Amy C. Blake joins us today to talk about her newest novel, Whitewashed. Amy is a pastor’s wife, writer, and homeschooling mother of four. She writes juvenile fantasy and new adult suspense.
Janet: Welcome, Amy, and thanks for taking time to join us. Your novels feature homeschooled characters, although they’re written for everyone. I think it’s a great way for people outside the homeschooling movement to find out what it’s like. Would you tell us a bit about Whitewashed?
Amy: Thanks for hosting me, Janet. Whitewashed is a contemporary suspense about 18-year-old homeschooler Patience McDonough as she heads off to college in Hades, Mississippi, where she’ll live with her grandparents and complete her degree in record time. Patience’s careful plans quickly go wrong because things at the college are strangely neglected, her class work is unexpectedly hard, Grand gets called out-of-town, and Poppa starts acting weird—so weird she suspects he has Alzheimer’s. On top of that, she has to work extra hours at her student job inputting financial data for the college—boring! Soon her job gets more interesting than she’d like: she finds that millions of dollars are unaccounted for and that something creepy is going on in the Big House basement. She discovers secrets tying her family into the dark beginnings of Verity, founded on a slave plantation, and she is forced to question the characters of people she has always trusted. Finally, confronted with a psychotic killer, Patience has to face facts—her plans are not necessarily God’s plans.
Janet: Wow! Sounds like a gripping read! What age range is the novel for? And with female protagonists, I’m guessing it’s mainly for girls, or is it for both genders?
Amy: Whitewashed is primarily for girls, especially those in the older teen/younger twenties range who are transitioning into adulthood. However, I’ve had a few male readers tell me they enjoyed the book, and many women all the way into their senior adult years tell me they couldn’t put it down.
Janet: What’s the novel’s theme? Or what do you want readers to take away when they’re done?
Amy: Whitewashed has several themes interwoven into the plot, but I’ll just tell you about one. Patience is a real stickler for truth, so much so she sometimes can’t see people. She’s even been known to scream truth in the faces of people she loves, and in so doing has caused much more harm than good. I want the reader to learn, along with Patience, that truth and mercy go hand-in-hand. Just as God is a God of truth who is merciful to His children, we should be people of truth who also show mercy to others.
Janet: That’s definitely a balance we all need to find. Whitewashed is book 1 in the On the Brink series. The other stories feature Patience’s sisters, correct?
Amy: Actually, the other two On the Brink books feature Patience’s two best friends, Nat and Christy, who are also homeschooled. Christy’s story is set in Buckeye Lake, Ohio, and ties into the 1920s when Buckeye Lake—with its amusement parks and nationally-known ballrooms—drew huge crowds. Nat’s story is still in the works, though I’m pretty sure it’ll be set in Washington DC.
Janet: You write both suspense and fantasy… this encourages me, because I write suspense and have some science fiction ideas scooting around in my brain. Do you have a favourite genre to write? To read?
Amy: I love writing and reading both suspense and fantasy (especially YA fantasy). I also enjoy mystery and some romance. I recently finished writing a romance novella, Gabriel’s Gift, which my agent is now shopping around.
Janet: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Amy: Keep writing, no matter how bad what you’ve written seems, because the more you write, the better you’ll get. Try to attend a Christian writers’ conference and network with others. Join a critique group. Read books on the writing craft and books in your genre(s).
Janet: Wise words! What do you do when the muse is uncooperative?
Amy: I write anyway. If I can’t create anything new, I edit my old stuff. Sometimes I shift gears and work on blogs or articles for magazines instead of fiction for a while. Other times, though not often enough, I go clean the house instead.
Janet: Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.
Amy: I live in Columbus, Ohio. I appreciate being close to museums, theatres, symphonies, etc. I also appreciate the ACFW Ohio writers I get to meet with, and I appreciate my local church, Parsons Baptist Church, where my husband pastors.
Janet: Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?
Amy: Isaiah 6 reminds me of how very massive and majestic God is. When I get overwhelmed with all the little details in my life or feel tempted to throw myself a pity party, I need the reminder of who God is and why I was created—to glorify God in all I think, say, and do.
Janet: What a great note to end on. Thanks for chatting, Amy, and congratulations on your new release! All the best!
Whitewashed, by Amy C. Blake (Mantle Rock Publishing)
Eighteen-year-old Patience McDonough has a plan. Despite her parents’ objections, she will attend Verity College in Hades, Mississippi, and live with her grandparents. She’ll complete her degree in record time and go on to become a doctor. But things at the college are strangely neglected, her class work is unexpectedly hard, Grand gets called out-of-town, and Poppa starts acting weird—so weird she suspects he has Alzheimer’s. On top of that, she has to work extra hours at her student job inputting financial data for the college—boring! But soon her job gets more interesting than she’d like: she finds that millions of dollars are unaccounted for and that something creepy is going on in the Big House basement. She discovers secrets tying her family into the dark beginnings of Verity, founded on a slave plantation, and she is forced to question the characters of people she has always trusted. Finally, confronted with a psychotic killer, Patience has to face facts—her plans are not necessarily God’s plans. Will the truth set her free?
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Amy C. Blake is a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four. She has a B.A. and an M.A. in English from Mississippi College. She contributed to Barbour’s Heavenly XOXO’s for Women, Book Lover’s Devotional, and Every Good and Perfect Gift. Amy wrote short stories and articles for Focus on the Family, Mature Years, Significant Living, Vista, Encounter, and other publications. She won awards at St. Davids Christian Writers Conference and West Branch Christian Writers Conference. The Trojan Horse Traitor quarterfinaled in the 2011 ABNA contest. Her juvenile fantasy novel The Trojan Horse Traitor, releases in November, 2015, and her new adult suspense novel, Whitewashed, released February 15.
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