Ellen Jensen Abbott interviews Amy K. Nichols
This month I had the pleasure of talking to Amy K. Nichols, author of Now That You’re Here, available on December 9 from Knopf Books for Young Readers—just 9 days away! Whoot! Whoot!
Now That You’re Here is science fiction and will be followed by Amy’s next book, While You Were Gone (Knopf, 2015), which follows the same characters as Now That You’re Here, but in a parallel universe! So cool!
Here’s our conversation:
EJA: What draws you into science fiction? Why science fiction?
AKN: I didn’t actually set out to write science fiction, or ever imagine myself becoming a science fiction author. It kind of makes sense, though, as I’ve loved time travel and parallel universe stories since I was a kid. I like the possibilities science fiction presents. There’s a lot of room for imagination in science fiction. Science fiction stories also lend themselves easily to being held up as mirrors of our world. You can comment on our society by writing about other societies, (hopefully) without being preachy or too obvious. As far as genre goes, there’s a lot of freedom and flexibility in science fiction. Not to mention the nerd-out factor!
EJA: Which sci fi authors do you read? Which have had the most influence on you?
AKN: There’s such a huge world of sci fi out there, and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface in my reading. I tend to like the classics. Sturgeon. Bradbury. Bradbury had a big impact on me when I was growing up. As far as more recent authors go, MT Anderson’s Feed stands out, as does The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.
EJA: What are you most looking forward to about having your first book out? How are you going to celebrate your book’s birthday?
AKN: Yesterday I received an email from a teenager saying she said she loved it and can’t wait to read the second book. Reading that email was unreal. I can’t even put it into words. I’m looking forward to more of that. (Fingers crossed there’s more to come!) I’ll be celebrating my book’s birthday with a launch party at Changing Hands Phoenix, a very cool indie bookstore in downtown Phoenix that has a bar in the middle of the store. It’s such a neat place. I’m really looking forward to celebrating the book launch there.
EJA: Were you a science geek in high school? How did you know?
AKN: I was so not a science geek in high school. In fact, I’d lost interest in science after junior high. I don’t know if it’s that my teachers in high school weren’t very inspiring, or if I’d somehow decided science wasn’t cool or maybe even that it wasn’t for girls, but I really lost interest. I was much more into books and music. Later in life, I became interested in science again. After two semesters of anatomy and physiology in college, complete with cadavers, I considered going into medicine, but really it wasn’t until around 2007, when there was a lot of talk about the Large Hadron Collider creating a black hole that would swallow the earth, that I started reading and investigating science again. Despite not being a science geek in high school, I remained a science fiction enthusiast. I was really into Star Trek Next Generation during those years.
EJA: What are you working on now?
AKN: I recently finished While You Were Gone, the second book in the Duplexity series. Now I’m jumping into revising one manuscript, and writing a couple more ideas, trying to get them ready to show my agent and pitch to my editor. Most of the ideas are science fiction, but there are some surprises in there, too. Stay tuned.
EJA: I noticed a picture from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on your Facebook page. What’s Narnia’s role in your writing?
AKN: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was one of the earliest portal-to-another-world stories I ever read. It had a huge impact on me as a kid. I loved the idea of opening a door and stepping into another world. I loved the characters, especially Lucy, with her sense of adventure and her sense of justice. I loved Aslan, of course, and was fascinated by the witch. I wanted to try Turkish Delight. Here’s a funny story. On our first trip to London, my husband and I noticed Turkish Delight was sold in the candy vending machines in the Tube stations. Whenever we tried to buy some, though, it was out. Knowing what we knew about Edmund and Turkish Delight in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, we figured it must be super popular and difficult to find. Finally we popped into a Tesco and bought some. We unwrapped it, excited to finally taste this amazing candy that would tempt Edmund to sell his soul… It was… weird. Kind of gooey. Chocolate-covered jelly? We were so confused. So disillusioned.
EJA: Any thoughts on Benedict Cumberbatch? Is there are part for Benedict Cumberbatch in Now That You’re Here, the movie?
I have so many thoughts on Benedict Cumberbatch. Unfortunately I don’t really see a role for him in Now That You’re Here, but there’s a character in another manuscript I’m working on that’s written with him in mind. Having a book turned into a movie with him playing a lead role would be a dream come true.
I met him, by the way, in Los Angeles over the 2012 Emmys weekend. My friends and I met him and Martin as they left a party at a hotel. They both were so polite and gracious. Benedict said he liked my handbag (which has a huge Union Jack on it). Here’s a photo. I’m to Martin’s left. They’re both so popular now, I doubt this experience would happen again, but you never know. Maybe if I get that book made into a movie…
Well, Happy Book Birthday, Amy! It's been great chatting. Can't wait to get my hands on Now That You're Here!