Posted in Meet the authors

Amy Cesari

– hi Bridget! I’m Amy, I might be a little different from some of the other authors that you interview because I’m an “indie author,” or independently published. I’m also a “kid at heart” and enjoy books and other entertainment on the younger side, (Disney films, Harry Potter and Lemony Snicket books, and playing “cute” Nintendo games like Mario and Animal Crossing!).
But that doesn’t mean I’m not serious about my job as an author. I also have my master’s degree in business! I’m a bit nerdy, and a bit cartoony and a lot of goofy all at the same time.
1. Did you read a lot when you were 9? When I was 9, I loved to read books by Joan Aiken. Especially the “Wolves Chronicles,” a middle-grade series written in the 1960’s. They were the perfect amount of spooky, spirited, adventurous—but still had a lot of heart and great characters. I recently asked my mom if I can have all of them back—they are in her basement and I want to re-read them (and thanks for keeping all of my books, mom!)
2. What was your favorite story? My favorite story ever of all time would have to be “Harry Potter.” It just makes me feel like life can be magical, and I can do anything.
3. How do you get story ideas? I decide that I want to tell a story, and then I look and listen for ideas coming from everywhere. Once I start to get ideas, I follow the ones that excite me and make me feel curious. I also like to “flip” ideas and things around to see if that gives me a new perspective.
For example, I got the idea for Lilac Skully at Disneyland because it’s one of my favorite places that makes me feel super inspired. I was waiting excitedly in line to get IN to the Haunted Mansion… and I flipped that around and thought, “I’m excited to go IN, but what if you already lived there, and you weren’t very happy about it at all? Who would that be? What would that be like?”
4. What author do you like right now? My favorite recent books are the first two in the “Apprentice Witch” middle grade series by James Nicol. I love that the protagonist is shy and not confident to start out—in fact, she feels like a failure and like she’s barely making a passing grade.
5. Do you have any new or lesser known authors to suggest? Lesser-known authors, I’m going to go again with Joan Aiken and another “vintage” author that I loved as a child, Zilpha Keatly Snyder (author of the Egypt Games) because I think it’s great to keep the old books alive as well as bringing new ones to life.
6. What advice do you have for kids who want to be a writer? My advice to kids who want to be authors—don’t give up! I gave up way too early, I didn’t believe in myself and thought I’d never make it as an author so I didn’t try. Long story short—I ended up working in a corporate sales and marketing career for 13 (mostly miserable) years before finding my own confidence and path to becoming an author.
The good thing about this was that I learned a lot of super-useful skills about marketing and business that have helped me immensely in being an author. The bad thing was I wasn’t happy because I had given up on my dreams and wasn’t listening to my heart.
My second piece of advice is… learn a little about marketing and business! Even if you’re a writer and creative first, you don’t want to be lost or left behind in business and marketing. Whether you are “indie” like me or “published” with a publisher, you have to do a lot of the promotion and marketing around your books yourself. And you’ll want to know a bit about business so you know what you’re getting into if you sign a publishing contract.
And—math. I struggled terribly with math for my entire childhood. It wasn’t until college that I kept trying and started to really understand the important stuff. You don’t need to know advanced math to be an author—but you should know the basic math of percentages, finance and money, and how to use a spreadsheet to analyze basic data and do calculations. This stuff won’t help you be an author—it’ll help you be a successful author with a sustainable career.
7. Do you hear from readers? Yes, I do hear from my readers, mostly on Instagram! I love it, and I think it’s really awesome to hear that someone enjoyed what I wrote, and that they took the time to read it. It doesn’t feel as great when someone doesn’t like your book—but that is the reality of being an author so it’s something that you’ve also got to accept and be ok with! You have to be proud of your books first and foremost.
However, most of the feedback I receive is positive 🙂 It’s also a lot of fun to see common interests and get new book recommendations from people who’ve read my books. They usually like a lot of other cool books that I might like, too!
8. If you could portal into any book, which would you? I’d definitely go to Hogwarts! I love Hermione and I’d go to the library straight away!