It is my great pleasure and honor to introduce to you Amanda Wen, one of the 2021 Christian fiction debut authors.
Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her husband, their three Wenlets, and one snuggly Siamese cat.
Now for the fun stuff! I have to admit I am partial to my Fast Five. 🙂 So settle in as I hit Amanda with rapid-fire.
CC: Milk or Dark Chocolate?
AW: While I love any chocolate, I do have a slight preference for The Dark Side.
CC: Who can resist the dark side. Soooo delicious.
CC: Print or E-book?
AW: Print. There’s just something about holding a book and turning real pages that makes for a much more immersive reading experience.
CC: Cat or Dog Person?
AW: 100% cat. I have a Siamese named Jasmine who is the sweetest kitty ever (she’s snuggling with me right now, in fact, which makes typing a little awkward, but totally worth it).
CC: That sounds sweet. All I ever had was a barn cat, and he was not a snuggler.
CC: Morning Person or Night Owl?
AW: Morning, as long as I’ve had my coffee.
CC: Caffeine is a must in the morning, for sure!
CC: Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter?
AW: Fall is my absolute favorite.
CC: It really is a beautiful time of the year.
Thanks for sharing those fun things. Let’s dive right into talking about your debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone!
Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she’s on the hunt to find out more.
Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.
A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love–and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.
This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God’s plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.
CC: Who was the most challenging character to create? What made them so difficult?
AW: I’d say Sloane, my contemporary heroine, was probably the most difficult nut to crack. As a pantser, the only way I get to know my characters is to just start writing them, but Sloane doesn’t trust easily and wasn’t about to open up to me right away. I honestly felt like I was spinning my wheels with her trying to get her to talk until I found two of her passions: local history and jazz. (Conveniently, that latter bit helped her open up to Garrett, my contemporary hero, as well. 😉 )
CC: Oh, that is so sweet! I think I will get along with Sloane just perfectly. History and jazz are two of my favorite things.
Which character was the most fun to create? What makes them fun?
AW: In total contrast to Sloane, my past hero, Jack, showed up fully formed and ready to take over any scene he was in. A native of Ireland (and thus possessor of a fabulous accent), he came to the United States as a child and, along with many other Civil War veterans, became an early settler of Sedgwick County, Kansas. Jack has suffered some deep wounds just prior to the start of the story, but he is a man of big dreams, fierce determination, and passionate devotion to those he loves (along with a touch of impulsiveness, which you’ll see in his very first scene). He was an absolute joy to write.
CC: He sounds like a joy! I can’t wait to get to know him!
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
AW: This book is inspired by aspects of my own family history. My mom is a genealogist and has been tracing our family—and sharing their stories—my whole life. As an homage to her and all the rest of my ancestors, many of the people and places in the book are named for my ancestors. There are also several shout-outs to Wichita, Kansas, my home for most of my life, which people who’ve been around these parts might recognize.
CC: That is so cool, and what a personal touch!
Speaking of personal…let’s get to know YOU a little better. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
AW: I’ve written stories for fun off and on ever since I was a kid, but the writing bug hit me big-time in January 2008, when I wrote stories and actually let other people read them. Then came the Wenlets—all three within four years—so that gobbled up my time until 2014, when story ideas came out of nowhere and refused to let go. Around that time I started letting a lifelong friend, herself a multi-published author in the general market, read my work. She took me under her wing and gently corrected all my newbie writing errors, but told me I had publishable talent and ideas. I decided that if God had given me that gift, I should probably pursue it through whatever avenue he chose.
CC: Amen! I am so glad you chose to follow this path with your gifting so that we may all enjoy.
What has been the biggest challenge for you on your writing journey?
AW: Trusting God’s timing, which is I think a common one for us writers. So many of us finish our first novel and then we think we’ve Arrived somehow, and we want to run out and get it published. I was absolutely no exception. And though my first novel won a few contests and landed me my wonderful agent, it did not sell to publishers. I was pretty disappointed, as anyone would be, but while that book was on submission, I’d started to write another book in a slightly different genre—one I truly loved writing and felt at home in. My agent wasn’t as excited about it as she had been my first book, but she believed in my writing and said she’d pitch anything I wrote. That second book didn’t do as well in contests and was on submission for over a year…but the folks at Kregel fell in love with it, and that book is the one that became Roots of Wood and Stone.
One postscript illustrating God’s perfect timing: Roots of Wood and Stone was inspired by my mom’s research into our family history, and I dreamed of the day when I’d get to tell her that the book was under contract. The day that dream came true and I finally got to call her with the news, I got to call Ireland, where she and my dad were celebrating their 50th anniversary. At the time of the call, they were eating lunch in a little café in the hometown of the ancestor whose life inspired the book. It doesn’t get much more perfect than that.
CC: Wow! God’s perfect timing is so astounding. What a blessing to be able to have that publishing announcement story to share. I’m sure your parents were thrilled to get the call.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
AW: Plotting. I envy those who can plot out an entire novel and then just sit down and have the whole thing written in a matter of a few weeks. I cannot do that. I’ve tried. My process, which involves pantsing and revising as I go, is annoyingly slow, but it’s what works for me, so I’ve tried to make peace with it.
CC: I understand that whole-heartedly! So frustrating, but totally worth the journey.
Before we slip off to our last fun question, I have one more serious one for you. How can we pray for you?
AW: I would love prayer for the launch of Roots of Wood and Stone. It’s a dream come true, and while I’d love to say I’m excited and joyful and soaking up every minute, I’m actually very anxious about it. I have no idea how to ensure a book’s success once the writing is done, and I’m a little confused as to why God would choose to have me release this book in the midst of a global pandemic when many things are shut down, in-person launch events can’t happen, and the economy is less than amazing. Every aspect of writing this book, though, has been an exercise in trust, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that releasing it is any different. But if you could pray that a) those who God wants to read this book will read it and be brought closer to Him, and b) that I’d be able to relax and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience without worrying that I’m somehow doing it wrong, that’d be amazing.
CC: You are being covered in prayer, Amanda. We are so blessed to have this sneak peek into your world.
Thank you so much for joining me today and providing all of us with a wonderful distraction. The final question is always a fun favorite of mine:
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
- Travel to all 50 US states (I’m sitting at 39 right now) and Europe (specifically the British Isles since that’s where my family’s from and Germany/Austria to visit the birthplaces of my favorite composers)
- Attend a New England Patriots home game (I’ve seen them play on the road a few times, but never in Foxboro).
- Perform Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and Handel’s Messiah with orchestras. (I’ve played snippets of Messiah, but never the whole thing, and Beethoven’s Seventh is the only symphony on my list of favorites that I’ve never performed).
CC: Can I just be in the audience for either of those concerts? I’ve been blessed to hear Handel’s Messiah once, but I’d love love love to hear it again, especially with someone I know playing on stage!
Join me in celebrating Amanda’s debut releasing February 2nd from Kregel publishing, by wishing her congratulations below and sharing one thing on YOUR bucket list!
You can purchase Amanda’s book at any of the following retailers or your favorite bookseller.