Posted in indie author, Jessica Conwell, Uncategorized

Three Sharp Knives

By: Jessica Conwell

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!” -Jack Kerouac

Johnny– Hey Jessica, first I want to thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me about your book ‘Three Sharp Knives’. Having read your book I understand the name, and what it stands for, do you have any particular story behind the term/brand? where did “3SK” come from?

Jessica– Hey Johnny! Thanks for reading, I’m always happy to answer questions! The title Three Sharp Knives comes from the idea that certain people are considered ‘dangerous’ to society simply for existing, like sharp knives sitting on a counter. The three narrators are all such people, three women who fall just outside the bounds of what the world wants to understand.

Johnny– You are such a charming writer, you have a way when you developed your characters that is so real and strong that I feel invested, “bought in” and very close to them, what do you attribute to that?

Jessica– Thank you. I’ve always been of the view that characters are more important than plot. I’ll read a book with interesting characters and a thin plot well before I will finish a book with a fascinating plot and flat characters. I think the number one thing I try to remember when developing my characters is that people don’t make sense. People are messy. People are illogical. People act in ways contrary to their own values. People screw up. But despite it all, most people in the world are trying to do their best to work toward what they envision “good” to be. Whether that is a moral good, a spiritual good, or just a personal good varies person to person. But I try to start with asking myself, “What does this character define as their ‘good’ and what does it look like when they try to work towards it? How will they screw up along the way?” I think that might be why my characters are relatable. I think most people can understand the feeling of knowing the good, wanting the good, but having no effing idea how to go about achieving the good.

Johnny– This book is written in a different format than most, separated into four sections with no chapters, (which, by the way, works!), is this your style when you are writing? Or is it unique to this book?

Jessica– I tend to work with sections more than chapters. My earlier novel, Cluster, works this way as well. I think I fits my stories structure-wise better than breaking them up into chapters. I want the narrative to flow in a series of long arcs, mainly to create the feeling that everything is connected, nothing separated from anything else. Past mixes with present.

Johnny– What motivated you to write Three Sharp Knives?

Jessica– So, the most simplistic answer to that question is that after I finished Cluster, a friend of mine said, “I think you should write a story about ghost hunters.” Naturally, I took that in the least logical, barely connected direction I could.

The larger answer is that I wanted a story about unconventional people and unconventional love. Obviously, there is a lot of LGBTQ+ representation in 3SK, but even beyond that, I wanted to write a book for people who feel like they don’t really fit anywhere, people who want to love and be loved, but find it difficult to be understood.

Johnny– I want to talk about your characters again, they are so damn believable, and likable, did you have inspirations or muses when you created them, or were they strictly products of your imagination?

Jessica– Way back when I was younger writer, I made the mistake of basing characters entirely on people I knew. This, predictably, blew up in my face when said people read the stories, mainly because I was not yet a strong enough writer to mask what I was doing. So, I now have a strict policy for myself against writing biographical (or autobiographical) characters. However, there are, of course, scraps and snipping’s of people I have known or encountered in my life. I don’t think any author can truly avoid that. And, honesty time, there is a bit of me in each of my narrators.

Johnny– Without giving anything away, what was the hardest part of this book to write?

Jessica– Ha! That’s a difficult one to answer without giving anything away, because the truth is that the most difficult part of the book to write was the ending. In part it was because I couldn’t decide how to execute it. It was a eureka moment on a long walk that finally gave me the ‘nested circle’ structure of the flashbacks in the last section. The other reason it was difficult was—and this will be very difficult to say without spoiling anything—because, well, authors tend to get emotionally invested in their own characters, too. I’ve had people tell me how hard they have taken various unkind things I have done to characters of mine they connected with. My knee-jerk response is, “I know! I’m a monster!”

Johnny– You did it beautifully! Although, I gotta admit, I was a little surprised at the ending, so I’m guessing your going to be that writer that likes to shock your readers?

Jessica– I actually try not to, typically. Otherwise there isn’t much of a surprise since the reader is expecting a surprise, you know? I’m completely of the mindset that surprise endings have to be earned. They need to be a surprise only due to the reader not putting the pieces together ahead of time.

