PWA Interviews Amanda Boyden

Amanda Boyden will appear at Yeah, You Write at Tipitina’s on Thursday, October 13th (that’s next week!). Peauxdunquian Maurice Carlos Ruffin asked Amanda a few questions.

A Conversation with Amanda Boyden

Maurice Carlos Ruffin: Where does a story/novel begin for you?

Amanda Boyden: If I’m in the nascent stages of a novel, I’ve usually decided on my characters.  I know who they are and how they’ll respond to most anything.  The characters help me write the rest.  Seriously.  I tend to determine a handful of plot points, maybe a dozen or so, and let my characters lead the way from one to the next.  I love how my peeps occasionally surprise me.

I don’t write stories that often any more, but when I do, they usually spring from something small, an observation or glimpse of a slice of life that’s odd or unusual.  I watched a kid kick a dying pigeon down the length of a street gutter once, twenty years ago, and knew I had to write about it.  A shirtless man falling off his bike.  A neighbor running out of her bright blue house paint before she’s reached the roof.  Those sorts of moments.

MCR: What balance do you try to achieve between characterization and plot?

AB: All readers have particular tastes.  I know a number of current graduate students who are perfectly content to read a story where very little happens.  I, on the other hand, have a pretty good-sized appetite for plot.  I like stuff to actually happen in a story or novel.  But that said, if I can’t inhabit the protagonist’s brain and body, I’m not at all interested in what’s happening, plot-wise.  I need to know a character through-and-through.  So, I suppose I try my damnedest to balance both elements, to weight them as equally as I’m able.

MCR: Do your characters choose their actions or do you?

AB: I usually attempt to set up the obstacle course for the characters, but invariably they jump through the hoops and leap over the walls in a different order or bypass some rope swing altogether.  The characters themselves regularly change their paths.

MCR: What do you do when you’re having a difficult time with a patch of writing?

AB: When I hit a section that isn’t simply flowing with the usual genius ease that I’m so used to–I’m joking!–I’ll double-back and reread/edit.  A little like clicking on the refresh icon, I suppose.  It helps put me in the character’s headspace, if nothing else.  I do write from beginning to end without skipping forward, so my process can resemble sewing by hand, not liking a line of stitches and pulling them out, trying them again with more care.

MCR: What’s the best bit of writing advice you’ve gotten?

AB: Hmm.  I like to think we all have little people perched on our shoulders as we write, keeping us in line, in check.  Fortunately a good number of excellent writers (my husband Joseph Boyden being one of them) have told me in ridiculous harmony–I have a full choir standing on my shoulders–to not let my writing get too precious.  I’m utterly in love with the word, so I have to guard against my line writing usurping character or plot.  I’m always cutting away sentences or full paragraphs that my little shoulder people would call “too Too.”

MCR: What has been the most surprising thing about the professional writing life?

AB: Really?  That I can live it.  How many people get to live out their deepest, most heartfelt dreams?  I’m living the life I imagined as a kid.  Life is so beautiful and rich, and I get to write about it for a living.

Amanda will be reading new work at Yeah, You Write, next week at Tipitina’s.

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3 thoughts on “PWA Interviews Amanda Boyden

  1. Pingback: PWA and Amanda Boyden on WYLD | Peauxdunque Writers Alliance

  2. Pingback: Yeah, You Write | Jill of All Genres

  3. Pingback: Yeah, You Write! Get PeauxCrunque with Peauxdunque … | Peauxdunque Writers Alliance

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