Ohmigod ohmigod omigod!! Guys I freakin’ love blogging! I get to read great books, I get to meet cool readers, and I get to interact with amazing authors!! I recently read the most breathtaking novel, in fact, it’s moved up the ranks as my #1 favorite of 2014, and fits quite comfortably on the list of my all-time favorite novels. The Law of Moses is a gem written by the uber-talented Amy Harmon, and I had the great luck and pleasure of interviewing her. Thank you, Amy, so so much for putting up with my fanaticism, because I couldn’t help it. Without further ado, here she is guys, Amy Harmon:
H: Tell us a little about yourself: Who are you? Where are you from? What do you like? What do you do?
AH: I’m just a mom. My coolest claim to fame is that I know Gladys Knight and sang in her choir for seven years. She’s a fantastic lady and an amazing inspiration. I write, I take care of my kids, I love to do research and I adore a good love story. I love food and books and music, not necessarily in that order. I grew up in Utah, lived in Las Vegas for ten years and moved back to Utah four years ago.
H: When did you start writing? Why?
AH: I’ve always been a writer. Poetry, song lyrics, essays. But I didn’t start writing in earnest until about eight years ago. I started publishing because I was desperate. We were seriously broke, I had a new baby, my oldest was in and out of the hospital, and my husband was working in another state. Things had to change, and I jumped in with both feet and published a book I’d written years before (Running Barefoot).
H: What would you say your writing style is like? Are there any authors that may have influenced your style?
AH: Some people say I have a more literary style, and I guess that makes sense. I love words. I like the beauty of language and saying things in a different way. I don’t think I’m better than other writers out there, I just think I’m different. My focus is different. My focus in a love story isn’t on the sex – my focus is always on the emotion.
H: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
AH: Hmm. I have always known I was a writer. That is just part of my make-up. Words are everything to me. But an author? It’s just now starting to sink in. I think when I hit the NY Times list with A Different Blue I knew I had made my mark.
H: What do you read for fun?
AH: I love all types of romance, but I’m always in search of a really well-written romance that doesn’t fall back on clichés or tired storylines or total dependence on number of sex scenes or shock value to pull readers in. I can usually tell within the first page if a book is going to do it for me, and it’s all about the writing. My kindle is full of romances and that’s what I do when I’m not working. I’m searching for the next gem.
H: Let’s talk about The Law of Moses for a bit. I’d like to begin with a topic that’s sort of contentious around the blogosphere: the genre. Booksellers have classified it as inspirational romance or simply romance, but some readers aren’t satisfied with that, and think it should be called ‘paranormal.’ I personally would’ve just put in the fiction or literary fiction section (as I would all your books), and called it a day. How do you classify this book?
AH: That “controversy” really surprised me. I’ve read lots of paranormal romance, and TLoM isn’t that. On Amazon it’s categorized in psychological fiction, metaphysical fiction, inspirational fiction, romantic suspense, interracial romance, and a few others. I think labeling is a major problem in the world in general. I hate labels. You may have noticed that, Cristal. In all of my books my characters rant about labels or stereotypes at least once. It’s a pet-peeve of mine. It’s why I don’t have a publishing contract in the US. In the words of many publishers who have liked my work, “They don’t know how to categorize me.” They don’t know what box to put me in.
H: Why did you write this book?
AH: I wanted to write a book about a contemporary black man and a contemporary white woman. I never see it in romantic fiction. Why? I think it’s because people are afraid to get it wrong. I was afraid to get Moses wrong. And then I thought to myself, that’s crazy!! How can you get him wrong? He’s a person. A beautiful, brilliant boy. The color of his skin shouldn’t make it hard to figure him out! That’s labeling again. So I let all the crap go, and I built Moses and Georgia, and man did I love doing it. I think their story is so beautiful.
H: What inspired this story?
AH: Lots of things. There’s never one inspiration. People are built from their experiences, their DNA, their choices, etc. And characters are built the same way, only I have to create their experiences, their choices, their DNA, so to speak. It’s in the creating of the characters that the inspiration comes.
H: Moses is an unforgettable character, what does he mean to you? Are there any similarities between you and him? I know he’s a dude, but I’m sure you spent a lot of time in his head, and I believe that every character a writer conjures is a part of them, so which part of him is you?
AH: Which part of Moses is me. This makes me emotional, Cristal. I’m crying here. Moses wants so desperately for people to SEE him as he is. To understand. To accept. To believe. That is the human condition. We all want that. Moses is all of us. I relate to that at my core.
H: What does Georgia mean to Moses and what does she mean to you?
AH: Moses and Georgia are light and dark, and I’m not talking about skin tone. He is depth, she is laughter. He is the artist, she is the audience. He is the vessel and she is the oar. We all need Georgias in our lives. We need people who don’t allow us to wallow or hide. We need people who just take us all in, and don’t demand us to be different than who we are, but at the same time don’t accept our bad behavior.