Johnny– My thought is that this book was written through the eyes of three different individuals, which narration was the hardest to write for?

Jessica– Heather, actually, who is also my favorite character. She was hard to write because of how bleak her worldview is at the beginning of her section. In a lot of ways, it mirrored my own thoughts during darker, lower moments of my life, and it wasn’t always enjoyable to access those while I was writing her.

Johnny– Was it therapeutic for you to write her?

Jessica– It actually was. It is good to speak dark feelings aloud sometimes.

Johnny– I did this when I interviewed Rebecca Hefner and it was a lot of fun so I’d like to try it with you if you don’t mind. You get a call from Hollywood, your book is going into production to become a movie, you are chosen to cast it, you can use any artists you want, who do you pick?

Jessica– I’ve been asked about before actually! I think my main demand that would be that all of my trans characters be portrayed by trans actors. Beyond that, if Saoirse Ronan isn’t Heather and Katey Sagal isn’t Mari, I just don’t know that I could sign off on the production.

Johnny– Ha! Katey Sagal would be perfect! Good call for Heather, NOW, who would play Seph and Lia?

Jessica– She’s a bit older than the character, but I think Jamie Clayton from Sense8 would be a great Seph. For Lia, I’ve never been able to lock down who I think would be good for her role. But I’m open to suggestions.

Johnny– I’m curious, because your book centers around this, are you a fan of puzzle rooms?

Jessica– I am a huge fan of puzzle rooms, verging on being evangelical about them. I’ve done enough of them that I have formed strong opinions regarding their quality.

Johnny– What advise do you have for someone that wants to become a writer?

Jessica– Write the stories you think only you will be interested in. That won’t be the case. Write the books you wish you’d had at your lowest moments. Also, immediately stop thinking about writing as some mystical art. Like any craft, it needs to be honed and developed. Practice.

Johnny– What advise do you have for someone that might be struggling with gender identity?

Jessica– Trust yourself. A million voices will tell you that you don’t know yourself, that they know you better than you could. Surround yourself with the people who love and support you, discard the ones who don’t. Never be afraid to seek additional support. Hold in your mind the truth that no matter what, you have intrinsic value and are worthy of love and respect.

Johnny– I hope I’m asking this right, because I am ignorant about transgender people, I’ll be the first to admit that, but, at what age did you drop the gender society given you (because of the anatomy you were born with), to become the woman you are today?

Jessica– That’s a tricky one, because I spent a long time knowing and being in active denial. I was 33 when I finally came out, though.

Johnny– Was your family supportive? are you close with your family?

Jessica– The members of my family I am close with were very supportive, even if they didn’t understand right away. I, of course, had some members who were less so (especially among my then-in-laws) but the people who knew me the best knew that this wasn’t something I had decided based on some whim I was having.

Johnny– As a transgender woman do you feel accepted by society?

Jessica– In certain segments, sure. Otherwise, no, no I don’t. For one thing, the US government itself is currently hostile toward trans people. Aside from that, the background noise of life as a trans person is a cacophony of microaggressions, threats of violence, discrimination, distrust, and prejudice. So, we find our pocket communities. We build our “found families” and we do everything we can to try to change the way things are. But we have a hell of a long way to go.

Johnny– When you say “currently hostile” was it more-so after the 2016 election than before?

Jessica– Absolutely. Before 2016, things weren’t great, but it seemed like progress was being made, if only in an ‘inch at a time’ way. After the election, not only were protections and rights we had been granted under constant attack, it was almost as if a license had been given to not hide your prejudices.

*(I’d like to add a side note here, as a veteran who served in the US Army it breaks my heart and angers me to my core that you have to deal with this sort of hate and hostilities. When I joined, I joined so EVERYONE regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation could live in this country freely, peacefully, without fear or harassment from bigots and their hate, intolerance, and prejudice.) JS

Johnny– Jessica where do you want to be in 10 years?

Jessica– Watching my daughter start college (if that’s what she wants), going on adventures with my partner, and always, always, always still writing. Even if my audience can still be counted on one hand.

