From the time that she was seven, Amanda Cabot dreamed of becoming a published author, but it was only when she set herself the goal of selling a book by her thirtieth birthday that the dream came true. A former director of Information Technology, Amanda has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. She’s delighted to now be a full-time writer of Christian historical romances. Her Texas Dreams trilogy received critical acclaim, and Waiting for Spring, the second in her Westward Winds series, was just released.
Amanda, tell us a little bit more about yourself.
I’m the oldest of four siblings. (You won’t get me to admit that I was a bossy sister as so many oldest children are, but my sibs might have a different opinion.) Although I’ve spent most of my life in the suburbs of metropolitan areas, my early childhood years were in a small Texas town. Why is that important? Because it’s influenced my writing and led me to set many of my stories in similar towns. I never forgot the friendliness of small town life, the feeling that everyone knew everyone else and that I was safe, no matter where I went – except for the cemetery, which had rattlesnakes. My lifelong fear of snakes has its roots there. And, yes, that’s what inspired one scene in Summer of Promise.
On a lighter note, my belief in happy endings and the reason I write romance can be – depending on your perspective – credited to or blamed on my high school sweetheart, who’s been my husband for literally decades. He and I’ve lived in a variety of places ranging from Germany to the suburbs of Philadelphia and are now living happily ever after in Cheyenne.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
For almost as long as I can remember, books have been a major part of my life. I love the fact that in addition to teaching me things, they can transport me to a different time and place. As a child, I decided that the most wonderful thing in the world would be to be a writer and give others the pleasure that I found in books. Of course, even then I somehow knew that it would be a difficult way to earn an living, so I took a “real” job, and writing became my second job. I used to describe it as a case of “for love or money.” Writing was what I did for love; the day job helped pay the mortgage.
When did you first begin writing?
I really cannot remember a time when I didn’t write – or at least want to write, and so I wrote sporadically until I was almost 29. Since then I have come to believe that authors have at least one thing in common with oysters, namely that we need irritation to produce our pearls … er… our books. For me, that irritation was moving to a new area and discovering that what had appeared to be an ideal job was truly awful. Unfortunately, that happened at a time when jobs were hard to find, so I stuck with the one I had for over three years. But the irritation was enough to remind me of my goal of selling a book before I was thirty. I started what was to become my first published book just before my twenty-ninth birthday and sold it one week before my thirtieth. If this were a fairytale, I’d tell you that I became vastly wealthy and was able to quit my day job. The reality is, for many years (no, I won’t tell you how many) I wrote on nights and weekends, while I worked full time for Corporate America. Now I’m fortunate enough to be a full-time writer.
Why do you write?
Because I can’t not write. In the early years of my career when I faced more rejections than I could count, I would try to stop writing, but each time, I found there was a huge hole inside me. The only way to fill that hole was to write. Writing is truly part of who I am.
I have a terrible time telling a story in less than 100,000 words, so why don’t I share the back cover copy with you?
“After the loss of her husband and the birth of her baby, Charlotte has had a long, hard year. But she can find no rest from the ghosts of the past and flees to Cheyenne to put the pieces of her life back together.
Wealthy cattle baron and political hopeful Barrett Landry must make a sensible match if he is to be elected senator of the soon-to-be state of Wyoming. He needs someone with connections. Someone without a past. Yet he can’t shake the feeling that Charlotte holds the key to his heart and his future.
Will Charlotte and Barrett find the courage to look love in the face? Or will their fears blot out any chance for happiness?”
What inspired you to write this particular book?
I’ve been intrigued by Cheyenne’s history ever since I moved here, and when I learned that it was once the wealthiest city per capita on earth, I knew that I had to set at least one book in Cheyenne during that period. To me, the fascination was not just the wealth but the changes that were occurring: the bust of the cattle barons’ boom and the move toward statehood. Mix in a widow with more than her share of secrets and a man determined to become a senator and you have the seeds for Waiting for Spring.
What are you working on right now?
Publishing schedules being what they are, I’m working on my 2014 releases. I’m waiting for copy edits on With Autumn’s Return, the third of the Westward Winds trilogy. That’ll be a January 2014 book. In addition, I’m excited to announce that I’ll have a novella in Revell’s first novella collection, also due out next January. The title for that book isn’t yet final, but each of the four stories in the collection features a woman whose life is changed when she receives a letter. My heroine is an heiress who needs to marry a man of her own social standing within two months, or she’ll forfeit her inheritance. The special letter she receives leads her to a handsome carousel carver – obviously not the man her parents had in mind for her. But the carver has a secret. As a side note, I developed an incurable case of carousel fever in early 2000, so when I started thinking about this story, I knew my hero would be one of those incredibly talented men who turned chunks of wood into fabulous painted ponies.
Do you put yourself into your main character, or do you find yourself borrowing from family or friends as your characters develop?
I’d like to say that I’ve borrowed nothing at all, but that’s not true. Like most authors, I know that part of me creeps into each book. While my characters are never based on real people (including myself), my heroes and heroines frequently embody my personal values. Because I believe in justice and happy endings, readers will find that my protagonists do, too. They’ll also find the recurring theme of the healing power of love, since that’s something I believe in. As for my villains, they tend to be the antithesis of the heroes and heroines, and I’d certainly like to think they’re not based on me.
What are your favorite themes to write about?
At first I didn’t realize that my books had common themes, but as I look back on them, I realize that I frequently write about the healing power of love. When I wrote for the secular market, that love was between a man and a woman. Now that I’m writing for the Christian market, I’ve been able to expand that to include the power of God’s love. There’s nothing that pleases me more than having a reader tell me that my characters’ stories helped her heal. Truly, that’s why I write.
Does your faith affect your writing? How?
My faith is part of who I am, and so it colors my characters and the stories I tell. That was true even when I wrote for the secular market, but now that I’m writing Christian novels, I don’t have to censor myself. What a relief!
Do you have a favorite scripture? If so, why is it your favorite?
My favorite Bible verse is Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” I find comfort in knowing that God is with me wherever I go, and the fact that this is phrased as a command makes me determined to be strong and courageous, although I don’t always succeed.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us? Maybe a writing tip or advice for aspiring authors?
I have three pieces of advice for aspiring authors. The first is to read extensively in the genre you want to write. That’s the best way to learn what a publisher is buying. Secondly, join a writer’s group. ACFW is wonderful for writers in the Christian marketplace, and Romance Writers of America is excellent for anyone interested in writing romance. A writer’s group provides support, networking and so many other resources to the aspiring writer that I can’t over emphasize the importance of joining one. And lastly, never give up. Rejection is a fact of life. I won’t sugarcoat it: rejection hurts. But if you let it defeat you, if you stop sending out your manuscript just because it was rejected, you’ll never be published. Believe in your book and in yourself. Oh … that was four pieces of advice. Sorry!
Where can fans find you or your books on the internet?
The best place to start is my web page: www.amandacabot.com. That provides what I call “one stop shopping” with information about me and my books. I also have a Facebook fan page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amanda-Cabot/110238182354449?v=wall) and a blog http://amandajoycabot.blogspot.com/. In addition to posting news on FB and the blog, I have “Wednesday in Wyoming” where I post pictures from my new home. I seem to have exceeded some unwritten storage limit in FB and can no longer post pix there, so I’m putting them on the blog and linking to FB. Ah, the joys of technology!