Rian: I loved the main heroine Dalton in â€œLove Like Thatâ€. She was sort of an anti-heroine in a way, but somehow I was rooting for her anyway! How did you develop her character? Where did the idea for her come from?
Amanda: First off, thanks for the praise. Iâ€™m glad you liked her! She is a little bit of an anti-heroine, Iâ€™ll admit, but that was done intentionally. I wanted Dalton to be her own person. I didnâ€™t want her to conform to any standard. So many heroines go back to their traumatic upbringing as a means of explaining why they cannot find success or happiness as adults. What about a girl who simply makes missteps because nobodyâ€™s perfect? What about a girl who takes it to the limit, without an excuse? A lot of Daltonâ€™s character, also, is a play on what living in Los Angeles can do to a person. If it doesnâ€™t change you, it still gets to youâ€”by watching it change everyone else.
Rian: Many of the characters in â€œLove Like Thatâ€ were cheating on their boyfriends. If someone asks you â€œWhy did you have them cheat so much?â€, what will you tell them?
Amanda: Iâ€™d have to say the laissez-faire attitude toward infidelity in LLT comes from my own exposure to cheating as the norm. Iâ€™ve seen quite a few people guiltlessly cheat on their significant others. Itâ€™s never been a question of, â€œAm I wrong to be cheating?â€ Itâ€™s instead always the dilemma of how to weigh the importance of the intrusionâ€”the other personâ€”against what is theoretically â€œthe one Iâ€™m supposed to be withâ€ person. That most of the characters in LLT, women and men alike, pay so little worry to their infidelity is meant to kind of mock the modern concept that self-discovery (and self-elevation) may be more important than following the traditional rules of wrong and right.
Rian: Describe the creative process you used to come up with the other characters in the book.
Amanda: I love to write an outrageous supporting cast. I want every character to have their own unique story. In LLT, this was especially importantâ€”because you get the idea that a lot of the â€œwisdomâ€ Dalton has gleaned from life has come from observing how her friends have surmounted their own issues (or not) and where they may have come from. Overall, I like writing vibrant and confident characters who arenâ€™t ashamed to be who they are, and donâ€™t feel the need to make apologies for their audacity. I especially enjoy writing surprising champions, like fractured fairy godmother, Electra, and Dylan, the good-for-nothing guardian angel.
Rian: What did you find to be the most difficult thing about writing â€œLove Like That?â€ (If anything).
Amanda: I did have some concern that LLTâ€™s content might come across as offensive. It contains various instances of betrayal, casual drug use and extreme swearing. It also touches on quite a few sensitive topics like religion, smoking and the iconization of celebrities. Anyhow, I got over my concern. If Iâ€™d wanted to write a book about the pure and pristine and the way they live, I would have written that book. Instead I wrote this book, and I had a lot of fun doing it.
Rian: What do you think of the chick lit genre in general? What about the people that put it down?
Amanda: I think the chick lit genre is a wonderful addition to modern literature, and I donâ€™t just say that because I write chick lit. (I also write science fiction.) It has thrown open so many gates that were previously closed. Itâ€™s provided fantastic opportunity for both its writers and its readers.
Iâ€™m not sure why some are so quick to discredit it. Jacqueline Susann, the bestselling author of all time, was writing it. If Jane Austen were alive and publishing â€œPride and Prejudiceâ€ today, she would most likely be classified as a chick lit writer. Our critics seem to forget that the literary genre produces as many unreadable books as other genres produce incredible books. One thing that really bothers me is when I read a review on Amazon.com and the reader says something like, â€œI thought Iâ€™d try this â€˜chick litâ€™ but after reading this book, Iâ€™ll never read another one again!â€ Come on. Would you stop watching an entire network because you didnâ€™t like one of its sitcoms?
I would also like to add that I think itâ€™s unjustifiable to continuously back chick lit writers and their heroines into the Bridget Jones/â€œSex and the Cityâ€ corner. The comparisons are ridiculous. Itâ€™s always â€œtoo much likeâ€ or â€œnot as good asâ€, a â€œcheap knock-offâ€ or â€œthe second-rate American/British/Australian versionâ€ of either. These brilliant ladies were kind enough to pave the road for the many of us who have always dreamed of traveling it. That we now share the road with them surely categorizes us as their contemporariesâ€”not their wannabes and followers.
Rian: How did you get started in writing fiction? Was it something you’d always wanted to do?
Amanda: I come from a well-read household. Weâ€™ve always had one or two crowded bookcases in every roomâ€”piles of books on coffee tables, kitchen counters, nightstands. I suppose all that reading devoted me wholly to the written word, because I started writing my first novel when I was in fifth grade. It wasnâ€™t something Iâ€™d always wanted to do, it was just something I did. Around the time I graduated from college and really couldnâ€™t see myself sustaining a lifetime career doing, well, anythingâ€”I thought, hmm, other people make a living writing books. Maybe I should try that, too.
Rian: What are your favorite genres and authors to read, and why?
Amanda: I donâ€™t limit myself to any particular genre or author. What I love is a well-told story that keeps me turning its pages, and that I remember long after Iâ€™ve finished it. In my bookcase you would find James Clavellâ€™s Asian Saga on the same shelf as Judy Blumeâ€™s novelsâ€”from â€œAre You There, God? Itâ€™s Me, Margaretâ€ to â€œSummer Sistersâ€. You would find my LaVyrle Spencer collection right beside Hemingway, Tolstoy and Chuck Palahniuk. Danielle Steelâ€™s love stories are next to Frank Herbertâ€™s Dune Chronicles. â€œGone With the Windâ€, my favorite book of all time, is crammed in there with a few thrillers and a biography of the royal family of Monaco.
But my one true love is Jackie Collins, and I wonâ€™t stand for people calling her books â€œtrashâ€. I dare anyone to read the five books of the Santangelo family and say lovely Jackie does not know her craft.
Chick lit books I have enjoyed include: Katy Gardnerâ€™s â€œLosing Gemmaâ€, Sarah Mlynowskiâ€™s â€œMonkey Businessâ€, Susan Hubbardâ€™s â€œLisa Mariaâ€™s Guide For the Perplexedâ€, Jennifer Belleâ€™s â€œHigh Maintenanceâ€, Jane Greenâ€™s â€œMr. Maybeâ€ and Wendy Holdenâ€™s â€œSimply Divine.â€
Rian: Do you write full time, or do you have another job to juggle along with writing? If so, what is it?
Amanda: I recently left from a promising career in PR/Crisis Communications to write full time. Unfortunately, at this stage in my writing career, I have to temp every now and then to pay the bills!
Rian: Do you have any advice for someone who desperately wants to get their chick lit novel published?
Amanda: My first advice to any writer who wants to get published, in any genre, is to get an agent. To those who worry about agents taking their 15%, trust meâ€”they should be getting a lot more. Agents know the marketplace. Agents understand contracts. Agents know how to dole out the bad news without making you want to give up and are there to share the joy when everything starts to fall into place. I canâ€™t imagine where I would be without my agent. My guess is, still wondering if I was ever going to get published!
The second most important thing is to believe in yourself. Make it happen. But to really make it happen, you better work at it. You better work hard. It is exhausting, frustrating and often a very lonely endeavor. It is humbling, disappointing and at times frighteningly futile. When you finally get paid for it, you may feel like that sum could realistically be broken down to about five cents an hour for as much time youâ€™ve worked prior to actually getting paid.
However, it is worth it. It is all worth it. So go for it. I did.