Amy Reichert‘s debut novel, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, was released yesterday. It has a scrumptious cover, and some scrumptious reviews to go with it. Bookreporter calls it “a delectable novel,” and Booklist says, “well-developed secondary characters and detailed descriptions of the Milwaukee food scene will leave readers hungry for more.” A wife, mom, amateur chef, Fix-It Mistress, and cider enthusiast, Amy spreads her passion for books as a member of the local library’s board, too. Enjoy her post! – Meg
Amy Reichert: How I Unleashed the Voices
Many authors wax poetic about their passion for writing, the compulsion to put words on a page and quiet the voices in their heads, that the urge took them at a young age—they always knew they’d be a writer. Their path from wee wordsmith to published author was pre-destination.
I am not that author.
Until the grand old age of 37, it never occurred to me to write creatively. I knew I could write. I had earned my MA and could spout well-researched discussions about Catholic imagery in works from Shakespeare to CS Lewis, or cite examples from Jonathan Edwards and Nathaniel Hawthorne on the influence of Puritanism on early American literature and how it still echoes in modern works. Basically, I can fake the fancy academic speak with the best of them. Ironically, two years immersed in the greatest American and British works pushed me toward more popular literature. I wanted to read for fun, not to analyze. I wanted entertainment, not work. I quickly gained an appreciation for the hard working genre writers and accepted academia was not for me.
But what’s a failed academic to do? Join the private sector and become a technical writer, of course.
For those not familiar with this particular job, technical writers are the unthanked, but oft-cursed folks who write the directions that accompany everything from your toaster to the in-app help in Microsoft Word. It is the antithesis of creative writing, but it does teach a person to edit down to the essential. At this job, I learned how to write clearly, take harsh feedback, and edit mercilessly.
Along the way, I had two amazing children–who led my hubby and I to decide my time was better spent at home with them. This worked great when they were little. We hit the library, read stories, made brownies, and terrorized the local park.
And then my kids started going to school. My schedule opened up and I realized soon I’d be alone all day. It was time to think about what I wanted to do. Like any proud procrastinator, I avoided dealing with the problem in front of me and turned to something else–in this case, I started telling myself a story about a chef and restaurant critic in Milwaukee. I imagined how they would meet, how they would fall in love, and how it would fall apart.
Now, I should mention, while I never imagined writing stories, I’ve always told them to myself. I remember sitting through Mass as a child, imagining myself with super powers, or situations where the cute boy in class fell madly in love with me. These were daydreams to pass the time, to keep my mind occupied when I couldn’t open a book.
As my chef and restaurant critic evolved in my mind, I also stumbled across NaNoWriMO (National Novel Writing Month). The light bulb went on, the lightening struck, the gold was found. I started to write my star-crossed foodie love story. While I only managed about 9000 words before life distracted me, I had uncovered something—a storytelling bug I never knew I had. The more I researched publishing, met other writers, the more I wanted in. I had found my passion – now if only those voices would quiet down once in a while. – Amy