AUTHOR INTERVIEW 6

Amy Watkins

United States of America

Age 40

Amy Watkins is a Washington, D.C. native. She received an undergraduate degree from Frostburg State University and a medical degree from University of Maryland, Baltimore. She served in the US Navy for 8 years. She currently works as a family medicine physician for the Department of Defense. She resides in Virginia with her life partner and three kids. She is a dedicated Christian who is active in church. She is also an activist for social justice.
Readers Favorite Book Award winner, 200 Letters is an inspirational romance suspense novel that follows two people as they try to escape abusive relationships. Their paths cross and they fall in love. However, the tainted lovers from their past scheme in an attempt to break up the happy couple. This scheming leads to an unjust incarceration during which letters are written between the couple. It is through those letters they gain spiritual enlightenment and discernment. Based on true events, this page turner is filled with passion, drama, suspense, and motivation.

Romelia: WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS ARE MOST LIKELY TO BE AN ACTIVIST, AND WHAT KIND?

Amy Watkins: Angela is definitely an activist.  She sees a wrong and she puts energy and effort to make it better.  Her best friend went to jail unfairly and she wrote to senators, newspapers, lawyers, and judges to try to get him out.

Romelia: DO YOU PLAY MUSIC WHILE YOU WRITE – AND, IF SO, WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE?

Amy Watkins: I am a mother of three.  My background noise when I write is the sound of three rambunctious people shouting, laughing, and playing.  But my favorite music is gospel, conscious rap, and neosoul.

Romelia: HAVE PETS EVER GOTTEN IN THE WAY OF YOUR WRITING?

Amy Watkins: I adopted the best mutt in the world.  She typically lays by my feet as I write and allows me to pet her while I think of my next line. She more enhances then disrupts my writing.

Romelia: IF YOUR BOOK WERE MADE INTO A MOVIE, WHICH ACTORS WOULD PLAY YOUR CHARACTERS?

Amy Watkins: 200 Letters is a romance novel like no other.  There are some great love scenes but mainly it is about a couple who is going against all odds and surviving.  It would require a very strong male and female lead roll. Jurnee Smollett would make a great Angela. Michael B. Jordan would do well as Ethan.

Romelia: HAVE YOU EVER KILLED OFF A CHARACTER YOUR READERS LOVED?

Amy Watkins: Yes.  Death is a part of life and many times the death of a loved one can set your characters on an enlightening path.  One of the most emotional chapters in 200 Letters was the death of a beloved character but through the death, a lot was learned.

Romelia: WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN ABOUT WRITING?

Amy Watkins: Don’t take criticism personally. Not everyone is going to agree with the points you make in your book, especially if it is a controversial book.  My book is not a “safe” book.  It hits on some very risky topics. And while most people appreciate that leap of faith, some will reject it. You can’t please everyone. Listen to criticism with a grain of salt. If it is a valid point that needs correcting, learn from that mistake. But if it is a troll trying to put you down for selfish reasons, ignore the hate and continue to grow.

Romelia: WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST WAY TO IMPROVE WRITING SKILLS?

Amy Watkins: Practice, take some courses, discuss with editors, discuss with beta readers, and reach out to the writing communities for advice.

Romelia: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO HELP OTHERS CREATE PLOTLINES?

Amy Watkins: I get my plots from life circumstances.  I have been blessed with the gift of empathy. When I see or hear about an injustice I can imagine the reasoning behind each involved party. I write about it creating characters who are not all good nor all bad. They are very human.  They make mistakes, they have reasoning, they learn, they mature, and they develop throughout their circumstances.

Romelia: WHAT HAS HELPED OR HINDERED YOU MOST WHEB WRITING A BOOK?

Amy Watkins: Prayer helped a lot.  When getting stuck with my writing I often pray for inspiration. My own insecurity tried to hinder me but I pushed through it.

Romelia: DOES WRITING ENERGIZE OR EXHAUST YOU? OR BOTH?

Amy Watkins: Writing is an outlet for me.  My life is exhausting and filled with obstacles. Writing was a way for me to release that stress.

Romelia: WHAT IS THE BEST MONEY YOU’VE EVER SPENT WITH REGARD TO YOUR WRITING?

Amy Watkins: Paying for an illustrator to do my front cover. Despite the cliché, people tend to judge a book by its cover and I think that getting a better cover for my book drew people in.

