Saturday, March 11, 2017

Author interview with Amanda Cabot

AmandaCabot is the bestselling author of more than thirty novels including the Texas Dreams trilogy, the Westward Winds series, the Texas Crossroad trilogy, and Christmas Roses. A former director of Information Technology, she has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages.  Amanda is delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian romances, living happily ever after with her husband in Wyoming. 

Visit Amanda on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog.

Backcover of A Stolen Heart: From afar, Cimarron Creek seems like an idyllic town tucked in the Texas Hill Country. But when former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford steps onto its dusty streets in 1880, she finds a town with a deep-seated resentment of Northerners--like her. Lydia won't let that get her down, though. All will be well when she's reunited with her fiancé. But when she discovers he has disappeared--and that he left behind a pregnant wife--Lydia is at a loss about what to do next. The handsome sheriff urges her to trust him, but can she trust anyone in this town where secrets are as prevalent as bluebonnets in spring?

Bestselling author Amanda Cabot invites readers back into Texas's storied past to experience love and adventure against a backdrop of tension and mystery in this first book in a brand-new series.

Amanda, congratulations on your new novel, A Stolen Heart, and thanks for stopping by to visit with us today. I’ve read your entire Texas Crossroads series and loved them. I just got A Stolen Heart in the mail and can't wait to read it. What was your inspiration behind writing A Stolen Heart?

Heidi, thanks so much for inviting me to be part of your blog.  I’m absolutely delighted that you enjoyed the Texas Crossroads series and are looking forward to A Stolen Heart.  It was a fun book to research and write.  As for the inspiration, I’ve always been intrigued by the secrets we hold and the effect they can have not only on ourselves but also – depending on their magnitude – on future generations.  Add to that the conflict inherent in a Northerner coming to a small town in Texas in the aftermath of the War Between the States and Reconstruction, and I had both the overarching theme of the entire Cimarron Creek trilogy and the primary conflict in A Stolen Heart. 

I read your Waiting For Spring (Waiting For Spring is on deep discount on Amazon today) and could tell you had done extensive research AND Charlotte's secrets affected her daily living, awesome novel. You write both contemporary and historical, is that hard?

Writing is hard, whether it’s a contemporary or a historical.  Both require research and meticulous attention to detail.  Some readers have told me they’re surprised that I do research for contemporary novels, but it’s just as important as it is for historicals.  Locations need to feel authentic, which involves learning what trees and flowers might be growing there, which birds might be soaring overhead, as well as what clothing the residents might wear.  That’s true whether a book is set in 1881 or 2017.  Similarly, dialogue needs to sound realistic for the time period.  In some respects, a contemporary is more difficult, simply because of the rapid changes in technology.  A book that feels right this year might seem woefully outdated in five years.  No author wants that! 

So true, though it seems the research for a historical is much harder than writing a contemporary, but it is true that writing is hard! Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

The first question is easy.  What spurs me to write is knowing that my readers are waiting for a new book.  The second question, isn’t so easy.  My first response was, “anywhere, everywhere,” but that’s not very helpful, is it?  In the case of A Stolen Heart, the germ of the story came from reading a bit of Texas history and seeing how the Civil War and the Carpetbagger era affected life there.  And, because I’ve always loved multi-generational sagas, I decided to create a town with multiple generations of the founding families and a secret that spanned generations. 

Now I'm even more excited to crack open A Stolen Heart today! But moving on, I love plotting and am always looking for tips. How do you plot a novel? How close to the final version does the first draft read?

Once I have the basic idea (and, as I said before, that can come from anywhere), I write a two- to three-page synopsis, which is what I use to sell the concept to my editor.  The next step is to do some internal brainstorming, figuring out what scenes I’ll need to construct that story.  At first, they’re in no particular sequence, simply the order in which they popped into my brain.  But once I’ve put them on paper, I organize them into a logical sequence to create a chapter-by-chapter outline.  The goal of that is to provide a road map, showing me which scenes are in which chapter. 

After that I write two drafts for each book (the skeleton and the flesh-and-blood).  Those are followed by a final read-through and minor tweaking phase, which I refer to as the accessories.  In keeping with the analogy of turning a skeleton into a living, breathing person, this is the time for makeup, hairdos and jewelry. 

Because I do such detailed plotting before I begin writing, my final version doesn’t deviate much from the first draft in terms of basic plot.  What gets added during the second draft and the final polishing are more detailed descriptions and in-depth emotions.  I do sometimes add new scenes during the second draft, but rarely do they change the plot in any substantial way.  They simply amplify what I wrote during the skeleton-creation phase.

Ohh, I love that ~ I had never thought of doing a skeleton and then a flesh-and-blood...Great information. What advice can you give to aspiring novelists to produce a sound novel that’ll sell?

Oh, how I wish I could give advice to guarantee a novel that will sell, but we all know there are no guarantees in this business.  My advice is to write the book of your heart, the book you want to read but can’t find on the bookshelves.  Chances are, if that book touches your heart deeply, it’ll also touch agents’ and editors’ hearts.  It is, of course, essential to learn the craft of writing (plotting, characterization, point of view, etc.) and ensure that your grammar and punctuation are close to perfect, but it’s the story itself that sells.

You may not think that is helpful, but it is very sound advice. Now, time for a fun question . . . You are alone and stranded on a desert island and can have ONE food product and ONE drink, what would they be?

I wouldn’t survive very long on it, but I’d like a big piece of really good chocolate and a pot of green tea.

Well, since it's our game, how about a never-ending supply of chocolate cake? Then you'd be able to survive 😊Amanda, thank you for your time today, it was fun! And congratulations again on A Stolen Heart.

Thank you for having me here!


  1. Thanks for sharing Amanda's interview and a look at her new book.

    1. Connie, A Stolen Heart won't disappoint, I started it yesterday....A page turner, you should grab a copy yourself 😀 thanks for reading the interview, glad you enjoyed it!!!

  2. Heidi -- A never-ending supply of chocolate cake -- what a great idea! Seriously, though, thanks again for inviting me to be part of your blog. And, of course, I hope you enjoy A Stolen Heart.

    1. Amanda, I started reading A Stolen Heart yesterday, and may finish it today...... Loving the premise and the three dimensional characters, an awesome read!!!

  3. A fun and informative interview with Amanda Cabot. Thank you for sharing about A Stolen Heart. So many great books to read with a never ending TBR list. I could pass on the never ending of chocolate cake but give me peanut butter. LOL