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Virtual Book Club: Meet author Amy Lynch

Today, I’m delighted to welcome Amy Lynch to Virtual Book Club, a series in which I put questions to authors about their latest releases. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, you’ll have the opportunity to post your questions at the end.

Amy is an Irish author of humorous romantic women’s fiction, but not always with fairy tale endings! She has been working in the charity sector for many years, is married and has two young children. When she is not writing, she can be found juggling school runs, packing lunch boxes, tackling the laundry mountain and walking two large rescue dogs who stare at her until she fetches the leads. Talk about multi-tasking!

Her debut novel Bride without a Groom is a laugh-out-loud Bridezilla comedy, and was published by Avon, Harper Collins in May 2015. Amy has published articles in Women’s Way, TV Choice Magazine, Sunday Times, and The Irish Examiner. She is represented by literary agent, Frank Fahy.

Before we get stuck in, here’s a little about the book…

Rebecca has chosen the most luscious, five-tiered wedding cake. The engagement ring that she has selected is celebrity inspired. The wedding singer is on speed dial. He doesn’t usually do Michael Bolton, but as it’s for a first dance he’ll make an exception. Father Maguire is checking dates for the parish church as we speak. The deposit on the white sand honeymoon is paid for in full on Barry’s card. She has fallen for an ivory lace couture gown that is to die for. The down payment may require her to sell a left kidney, but it will be worth it. Isn’t that why you have two?

Amy Lynch newbookcover reduced

Look inside or buy Bride without a Groom

There’s one teeny tiny problem. It’s nothing, really. No need to panic. It’s just that Barry has yet to propose. Says he’s not ready! He can be a bit of a killjoy that way. In fact, he’s gone away on a business trip and says that he needs some space. Meanwhile, Barry’s tie loosens, the Tiger beer is flowing, and his colleague Shelley is providing more than a shoulder to cry on.

Back in Dublin, Rebecca worries, putting Operation Win Back Barry into action. But who is the mysterious dark-haired woman that is so keen to talk to her, and what is it that Barry wants to get off his chest?

Q: The protagonist in your novel is Rebecca. What five words best describe her?

Rebecca is a woman on a mission to get married – a Bridezilla! She can be summed up as:

  • Bossy
  • Determined
  • Loyal
  • Fun loving
  • Vulnerable

Q: Where is the book set and how did you decide on its setting?

The book is set in Dublin, where I grew up. I know the city well – the University, the bars, the nightclubs, the wedding venues! I even got married there, so it was the perfect setting for my bride-to-be and her hilarious antics!

Q: Did you deliberately time the release of your book with the wedding season?

Yes! When Avon, Harper Collins acquired world all-language rights to Bride Without a Groom, they decided to launch it in May, just in time for the wedding season. That’s why they are promoting is as follows: “Single, coupled-up or married, this laugh-out-loud summer read is the perfect anecdote for the wedding season!”

Q: What were the major areas you had to research?

Luckily for me, I follow that old cliché of ‘write what you know’, so very little research was needed. My novels tend to revolve around relationships, babies and weddings! Having planned a wedding, I had a few funny stories that I knew I could recycle!

Q: At what point in writing the book did you come up with its title?

At first, the novel was titled I Do, I really Do.  However, when the manuscript was complete and edited, I had a conversation with my agent. We decided that Bride Without a Groom was a catchy, fun title, and stuck with that.

Amy in garden

Q: Was your novel inspired by any real life events?

OK, confession time! Bride Without A Groom is about a woman desperate to get married. When my long-suffering husband and I were together for four years, I was quite insistent on getting married. The hints were flying around like you wouldn’t believe. I was the one accidentally-on-purpose directing him past jeweller’s windows and pointing frantically to the sparklers! Every weekend was spent at bridal showers and wedding fairs. Thankfully, I didn’t go to the extremes that Rebecca does in Bride Without a Groom, such as booking a honeymoon and a priest before a proposal! However, I’ll be honest and admit that I had the poor man’s head well and truly melted, so I guess you could say this is where the idea for the first novel began.

Q: Where does this story fit in with the rest of your work?