Johnny– You keep writing like you do I’m predicting that you will need a “few” hands to count your audience on. What are you wanting your readers to take away with them after reading 3SK?

Jessica– I hope they leave with more empathy and understanding for people different than they are, as well as more openness to love in all of its bizarre, beautiful forms. I hope I can make some people who have never felt understood seen, even if just a little.

Johnny– Who is your favorite writer?

Jessica– That is tough one, because every time I think I know the answer, my brain yells, “Wait! Wait! But what about…?” A short list would have to include Richard Russo, Carmen Maria Machado, Tillie Walden, and Neil Gaiman.

Johnny– Do you have any projects planned for 2020?

Jessica– Roughly a thousand of them, though I am favoring a project that does have a loose tie-in to 3SK (much as 3SK has some loose connections to my earlier book, Cluster). Unfortunately, it is in the form of bringing back probably the last character 3SK readers wanted to see return, so….

Johnny– So… we might not see Seph and Heather again?

Jessica– You may, but they will be wandering through the background of a scene. I have this long-standing belief that everyone is the background character in someone else’s life. All of my novels have a shared universe, but rarely will I bring a main character from one book into the forefront of another. However, you may see someone who was a minor character in 3SK play a more major role.

Johnny– Do you mind giving a quick elevator pitch for Cluster?

Jessica– A group of misfit friends run a music venue/coffee shope/vintage toy store together while coping with love and loss of many different flavors. Also, there’s a lengthy discussion about ghost sex.

REVIEW

Every once in a while I get the pleasure to come across a book that totally catches me off guard. Three Sharp Knives was one of those books.

Upon opening this book, I was carried away with a narrative that was so mesmerizing, characters so endearing, a plot well-groomed that it belongs on a Hollywood screen, I could not help but fall in LOVE with this book! I think you will too.

Three against the world was a reoccurring theme that ran across my mind time after time while I was reading this. Love, defined on their terms was what I was left with.

I love this book! It has earned the five stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐rating that I’ve given it on Goodreads and Amazon. I’m proud to say that I am a HUGE fan of Jessica Conwell.

If a good story and strong characters is your thing, then Three Sharp Knives is the book for you. I can’t wait to read and review Jessica’s other book Cluster.

Great job on writing a great book Jessica! I’m a fan!!

You can buy Jessica’s books here

Follow Jessica on Twitter

✌❤

Posted in indie author, Rebecca Hefner, Uncategorized

THE END OF HATRED BY Rebecca Hefner

Upon entering into this book, I was magically swept away into a dimension created by the mind of Rebecca Hefner. It was a very beautiful place.

Johnny– Hello Rebecca! Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. The title of your book is: The End of Hatred: Etherya’s Earth, Book 1. How many books did you envision when you start writing this?

Rebecca– I wasn’t sure exactly how many books it would turn out to be.  All I knew was that the characters were so vivid in my mind.  Miranda and Sathan appeared first in my imagination, followed shortly by Lila and Latimus.  I knew immediately that the second book in the series would be about Lila and Latimus.  In my mind, the first four books of the series were really one long book in my head!

Johnny– What inspired you to write this book?

Rebecca– I’ve always been a voracious reader.  My two favorite genres are romance and sci-fi/fantasy.  I love steamy romance, because I think that seeing two characters get intimate is the deepest you can go into their soul.  However, I need a slow burn, where I really get to know the characters, and see their relationship develop, before I see them get to those intimate scenes.  I also really like a fantasy world, filled with creatures with magical powers and mysterious history.  I wanted to write a book that combined a sweeping fantasy with the intimate romance that I loved

Johnny– I’m glad you mentioned that you are a fan of steamy romance, because there are parts of this book that get SMOKING. Do you find yourself having to re-editing some of your “spicier” scenes, to keep them from getting to hot? I ask because your romance scenes get super vivid but never really get explicit.

Rebecca– Great question!  I have always loved a steamy love scene, and believe that this is a natural thing that everyone experiences, so I want the scenes to be vivid.  However, my mother reads these books, and that’s always in the back of my mind when I’m writing them.  I’ll usually go back over my love scenes as I remind myself, “Mom will be reading this…”, and edit from there.  I don’t want to sacrifice the steam and intimacy, but I also want to be tasteful.  It’s a fine line that I’m always working hard to balance!

