Amie Borst is the author of the story, A Soldier's Christmas, and co-author of Cinderskella, scheduled for release in 2013.
LDSP: Welcome, Amie. I’m looking out my window right now and seeing snow clouds. What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods? Got any snow yet?
Amie: Its nearly 85 degrees with blue skies! The only sign of autumn is the vivid display of color on the trees.
LDSP: Hmmm. I hate you just a little bit right now, but I do love the colors of changing leaves! Where did you grow up?
Amie: I grew up in upstate New York, in the heart of the beautiful Catskill Mountains. Many people relate this area to classic tales such as Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle. It’s easy to get lost and sleepy there in the summer heat and the lull of trees in the breeze.
LDSP: I’ve actually visited that general area. It’s lovely. When I was there, it was pretty stormy and windy. Do you get much bad weather there?
Amie: Last summer (August 2011) this lovely and historic place was devastated by Hurricane Irene.
LDSP: I remember that. It was horrible hearing about it from the other side of the country, and wishing I could help.
Amie: I drove nearly eight hours, by myself, from my home in Virginia to dedicate a week of my time to clean up efforts in many of the small towns. It was truly a rewarding experience!
LDSP: I bet it was! Other than disaster relief, what are some of your hobbies?
Advocating for children with learning disabilities and cake decorating. Yes, I’m aware that these two things don’t normally go hand in hand, but they have in my life! I love assisting parents and helping them navigate the educational system for their children. It’s been a long road helping my own daughter reach her potential and showing her that there is no obstacle she cannot overcome. And the cake decorating, well, who doesn’t like cake? I believe in life it is possible to have your cake and eat it too! My most popular blog post to date is my Spiral Staircase Cake.
LDSP: Oh, my daughters would have loved a cake like that! I’ve been to your blog. It’s very attractive. That’s a big plus for a new author. And I liked reading some of your posts. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Amie: I’m a writer? Yikes! Why didn’t anyone tell me about this? I’m always the last to know!
LDSP: Funny! Why did you decide to enter the LDS Publisher story contest?
Amie: I guess because I had a story I wanted others to hear. There’s always a hope that maybe in sharing a story, a piece of our soul is revealed. That’s also what makes writing so hard—we’re so vulnerable.
LDSP: Have you ever entered a contest before? Won anything?
Amie: If there are 50/50 odds, I’ll always lose. So yeah, I pretty much never win anything.
LDSP: Well, you certainly impressed my readers enough to win the Readers Choice award. Yay, you! What inspired you to write A Soldier’s Christmas?
Amie: My husband is prior Air Force, and during his days of service, there was a part of me that feared the worst. Thankfully, my husband was safe during his days of service and for that I’m grateful. But so many others sacrifice selflessly on our behalf and I wanted to show my gratitude to them for all they do. I just hope that I was able to give them the credit and thanks they so fully deserve.
LDSP: Aside from A Soldier’s Christmas, do you have other published stories or books?
Amie: My first book, Cinderskella (part of the Scary Tales series), co-authored by my 12 year old daughter, Bethanie, will be published October 26th, 2013 by Jolly Fish Press. We’ll have three books in the series and are so excited to share these fun, silly and twisted stories with the world!
LDSP: I love twisted stories! I’m looking forward to reading it. You and Bethany also have a story in your publishers Halloween story contest, right?
Amie: Yes! Our story is called The Tale of Annabelle Craven. We had loads of fun writing it and we hope you enjoy reading it! There are several stories in the contest and if you go vote for one, you’re entered to win a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card. You can vote through October 31st.
LDSP: I’m headed over there to vote as soon as we’re done with this interview. What are you working on now?
Amie: I’m currently working on Little Dead Riding Hood with my co-author. It’s a re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood (obviously), with a twist. You may see some vampires in this story—but don’t worry, they don’t sparkle. ;)
LDSP: LOL! Do you see writing as a career?
Amie: A career? Ack! That really puts the pressure on!
LDSP: I’ll take that as a yes. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Amie: Don’t. Give. Up. Ever.
LDSP: Great advice. And the fact that you have been accepted for publication shows you take your own advice seriously. As the Christmas season approaches, I like to reminisce about the past—traditions, gifts. What was your favorite Christmas gift?
Amie: My favorite Christmas memory is one that lingers with me still. I was 16 and a huge fan of Broadway musicals. I admit to being only slightly obsessed with Phantom of the Opera. My parents had given us a very nice Christmas around the tree, something I know at the time was a big sacrifice. There were loads of toys for the younger kids and clothes for me. We opened our stockings last, as was tradition in our family (and still is to this day with my own family). I never expected much in my stocking. It was for little things like socks and hair clips, maybe a piece of jewelry. I remember unwrapping a few items from my stocking and then the last, which was an envelope. I expected a card and nothing more. But inside this card were three tickets to Phantom of the Opera on Broadway! I jumped, I screamed, and I may even have cried. It was a dream come true! As a teen it meant the world that my parents knew me, knew my interests, and sacrificed in order to give me a gift —and a memory—that would be cherished forever. I still remember the shock, awe and surprise I felt that day. Now, whenever I hear one of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s haunting melodies, I can’t help but recall that wonderful Christmas and the day I spent with my parents in NYC.
LDSP: Oh, how wonderful! And I’m more than a little bit jealous right now. Have you started any fun traditions with your children?
Amie: I’m the queen of traditions! We bake Christmas cookies and set them out for Santa. We act as a Secret Santa for a family in need. We give gifts to neighbors and friends. We sip hot cocoa by the fire and watch Christmas movies. And every year I purchase a special book for each child and it is given as the last gift of Christmas. I try to choose one that reflects a special activity that we enjoyed or highlights a quality I love about them. I write a note inside the book, dedicated to that child, so they know just how I feel, and how special they are. Later we read the inscription and the book together, snuggled up in bed at the close of a lovely Christmas day.
LDSP: Ahh. That is sweet. I’m a big book giver at Christmas time. I especially like to give Christmas themed picture books. I inscribe them as well, but we’ve never done the snuggle part. Maybe I’ll try that this year. What are your Christmas favorites: Song? Tradition? Food? Game? Etc.
Amie: Our favorite tradition of all comes on Christmas Eve. We have a family devotional where we write our promise to the Savior, wrap it up and place it under the tree. We strive all year to live by the promise we made. Then the following Christmas we review our gift and discuss how our actions and deeds reflected our promise to Him. Should I ever forget this most precious of all traditions, my children quickly remind me that we still need to give our gift to the Savior!
LDSP: Just a few more questions. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Amie: I’ve always loved Edgar Allen Poe. His dark stories make me think about human nature and the psyche, about love and loss and about life and death. He is by far the most influential writer of all time. I think if Poe were still alive, we’d have a grand time plotting a story together! Also, an interesting tidbit of information: through some genealogy research I found a family tie to Poe! My husband’s great uncle, Arthur Ostrander, was the assistant to Professor George Poe who invented the artificial respiration machine. Professor Poe was a cousin to Edgar Allen Poe. Now that’s what we call a small world!
LDSP: I love those six degrees of separation. Now, if you could only connect yourself to Kevin Bacon… What was the best book you’ve read this year?
Amie: I loved The Cavendish Home For Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand. What a creepy middle-grade story!
LDSP: That’s one that’s been on my “To Read” list for awhile. Maybe I’ll get to it soon. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing all your wonderful Christmas tradition ideas.