Bride Without a Groom is the first in a series of novels that follows the hilarious life of the self-absorbed but lovable character Rebecca. The next novel Does My Bump Look Big In This? is currently being edited, and I hope to release this next year. In this second book, we see Rebecca coming to terms with her journey into motherhood, hormones, mood swings and all. The third book in the series sees Rebecca packing in her job to become a stay-at-home mum – challenging when her little darlings are quite the handful!

Q: Please tell us about your journey to publication.

My journey to publication was thankfully not a long one, but it took persistence and self-belief. Although I was good at writing funny stories at school, I chose a career in the charity sector.

When my children were born, I needed something to do in the evenings – something stimulating, with adult conversation! My husband suggested a creative writing class, and soon enough, what started out as a hobby turned into a compulsion – I started writing every day, getting stronger and more confident. Some days, I can only write for half an hour between making the children’s school lunch and watching TV. Other days, I can write without stopping, and when I look at my watch, hours have passed.  The commitment of going to the writing class meant that I could share my work and learn from constructive criticism. Then, I wrote short stories for magazines to build up my exposure.

I knew that I’d stand a far greater chance at getting my novels published if I secured a literary agent, so I persisted until finally one said that he would take a chance on me! We then self-published Bride Without A Groom to build up reviews and show the publishers that we meant business! Months later, I signed a book deal with Avon, Harper Collins.

Amy Lynch Sunday Times 2014 reduced

Q: Who gave you your first encouragement as a writer?

A teacher in school really encouraged me to write – I was eight, and she would ask me to stand up on a chair and read my stories aloud. When the class laughed at the funny bits, it gave me a thrill. She then gave me a notebook and said, “you have a lot to say, Amy, you should write it down.” Then again, I am a chatterbox, so she may have been telling me to be quiet!

My dad gave me a love of reading, which in turn made me want to write. He would read to my sister and I at night – mostly Roald Dahl, who was my favourite author as a child. I love funny books, and have fond memories of my dad reading ‘Matilda’ and ‘The Magic Finger’ and laughing out loud. I loved the illustrations by Quentin Blake, and now I read the same books to my children, who also love them.

Writing the ‘My Week’ feature for The Sunday Times was my first major recognition as a writer. I remember when the journalist called me to tell me the word count and deadline, and I said, “Great, will I email you a photo?” He replied, “No, no! I’ll send a photographer to the house.” The first thing I did when I got off the phone was call my hairdresser! A girl’s gotta look her best, after all.

Q: “I’ve always said there are two kinds of writers. There are architects and gardeners. Architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up.” (George R R Martin) Which are you?

That’s a lovely quote, and one I have never heard before. I definitely fit into the architect box. When I first started writing, I simply blurted it all out on the page without direction. When I read it back, I realised something that something was missing, so I had to thread a sub-plot through the entire manuscript. It was like taking the scenic route, rather than the more efficient, time-saving route. For my second book, I laid down the bones of the book – simply one paragraph for each of the thirty chapters. I then simply added flesh to the bones. Needless to say, the second book was far easier to write, so now I know which method works best for me!

Q: Is your writing plot driven or character driven?

The book is definitely character driven, since Rebecca has such a strong personality and a very loud voice. Writing her stories always comes easily to me. She whispers funny ideas at midnight when I’m falling asleep, and I jot them down with a pen and pad on my bedside locker, because she won’t simmer down until I do. In between laundry piles, school runs and a full day in the office, I find time for writing before collapsing into bed. Sometimes I wonder if Rebecca lives inside my brain, dictating the manuscript to me, and I am just her exhausted typist. To me, it is as if she is a real person.

Q: Does Bride Without a Groom have a dedication? If so, to whom and why?

Bride without a Groom is dedicated to my husband. He has been supportive of my writing, because he knows that I’m trying to realise my dream while juggling a day job, two children, and two big dogs. If I’m trying to finish a chapter on the weekend, he’ll sometimes take the kids off to the playground, and come back an hour later to find a more relaxed me! That’s why the dedication reads: “To Eoin. Sorry about all the burnt dinners, darling. As you can see, I’ve been a little busy…”

Want to know more?

Visit Amy’s website,  ‘like’ her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter @Amylynchauthor.

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