Feb 5th, 2021
An interview with Amanda West Lewis, author of three novels and four non-fiction books for young people, andexecutive director of a theatre school. A 20-minute continuous segment not yet heard on Cabin Tales in which Amanda shares her preference for third-person point of view, her phobia of scary stories, and her love of Alice in Wonderland. All ages.
A full transcript of this episode is available at CabinTales.ca.
[1:20] Interview with Amanda West Lewis
CA: Do you read your work out loud when you're writing?
AWL: … All the time. … scene by scene, chapter by chapter. …
[1:40] CA: While you're writing, do you choose words consciously to suit your genre or the impact you want on your reader? …How much do you think about the actual words as opposed to the story?
AWL: Words are enormously important to me…. I am conscious of the different colour of each book and what kind of language I will use for a particular genre. In the first, second, third, and fourth draft, I tend to be too conscious of the words. …
[3:00] CA: Do you have any favorite words?
AWL: Langourous is a gorgeous word….
[3:45] CA: How much time do you spend revising compared to drafting or planning? …
AWL: … 90%....
[4:15] CA: How do you feel about comeuppance tales or just desserts?
AWL: One feels enormously satisfied when a villain gets their comeuppance. … the real story for me is always the protagonist that you have empathy for, who is on the wrong path… and they become redeemed. … Comeuppance is… straight out villain gets melted. … That's enormously satisfying. But it's kind of a cheap thrill.
[5:35] CA: Do you have any feelings about sad endings?
AWL: Life is filled with sadness. … I think a sad story is necessary …We're all going to be dead. And the more we can bring that into the conversation, the better. …
[7:45] CA: Do you have a favorite point of view to write from?
AWL: I gravitate toward third person because I really do enjoy what you can say on the outside of that. … I love that the reader can learn more about the protagonist than the protagonist knows about themselves. … That said, I just finished a book… in first person. … I had to be there and see it rather than show it. …
[10:00] CA: Have you ever written a monster story?
AWL: No … Other than writing a story that’s set in Hitler's Germany. …
CA: Have you ever written a story about a curse?
AWL: … No, … people trying to invoke curses now and then…
CA: Have you ever written an outhouse scene?
AWL: My new book has an outhouse scene in it that I'm quite proud of … And I thought it was so wonderfully random that you would ask that question…
[11:25] CA: Did you tell stories around the campfire as a kid?
AWL: Yes … very important. Especially as night comes on and … the world outside you disappears and the light only lights what's important….
[12:10] CA: Do you have a favorite scary story?
AWL: ... Dracula scared the crap out of me. … But there's a lot of contemporary scary stories I can't read. … At some point as a child I got too scared, and so I don't want to go there. So Dracula is about as far as I can go. …
[13:00] CA: And do you have any phobias?
AWL: Scary stories. … that's my phobia, even more than the elevators.
[14:00] CA: … Do you collect anything?
AWL: I have an Alice collection. … different editions. …and some Alice pieces as well… I don't collect anything else other than books …and fountain pens….
[15:00] CA: Have you ever done any theatre around Alice?
AWL: Yes. … one of my favourites. … I've also done a production of Wind in the Willows and Great Expectations, which I adored doing with kids because these are good stories. …
[17:00] CA: And that you don't happen to be the 7th daughter of a 7th daughter?
AWL: … I'm an only child…. It's a different kind of power.
[17:50] CA: So how are you faring during COVID?
AWL: It’s been incredibly busy and actually incredibly creatively exciting, because I converted my business – which is a children’s theatre school – to online. …As artists, that's the main gift we have to give the rest of the society, is our flexibility, our adaptability, and showing people that that's what they need to be able to cultivate at a time like this….
[19:15] Amanda West Lewis introduces herself
AWL: Hi. I'm Amanda West Lewis. I write fiction and nonfiction novels and picture books for children and young adults. I'm also a professional calligrapher and a theatre artist and I run a children's theatre school in Ottawa. Right now, in the midst of converting my theatre school to online programming, I'm finishing up a YA novel set in 1968 and a picture book collection of poems about the planets.
[20:00] Find out more about Amanda West Lewis
You can hear more creative writing advice from Amanda West Lewis on Cabin Tales Episode 1.5, “Author Interviews about Setting,” Episode 2.5, “Author Interviews about Character,” and Episode 8, “The Never-ending Story,” about revision. Find out more about Amanda West Lewis and her books and other arts from her website at AmandaWestLewis.com. Use the email link on her website to invite her into your school.
[21:15] Thanks and coming up on the podcast
I’ll be back next week with leftovers from my interview with Karen Krossing, novelist and picture book author from Toronto, Ontario.
Thanks for listening.
Host: Catherine Austen writes books for children, short stories for adults, and reports for corporate clients. Visit her at www.catherineausten.com.
Amanda West Lewis is a writer, theatre director and calligrapher. Her writing for children and youth ranges from historical YA fiction to craft books on the art of writing. She is the Artistic Director and Founder of The Ottawa Children’s Theatre. Find her online at www.amandawestlewis.com.