Author Crush Friday with Amber Smith
Glitter girls, you have pressing questions for your favorite authors and we have their answers. Welcome to our weekly segment, Author Crush Fridays.
We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to Amber Smith, New York Times bestselling author of the new heartfelt and realistic YA, Something Like Gravity (June 18, 2019; Simon and Schuster). Thank you for talking to us today, Amber! We’re honored! If you haven’t picked up Something Like Gravity yet, run, don’t walk, to grab this one.
GLITTER: Tell us five things that people might not know about you.
1) If you follow me on Instagram then you probably know I’m a HUGE dog and cat lover, but you wouldn’t know that as a kid I had a pet toad named Pickles and a turtle named Shelly.
2) I love, love, love spicy food.
3) When I was a teenager, I made it to the U.S. Junior Olympic Nationals in roller skating.
4) Drawing was my first creative love.
5) In spite of all my rainbow emojis and pics of my partner and I everywhere online, I find that a lot of people still don’t seem to know I’m gay, so…for the record: I’m here, I’m queer! 🙂
GLITTER:: How would you describe your writing to a new reader?
AMBER: Realistic. Gritty. Honest. Emotional. Hopeful.
GLITTER: Do all of your ideas turn into books, or do you write a ton down until one resonates with you and then start writing that book?
AMBER: Oh gosh, no! I have a ratio of about a million truly terrible ideas to every one that has even a kernel of something good. I keep a journal with me all the time and just jot down random thoughts and ideas or snippets of conversations I might hear when I’m out and about. The majority of them I won’t ever use, but often it’s when I can’t stop thinking about one idea or plot point or character in particular that I know there’s something there worth exploring.
GLITTER: How do you find the emotional truths in your writing?
AMBER: I always mine my personal experience for books, and while the characters and situations and settings may end up being fictional, the emotional worlds I write are always very real. I often gravitate towards writing about some of the more difficult things I’ve experienced because there are so many layers of healing and understanding that can happen when you write about it.
GLITTER: What one question sparked the whole plot of Something Like Gravity?
AMBER: There were so many questions that sparked Something Like Gravity…questions about grief and trauma and being queer and self-discovery and self-acceptance, but I think the question that really brought Chris and Maia’s story into perspective was: How can love be more a powerful force than pain?
GLITTER: Do you have any particular writing rituals?
AMBER: My writing ritual changes depending on what I’m working on – when I was writing Something Like Gravity, I was on vampire hours – I started writing late at night and didn’t stop until the sun came up. But with my last book, it was the opposite: I started writing really early in the morning. Lately, though, I’ve been doing a lot of writing in coffeeshops in the afternoons. The only consistent thing seems to be the presence of caffeine!
GLITTER: What character do you relate most to?
AMBER: AHHH, this is such a hard question! I relate to all of my characters in different ways…they all come from pieces of me, so I think I’ll say the character I most aspire to be more like is Chris in Something Like Gravity. Don’t get me wrong, Chris definitely has flaws, like sometimes he has unrealistic expectations of people, can be quick to judge, and tends to push himself too hard, but he has also been through some real tough sh*t, and no matter what happens he never loses himself or gives up hope. That is something that I relate to…in that I’m always striving to stay positive even when it’s hard.
GLITTER: Do you have anything that you love to collect?
AMBER: Yes, I collect so many things: artwork, old pictures and old postcards I find at antique stores, pottery, shells and stones…basically anything that I find unique or beautiful or inspiring to have around me, especially while I’m writing.
GLITTER: What book of yours do you hope to see on either TV or as a movie and why?
AMBER: Do I have to pick just one??? Honestly, I would be absolutely floored if any of my books were turned into a movie or TV show. But if I had to pick, I think Something Like Gravity would translate to film really well because while I was writing the book, I could visualize all the characters and the nuances of the settings and environment so vividly, as if they were all already real. Also, the romantic in me would love to see Chris and Maia’s chemistry come alive on the screen. Plus, to potentially have a trans actor play Chris’s character…well, that would pretty much complete my life!
GLITTER: What one piece of advice could you give any teen going through difficult times now?
AMBER: It can be so easy to feel alone when we’re going through something hard or traumatic, but we are never alone – I can’t stress that enough. You are not alone. There are always people who can validate and understand because they have been there too. It can be incredibly hard to reach out and communicate with others about what’s going on, but it is so important. Time and time again, finding that support system has been the one thing that has seen me through to the other side of my most difficult times.
GLITTER: Did any of the authors you read in high school affect how you write now?
AMBER: Yes, definitely! Without those early groundbreaking books like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and Stop Pretending by Sonya Sones (all of which I read and loved when I was in high school), not only do I not know who I would be as a person, I don’t think I would even be a writer today at all. Those books showed me that I was not alone and helped get me through some dark times. They were each so vulnerable and honest and unvarnished in their own ways, and that’s what made me feel so connected to them. Now, those are the same qualities I always try to bring into my own books.
GLITTER: What are you passionate about in life?
AMBER: LGBTQ equality, ending gendered violence, animals (my partner and I have 5 rescued animals – 2 dogs and 3 cats), creativity, art, meditation, and, of course, stories.
GLITTER: What are you working on right now?
AMBER: I have a few different books I’m working on, but I can’t say too much about them yet…other than I’ve been experimenting with some different formats and even genres.
Photo credit: Deborah Triplett
Amber Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of the young adult novels The Way I Used to Be, The Last to Let Go, and Something Like Gravity. She’s also an advocate for increased awareness of gendered violence and LGBTQ equality.