I have stumbled upon several Amys in my online author forays…and even at no-way-am-I-putting-my-age-on-the-first-line-of-a-blog-post, I get a charge and a chuckle out of it every. single. time. So after Amy (tee hee) and I bantered about being Amys (ha ha), I got down to the business of knowing her. Lucky me. Amy Hatvany is another new-to-me author but I suspect she isn’t new to many of you. Her latest book, Best Kept Secret, is the story of how the “secrets we hold closest are the ones that can most tear us apart.” How true.
Today Amy is sharing her thoughts about — you guessed it — women’s fiction. (Yes, on a blog about women’s fiction. Go figure! Amys are very accommodating and awesome that way. Ok, I’m done.)
Please give Amy Hatvany a warm WFW welcome!!
by Amy Hatvany
I’m at a dinner party with my husband, and the hostess sidles up beside me near the fireplace, resting her lithe hand on my forearm. “I hear you write books,” she says breathlessly. I feel for her; throwing dinner parties can be exhausting.
I give her a close-lipped smile – not because I’m annoyed, but because I’m pretty sure I have a black peppercorn stuck in a front tooth. Then, I nod. I know what comes next, and still, I am not prepared.
“What kind of writer are you?” she asks. Her question is simple, and yet, she has no idea just how complicated it is to craft a proper response.
I quickly suck at the fiery spot in my mouth, hoping to dislodge the offending bit of spice. “I write women’s fiction,” I say, hoping this will satisfy her. But it won’t. It never does.
She screws up her aquiline nose. “Like bodice-rippers?” She is incredulous. Maybe even a little disgusted. And I want to scream.
I go on to explain that while I don’t find anything wrong with them (ahem – and may even have a few stuffed under my mattress, away from my children’s prying eyes), no, I don’t write steamy romance novels. I write about realistic issues women face in our modern society. My books tackle complicated relationship dynamics and how to find redemption despite challenging circumstance. My books are about personal growth, are full of feeling, and hopefully, tell more than just a little bit of truth.
It’s her turn to nod, slowly. She gets it. Sort of.
I have had this conversation a thousand times. And a thousand times, I’ve had a difficult time conveying what exactly “women’s fiction” is. It’s a broad label, but one I wear proudly. I see the variety of books spanning this genre as giving strong voice to the multi-faceted female perspective. As with any other genre, there are good stories and not-so-good ones; great writing and writing that needs improvement. But when I first quit my job and sold my car and sat down in front of my computer to take a chance at getting published, it never crossed my mind to figure out what “kind” of writer I was going to be. I was simply compelled to write. I wanted to capture emotion, to reach out and connect with a reader the same way other writers – through their words – had reached out to me. So, that is what I set out to do.
Over the last ten years, the one thing I’ve learned about being a writer is that it consumes me. It’s not just a job, it’s who I am. As a result, reflections of this are going to show up on the page. I write women’s fiction because I am a woman. I have a female perspective. My style has been called empathetic, and I take that as high praise, because I believe overall, women are empathetic creatures. Reading about characters with whom we share commonalities – and even reading about those with whom we don’t – broadens our world. It makes us appreciate our lives, our experiences (good and bad), and maybe even changes how we see things from day to day. If my writing does that for even one person, then I consider myself a success.
Even so, at the end of the party, I hesitate by the door as my husband gathers our coats, thinking I might talk a little more with our hostess about my work. The truth is I’m not sure I’ll ever find a shorthand method to describe the writing I do. But maybe that’s a good thing. Because in the end, I’m hopeful she’ll go buy my books and find out.
Amy Hatvany was born in Seattle, WA in 1972, the youngest of three children. She graduated from Western Washington University in 1994 with a degree in Sociology only to discover most sociologists are unemployed. Soon followed a variety of jobs – some of which she loved, like decorating wedding cakes; others which she merely tolerated, like receptionist. In 1998, Amy finally decided to sell her car, quit her job, and take a chance on writing books.
The literary gods took kindly to her aspirations and THE KIND OF LOVE THAT SAVES YOU was published in 2000 by Bantam Doubleday. THE LANGUAGE OF SISTERS was picked up by NAL in 2002. (Both were published under her previous last name, Yurk.)
Amy spends most of her time today with her second and final husband, Stephan. (Seriously, if this one doesn’t work out, she’s done, kaput, no more husbands.) She stays busy with her two children, Scarlett and Miles, and her “bonus child,” Anna. Their blended family also includes two four-legged hairy children, commonly known as Black Lab mutts, Kenda and Dolcé. When Amy’s not with friends or family, she is most likely reading, cooking, or zoning out on certain reality television shows. Top Chef is a current favorite. She eagerly awaits auditions for the cast of “Top Author.” (“Quick Edit” instead of “Quick Fire” Challenge? C’mon, producers! That’s gripping television!)
Editor’s note: Jennifer Weiner listed Amy’s book on the Today Show website and gave it a shout out as her summer pick for Woman’s World magazine!