Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Welcome, Amy Gallow

Amy, welcome to From the Pages! We’re thrilled to have you here. I know you’ve got lots of exciting news to share so we’ll get right to the questions, if that’s all right.

Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on now?

Typically, for me, I have five submissions at four publishers, a completed first draft of a 90,000 word historical fiction waiting rewriting and revision, a contemporary romance midway to completion of its first draft, a paranormal (vampire) romance in gestation, and a mainstream sea story written in 1972 ready to update.

The hardest thing I find about writing is the constant waiting for responses, release dates, royalties etc., (two of my submissions are now approaching seven months) so I keep the maximum number of balls in the air at any one time to distract me. In the case of completed first drafts, it allows me to come back to them with fresh eyes and the benefits of an ongoing learning curve as a writer.

In between times, I judge competitions and conduct part time classes and workshops in fiction writing at the local Adult Education facilities.

I know everyone wants to hear about your book, The Widow Maker. Can you tell us about it, please?

“The Widow-Maker” takes its name from a poem by Rudyard Kipling “The Harp Song of the Dane Women”, but is a motorcycle with an experimental suspension that has already killed one rider. When Glen Smallwood seems determined to ride it in the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Phillip Island circuit, the pressure on Alexandra “Lexie” Douglas mounts to an unbearable level. Already considered a jinx by the locals, she seeks to escape loving him, lest her presence tip the scales against him. The intensity of her emotions strip away the barriers of misunderstanding between her and her family and she emerges stronger and more focused, able to cope with the final test of her love and triumphs over her fears.

How long did it take to write?

This story had a chequered history. Initially written for my first Australian publisher under a different title, it was never published because she folded before it came to print and languished in my pile of MSs whilst I wrote a three-book series of paranormal romances for New Concepts.
When I found time to recover it from the pile, I read it with fresh eyes and realized that the motorcycle was the real driving force of the story. The name change and Americanizing the text, but not the location, took two weeks and the submission process another five months.

The original writing time, including a research visit to the location, was about ten weeks for the sixty thousand words (initial draft, cooling time, and rewrite), but I had the advantage of my youthful memories of the sport and the locale.

Where did you get the idea for this story?

Our eldest daughter made a comment that showed how little she understood our life before her tenth birthday and how powerfully puberty had twisted her perceptions of what she did know. It affects her views even now, when she has risen to Associate level in an International firm of consultant engineers and is the mother of two. This difficulty would be intensified with a so-called “Change of Life” child, especially if she were born into a family of boys. (Our daughter wasn't).

Having experienced an Island environment when I was young, it seemed the ideal pressure cooker for the situation and Phillip Island was the closest Island community available. The addition of the Grand Prix circuit provided a further intensifier and crammed all the events into a short, four day, period. Youthful exuberance had led me to ride the circuit years before and the surfing there is great, so I had all the ingredients of the story.

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?

I've published nine, plus two romantic short stories in local women's magazines, but have written fourteen, plus the three manuscripts that are works in progress. As to favorites, I suffer from the same problem that afflicted C.S.Forester (of Hornblower fame). I find reading my published work difficult because I have moved on in my learning curve and would love to apply the lessons learned to what can't now be changed.

If you had the choice of being stranded on a desert island or lost in a huge city, which would you prefer and why?

A youthful military exercise had us living exclusively off the land in a barren environment with no weapons beyond a heavy bladed knife so I am aware of the reality of the hard work involved in survival. On the other hand, I've had years of travel in foreign countries and am comfortable with most urban environments so being lost in a large city is neither new nor threatening.

How did you meet your significant other?

I'd been away from home for almost two years and my cousin, who'd been my frequent partner at social events when we were both at a loose end, rang and had four tickets to the Company's annual ball. We both went looking for partners and I met the one who share my life from that moment at a local dance. When we married, almost five years later, we'd spent less than twelve months physically together, but had enriched the postal services of many countries.

What brings you the most joy?

Forty-five years of marriage make that a given. I have been incredibly fortunate, both in marriage and in my children, and now my grandchildren. Writing was the hidden passion of my professional life and is now endlessly fulfilled as I learn more and more about the craft and venture further and further afield.

If you had to choose another profession, what would it be?

I grew up the youngest child of an itinerant Bush worker, picked peas to make ends meet, sometimes went without food (which meant my parents had less) washed pots and pans in the galley of a passenger-carrying paddle steamer, spent time in the military, went to sea professionally, lectured in the university, and ended up in the senior management of the offshore oil industry. I rode motorcycles competitively, bushwalked, lived in several countries and travelled in many others. I played ice hockey, squash, basketball, sailed in racing yachts and professional fishing boats.

It's hard to imagine anything that I haven't done that would interest me, but there's always tomorrow…

Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

The first thing is to thank you for allowing me to babble on about my life and my writing. I enjoy what I do intensely and the prospect of seeing “The Widow-Maker” on the big screen is a buzz, even if I appreciate the many hurdles that lie between the contract I signed recently and the premiere screening of the film. The screenplay is finished and now we wait the decision of the funding body.

For the rest, please visit my website

Amy, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you. Please keep us updated about The Widow Maker’s progress; I’d love to see it on the big screen someday, and I know others readers would, too.

And readers, Amy has generously offered a copy of her fabulous book to one lucky commenter. The winner will be drawn at random from all of today’s comments, so comment away! Check back tomorrow morning to see if your name has been chosen!



sharon said...

I really like these interviews. I like it that you have a schedule posted as well. There are some interesting authors coming up so I will be back again.

Today's interview was interesting. I had not heard of this author but The Widow Maker sounds like an exciting story!

Emma Lai said...

Sarita, I enjoy your interviews as well.

Amy, it sounds like you've led an adventurous life. Kudos to you! It's nice to know that I'm not the only one with multiple works on their plate at any given time.

Amy Gallow said...

Hi Sharon,
I'm glad you found the interview interesting. "The Widow-Maker"'s reviews tended to praise the relationships and Lexie's personal journey as much as the excitement of the race, but there was action enough as well.

Hi Emma,
Having multiple works on the go is pure survival for me. Retirement took me from a life where I had a large element of control, to one where I was the plaything of other people's decisions. I could write a first class story and still have it rejected because it didn't fit in with the house forward planning...etc.,etc., etc.
Writing romance reduced that a little.

Mary said...

Super interview! I love to hear about how a writer comes up with stories. Also, it is fun to hear a bit about the rest of a writer's life. Forty-five years of marriage! That's quite an accomplishment, in addition to the super writing career.

Another fun interview, Sarita. Keep them coming, please!!!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Amy,
I got it right this time.
You have certainly led an interesting life and it shows up in your writing.
Everyone, I have been to Phillip Island where The Widow Maker is set. Beautiful place. Haven't been to the bike races there, though, but what an exciting background to use in a book. Fast bikes and fast men and women???
Good luck with your historical Amy, now you are really talking my language, love writing them and reading them.


Amy Gallow said...

Hi Mary,
Ideas are everywhere. The hardest thing is taking that initial idea and turning it into a story. The three book series for New Concepts came from the obituary of a 107 year-old veteran and the historical from a blog comment about pirates.As for the forty-five years, pick the right partner, work at it, and it's a breeze (It sometimes seems like yesterday that we met)

Hi Margaret,
Glad you made it.
I'm amazed in writing historicals how much I know instinctively about when things were developed-marine barometers, canned meat, and the like. It gives veracity to the story-always a bonus!

Anonymous said...

What a multi-faceted person you are, Amy! So many different chapters in your life. I am impressed.

So glad I got the chance to read this interview. I think these are fabulous!


Amy Gallow said...

Hi Pam,

Thank you.