H: There’s a spiritual element that’s woven into The Law of Moses, and I believe all your other books, although more so in Moses. Why is this a recurring theme in your stories?
AH: I can’t help it. I really can’t. For me leaving out spiritual things is like leaving the icing off the cake. Life is so much more meaningful and beautiful and bearable if you allow yourself to look beyond the surface, if you open your heart to things you can’t see but things you feel in your spirit are true. I don’t want to convert anyone to my way of thinking. But I can no more write a book without an element of spiritualism than I could sing a song with only two notes.
H: Is there a message to Moses that you want to convey? Or a feeling you’d like your readers to experience with this book?
AH: My oldest son attempted suicide many times. And if there is one thing I believe, it’s that we truly can’t escape ourselves. Just like Moses told Tag. Here, there, half-way across the world or in a hospital in your hometown. You can’t escape yourself. Wherever you go, there you’ll be. That is meant to depress anyone. But at some point, you have to get right with yourself, whoever you are.
H: So Moses is a POC, as is Samuel in Running Barefoot, Blue in A Different Blue, and Ambrose in Making Faces. You’ve also had characters with disabilities, and characters that aren’t romance novel perfect. I love that your characters are diverse and that it’s not an insignificant detail in your stories – it’s very important to me, and I’m sure to other readers. I also love that you incorporate their histories into each story. I don’t really have a question here, I just wanted to say that it’s one of the many reasons why I look forward to your books, and I wish other authors would incorporate more diversity into their stories.
AH: Amen, sister. In the words of Moses, “Everyone always talks about being color blind. And I get that. I do. But maybe instead of being color blind, we should celebrate color, in all its shades. It kind of bugs me that we’re supposed to ignore our differences like we don’t see them, when seeing them doesn’t have to be a negative.”
H: Moses paints, Fern writes, Bonnie sings, Blue carves wood, and Darcy plays the cello…you see where I’m going with this? Your leads are pretty artsy, and it’s an important facet of their personalities – which I love – but I wonder if any of them do silly things like play video games or watch reality TV in their spare time.
AH: Ha ha. I don’t play video games. So that’s a hard one for me. I love beauty in all its forms. I don’t even watch TV (sorry dudes). I didn’t have a TV growing up, and I just never got into the habit. I will have to do some research and come back to you. LOL.
H: What else are you working on?
AH: I want to write Tag’s story and Dr. Noah Andelin’s story. Both of these characters are from The Law of Moses, and I have very clear stories in mind for both.
H: Where do your ideas come from?
AH: Building a book is like putting together a puzzle. I get my ideas piece by piece.
H: How do you feel about sequels? Because I’m sure I want a sequel to every book I’ve read by you, especially A Different Blue. Will we be seeing more of Blue and Darcy in the future?
AH: I can’t visualize a sequel for ADB. I just draw a huge blank when I think about that, which tells me it’s not time yet. But I suppose if I write a story for Tag and for Dr. Andelin; that will be a bit like writing a series.
H: What’s the last book that blew your mind?
AH: Oh man. I’m so picky. I thought the writing in Unteachable by Leah Raeder was gorgeous. I loved the story in Ugly Love, I wept in Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes – which I never do (picky, picky, picky) and I marveled at Tarryn Fisher’s moxie in Mud Vein. She doesn’t write likable characters and I kind of love that about her.
H: What’s your favorite dessert?
AH: Cake. Hands down. Layers, frosting, chocolate, vanilla, doesn’t matter.
H: What’s your favorite song?
AH: I have a bunch. There’s a song called Isaiah by Noah Gundersen that I love. My son, Paul Travis writes amazing music too. But I also love Billie Jean by Michael Jackson and Kiss by Prince. I love The Killers and U2, can’t get enough of Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, but love the lyrics of almost every Willie Nelson song. I love Rachmaninoff, Debussy, and Beethoven. But I also secretly adore Eminem. So you get the idea. I am a music lover.
H: Which of your books was the hardest to write? Which was the most fun?
AH: Infinity + One was the most fun. It was also difficult because of the math component. Running Barefoot was the most enjoyable because I had no expectations for myself, and no plans to publish it. I just did it for me. Making Faces was incredibly stressful and so was The Law of Moses, both for different reasons. I think it just gets harder and harder as you go. The pressure intensifies and people expect so much.
H: If you could recommend only one book for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
AH: There’s a book called the Peacegiver. Non-fiction. Self-help. Beautiful. It blew my mind when I read it and it changed my heart.
Interview Cont’d: A Different Blue spoiler…View Spoiler »
H: If I give you a fan fiction prompt for A Different Blue, will you write it? Just think about it… It’s five years after the epilogue; Wilson and Blue are at his sister’s house for a Christmas Eve celebration. I’m requesting that they have two babies, but it’s not mandatory; I’ll be happy with one. 🙂 AH: I’m just going to smile here and blow you a kiss. Okay? « Hide Spoiler
I know, I know, this is a really long interview. But, yay! You made it to the end! Here’s your reward.