A warm welcome to novelist, Amy Elliott-Smith whose very funny book is published today by Crooked Cat Publishing.
What gave you the idea for A Guide To Becoming Distinctly Average?
Ten years ago I was diagnosed with acute anxiety and depression. At some points I struggled more with the stigma of the diagnosis than with the illness itself. Luckily, it was caught in time to treat and, looking back, I saw the humour in some of the thoughts which ran through my confused brain at that time, particularly during my worst moments. As I am now able to function as a ‘normal’ person again, I felt it would be a shame to let my mental-ness pass others by! Also, I felt detached, unprepared for and persecuted by my depression and would like to think that anyone who may be feeling the same as I during those dark days may garner some comfort knowing they are not alone and that recovery is possible.
What are your writing strengths and weaknesses?
My grammar and punctuation isn’t the best – thank the Lord for editors! I get bored quite easily so I tend to finish chapters with a bang, though that’s not necessarily a weakness. I think that makes the reader reflect more. My main strength is the ability to write anywhere. Nothing distracts me once I’m ‘in the zone’. I can block out the world and happily tap away on my keyboard for hours.
Do you have a writing routine or any odd writing quirks?
I tend to write a lot in short bursts which can be tiring, so I can’t write every day. I find that I work more productively if I limit myself to three days a week. There are some days when I can’t write fast enough to keep up with the stuff that’s clogging my mind, and then there are others when I find myself staring at the screen, frustrated that inspiration isn’t hitting me. Those are the days I’ll go back to what I’ve already written and edit.
Is there a special place you like to write?
I write at my dining room table. Not because it’s particularly inspiring, just because it’s the most comfortable place to sit at a laptop for hours.
Who is your favourite author and why?
I love David Sedaris. His stories are quick to read and very funny, for the most part. They’re like stand-up comedy in book form.
How do you handle rejections?
I kill again. No, I don’t take rejections very well. I take them very personally, especially when it comes to my writing. It’s like giving someone a piece of my soul and, if they don’t want it, they’re basically telling me I’m a worthless human being. Maybe I need to work on that!
What qualities do you think writers should have?
Of course, it depends what someone is writing. In my opinion, you need to be observant of people’s actions and emotions to be able to convey them realistically. I think empathy is a useful quality, too, if you want to tug at the old heartstrings.
What three words best describe you?
Tenacious, obsessive, stubborn.
What are you working on at the moment?
A follow up to A Guide to Becoming Distinctly Average.
Amy began a career as a stand-up comic, performing across the UK. She worked at BBC Manchester for two years hosting and writing sketches for her radio show I Should CoCo. A Guide to Becoming Distinctly Average is her first novel.