Johnny– In the prologue you wrote that Etherya had created a flawless species, the Slayera, but since she was imperfect, the universe objected. How was the Goddess flawed? Or are you saving that for something later?

Rebecca– Oh, yes.  As the series progresses, we definitely begin to see Etherya’s flaws.  In Book 4, The Reluctant Savior, there’s a big revelation about Etherya’s past.  But I love a good twist and don’t want to give that away, so keep reading!

Johnny– What visual references did you use when you created the Vampyres and the Slayera?

Rebecca– I just knew that I wanted the Vampyres to be tall and hulking and I wanted the Slayera to appear more human-like.  That physical discrepancy would help cement the Slayera’s dependency upon the Vampyres for physical protection.

Johnny– Obviously from your description the Vampyres would be noticeable, Slayera, I’m guessing more human-ish, how do you picture them in your mind? 

Rebecca– In my mind, the Slayera were created as the best version of humans.  However, due to Valktor’s murderous actions, they lose their almost-perfect status and become fallible.  I equate it to death of Icarus in Greek mythology or the fall of Sampson in the Bible.  These age-old stories exist to remind us not get too complacent in our “perfection”.  The Slayera had become so and, once their kingdom fell, they were thrust into a thousand-year war.

Johnny– I really love that this book occurs inside the boundaries of a parallel universe. You’re obviously a well read and well thought out individual, what are your thoughts on interdimensional travel and parallel universe?

Rebecca– I love that you asked this question!  I’m a super-science dorkI went to Space Camp when I was a teenager and went to Governer’s School for physics when I was in high school.  To say that I love all things to do with relativity (time travel!) and parallel universes (string theory, anyone??) would be an understatement.  In fact, the current series I’m working on has a heroine who’s a theoretical physicist trying to figure out time travel.  I believe that we, on this pale blue dot (as Carl Sagan would say), represent such a dichotomy.  We are conscious beings, who feel so deeply and contemplate our existence but, in the vastness of the universe, I truly believe we are only a small, insignificant speck of dust amongst other universes and dimensions.  This isn’t to say that we’re not important.  Instead, it’s an opportunity for us to see everyone on the planet as one species:  human.  If we allow ourselves, our shared moment in time on this planet could be something so beautiful.  I think we’re at a precarious moment in our evolution right now where we have the opportunity to choose unity or division.  One will further our species and one could extinguish us.  I love to write about these themes in my books!

Johnny– Well said. Super-science dork authors are the best! Do you have a release date planned for your current series?

Rebecca– I don’t have firm dates yet.  I’d like to have my next two books out by Spring 2020.  That would be Book 5 in the Etherya’s Earth series and Book 1 in my new series.  But I also don’t want to rush the writing.  That leads so underdeveloped plots and characters, and it’s important to me that everything is well thought out.  Also, it takes my editor about a month to edit, then I have to revise, and then my proofreader takes about another month, so it’s a long process to get these books from my computer into reader’s hands.  But I’m furiously working on them and am really excited to get them out there!

Johnny– If you were casting this as a movie, and could choose anyone you want, who would your stars be?

Rebecca– Oh, I play this game on Instagram sometimes with my followers.  It’s so fun!  Okay, here we go:

Miranda:  Kate Beckinsale

Sathan:  Henry Cavill

Latimus:  Jason Momoa

Lila:  Nicole Kidman

Arderin:  Megan Fox

Darkrip:  Tyler Hoechlin

Evie:  Scarlett Johansson

Kenden:  Scott Eastwood

I mean, it’s not like I’ve thought about this or anything… 😊

Johnny– Ah, Evie, please tell us something about Evie. (Great cast btw, Nichole Kidman as Lila, be still my heart) ❤

Rebecca– Ha!  Yes, those are some great actresses.  Evie has been my absolute favorite character to write in the series (followed closely by Darkrip).  At first glance, she seems so evil and broken, but over the series the reader gets to know her.  By the time we reach Book 4 in the series, we really see inside her mind and understand how complex she really is and why she became that way.  Her journey is a really interesting one, and it was extremely fun to write.

