Women’s Fiction Author Amy Hatvany Answers the Age-Old Question: “What Kind Of Writer Are You?”

I have stumbled upon several Amys in my online author forays…and even at no-way-am-I-putting-my-age-on-the-first-line-of-a-blog-post, I get a charge and a chuckle out of it every. single. time.  So after Amy (tee hee) and I bantered about being Amys (ha ha), I got down to the business of knowing her.  Lucky me.  Amy Hatvany is another new-to-me author but I suspect she isn’t new to many of you.  Her latest book, Best Kept Secret, is the story of how the “secrets we hold closest are the ones that can most tear us apart.”  How true. 

Today Amy is sharing her thoughts about — you guessed it — women’s fiction. (Yes, on a blog about women’s fiction. Go figure! Amys are very accommodating and awesome that way. Ok, I’m done.)

Please give Amy Hatvany a warm WFW welcome!!

What Kind Of Writer Are You? 

by Amy Hatvany

I’m at a dinner party with my husband, and the hostess sidles up beside me near the fireplace, resting her lithe hand on my forearm.  “I hear you write books,” she says breathlessly. I feel for her; throwing dinner parties can be exhausting.

I give her a close-lipped smile – not because I’m annoyed, but because I’m pretty sure I have a black peppercorn stuck in a front tooth. Then, I nod. I know what comes next, and still, I am not prepared.

“What kind of writer are you?” she asks. Her question is simple, and yet, she has no idea just how complicated it is to craft a proper response.

I quickly suck at the fiery spot in my mouth, hoping to dislodge the offending bit of spice. “I write women’s fiction,” I say, hoping this will satisfy her. But it won’t. It never does.

She screws up her aquiline nose. “Like bodice-rippers?” She is incredulous. Maybe even a little disgusted. And I want to scream.

I go on to explain that while I don’t find anything wrong with them (ahem – and may even have a few stuffed under my mattress, away from my children’s prying eyes), no, I don’t write steamy romance novels. I write about realistic issues women face in our modern society. My books tackle complicated relationship dynamics and how to find redemption despite challenging circumstance. My books are about personal growth, are full of feeling, and hopefully, tell more than just a little bit of truth.

It’s her turn to nod, slowly. She gets it. Sort of.

I have had this conversation a thousand times. And a thousand times, I’ve had a difficult time conveying what exactly “women’s fiction” is. It’s a broad label, but one I wear proudly. I see the variety of books spanning this genre as giving strong voice to the multi-faceted female perspective.  As with any other genre, there are good stories and not-so-good ones; great writing and writing that needs improvement. But when I first quit my job and sold my car and sat down in front of my computer to take a chance at getting published, it never crossed my mind to figure out what “kind” of writer I was going to be. I was simply compelled to write. I wanted to capture emotion, to reach out and connect with a reader the same way other writers – through their words – had reached out to me.  So, that is what I set out to do.

Over the last ten years, the one thing I’ve learned about being a writer is that it consumes me. It’s not just a job, it’s who I am. As a result, reflections of this are going to show up on the page. I write women’s fiction because I am a woman. I have a female perspective. My style has been called empathetic, and I take that as high praise, because I believe overall, women are empathetic creatures. Reading about characters with whom we share commonalities – and even reading about those with whom we don’t – broadens our world. It makes us appreciate our lives, our experiences (good and bad), and maybe even changes how we see things from day to day. If my writing does that for even one person, then I consider myself a success.

Even so, at the end of the party, I hesitate by the door as my husband gathers our coats, thinking I might talk a little more with our hostess about my work. The truth is I’m not sure I’ll ever find a shorthand method to describe the writing I do. But maybe that’s a good thing. Because in the end, I’m hopeful she’ll go buy my books and find out.

Amy Hatvany was born in Seattle, WA in 1972, the youngest of three children. She graduated from Western Washington University in 1994 with a degree in Sociology only to discover most sociologists are unemployed. Soon followed a variety of jobs – some of which she loved, like decorating wedding cakes; others which she merely tolerated, like receptionist. In 1998, Amy finally decided to sell her car, quit her job, and take a chance on writing books.

