with Amanda Crum:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Amanda: When I was about 9 years old I started taking a little red notebook around the trailer park I lived in to write down observations. Sometimes I pretended I was a reporter, other times the words became poems. Then I discovered Stephen King’s IT on my mom’s bookshelf and became hooked on horror.
Q2: Who is your biggest influences today?
Amanda: King is still a major one, but I also love Gillian Flynn, Janet Fitch, and Carol Goodman. It’s the observer in me, I think. They really know how to build worlds that feel familiar and tell an engaging story with poetic language.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?
Amanda: In a succession of tiny towns in Kentucky. My family goes back to one Appalachian county for centuries and that’s always been a major influence on me creatively. Small-town life holds a particular kind of beauty and pain. I recently finished a chapbook of poetry that focuses on that exact thing.
Q4: Have any travels away from home influenced your work/describe?
Amanda: Any time I take road trips with my family, I’m inspired. The change in scenery wakes up something in me. I think I’ve written a short story or poem after every trip we’ve ever taken.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/artist?
Amanda: I don’t remember anything else. I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil, and it feels strange not to be creating or writing something. Not because I have anything particularly groundbreaking to say, but because I just have to get it out.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Amanda: My family is a gaming family, so there’s always a Fortnite round happening or a Mario Kart 8 competition. I love to read, of course, but my to-be-read pile is overwhelming right now so I’m avoiding it a bit.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming work you’d like to promote?
Amanda: I recently won the Diana Woods Memorial Award for Creative Nonfiction (Lunch Ticket), which blew me away. I also have a middle-grade novel called Where Wild Beasts Grow coming out from Fitzroy Books in spring 2022.
Q8: What is a favorite line of yours in a poem/writing?
Amanda: From my poem “An Offering”, published in Fevers of the Mind in March 2021:
“If I could,
I would roll you in ashes
and make a mold of plaster,
I would preserve you
like the ones
who never left
and let your bones
whisper their story
to those hills.”
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Amanda: My husband is my constant supporter, reader, and champion. Whether I’m beating myself up over a rejection or in need of reassurance that a poem or story makes sense, he’s always there to help. I couldn’t have made it as far as I have without him.