Johnny– This book deals with a few topics that are (sadly) relevant in the world today, two of them being, racism and gender equality. I once read that Gene Roddenberry had used racism and culture intolerance when he was developing Star Trek. Was this an intentional goal of yours?

Rebecca– Absolutely.  It was really important to me that we see Miranda’s journey against sexism in this book.  One of the main themes is her gaining the courage to defy her father and claim her throne.  As someone who grew up in the South, there was constant “programming” of what roles a woman should play (wife, mother, college graduate, etc.).  Those are all fine if the person chooses them, but they shouldn’t be forced.  I wanted to show Miranda coming into her own and gaining the strength to claim the throne that was rightfully hers. And yes, I wanted to use the two different species as metaphors for the racism we see in our society.  In the beginning of the book, we learn that the species stay separate.  As Miranda and Sathan fall in love, they contemplate what that will mean for those age-old traditions.  They must have the strength to realize that they are one people—immortals—instead of two different races.  It goes back to what I was saying above about our planet’s place in the universe.  No one looking at the human race from outer space would identify us as black, white, Mexican, Indian or Asian; they would identify us as humans.  Eventually, Miranda and Sathan begin to understand that their people are much stronger as Immortals rather than separating themselves into Slayers and Vampyres.

Johnny– What was the first book you ever written? Did it get published?

Rebecca– This is the first book I’ve ever published!  I’m a self-published author and that was definitely the right path for me.  There are many advantages to being self-published and to being traditionally published.  I firmly believe that each author must research and determine what path is right for them.

Johnny– Do you use beta-readers?

Rebecca– I don’t use beta readers, just because I’m so ready to get the books out once they’re back from my editor and proofreader, that I usually get them up for sale when they’re ready.  However, I have a group of awesome readers and reviewers who will accept an ARC copy of my book and leave honest reviews.  They are the first people I reach out to when I publish a new book and I always welcome their feedback. 

Johnny– Are you a self-editor?

Rebecca– I definitely am, but I also like to let the story flow.  I’ll usually write a section or chapter, and let the words flow onto the page, and then go back and read and edit it.  I also have an amazing editor who I send my books to once they’re ready.  She always comes back to me with great edits that make the story even better!

Johnny– What advice do you have for unpublished authors looking to get started?

Rebecca– Wow.  Such a loaded question.  I might actually write a book like this one day and title it something like, “What I Wished I’d Known Before I Published My First Book.”  I made so many mistakes in the beginning but now, I’ve pretty much figured it out.  My advice would be a few things:

  • Go on YouTube and search “self-publishing”.  There are about a million videos on there by people who want to help fellow authors just starting out.
  • You can also search for “better writing” and learn how to write more efficiently.  The written word is more concise than conversation and learning how to compose your thoughts on paper effectively makes all the difference.
  • Join the #writingcommunity on Twitter and interact with everyone you can.  I’ve met so many other amazing authors there!

Johnny– Good tips, how do you plan your book once you’ve locked in on an idea and have decided to write it? What’s your process?

Rebecca– I do a rough outline, and reference that as I write, but I usually just let my fingers tap and let the characters lead me.  They always lead me to a place that is a thousand times better than what I originally plotted.  They’re like real, live people who live in my head!

Johnny– Tell me something about yourself that not everyone knows.

Rebecca– Hmmm.  I love solo travel and have visited many places in the world.  I spent the entire month of September 2018 in Japan and that’s where I wrote most of The Elusive Sun! I also saw the most amazing sunset of my life while I was there and used that exact backdrop for a scene in The Darkness Within.  There’s something about travel that just refills my soul.

Johnny– What an amazing story, now when I read those books, they will even be a little more special. Have you got any other wonderful journeys planned?

Rebecca– For now, I’m just excited to head to Colorado for Christmas with my family.  My brother, his wife and their daughter live there, and my mother and I will be flying in to spend the holiday with them.

