Author Interview and Spotlight – Amy Q. Barker

Author Interview and Spotlight

Amy Q Barker


I was fortunate enough to be able to read 2 of Amy Q. Barker’s recent publications and really liked how they weren’t just the standard romance tropes that we see so frequently repeated.

Being a self-published author of interesting stories, I reached out to Amy to see if she would be willing to chat a bit with me about how she got started as well as her writing process. She graciously accepted!

I hope that this interview shines a light on her love of writing and sparks an interest for you to check out one of her great books.

Which of your books is closest to your heart and why?

I love them all, haha, because they are each (in their own way) a labor of love. However, I guess if I had to pick, I would choose Bibliointuitive, my latest novel, because there are so many pieces of me (the real me, Amy Q. Barker) interwoven in the story. Much like my main character, Riley, I suffered a tragedy at the age of twelve that had a huge impact on my life and that also brought me a gift, the same gift that I describe in the book, which is the ability to see connections between books and the real world. This gift is the word I invented for my real life and for the book’s title, Bibliointuitive.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes, since I was twelve years old. After my tragedy, I started escaping into books as a means to recover from the accident. Within a short period of time, I had this overwhelming feeling that I was mean to be a writer and that was much purpose here on earth.

Where do you get your ideas from?

Could be anything. Sometimes a TV show or movie will spark a thought, or maybe a real-life story I hear about from a co-worker or friend. Whenever I hear something interesting—even if it’s just a phrase or word—I write it down somewhere and then I can find it later when the time is right to begin the next book. I was inspired to write my novel, Punk, after reading my grandmother’s diary from 1932. I realized while reading it that I hadn’t read very many novels from that time (the Great Depression) and contrary to what I believed about the sadness and deprivation of that era, I found my grandmother’s words and her life actually uplifting and inspirational. I used the kernel of her story to frame a multigenerational family saga tackling all of the complexity of a coming-of-age love story.

At what age did you write your first book?

I started writing when I was 45 years old. It took me a long time (from age 12 to 45!) to drum up enough nerve and confidence to start writing. I had so many excuses for so many years (I don’t have time, I’m not good enough, I don’t have anything to say, I don’t have anything original to write about, etc.), but then I had this epiphany that if I just decided I was going to do it and not let anything stop me, then I could do it. I set a schedule (getting up three hours early every day to write before going to my day job). I have stuck to this schedule for 5 years now, and it has allowed me to publish three novels so far and I’m hoping for many more. When people ask me what are the main skills needed to become a writer, I always say the number one attribute is determination (or grit) because writing isn’t for babies—it’s difficult, time consuming, tiring, frustrating, and at times, even depressing. But it can also be amazing, joyous, exhilarating, gratifying, and healing.

Does the writing process energize you or exhaust you?

A little of both. Most of the time it’s energizing, especially when I’m in the midst of a great flow (when all of the words come to me easily and quickly). But what weighs me down the most is the promotional aspect of book publishing. This is something no one tells you before you start writing (that you will have to sell, sell, sell until you wish you could lay down and die). There are too many other books on the market and it’s very difficult to get a foothold. One other aspect of writing that is both energizing and exhausting is reading reviews. Books are such a subjective thing, and I’m still floored when I see a 5-star review followed by a 3-star review (or worse!) sometimes on the same day (!) for the same book. And sometimes the reviews are polar opposite opinions about the same section in the book. It’s crazy! It makes it very difficult to keep writing freely after reading these reviews—how can I possibly please everyone? I’ve tried to tune it all out and just write a book that I would like to read. That’s the best I can do.

Your characters are so easy to emotionally connect to. How are you able to write you characters so well?

This is where the magic “sauce” comes into the writing process. Sometimes I swear it seems crazy because I don’t know where my characters come from! I mean, yes, from out of my head (every word is my own), but the initial grain or seed of inspiration is always somewhat of a mystery to me. My first novel, Rue, was about a beautiful blind lounge singer, and prior to writing this story, I had never met (let alone wrote) about a person who is blind. But in the process of writing Rue, I felt such an overwhelming feeling of connection and sympathy toward her. It actually made it very difficult to write the scenes where she gets hurt—I cried for my Rue, but of course, I always knew in the end that she would be happy, so I forged ahead and drew her into my heart for safe keeping during the journey.

What genres do you read?

I was an English major in college, so I used to read only the classics or what I used to call “the oldies but goodies,” but what I learned over time is that eventually you run out of classics to read, so I had to find a way to expand my scope. At the beginning of this year on Goodreads, I stated my goal was to read more contemporary novels and although I’m only three-quarters of the way through, I feel like I’ve accomplished my goal. I’ve been focusing mainly on women’s fiction with a dabble here and there in the world of Magical Realism. I still slip a classic in between reading contemporary works, which keeps me grounded and allows me to consider both styles of writing.

If you could pick your top 3 favorite books of all-time, what would they be?

Did any of them influence your own work? Atlas Shrugged is my favorite book. I know this is a controversial book and people either love it or hate it, but what I love about it (not so much the political aspect of it) is that it’s a book with three complete and fully fledged love stories. I took inspiration from that idea when I wrote my novel, Rue, where I incorporate four intertwining love stories into the plot. The other aspect of Atlas Shrugged that I love is the mystery of it, where the main premise of the story isn’t revealed until the last quarter of the book. I found this technique fascinating and ingenious! My other two favorites are: Jane Eyre and Gone with the Wind. Both of these books have amazing female leads, but also draw you back in time with well-drawn and well-thought-out stories of love, betrayal, heartache, and hope.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Sadly, I have felt a little bit like an island because I really don’t know any other authors. Crazy as this may sound, before I publish my books, usually only 3 people besides myself have read them (my editor and maybe two friends). I guess I’m still working on obtaining a “street team.” In the meantime, I stay inspired by reading great works by other authors, even if I don’t know them personally.

Are you currently working on anything? If so, can you give us a summary of your next work?

I like to keep my current work under wraps until it’s published. Don’t want to jinx anything, plus sometimes when I start a new work, I don’t always end up finishing it (my writing process is not always linear), so I’d rather wait until it’s fully ready.


I loved getting to know Amy a little bit better through this interview.  Thank you so much, Amy, for allowing me to review your books and taking the time for this interview.  The Book Review Crew and I wish you the best of luck in all your future work and can’t wait to see your next book!

Amy Q. Barker is the author of the women’s fiction novels Rue, Punk, and Bibliointuitive. Her books focus on the feel-good place where romance and drama meet.

Amy can usually be found reading the classics, walking the beaches of Siesta Key, or hiking in the woods near her home in Indiana where she lives with her husband and several nearly tame wild birds.

Amy holds a BA from Syracuse University and an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She grew up in Spencerport, New York.

To connect with her:

Website | Amazon | Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook

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