It’s time for Spotlight Saturday again. Today we have the lovely Amie O’Brien with us. She writes historical romance. Let’s find out more…
Welcome, Amie! We’re glad to have you here on Love Indie Romance. Tell us a little about yourself.
Thank you! I was excited to get the invite. Basically I’m just a “thirty-something” (holding tightly) Midwest girl. Though currently buried in snow, I’m looking forward to planting flowers in the spring and spending time with my family on Lake Michigan. My passions are horses, reading, traveling, big cities, and IKEA. (Yes, as in Swedish furniture.)
Your debut novel is The Merchant’s Pearl. Where did your inspiration come from for this novel?
Years ago I became friends with a gal who had a nonprofit in Cambodia rescuing girls from sex-trafficking. I was deeply impacted by the hurt and sense of devalue these girls were feeling. Some were as young as my own daughter. I had all these thoughts reeling in my heart and I knew I wanted to make a difference. Fast forward a year and I hit a time where I needed to back away from my favorite hobby–horses. My daughter had gotten injured, and we needed to explore something safer. She started theatre and I bought some running gear. Quickly my butt landed on my sofa and I switched to “Plan B”, LOL, writing. The Merchant’s Pearl was a storyline that actually came to me in the shower one morning. I wanted to create a Victorian novel, something Jane Eyre-ish, but I wanted to tackle those same issues of injustice and slavery.
You write historical romance. How much research did you have to complete to write your novel?
From start to finish the novel took over three years to write and polish. I spent well over a year researching morning, lunchtime, and evening. Then I would work on writing every night when the family went to bed. I’d get so excited, I had to write while it was fresh in my memory. I had Turkish historians I’d correspond with via email, as well as stacks of books I’d purchased from American professors. I even scoured the internet for super old articles from around the world. Then I got really crafty. I had an intern who was currently going to the university that I, myself, had graduated from a decade before. He’d take me to the library and check out dozens of the hundred-year-old scholarly books I couldn’t otherwise get my fingers on. He was a God-send. “Superman.”
You traveled to Istanbul, Turkey. How did that experience help your novel?
This was the trip of a lifetime! At that point I’d been working on my book for 18 months, my draft was complete, and I was there, experiencing as many details as possible. I walked around the various palaces I had dreamed about so many nights. Now I was touching staircase banisters or holding the iron gate with my very own fingers. I woke up every morning for the sunrise, basking in the sound of prayer calls outside my window. I ate everything I could that Leila did. And then I went back in again, continuously fine-tuning my descriptions, while sitting on rooftop cafes overlooking the Bosphorus.
What is your favorite part about writing historical romances?
I enjoy delving into history, but I especially love crafting stories that bring a little hope into the world.
What are you working on now?
I spend most of my time on marketing The Merchant’s Pearl. But I’ve recently had a rekindling of that urge to sit at a Starbucks and begin again. I know exactly where the sequel is going in my mind for quite some time now, just working up the courage to start that first paragraph.
Do you have any authors/people in your life that inspire you to write?
My favorite authors are Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen. I really enjoy JoJo Moyes, too. But my husband is my encourager.
What is your favorite part about being an indie author? Highs? Lows?
I like feeling like I can be myself. And even though it can be a low to not have someone pushing your book along and shouting it from the proverbial rooftop, I know that I am surrounded every day by dozens of Indie author friends. We’re sharing life’s experiences. There’s a sense of comradery in that. And I actually have a sense of pride in being an underdog. I’m big enough of a dreamer to believe I can take the world on.
Crazy question time! Do you have an all-time favorite quote that inspires you?
“Your lonely nights have just begun when you love someone.” ~ Bryan Adams