trouble. We still joke about that and I'm positive it was some huge KGB bigwig meeting. If only I'd known about Alias then. Ha! Did living in Germany shape my writing? Sure. Many of my characters have military backgrounds and Gracie even had experience living oversees. She doesn't talk about it much, except to say she sometimes lets her imagination run away with her since her dad was in military intelligence. I think living in Berlin in particular shaped a lot of my wild imagination. Living in a guarded and walled city will do that.
Do you ever find it challenging to head to your keyboard every day? What do you do when the words don’t seem to come?
I find it hard to make myself do all the marketing stuff some days, but the writing is something I love—most of the time. On the days when I have to fight for each word, and those days happen often enough, I do a lot of praying and I just plant myself in the chair and do it. What helps me get started is having my outline already done so that I have some idea of what I need to write.
What most inspires your imagination?
My kiddos. They remind me to laugh, live, and listen to the Lord. All three of my girls have vivid imaginations which inspire me to dream right along with them.
You’re at the checkout counter in Barnes & Noble and are purchasing something from the book, music & movie sections. What are you buying?
80’s CDs or James Taylor CDs.
What’s next for you novel-wise?
I’m still praying about that one. I have some ideas, but so far I’m focused on launching one book, getting ready to dive into editing a second, and finishing a third.
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
I’m painfully shy in large groups and I’m totally NOT smarter than a fifth grader! I would have never known that fact myself if it wasn’t for Jeff Foxworthy’s great game show: Are you Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Laughing with my kiddos, scrapbooking, playing basketball, and hanging out on the beach are some of my favorite things to do when I’m not writing.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Half a cup of carrot orange juice. Yeah, I know, very exciting. Ha!
Three things always found in your refrigerator:
Milk, cheese, carrots. In the freezer there’s always a hidden stash of chocolate or at the very least some Ghirardelli chocolate chips.
You’re next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
Always a Grande White Chocolate Mocha, and if I exercised enough that week I’ll add a 7 layer bar.
What’s left unchecked in your “goals for life” list?
I’d love to take my family to Berlin, Germany to see where I lived when the Wall was still up and gunfire happened daily.
What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?
Casting Crowns, Nichole Nordeman, Chris Tomlin, Rich Mullins, and Hymns 4 Worship--those are for writing days. When I want to play it’s a very cool Classic 80’s Hits CD.
Anything else you’d like to share with TitleTrakk.com readers?
Dream big! God has so far exceeded anything I could imagine with having two of the best jobs in the world, that of homeschooling my kiddos and writing. Every dream has its sacrifices and tough days, but the best place in the world is walking with God, seeing Him smile, and knowing you’re doing what you were created to do.
C.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.