The literary gods took kindly to her aspirations and THE KIND OF LOVE THAT SAVES YOU was published in 2000 by Bantam Doubleday. THE LANGUAGE OF SISTERS was picked up by NAL in 2002. (Both were published under her previous last name, Yurk.)

Amy spends most of her time today with her second and final husband, Stephan. (Seriously, if this one doesn’t work out, she’s done, kaput, no more husbands.) She stays busy with her two children, Scarlett and Miles, and her “bonus child,” Anna. Their blended family also includes two four-legged hairy children, commonly known as Black Lab mutts, Kenda and Dolcé. When Amy’s not with friends or family, she is most likely reading, cooking, or zoning out on certain reality television shows. Top Chef is a current favorite. She eagerly awaits auditions for the cast of “Top Author.” (“Quick Edit” instead of “Quick Fire” Challenge? C’mon, producers! That’s gripping television!)

Editor’s note: Jennifer Weiner listed Amy’s book on the Today Show website and gave it a shout out as her summer pick for Woman’s World magazine! 

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/43662992/ns/today-books/ 

8 thoughts on “Women’s Fiction Author Amy Hatvany Answers the Age-Old Question: “What Kind Of Writer Are You?”

  1. I agree with that first comment! That seems to always happen. First, the mistake Women’s Fiction for Chick-Lit. I try to explain how the two are different, and then how they are different yet again from a romance novel. It’s hard to get others to GET it.

    Then, they throw their own idea for a great story out at me. Or say they’ve always wanted to write. Or they used to write. Or they wish they could write because they have so many ideas…

    It used to be hard for me to admit I’m a writer. I’m not published, and I was ashamed of that at first. But after meeting my husband and his family, some of whom are not readers and never will be yet all of whom offer enthusastic support…I no longer shy away from admitting I’m a writer. After all, published or not, it’s the crux of who I am. And writing women’s fiction happens to be my passion.

    Like you, I didn’t sit down to write with the idea of labeling it. I sat down with a story. A women’s fiction is what I got!

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  2. Great post, Amy! I often tell people that I wrote a book that I’d like to read—about real, complicated women. It’s funny that although our profession deals almost entirely with words, it’s hard to actually explain what type of fiction we write.

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  3. Love it, Amy! And April, one of the first things I did before I got published was to start telling people I was a writer, even when my “day job” was decorating wedding cakes!

    Thanks, Camille! You wrote a book I LOVED reading, so you hit the mark of true women’s fiction, no doubt. 😉

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  4. I can so relate to this! I used to answer “women’s fiction” until I realized it’s a category that not many outside of the publishing industry understand. When people ask, I think it’s because they want to get a better understanding of what your book’s about, and they might expect an answer like “mystery” or “sci-fi/fantasy”–something that they can quickly wrap their minds around because most people are familiar with these genres.

    Women’s fiction has yet to be defined in such definite terms, and to me that’s part of the appeal of writing it. I loved Camille’s answer, that she writes about real, complicated women. Maybe now I’ll say something like, my novel deals with a mother-daughter relationship & family secrets.

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    • That’s a great response, Natalia! Even before I start writing, I try to come up with a one sentence summary or “hook” to describe the book I’m writing to anyone who asks. Of course, that leads to the “well, do you think I’d like it?” question, which is even more difficult to answer. I usually tell them I *hope* they’d like it!

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  5. I agree wholeheartedly with Camille. I write books “I would like to read” and hopefully when my book is published (not sure of the date yet) someone out there will want to read it. I, too, didn’t start out trying to write any particular genre. It just happened that way.
    Great post.
    Patti

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  6. My husband recently told a female co-worker I write women’s fiction, and that co-worker took that to mean category romance, which she immediately discounted. I told my husband to just tell people I write mainstream novels, going according to where they’ll be shelved at a bookstore. Once years ago, I explained to a man that women’s fiction meant relationship novel, and the guy visibly cringed.

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