An Interview with Amanda Flower

Meet Amanda Flower.  She’s an academic librarian, mom of two cats (sshhh…they may not know they’re cats), aunt extraordinaire, and author of Amish mysteries and non-Amish kids books.  Her latest Amish mystery, Murder, Plainly Read, written under the name Isabella Alan and her latest kids book, Andi Unstoppable, both released this month (after reading the interview go grab these books, they are great!)  Two Girls and a Book was lucky enough to get an interview with this quirky and fun author.  We would like to thank Amanda for answering all of our questions and hope you enjoy the interview as much as we did!
Two Girls: We know you write cozy mysteries with both Amish and Englishers. Do you have any Amish contacts you get information from  on their culture?  Or, do you research online?  Or, both?
Amanda Flower: I know a family in Amish country who helps teens and young adults who leave the Amish acclimate to the English world. A lot of my information when I first started writing Amish was from interviewing that family and some of the teens they helped. I also have done a lot of research online and visit Holmes County as often as I can. I only live an hour from there.

Two Girls:  Did you decide to write books geared towards younger readers with your niece and nephew in mind?
Amanda Flower: I originally wrote Andi Unexpected before my niece and nephew were born. I wrote it just because the character Andi would not get out of my head, but now it’s fun to know that my niece, who is six, is only a couple of years away from reading those books herself. That makes me so happy to think of her and her brother reading my stories!

Two Girls:  Who/what was the inspiration for the Andi Boggs character?
Amanda Flower: I guess my 12-year-old-self was the original inspiration. When I was a kid I wasn’t into math and science like Andi is, but I was super curious and got into a bunch of trouble having adventures, especially in the summer. If I had discovered a mystery like Andi did, I would have been poking my nose in where it doesn’t belong too. Also, my best friend at that age was a boy and he was my neighbor just like Colin is to Andi.

Two Girls:   On the back of Andi Unstoppable,  Andi was referred to as a modern day Nancy Drew.  How was it to see that comparison? 
Amanda Flower: It was the best comparison ever! I was so thrilled by it!

Two Girls: Do you have a favorite character you’ve created?*human or animal*
Amanda Flower: That is so hard. I really love my characters even the not so nice ones because they amuse me. Probably my favorite human character is India Hayes because she was my first protagonist and led to all these wonderful books. My favorite animal character is Oliver from the Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries. I wish he were my real dog.

Two Girls:  Dead Fred.  Explain, please!         

dead fred, off on an adventure
Dead Fred, off on one of his many adventures! photo courtesy of Amanda Flower
Amanda Flower: LOL! Dead Fred is little red guy that I take with me when I travel. I love to travel, but I think it’s more fun to take pictures of Dead Fred than of myself in all the places I go. When I first got published, a mystery writer group gave him to me as a thank you gift for speaking at one of their meetings and I was about to leave for the United Kingdom. I took Fred along and that’s how it all started. I was surprised how much readers enjoyed his travels! That was almost five years ago. Fred has gotten a lot of miles since then!
 
Two Girls:  You revealed on your Facebook book release party that you are a “seat of your pants” writer.  Have your characters ever gotten out of control and how do you rein them in?  Have there ever been times when you’ve thought “I can’t believe they did/said that”!?
Amanda Flower: Oh, my characters get out of control all the time. I don’t try to rein them in at least not at first. A lot of time, I like to see where they are going. Sometimes it’s a dead end and other times it’s an amazing new plot. It’s really the best part of writing to me when the characters take over. My fingers fly across the keyboard then. However, it usually makes a very, very messy rough draft. Revision is where I start to take over and control the story. It’s not uncommon for me to delete and rewrite multiple scenes during revision.
 
Two Girls:  How did your family and friends react when they found out you wanted to be a writer?
Amanda Flower: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a child, so in a way, it’s always been a part of me. It’s something that I have always seriously talked about. My family and friends have always been super supportive and cheered for me through all the ups and comforted me through all the downs of trying to get published.
 
Two Girls:  What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
Amanda Flower: Keep at it. A lot of a writer’s success is dependent on determination. You have to really want it because rejection will happen. You need to be able to pick yourself up and keep trying.
 
Two Girls: You seem to have a quirky sense of humor (we love it!) and it comes through in your characters.  Have you always had that kind of quirky humor?  And are you always like that?  You seem like a fun person to be around.
Amanda Flower: Thank you! I do love to laugh and joke. I always have. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be told by my teacher to move my desk into the hallway during middle school because I was talking or giggling too much, and most of the time when I was talking, I was telling a funny story to a friend. Even though the friend would be giggling too, I was the one put in the hallway. The teacher knew who was behind the disruption. ; )
And now for the important questions…
For those of you unfamiliar with Amanda Flower, she has two very  paws-on editors.  Cheeps and Tummy are their names and they keep Amanda on track with all of her writing.  Two Girls and a Book aren’t just book lovers, but cat lovers too.  That said, we just couldn’t resist asking a couple questions about “the editors”. 🙂
Two Girls:  How did Cheeps and Tummy get their names and are they brothers?  How old are they?
Amanda Flower: They are adopted brothers from two different litters. Cheeps is six and Tummy is three. I had a beloved Maine Coon named Puds for 17 years, and he and Cheeps were the best of friends too. Since he was so much older than Cheeps, he was more like a grandfather than a brother. After Puds passed away Cheeps was extremely depressed and I knew I had to find him a new brother. That’s when I adopted Tummy. Cheeps and Tummy are nicknames for their real names  Reepicheep and Mr. Tumnus. Their names come from the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, which are my favorite books. Puds full name was Puddleglum, also from the series, so you can see I have a long history Narnia-inspired pet names.
Editor Cheeps, heard at work
  Editor Cheeps, hard at work (photo courtesy of Amanda Flower)
Tummy, editor and... head of marketing??
Tummy, editor and… head of marketing?? (photo courtesy of Amanda Flower)
Two Girls: Is there any jealousy between editors Cheeps and Tummy when it comes to you?
Some cats don’t like to share their humans
.
Amanda Flower: That’s true, but my boys are good and the best of friends. Cheeps usually likes to be on my lap and Tummy likes to sit beside me, so it works out well.
For a complete listing of Amanda’s books, check out her author page on Amazon by clicking here.
For a complete listing of Amanda’s books written under the name Isabella Alan, check out her author page on Amazon by clicking here.
Visit Amanda on online at her website www.amandaflower.com
Like Isabella Alan on Facebook by clicking here
Like Amanda Flower on Facebook by clicking here
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