Monday, January 7, 2008
Joining us today is Amanda Young, the author of Silent Prisoner which is based on a true story of how faith in God and the angels helped one woman survive childhood abuse, and later, domestic violence. Jeffrey Davis, M.D. called Silent Prisoner, “an illuminating, touching, and inspirational story.” Let’s hear more about this powerful story from the author herself.
Welcome to The Book Connection, Amanda. It’s wonderful to have you with us. Before we talk about Silent Prisoner, can you tell us a bit about yourself? When did you begin writing? What inspires you to put pen to paper? What do you like to do in your spare time?
I began writing in 2000 when a dream of a young girl that looked sick to me would not go away. Over and over I would have the same dream. I saw a little girl talking to me. I could not remember what she was saying to me or most of what the dream was about. But she would walk with me and I listened as she talked. I do remember how she held my hand as we walked. I am a nurse and mostly have worked with hospice patients and the elderly, but thought that maybe I would care for this young girl one day. I did not know what else to think.
I thought, too, that maybe if I put the dream on paper it would go away as I had the image of her face for days after the dreams in my mind. As soon as I began to write of the dream on an old envelope, I found I continued to write on another envelope. When I had to get a larger envelope, even more words flowed. Then I found a bent and torn plain sheet of paper and more words flowed from somewhere.
I tried to put the words together from the wrinkled envelopes and torn paper and then decided to sit in front of a computer and type in the words. This began my writing. Really. Over and over drafts went through of the little girl I named Megan. The name Megan means, mighty one. The title of the book is ‘Megan’s Unicorn.’ It has been edited and put into print again this year. I did print on demand with Booksurge.com.
When I finished the first three or four drafts of the little girl named Megan, I began having dreams of a little fairy that I gave the name to or she gave me the name in a dream, Tessa. There are two Tessa Books in print, also redone with Booksurge.com.
I've said many times over that I have no idea why or who began the dreams and desire for me to write. I tried very hard to go on a different path. But I suppose it was meant for me to follow this path. I will follow the best I can and hope my words will help those who read them.
What do I do in my spare time? Believe it or not--write. And I cannot believe I wrote that, but it is true. In the past year or I am more relaxed about letting the words flow and now I am the most relaxed when I write. Unfortunately, I am the most stressed, too, as I tend to be a bit critical of my words.
I am moving to Florida soon, as I have a strong desire to sit on the beach and look out over the water. I visited friends recently and walked on the beach and I have to move there to have time to sit and look out over the water and watch the sunrise. When I was there I could close my eyes and while sitting there images came to mind that I want to put on paper. I can’t make out the images clearly but when I sit down the words will flow. Or so I hope. A writer’s fear I suppose, is the words will not flow. And I know now, they do not flow on command. Prayers do seem to help.
You’re also a registered nurse with a degree in homeopathy. Has your occupation influenced your writing in any way?
Some think that the story ‘Megan’s Unicorn’--which is of a five-year-old girl with cancer--was inspired by my years of working as a hospice nurse. I think that it may have, but I let the story tell itself through me.
I can tell you that as I was writing it and the sentences were flowing and then all of a sudden one of the main characters is dying, I did not want to put that in. I recall standing up as my fingers were racing over the keys on the first draft and yelling out, “No way! I can’t put that in!” I cannot tell you why but I looked around and thought, I have lost my mind. Who am I yelling at? And besides, I am in control of this. I rewrote the sentences leading up to that event to write of how the character lives...and then...nothing. Not a word went onto paper until I began the story again with the way the flow was going before. And it then flowed swiftly, just as it was meant to be.
If I “get in the way” as I call it…nothing. Not a word comes to mind or onto paper. It is like turning off a light. Even with Silent Prisoner I had to let that one flow even though I knew there seemed to be some force or whatever you want to call it helping me to write it.
I let the story tell itself. I say a prayer before I begin and let it go. And I can say it is hard for me sometimes to get out of the way and trust.
How do you balance two careers and family life?
I work privately with some patients, but the writing is taking over more and more. I do less and less of working with terminal patients also. Menopause, I think, has taken care of that career. I cry more than the family now. I am trying to move away from nursing as it has become too much for me with the writing too. I want to put that emotion into the writing. It will work out the way it is suppose to, is how I try to live nowadays.
Let’s move on to Silent Prisoner. What can you tell us about this story?
It is a true story and I lived it. It is of a journey of a young girl that I named April because I was born in April. All of the names are changed in the story. I did not put dates or cities so I could keep the other names private.
I wrote the story so that the reader can follow April’s journey starting when she was about five or six. It begins as she is looking out of the window of an orphanage. She looks out over the gray skies and I now can remember that house. I stood the same way as I write it inthe story, of looking out of the window and I remember thinking, it is always raining. Why is the sky always crying? Those were the words that I now remember when I think of looking out the window of the house of the orphanage. My mother was in the hospital, again, due to a terrible beating from my father. He was in jail, again. April, too, has become a prisoner--or so she believes in her mind--due to the beginning of her life and what she was exposed too.
I write more of April’s journey and the reader walks with me on that path. I write of the abuse at the orphanage and foster home. In the foster home, I write of where the old man locked me in a closet and yelled at me on the other side that I was going to be eaten alive by rats. I am to this day claustrophobic. The reader will follow through the abuse I went through in a relative's home. You will see how I was beaten and molested by one, and yet, shown by my aunt to believe in God. My aunt died and I was still beaten and abused by the rest of the family. My loving aunt was gone, but her memory remained in my heart and still does to this day. Her presence in my life is what changed me to try and to do good deeds and to always believe in God and the angels.