Johnny– What is the everyday Rebecca like?

Rebecca– I’m a tireless perfectionist who’s decided to pursue a full-time writing career.  It’s so fun, but extremely challenging.  I write a lot, and also focus on marketing my books, but I also take time to ensure that I’m doing yoga or taking some time to be active.  This is the first thing I’ve ever done that isn’t an “active” job, so I have to remember to get up and get the blood moving.  But that’s pretty much it right now—writing and living each day to the fullest.  I really want to build this into a career and am trying my best to do that every day!

Pepper

BONUS QUESTION

Johnny– There is an internal battle that Miranda struggles with, does she follow tradition or follow her heart. We know which path she chose, now, are you a traditionalist or are you someone who follows her heart?

Rebecca– Someone who follows my heart, definitely.  It’s so important to remember that no one is going to live your dreams for you.  Although it’s tough and scary, it’s important to listen to your inner-voice and pursue your passions.  Although I believe in taking calculated risks, I believe that challenging yourself and stepping outside of your comfort zone only makes you better!

Rebecca Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, you have been an absolute delightful!

Review

I don’t think it would take a rocket scientist to figure out that I love this book. To be perfectly honest it blew me away.

There is something about Rebecca’s writing that leaves me in awe. It’s both comfortable and yet somewhat familiar.🤷‍♀️ We spoke about it during our conversation, using fantasy, science, and adventure her manuscript speaks to us in metaphors, and if only we would listen, it would make us all better at being human.

I’m hooked. I’m more that hooked I’m enamored.

I can not believe that before I read this book I have never heard of Rebecca Hefner. After reading her book I feel like I’ve known her my whole life. Very few authors can make their readers that comfortable. Yet, Rebecca makes it look easy. That is a beautiful thing that has came from a beautiful mind that has only begun to blossom. I’ve already started book two, The Elusive Sun 🔥🔥🔥🔥 and love it just as much.

I’m giving The End of Hatred five stars⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ on Goodreads and Amazon because it’s a smart Sexy fun book to read!

If you haven’t read this book you should, I highly recommend it. Follow the link below to enter the wonderful world of Rebecca Hefner. You won’t regret it. 😉

Be on the look out for the rest of this 🔥 series… ❤❤

Follow Rebecca Hefner   Facebook I Instagram I Twitter I Amazon I Goodreads I BookBub I Website

✌❤

Posted in Amy Lyle, Uncategorized

Amy Lyle

The Amy Binegar-Kimmes-Lyle Book of Failures

A Funny Memoir of Missteps, Inadequacies, and Faux Pas

Comedy is surprises, so if you're intending to make somebody laugh and they don't laugh, that's funny. -Norm MacDonald

Johnny– Amy Lyle is an author, comedienne, actor, and screenwriter, in her spare time she’s married and a mother to 4, (are you kidding me)! That is absurd, (lol), (other than finding short titles for your books), how do you find time to do anything? Is your whole day pretty much a scheduled routine?

Amy– YES! Two of the four kids are in college now and the two at home drive so it is getting much more manageable. I try to get most of my work done during the day. My husband is a fabulous cook, so we try to get all of us together as much as possible for dinners.

Johnny– With everything going on in your busy world, what do you do to keep yourself grounded?

Amy– I grew up in Appalachia, and when I’ve done independent films, my compensation was tacos, I’m pretty grounded.

Johnny- You have a very comedic outlook towards life, how does that affect you as a parent? 

Amy– People are often shocked that I’m so silly yet so strict (as a parent). I think they see that everything, given enough time, can be funny. We have been lucky that they have never taken themselves too seriously and have a “this too shall pass, and my mom will tell this story in a stand-up routine within six months” attitude. 

Johnny– That’s awesome, do they ever make suggestions to you about adding something into your stand-up routine?

Amy– Yes. They text me stories all the time, normally about their siblings.

Johnny– Did your parents have a sense of humor?

Amy– No. 

Johnny– What was your parents’ reaction when you went into comedy?

Amy– My mother was mortified that I was “airing my dirty laundry.” When I told my dad that I was co-hosting a tv show, he said, “Interesting. Have you guys had any rain there?”

