FQ: As an accomplished writer and artist, can you tell readers a bit about your background?
AMY KATHERINE: I went to the University of Texas at Austin and majored in Fine Art. The years I spent after that creating and teaching art were some of the happiest in my life. More recently, raising children overseas has been amazing and made me more adventurous and curious than ever before. I would say they are the ones who fuel my fire to continue in experimenting and creating.
FQ: I see from your bio that you have spent the last seven years in Europe. Where, exactly, was your homebase; and did living overseas inspire your writing on a new level?
AMY KATHERINE: We had such a wonderful time in Europe. We lived in a small town in Germany just outside of Stuttgart called Böblingen. Hubby worked on one of the American military bases nearby and my children went to the German school system, and we dabbled in homeschooling like many folks during the pandemic. A couple hours by high-speed train from Paris, and driving distance to Italy, Switzerland, and Croatia made our little town a fantastic travel hub that brought immense cultural and food wanderlust to our family. Our kiddos learned to swim in the salty Mediterranean with unabandoned joy and to enjoy the taste of steamed mussels and enjoy life to the fullest without hesitation. I’m so grateful for that. I was born and raised in Texas, and while I enjoyed sugary Trdelnik pastries in Prague and the magical twinkle of the Christmas markets in Vienna, somewhere lost and deep down I was always a little homesick. I missed Texas barbecue. I missed the easy way of speaking that comes out of the south. I missed people who were raised right, like my husband. I missed the old-fashioned gentlemen who would hold open doors when your hands were full.
True fact - I was inspired to tell my tale about Texas by a European male in his 30s wearing tight orange pants. Now I love tight orange pants like anybody but while boarding a plane to Riga, Latvia with my one-year-old baby, I had an encounter that was inspirational, but not in a good way. We had left the bus parked on the tarmac and were just about to board the airplane, when a storm hit. I had no umbrella but managed to wrap my infinity scarf around my child while rushing towards the airplane steps. This is when the gentleman in the orange pants pushed past me and my sweet baby so that he could cut in line and board the airplane first. Now I can open doors while carrying groceries like any mama can, but I do appreciate the southern ways. And I have been to a dive bar, spoiler from book two of this series, where an uncouth man pulled my hair—perhaps as a means to flirt. But even this man would have waited out in a thunderstorm for me and my baby to board the plane in the rain. Raindrops dripping off my chin and finally entering the aircraft, I walked past Mr. Orange Pants and vowed to write my book in appreciation of Texas men and their notorious southern charm.
FQ: Between writing and creating artwork, what do you feel are the benefits of each and which, if either, do you like to do more?
AMY KATHERINE: There is a beautiful cadence to writing. The initial wave of thought, strong and powerful words pushing you to the shore of completion. But the tide of editing will pull you back, insecure and hesitant. This back and forth is a beautiful process. Wine is often a powerful breaker crashing in the ocean of thought. I am impatient at times and enjoy the fast-paced satisfaction of my dirty fingertips and curious paintbrush lost in the moment. No waves. No back and forth. Just onward process across the canvas. So, I love the processes of both visual art and written word. And what I choose has a lot to do with my mood, and possibly red wine consumption.
FQ: It’s hard for one and all to balance things in life. As a mom, can you tell aspiring writers out there how to handle establishing a writing career while still being that great parent to two fun-loving, rambunctious kids?
AMY KATHERINE: This is a fun question. The truth is there’s only two options for an aspiring writer with kids. You’re either going to pursue your dreams or you’re not. In my case sometimes pursuing my dreams meant that I was editing Chapter 4 with an iPad being scooted on a pillow while I was pretending to be a horse with a precariously balanced small person riding my back.
FQ: I found it interesting that the protagonist’s name is Amy and, of course, that’s your name. Was there a reason for this? Is there perhaps a little of you in her? Or was there another reason for naming her Amy?
AMY KATHERINE: Oh, so this is good. So I am Amy Emerson, the protagonist in this story, to an extent. I wrote it as fiction, because sometimes real life is more painful or complicated than a well-written fiction could ever be. The pieces needed to fit together, and real life doesn’t always work out that way. But he was real. He was my Superman and he taught me self-worth, advanced mathematics, and how to make a perfect martini. He taught me how to love with passion and how to fight. He taught me all of the beautiful things about living well, like how to hold someone as the rain hits the window pane, fingertips running circles on skin, and love all their imperfections and quirks. And when I was in trouble, and I needed him most, he whispered the words in my ear that became my own voice. And before I knew it, Superman had given me his cape and I had become my own superhero.
FQ: Would you share with our readers some of your other writing projects?
AMY KATHERINE: Writing Holding Superman’s Hand was on my heart to write for years. A solace and a joy, the words had been written on my heart for so long, it was an easy translation into type. Books two, three, and four in the series are all completed and floating just off the shore of editing and revision.
FQ: If you could choose to sit down with one writer, or artist, from the past and ask them questions, who would that be and what would be the one question you would love to ask them?
AMY KATHERINE: George Orwell. I would take a sip of strong coffee and look him square in the eye and say, “1984—Never more relevant than today. Can you envision a rewrite, Sir, in which we all make it in the end? Dammit. How did you know?”
FQ: Where did the idea for this novel originate from? Are you a writer who likes to produce an outline first, or was this an idea that just sort of “hit you between the eyes” one day and you had to start writing it down?
AMY KATHERINE: No outline. No highlighters. I met him when I needed him. He saved my life, you know. Many times. Superman was there when I needed him and he helped raise me in many senses. I let him. I raised him too. Taught him compassion and empathy where he didn’t have that innately. This story was always behind my eyes. Somewhere between me and the outside world around me. One day, I just found the strength to say it: I was weak and scared, and Superman swooped up and taught me the life skills I needed to be strong. Not strong like him. Strong like me.
FQ: Since Holding Superman’s Hand is book 1 in a planned series, can you give readers a sneak peek, so to speak, at what will be coming next?
AMY KATHERINE: There may or may not be a scene in book two, where Matthew puts inflatable armbands on Amy when they are out fishing. He convinces her that they will certainly get in trouble with a fishing and game warden. Because there aren’t enough life vests on board, they had to borrow these bands, and it will have to do. She resists at first, but eventually gives in to her goody goody personality. Oh, and they are pink unicorn armbands. Matthew is not prepared to see her in armbands, though, and his reaction to his own prank is priceless!
FQ: Thank you so much for your time, and this incredible book! Good luck with the next one!
AMY KATHERINE: Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk about my book. I loved the process! Amy Katherine