Friday, June 20, 2014

Interviewing Author Amy Saunders

Today I'm pleased to interview Amy Saunders, author of DRIVE BYE, as she tours with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. Amy is a mystery lover with a soft spot for humor and romance -- and the ocean. She lives in Massachusetts and loves to bake and watch movies. She's the author of one mystery series and three standalone mysteries.

Cozy Mystery
File Size: 1321 KB
Print Length: 174 pages

Belinda’s recent blunders have come back to bite her – and Bennett – in the monster cupcake. But they’re not the only ones with problems.

A car crash uncovers the body of an unlikely murder victim. But the more they learn about her, the more the answer to her death seems to lie in issues that reach far beyond Portside.

As the truth comes out, and Belinda's personal life teeters on the breaking point, she takes life by the maraschinoe cherries and finds help in some very unexpected places.

For a chance to win an e-copy of DRIVE BYE and a $25 Amazon gift card, click on    

And now, on to my interview of Amy.  

M.W.: Amy, your series is set in Portside, Massachusetts, a resort town bordering the Atlantic Ocean. According to your bio, you live in Massachusetts. Does Portside resemble your hometown, or are you a big city gal who simply loves writing about seaside towns and the kinds of people who live and visit there?

A.S.: Well, I do live in a small town, but it's in central Massachusetts, about an hour or so from the water. And my heart is definitely on the coast. Growing up, my family spent almost every weekend on Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, and now I like to hang out around Newport, RI, which is where I draw my inspiration for Portside. It's such a lively place, even in winter, that I knew it was the perfect location for my characters.
Your main character, Belinda Kittridge, has a twin brother named Kyle. Why did you decide to make Belinda a twin?

A.S.: I wish I could say I took a lot of time thinking this one through, but I didn't. Belinda came into my head as a package deal with her twin brother. As the idea grew, Kyle grew with it. I had a couple friends growing up who were fraternal twins, and it kind of fascinated me. It's a unique way to grow up.

M.W.: In your first series book, CLIFFHANGER, you have a character with the unusual name of Stellan Mayhew. How do you choose names for your characters, and why did you choose the name Stellan for that particular character?

A.S.: I have this giant baby naming book called The Best Baby Names Treasury. They have these handy-dandy lists at the beginning of the book that are easy to sift through, so I often start there for new characters. I also love the BabyCenter site's name section because you can enter a name and get sibling name ideas, which is useful for finding names that coordinate. Plus, I have lists of names in all my notebooks, so I flip through those sometimes.

I think I first heard the name Stellan because of the actor, Stellan Skarsgard (from Thor). I just thought it was the coolest name and kept it on file. When I was working on Cliffhanger, Mayhew just looked like a Stellan in my mind so I used it and it stuck. 

M.W.: Are any of your characters based on actual people you know, or are any of them composites of several real people?

A.S.: None of my characters are directly based on any specific person, though I definitely take elements of people I know and put them in my characters. Victoria and her husband are good examples. As a couple they share similarities to my sister and her husband.

M.W.: How much research do you do for your stories? Do you Google for information? Seek advice from cops, lawyers, private investigators, medical people, etc.? Would you give us an example of how research helped you when writing a story?

A.S.: There are always a lot of technical things to look up, even if I don't use all of it in the book. For instance, several years ago I wrote a story where a body had been dumped in water, so I researched how (and when) a body would float to the surface. Then there are details to do with the setting and sometimes people's jobs. I do most of this research online.

Research can be very useful for getting ideas. Sometimes you're thinking one way, but research leads you to something else entirely. That's what happened in Drive-Bye. I was researching obstruction of justice charges and came across some interesting news articles covering a busted theft ring. That led to a new thread in the story. Plus, in that same research session, I got some ideas that I filed away to use another time. 

M.W.: As far as the writing process goes, do you outline your stories first, or are you a "by-the-seat-of-your-pants" writer? Do you know the ending of your story before you start writing, or do you just have a general idea of whodunnit and how it was done, and then write until you've figured out the best way to wrap up the tale?

A.S.: I started out as the ultimate pantser. But it led to a lot of frustration when it came time to revise (and complete meltdowns to be honest), so I've slowly learned to tamper my impulsiveness and impatience and think the story (and characters) through first.

Mysteries are complicated. You have suspects and evidence and motivations and alibis to keep track of, not to mention the personal storylines. And winging it proved to be a frustrating (and disorganized) way of handling things. I want to follow through even with the tiniest threads in the story, and that was too difficult writing without a clear direction.

I'm actually experimenting right now with something I came across called the "Snowflake method." It's a more organic approach than traditional outlining methods, which is really what pantsing is all about. You're still using the act of writing to an extent to get the answers, but it takes a few hours of work to realize an idea or character isn't working, as opposed to weeks of time and material that is now useless. 

M.W.: Do you revise as you go -- chapter by chapter -- or do you complete the novel and then start revising?

A.S.: I like to draft all the way through and then revise. I write better when I don't edit along the way. 

M.W.: All of your novels can be found in ebook format, but only the first book in your series is available in print format. Do you have plans to publish your other books in print format?

A.S.: I do feel bad about the one, random print edition. I didn't end up continuing with the print because of lack of demand for it. But if that changes, I will definitely put the others in print!

M.W.: Do you belong to any writers' groups or associations? If so, how have they helped you as a writer?

A.S.: I don't currently, though it may be something I consider in the future. 

Learn more about Amy and her books at the following links.


Purchase Links


Amy's blog tour continues at:

June 21 – readalot blog 
June 23 – Back Porchervations 
June 24 – Shelley’s Book Case 
June 26 – Chloe Gets A Clue 
June 25 – Community Bookstop 
June 27 – deal sharing aunt
June 28 – LibriAmoriMiei 
June 29 – Omnimystery News 


  1. Thank you so much for having me, Mary! :)

    1. Glad I was able to interview you, Amy. Good luck with your book!