Johnny– Do your kids think your funny?

Amy– It depends on the day.

Johnny– Are any of them planning on following in your footsteps?

Amy– Not to my knowledge.

People are often shocked that I’m so silly yet so strict (as a parent).

Johnny– How important of a role does social media play, with your career?

Amy– I don’t have any proof, but I do think social media has helped me land speaking engagements, film roles and sell a lot of books. I rarely pay for paid advertising, other than on Amazon for my books, so the social media must be helping.

Johnny– Do you have plans on increasing your presence YouTube?

Amy– I would love to increase my YouTube presence, I think I only have 9 followers. 

Johnny– This book reads different than most memoirs, did you write your chapters as skits? 

Amy– That is an interesting observation. People have left reviews stating that my books read like SNL skits.  I was a screenwriter and a stand- up comic before becoming an author so I have been trained that if you can say something in 5 words, do not use six. I try to get to the point quickly. I did have a firm ask me if they could turn The Book of Failures into a sitcom or film. I replied to their email in less than five seconds and have not heard back from them since. So, no. I did not set out to write the chapters as skits but it seems as if they have that flavor. 

Johnny– When I’d first started read your book, I was thinking you had written it with an essay format, then I watched one of your stand-ups on YouTube, that kind of tweaked my thought process and pushed me towards skits, is auditioning for SNL a dream of yours?

Amy– Only every waking moment.

Johnny– This book is brutally honest, and honestly that is one of the reasons it’s so appealing to me, (it actually helped me with issues that I have). When you wrote this, did you realize or intend for this to be a self-help book also?

Amy– I did not. I wrote the book because of a Hollywood attorney rejected me as a client because I was a nobody that did not have any money or know anyone. He told me to write a book and get lots of press. Immediately my thoughts went to, “I have had a lot of failures, I could write about those.” In hindsight, and in writing my second book, I DID realize the healing power of sharing your worst moments. People were writing to me saying how they had felt so much shame for getting fired, or dumped in a relationship when really, all of these terrible things that happen to us just get us to where we need to be. I’m not saying it is easy. I cried in the bathtub every night for a year after my husband divorced me. But now, (over a decade later) I see that our time together was not wasted, we just wanted different things.  

I wrote the book because of a Hollywood attorney rejected me

Johnny– You mention early on in your book that you have issues, one of them is pronunciation, how does that affect when you are writing and performing your Stand Up?

Amy– I write my own stand-up so I keep the GRE words for print use only.

 Johnny– After I read this I went and purchased it on Audible, was this the reason you didn’t narrate your book?

Amy– I tried to record it on my own, but I sounded like a second grader and telling a story is different than reading a story.

Johnny– When did you first know, or make the decision, that you wanted to be a stand-up comedienne? Was this something you wanted to do since you were little?

Amy– My parents were strict German protestants that reminded my sister and me how very un-special we were since our births. They did this by saying, “Remember you are not special.” Comedy was a survival tactic for us. We used to put on complete “Late Night Comedy Shows” in our basement for our friends. They were a combination of imitating our parents, lip-synching to Barbara Mandrel, and roller skating to the soundtrack of Grease.

Johnny– Do you think that being raised by strict parents triggered you to be as focused or determined as you are now?  You seem to be pretty thick skinned.

Amy– I do not know anyone with thicker skin than authors, comedians and salespeople and I’m all three. I pick on my parents frequently, but I have to admit that they both have incredible work ethics.

Johnny– Let’s talk about your “unconscious zone” you wrote about an improv performance during a class you took, it happened, and “was appreciated by the audience but I was mortified by exposing what I suppose is my dark side.” Why were you mortified by this? 

Amy– People that perform improv well are geniuses. I can write stand-up, books and screenplays because I can rework it, again and again, there’s no such luxury in improv. I do think improv can be studied and practiced; your mind would adapt to the medium. I have only taken one class and did one performance.  And as you know, I was humiliated by what was flying out of my mouth- complete storylines about STD’s and little people.  Improv is not for me.

Johnny– Is improv important for a stand-up comic? (It seems like it would be if there was a heckler in the audience.) 

