Welcome to April’s Featured Blog, something I’ll be posting here on Lit and Scribbles most of the month to introduce all of you to perhaps some new future friends and get to know a little more about your blogging community.
Today we talk with Amal, writer of the blog The Misfortune of Knowing and fellow aspiring author (some of you may know her as AMB). Tell the peeps who you are Amal:
AMB: I’m a Philadelphia-based blogger, writer, and practicing lawyer and my perspective as a legal advocate for women and as a mother informs my writing. I have three daughters, five-year-old redheaded twins who are technically monozygotic, but don’t look alike to their parents, and an almost two-year-old lover of books. Stop by my blog, The Misfortune of Knowing, to say hello and to join the discussion on books, writing, and related legal issues.
J: When did you first start blogging and what is your blog about?
AMB: I have been blogging about books, writing, and the law since June 2012. I review books, everything from literary fiction to children’s books, and discuss legal issues relevant to writers and readers, such as copyright lawsuits and the First Amendment implications of book banning.
J: Which of your posts was the most fun to write and why?
AMB: My favorite posts to write are the ones about children’s books or early literacy that feature my children. Why? Because my daughters are adorable (if I do say so myself), and I love chronicling their childhood on my blog. My recent favorite is Is This How Writers Are Born?, which focuses on my youngest daughter, Zayla, who shares my obsession with books. I have high expectations that she will grow up to be a writer, but I won’t be disappointed if she loves math instead. It’s her future.
AMB: The common term for the type of fiction I write is “Women’s Fiction” because it focuses on a female protagonist’s personal growth, but I would hope that the label would not turn away male readers who are interested in the types of issues I write about, including socioeconomic privilege, sibling and twin relationships, and family violence.
J: Protagonist excluded, which of your characters is your favorite?
AMB: In Two Lovely Berries, my 81,000 word manuscript, my favorite character is the protagonist’s identical twin, whose perspective on life is quite different from her sister’s view. She’s my favorite character because she doesn’t lie to herself or to others — with two glaring exceptions — and her struggles are, sadly, common experiences for many women in our society.
J: Who is your favorite author?
AMB: Kurt Vonnegut has been my favorite author since I was in my early teens. His books contain timeless themes and a wonderfully dry sense of humor.
J: What are the last three books you read, and would you recommend them?
AMB: I just finished re-reading Vonnegut’s Player Piano, and found I had a very different reaction at 32 than I did at 12, the first time I read it (this will be the subject of a post at some point). I also read Kurt Vonnegut: Letters and Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains, which is a book I should have read a long time ago considering my public interest background. I recommend all three: Player Piano is and deserves to be a classic, Vonnegut’s letters are witty and thought-provoking, and Mountains Beyond Mountains is inspiring. Stay tuned to my blog for more details on my reactions to these books.
J: Do you listen to music while you write?
AMB: I do not listen to music by choice because I am easily distracted by noise. That said, I often have songs from Sesame Street, Barney, and The Wiggles playing in the background (and in my head throughout the day). My children rule the roost.
J: Aside from writing, what are your favorite things to do?
AMB: My favorite activities include reading, birding, walking, and anything with my children (which often includes reading, birding, and being outside).
J: If you could be granted one superpower, which would it be?
AMB: I would love to be able to speak, read, and write any language at any time. Not only would it be helpful in my legal practice, allowing me to better represent diverse clients, but it would be wonderful to be able to read books and converse in any language.
J: Where’s the farthest away from home you’ve traveled?
AMB: My mother is from Sri Lanka, and while I was born in the United States, I lived in Sri Lanka for most of my first five years.
J: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known about writing earlier?
AMB: I wish I’d had a better appreciation for how difficult writing is. Not only is it challenging to write a story others would want to read, but sharing it with others and trying to get it published are also challenging. Had I understood this information sooner, I would have had more reasonable expectations of what I could expect one year after finishing the first draft of my second manuscript.
J: What advice would you give to new writers getting started on their first story?
AMB: Research, research, research! Unless you are building a world entirely from scratch, you should pay attention to the way your plot compares to real life scenarios. Seek out advice from other writers and from practitioners familiar with the types of issues in your story. Non-lawyers interested in legal research may want to check out my post, A Guide for Writers: Researching the Law.
Oooh, Sri Lanka. A place on my travel list for sure. Linguistic powers huh? I’ve never heard of that one before, but it does sound pretty awesome. I’ve got a thing for languages too. I hope some day to be fluent in Japanese, Spanish, and Mandarin. So far, my laziness is getting in the way. And by the way, peeps, Amal’s got super cute kidlets—another reason to visit her blog.
Okay then! Who’s got questions for Amal? Have any of you read Kurt Vonnegut? Like him? Dislike him? Which of his books is your favorite? Would you want linguistic powers? Anything you wanted to know about parenting twins? Ask your Qs below!
And be sure to stop by Amal’s blog.