Romelia: WHAT ARE COMMON TRAPS FOR NEW AUTHORS?

Amy Watkins: Marketing and advertisement can be a trap. It’s hard to try to determine what types of marketing to invest in. You often loose more than you gain through marketing schemes.  I have yet to find what works best for me when it comes to marketing.

Romelia: HOW MANY HOURS A DAY DO YOU WRITE?

Amy Watkins: It depends on the day. Sometimes I am motivated and inspired and I can write for hours. Other days I am busy or distracted and can only write a few minutes.

Romelia: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BLOGS OR WEBSITES FOR WRITERS?

Amy Watkins: Goodreads and Facebook are usually my go-tos.

Romelia: AT WHAT TIME OF THE DAY DO YOU DO MOST OF YOUR WRITING?

Amy Watkins: On weekdays I usually write in the evenings after work.  On weekends I usually write early in the morning.

Romelia: HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH CHARACTER NAMES FOR YOUR STORIES?

Amy Watkins: Some of the character names have meanings.  For instance Michael Trellis.  I gave the last name Trellis as a symbol of someone who helps you grow as his character helped the main character mature.

Romelia: DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN WRITING CHALLENGES ON SOCIAL MEDIA? DO YOU RECOMMEND ANY?

Amy Watkins: I typically do not participate in social Media challenges. But I do enter my books in competitions and am willing to help out magazines who are looking for articles.

Romelia: IF YOU HAD THE POWER TO CURE A DISEASE OF YOUR CHOOSING, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Amy Watkins: This is an interesting question as my main job is not an author but I am a doctor. I treat various diseases daily.  However, the world has been plagued with a disease for centuries and no doctor has yet to find a cure. Racism is the disease I would cure if able.

Romelia: WHEN YOU’RE WRITING AN EMOTIONAL OR DIFFICULT SCENE, HOW DO YOU SET THE MOOD?

Amy Watkins: Usually when an emotional scene in my book is written, I don’t set a mood. I am so engulfed in that scene that my real environment disappears.

Romelia: WHOM DO YOU TRUST FOR OBJECTIVE AND CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM OF YOUR WORK?

Amy Watkins: I trust my editor, my mom, and my friends.

Romelia: WHAT BOOKS DO YOU ENJOY READING?

Amy Watkins: I love general fiction and romance. I tend to like novels that are inspirational and have interesting messages behind the scenes.

Romelia: ARE THERE ANY BOOKS OR AUTHORS THAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?

Amy Watkins: I draw great influence from Sista Souljah, Eric Jerome Dickey, Virginia DeBerry, and Donna Grant.

Romelia: NAME AN UNDERAPPRECIATED NOVEL THAT YOU LOVE.

Amy Watkins: My favorite novel is “Better Than I Know Myself” by Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant.  It made me laugh and cry. It filled me with so may emotions as I could relate well to it. It was a book about true friendship and it was lovely.

Romelia: TELK US SOMETHING FUNNY FROM YOUR ADULT LIFE.

Amy Watkins: Did I mention I had three kids? They are always making me laugh. Once I was singing the song “Ego” by Kanye West and my son who was about 4 at the time asks, “Ego? You got a big Ego?” I responded, “Yes, do you know what an ego is?”

“What is it?”

“An ego is when you feel good about yourself.”

“No it isn’t,” he responded, “An eagle is a bird.”

Get it ego/eagle.  Well, true story. And it was funny at the time. Malachi is now 16 and yes, I embarrass him in front of his girlfriend with that story purposely.

Romelia: Describe yourself in a few sentences. Tell us something we do not know about you and something you hate about the world.

Amy Watkins: My heart is filled with love and I am so willing and wanting to share that with the world.  I have always been like that which has gotten me in trouble in my earlier years. I have loved people who have only used me and forgiven people who only willed to hurt me again. But I have a lot of strength to accompany my extravagant heart and that strength has helped me to bounce back again and again. Now I am in a great season in my life where I am surrounded by love. I gave my heart to the world and, though it took some heartache and patience, I got a lot in return. I have great friends, a great boyfriend, lots of great kids, and a wonderful mother. Something I hate about the world is self-centeredness. There are way too many selfish people who are willing to hurt you just to get their own way.

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