Amy– I love Paula Poundstone, she’s able to work the crowd really, really well on the fly. However, now that I have seen her perform several times, I have noticed that even her “on the fly” has tried and true jokes. It’s interesting, every comic must address hecklers and such, but each performer seems to handle them in their own way, which is the same way, every time.

Johnny– Have you ever been heckled?

Amy– Only by my teenage children that were sitting in the front row at The Basement Theater when I was telling a joke about them.  The audience was shocked when I said, “All of those people (pointing them out) are my children,” The kids and the audience loved it.

Johnny– There was an incident that happened with your friend Shannon at Chipotle, by far one of the funniest scenarios I’ve ever read, how did you not just laugh-your-ass-off when that happened to your friend? Or did you?

Amy– I checked to make sure she was breathing and then laughed.

Johnny– Not to be a spoiler, but when she goes to refill her drink, the Russian Businessmen cleaning their ties… To steal a line from Kenny Bania “that’s gold, Amy… Gold!” Now the screen writer in you has got to be salivating over the possibilities of what you can do with that?

Amy– I’m so thrilled that you were able to “see” that story in your head. I would love to make my books into films or sitcoms. 

What does not kill us will eventually make us laugh

Johnny– Using your philosophy, “everything, given enough time, can be funny” is there an exception to that? Take away human suffering, death, misery, etc… let’s say, there’s a situation that happens with friend or family, even though no physical harm occurred, just great embarrassment, would this be off limits to you to use as part of  your material, even though you know it’s comedy gold? 

Amy– Nothing is off limits. Think of it as “What does not kill us will eventually make us laugh.” I’m don’t do insult comedy so I’m not offending people on purpose, I just prefer more self- deprecating bits.

Johnny– You had said earlier you love Paula Poundstone, is she your favorite stand-up comedian? (If not who?)

Amy– I cannot pick just one. What is incredibly crazy to me is that many of the stand-up comedians, and comedians in general, that I love have bestselling books on Amazon and are next to my books. The list includes Tina Fey, Kevin Hart, Jim Gaffigan, Paula Poundstone, Trevor Noah, Mindy Kaling, Carol Burnett and Betty White, to mention a few. A few days ago, all of the “Amy’s” were lined up in a row on Amazon’s bestselling Humor & Entertainment books; Amy Schumer, Amy Lyle and Amy Poehler- that was a very good day.

Johnny– I bet it was. You deserve it Amy! Thank you for taking this time to talk with me, I’ve really enjoyed this time together.

REVIEW

Every so often you come across a book that will literally make you “laugh out loud” Amy’s Book of Failures had done that to me, at 4am.

This book is laugh packed and a fun read. It was created out of a rejection, turning a negative situation into a positive result. From this result I find it hard to believe that Amy will do nothing but succeed.

Written as a memoir Amy is brutally honest. She truly embraces her own philosophy of: “what doesn’t kill us will eventually make us laugh” and goes for it. Her light heart spirited approach to current life situation has become an inspiration to many, myself included.

Written in a different format than most memoirs, (another advantage Amy has going for herself), her narrative flow across the pages as a witty satire, allowing the readers an escape, as the scenes play out before them. Her refreshing style is a sheer delight.  

Never taking herself too seriously Amy reveals to us that we should never be so critical about our lives that we forget that sometimes, it’s alright to laugh. If recognizing and exposing our flaws only makes us stronger, she’s Hercules on steroids. If your talented and creative enough, it makes an interesting memoir. Great job Amy, I’m a fan!

BEWARE: VERY FUNNY LADY AHEAD!

I’m given Book of Failures 5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads for creativity, originality and plain AWESOMENESS.

You’ve met the writer: Amy Lyle

Now read her book: The Amy Bingar-Kimmes-Lyle Book of Failures

Fresh and amazingly funny. Check her out for yourself.

Website: www.amylyle.me/

Twitter: www.twiter.com/amylyle

Facebook: www.facebook.com/amylyle.me/

Instagram:  www.instagram.com/authoramylyle/

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Be sure and check out Amy’s new project

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