Amy Meyerson’s third book, The Love Scribe, which came out earlier this year, is a charming story about love in all of its many manifestations. It’s Amy’s third book (after The Bookshop of Yesterdays and The Imperfects) and her first to dip into a bit of magic.
April: The Love Scribe is different from your first two books in the way that it incorporates magic. What inspired the story?
Amy: You always want a novel to have compelling lore around its origins, but the longer you’re a writer, the less that seems to be the case. For me, anyway. At the start of the pandemic, I was working on a novel with a lot of hands-on research that quickly became impossible. When I talked to my editor about it, she said, Why don’t you write a bookish love story? It took me a moment to wrap my brain around that description, and when I did I was reminded of something my friend had told me about a wedding she’d been to where the bride had hired a poet to write love poems on demand for guests. I was so charmed by that idea, and it got me thinking, what if it wasn’t just a love poem–or in this case a love story–but one that made people fall in love? The rest grew from there. And although this is my first book with fabulist elements in it, I used to write a lot of magical short stories, so it felt like a homecoming to occupy this space.
April: The book is chock-full of romantic stories. Did you borrow any of those from relationships you’ve had/seen in real life, or are they all pulled from your imagination?
Amy: Well, I thought they were pulled from my imagination until my sister-in-law, who just finished it, told me she saw so much of me and people we know on the pages. So…maybe both? Reality slips onto the page in unanticipated ways, and readers who know you will see connections that may or may not be there. I’m sure I did borrow more than I realize. Mostly, I remember calling one of my friends who is divorced from her partner but still together with him to tell her that she’ll see a similar scenario on the page, but it isn’t based on her. And it isn’t. I didn’t realize that it paralleled her story until I finished writing it.
April: Without giving anything away for those who haven’t read it, is there one romantic story in the book that is your favorite?
Amy: In the second half, one love story occupies more space than the earlier ones. It involves Alice’s old teacher, and it’s definitely my favorite.
April: In the time since you published your first book you’ve also created two new humans (who are adorable, btw). Can you talk a little about being a writer while parenting little ones?
Amy: I have to say, I love the way you phrased this as “being a writer while parenting” because so often the question is framed as, how can you write with children? The truth is, there are as many benefits to parenting while writing as there are challenges. I have so many story ideas that I never would have come up with without children. They aren’t in this book, but they are percolating for future books.
Kids are inventive and creative. They force you to be more inventive and creative too. They also say hilarious things. I have a running list on my phone of all the funny things my son says. My daughter doesn’t speak yet, but when she does, there will be a list for her too. And beyond funny things, they make you think about how language is constructed. My son will often parrot our speech patterns, making me realize that I say things like, “I think maybe,” or “It’s interesting because” as preambles to my thoughts. He also gets really confused by “sure,” as in, when I ask him if he’s sure about something he’s just said (like that he doesn’t have to go to the bathroom), he’ll always say, “No, I’m not sure.” I cannot figure out how to explain to him that when he’s certain about something he IS sure. But it makes you realize how nonsensical it is to say that you are sure you don’t want to do something.
Yet, with all the unexpected ways children open up your creativity, they also take over your schedule. For me, that’s the real challenge, securing uninterrupted time to write. Weekends are entirely family time, which is great, but cuts two whole days out of the writing week. I’ve always been someone who likes to write every day, even for an hour, because it keeps the story and the characters fresh in my mind. Both kids do nap on the weekends, but never at the same time. And, when they’ve been at school all week, I don’t want to forfeit my time with them. Then, on weekends or weekdays, I can no longer wake up at 6 if I want to sneak in writing before the day starts because without fail, even if they normally wake up at 7, they trot into the kitchen where I’m writing at 6:15 (or cry from their crib, in my daughter’s case).
I suppose I could write once they’re in bed, but after dinner, my brain is mush. So, there’s physically just not as many optional hours for writing anymore. While that can be stressful, it forces you to spend more time as a writer off the page. In response, I find that I reflect more on the choices I’ve made on the page. That time away helps me come up with solutions when I’m stuck and helps me realize more quickly when something isn’t working. It also helps me get out of the mentality that I always have to be producing, that I need to think about the next project and the one after that and the one after that. Ultimately, that is good for the work, to slow down and be more reflective.
April: What is your writing schedule like? How many hours a day do you devote to your writing? Do you have any little rituals that help you get in the right mindset?
Amy: Ha ha, what schedule? I used to be very diligent about my schedule, pre-children. I would wake up, read for a half-hour or hour over a cup of coffee then get to writing. Depending on whether or not I’m in the semester–I teach at USC–I’ll do one or two writing sessions each day. If I only have time for one, it would come first thing in the morning. Now, first thing in the morning is an hour of making breakfast and lunch and trying to wrangle two children to get them to daycare/preschool.
When I sit down to write, my mind doesn’t have that morning freshness anymore. And something always comes up that pushes my start time later and later. This has made it harder to establish a routine, which I still believe is so important for a writer, but it has taught me how to dive in whenever I have time. So, I’d say I’m a more flexible writer now.
Time permitting, I still like to begin every writing session by reading. Usually this is something unrelated to my current project. Instead, it’s something that is inspiring to me at the moment, something that’s beautiful or compelling in a way that gets me excited about storytelling and the written word.
April: What are you working on now?
Amy: I used to be very open about my work-in-progresses, but I’ve learned that when you tell people what you’re working on, you project your own feelings about the work onto their reaction. If you’re feeling great about it, you’ll see their excitement. Insecure, you’ll see all the ways they (don’t actually) think it’s a terrible idea. This time, I’m trying to keep quiet until I have a solid draft. Also, after THE IMPERFECTS came out, I talked all about a book I didn’t end up writing. People were understandably confused when THE LOVE SCRIBE was a magical, bookish love story instead of a historical mystery about wine.
April: I usually end my author interviews with a lightning round, but since you already answered all my rapid fire questions when we did this last time, I had to come up with a few new ones:
April: Favorite day of the week?
Amy: Thursday. I only teach on Tuesdays on Thursdays, so it gives me that giddy Friday feeling a day early.
April: Do you have any pets?
Amy: Nope, just energetic children.
April: What’s one book you’ve read, but not listed on GoodReads?
Amy: Verity. I wanted to read it to get a sense of why people love Colleen Hoover so much, and I totally get it! She’s a really engaging storyteller. I also read It Ends with Us. But they felt off-brand or maybe like I wasn’t adding anything by saying I read them? Honestly, I can’t remember why I didn’t post them. Maybe I should?
April: What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Amy: We are very into avocado toast these days. My son asks for it “with all the spices” (aka Trader Joe’s everything bagel spice mix), takes four bites, then I eat the rest.
April: What do you wish you’d had for breakfast this morning?
Amy: I’m pretty happy with that breakfast. Maybe an avocado toast without four bites missing?
April: Pratt or Pine?
Amy: Ha ha, can I say neither? I tried to look up another Chris on IMDB, but I guess it’s just not a name for me. If I had to choose, Pine over Pratt for sure.
April: Fuzzy slippers or a gorgeous pair of heels?
Amy: Slippers. Always. In fact, I’m wearing some cozy slippers right now:)
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