I write of April when she grows up. I map my life so the reader can see how life can repeat again if you're not careful and aware. I later married a man that beat and abused me. I have been in abusive relationships, and even with female friends who have been abusive in their own way. I wrote this story to show how a pattern developed. It is my hope that young girls will read this and learn. My faith that I have clung to has given me that desire to help others. My faith is the one and only one thing that got me out. I write of it in the book and I remember it clearly. Words came to my mind one morning when my abusive husband left for work and the words in my mind were, “Get out and get out now!” And I did. That was my faith talking to me.
I believe in awareness and prevention and I hope and pray that my book will provide that.
What type of research did you have to perform for this novel?
I lived it.
What is it about April that readers will relate to? Why will they care what happens to her?
To know that if we believe in ourselves and hold onto our faith in ourselves and to a power greater than ourselves that can help us, if only we ask. That we can go on to another day if we have hope and faith in our hearts. I have lived through many things that others have lived through. I do not feel that I am different than anyone else that has lived. And if I survive and thrive then I am showing them that they can too. I watch others on television who have lost and suffered and I feel their sorrow. I want them to be fine again, and I believe that everyone wants to believe that of each other. My faith gives me that, and I believe that is what we all have inside of us.
Who are some of the important people April meets along her journey?
Her Aunt Mary, who April believed was an angel walking on the earth. Rose who teaches her to believe in angels and faith. Her grandmother who teaches her to always be good and kind. Her grandfather that shows her how laughter is so important in life. And a therapist that tries to teach her to tell them how you feel. And of a turtle that I watched crawl ever so slowly but persistently to a lake. I was amazed that it did not see the lake and I wanted to pick it up and take it there, but watched it instead. It almost fell over more than once and I still followed and watched it slowly continue on. It did make it to the lake finally. I want to have the faith of that turtle, I guess you could say.
There are more, but these stand out the most.
Is there any one event or thing in April’s journey that will stick out to readers in a good or bad way?
Her undying faith. I can tell you that if people could feel what I feel so many times when I pray, then they would not doubt that there is a wonderful and loving presence that does exist. I hope they feel that in the story and take that into their hearts.
You also designed the cover art for Silent Prisoner. How long have you been an artist? What do you enjoy most about this creative outlet?
Again, dreams. I saw myself in a dream three years ago painting. I said in meditation as the dreams would not stop, “I cannot even draw a straight line!”
“You will not be painting or drawing straight lines,” I heard the words in my head reply. So I bought paints and charcoals on those words.
I paint or draw when I have time and it helps me relax. Some of my art is now hanging in offices and homes and that gives me a good feeling.
You’ve already done a great deal to promote Silent Prisoner. Can you share with our readers some of the things you’ve done to get your name and book noticed?
I use Booksurge.com. They have a lot of great ideas and opportunities to offer. I would suggest to anyone that is thinking of going the route of print on demand to use Booksure.com. I also just went onto the web and searched everywhere that I thought the book Silent Prisoner may fit. I sent copies of books to several places. I handed a copy to the girl at the coffee shop. I had told her of the story and she was so wide-eyed I gave her a copy. I believe in word of mouth. I gave a copy to my hairdresser and he loved the book and has passed it on.
Booksurge.com has great marketing tools. I had business cards made up along with bookmarkers that have the cover art and back book description on it to hand out. I had a press release written by them. I contacted a Dr. Davis that I have known for twenty years to read the book. He knew me, but not of my personal life. He read it and wrote the comment in the press release. He said to me, “in a word I would call the book, spellbinding.” I liked that word. I pass that comment on to others too.
I use the Internet. Pump Up Your Book Promotion is doing a wonderful job for me. I am very pleased and it takes time and work to stay on it. That is why I am glad to have Booksurge.com and Pump Up Your Book Promotion to help me out.
Where can readers purchase a copy of Silent Prisoner?
Amazon.com and Booksurge.com, as they are not in bookstores. Yet.
What is up next for you? Are there future projects you would like to talk about?
‘Life’s Journey Home’ will be in print in next few months. It is fictional. It is of an adolescent boy named Michael that is stranded on a deserted island. Or that he thinks is deserted. He meets up with mythical gods, talking trees and much more. He must stay on the right path to find his destiny. Also, he desperately wants to find a way to help save his mother that has lost her soul to an evil and dark potion. Can his love help her recover her soul?
My father did sober up before he died. My mother never did. I suppose that story I could say is about my desire that I wished that I could have saved my mother from her addiction and she could have held me, just as Michael wants his mother to be there for him and hold him.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I try to do as my mentors that I talk of in the book tried to teach me. I try to be a good person. I love to laugh, more and more. I like myself more these days and as I have to spend so much time with myself, that is a good thing. As painful as it has been to write Silent Prisoner and also Life’s Journey Home, I am a better person for writing them. Actually all of these stories, because Megan’s Unicorn talks of the dysfunctional family that has to heal and come together.
Thank you for spending time with us today, Amanda. It sounds like you’ve written a powerful and inspirational story; I can’t wait to read it. Best of luck!
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