Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing?
My name is Amanda Summerbell and I am a 38 year old wife and mother of four incredible girls. I was raised in the Northern Virginia area but we moved to West Virginia ten years ago and love it. I have been writing since I was very young. As a kid, I would read anything I could get my hands on, but gravitated toward Nancy Drew mysteries. I mainly write mysteries with a supernatural twist, or horror stories.
Can you tell us about your new release? What inspired you to write it?
The title of my new release is Family Sins. It was a Nanowrite story and my first attempt not only at the Young Adult genre, but first-person as well. I loved writing this coming-of-age story about a sixteen year old girl named Kat Menninger whose mom died when she was seven. She lives with her neglectful, alcoholic father and is often left to fend for herself, and one evening she is caught stealing some food from a local mart and the cop gives her the choice of juvie or a program he designed where at-risk youth are paired with elderly local residents. Kat chooses the program and is introduced to Delilah Grand, a former Vegas showgirl who has terrible arthritis. Kat begins to change for the better, but soon finds that someone is trying to sabotage her.
Do you have any genres you prefer reading, and if so what are they? What book are you reading at the moment? What other novels do you adore/ writers you follow? Do you have a favourite genre that you like to write in? What book do you wish that you had written?
I prefer mysteries and horror, but appreciate an occasional biography as well. At the moment I am re-reading my favourite Heather Graham book, “Haunted.” She is an incredible writer. But my absolute favourite writer is Daphne du Maurier – she was a suspense/horror genius. I wish I had written her book, “Rebecca.” Not only is that one of my favourite stories, but movies as well, done by Alfred Hitchcock. Her talent for crafting characters and plot was truly incredible. I wish that I had even a smidge of that.
Do you have a favourite character and/or book you've written? Who, what and why?
I’d have to say Delilah Grand is my favourite character I have written thus far. She is a very quirky, sassy woman who has lived a pretty exciting life, full of ups and downs, but she never lets the “downs” get to her. This is what she constantly tries to instill in Kat throughout the book.
Do characters and stories just pop into your head, or do you take your time thinking about them?
My characters always pop into my head, which seems difficult but for me, it just works. I let them lead me.
Are you a panster or a plotter?
I used to pride myself on being a plotter, but ever since my first attempt at Nanowrite five years ago, I have changed to a panster. Having only 30 days to put 50,000 words together does that!
Do you write often? Is it on a schedule, or whenever you feel like it?
Being the mother of four and working full-time, I don’t write as often as I’d like, but then, to me, writing isn’t like a 9 to 5 job. I have found many times that when I made the time and sat down to write, I couldn’t think of a word. So there’s no schedule, it just comes when it comes.
If you could go anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go, who would you take with you, if anyone, and why?
I would take my husband and daughters to Malta, where my father was born, just as my parents did with my siblings and I. It’s an important goal and will hopefully happen one day. I feel such a connection with my people in Malta and I belong by the water.
What are your writing and personal goals for 2017 and beyond?
Writing goals: I need to finish the novel I’m currently working on, and enter at least one writing contest. I also have two novels I previously self-published on Amazon that I “unpublished” and would like to find other homes for.
Personal goals: More family time.
What are you working on at present? Would you like to share a snippet?
I am currently working on a novel in which my main character, Tara Redding, has moved back to her childhood home in Virginia where her father is serving time for her mother’s murder. Below is an excerpt:
She heard it again. Something outside the window. Her body reacted with a stiffening paralysis that comes with fear, while her ears honed sharply, searching for the sound again. And it came – a subdued thump. Her eight year old mind flashed with every possible horrific explanation it could, and she tried to shut it all out, while a deafening pounding in her ears began. She sat up slowly, conscious of the sweat pouring down her face, and barely pulled back the covers. With all the bravery she could muster, she rolled to the other side of her bed, got to her knees, and pulled the lilac curtain from her window, peering into the darkness. She saw nothing at first; then the form came to life. She realized that her breathing was heavy, fogging up the window. What was it? Surely not an animal, as it stood on two legs. A man, then? She watched in horrid fascination as it darted around to the front of the house.
You wouldn’t think a kid who was kidnapped and sold for drug money could have her life turned around when she tried to steal a can of survival supper from a convenience store, but this one did.
Sixteen-year-old Kat Menninger’s mother died when she was seven, leaving her in the care of an abusive, drunk father in a shack in Longview, West Virginia. When Kat is busted shoplifting dinner at a convenience store, local cop Ed Stein gives her a choice: do time, or enter a program for troubled youth, assisting the elderly. She chooses the latter, and is paired up with Delilah Grand, a former Vegas showgirl with crippling arthritis.
Kat begins to feel safe in Delilah’s home. She changes her dark, grunge look back to the original bright, blond girl she was, and stops skipping school. She also lands a part-time job at a local bookstore and befriends a co-worker who eventually asks her out. Her newfound confidence is lost, though, when a routine locker search at school yields a copious amount of marijuana. Will running away land her in more trouble than Delilah or even Ed can help get her out of this time?
Tell-Tale Publishing: http://www.tell-talepublishing.com/store/p137/Family_Sins_by_Amanda_Summerbell–Digital_Version.html
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M29OB0D
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M29OB0D
About the Author
Amanda Summerbell is a native Northern Virginian (Fairfax). She received a Smith Corona for her ninth birthday, and would write stories to sell to her neighbors. At the age of 10, she got her first rejection from Bantam Doubleday.
She now has a BA from George Mason University, is a West Virginia wife and mother of four daughters. Amanda enjoys gardening, and she’s a total foodie, so if you have a favorite recipe, she’s sure to want it.
Music and old movies are something she enjoys (Dean Martin is her favorite!) and if there’s a crime show on, she wants to watch it. Both interests help her with her writing, which is still what she loves doing most. She primarily writes thriller, suspense, and paranormal stories. Her favorite writers are Daphne Du Maurier, Mary Higgins Clark, and Heather Graham.
Keep in touch with Amanda