Amy Wallace is the author of Ransomed Dreams, a homeschool mom, and a self-confessed chocoholic. She is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and a contributing author of several books, including God Answers Moms’ Prayers and Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.
Beth: Tell us about your writing journey.
Amy: It all started in 2001 when my hubby and God sort of teamed up and shoved me in the direction of publication. I’d found a series of novels at the library when choosing some fun homeschool reading for Christmas break. I devoured the grown-up stories, gave them to my husband and then, as soon as he’d read them, I told him everything I’d change.
After the seventh book he told me to write my own. 😉 I said no way. Until I had a dream that wouldn’t leave me alone. It was a dream about an FBI agent with a wounded heart and a mom on a dangerous quest for answers. Not too long after I told my husband about the dream, he scheduled a meeting for me with a Secret Service agent he knew. After the research, interview and plotting my first story, I was in it for the long haul because I’d found something I could put my whole heart into, something I’d been created to do.
So I transferred the story from my brain to the computer and got involved in an awesome writer’s group called ACFW. I spent a little over three years learning the heart and craft of writing as I worked on a number of novels, short stories and proposals. During that time, I received a recommendation for an agent who loved my first book, and we signed a contract. I also submitted a number of short creative fiction stories and saw four of those published in 2004 and 2005. Then, eighteen months after I’d submitted a proposal to my dream publisher, they offered me a three-book contract in December 2005.
Now all that sounds sort of nice and easy. But this journey has been anything but. It’s more closely resembled a difficult pregnancy than a walk in the park, with plenty of sleepless nights and fears about how everything would turn out. But God returns me to a few basic things: He called me. He promised to equip me. And I rise and fall to Him alone.
Beth: When do you feel like it all began to come together for you as a writer—was there a particular moment?
Amy: There were a few things that converged to create that WOW moment. One of those things was hearing my children and husband tell strangers about me being an author. Another was holding Ransomed Dreams in my hand the day my author copies arrived. I squealed, cried and thanked the Lord for my husband’s prodding. The final circumstance that made it real for me was receiving a letter from a reader who shared how God had used Ransomed Dreams during a dark time in her life to remind her of His presence and the power of forgiveness. All those things together brought tears to my eyes and a fullness in my heart that confirmed I was walking the path created for me by my awesome heavenly Daddy. He truly does abundantly above all we can ask or imagine.
Beth: Who has influenced you most as a writer and why?
Amy: I’m sure this sounds sentimental, but my children are my greatest influence. They play hard, love fully and forgive easily. I want to be more like them when I grow up. 😉 Even more than that, I realize I have three pairs of eyes watching everything I do. So I want to give my best to what God has called me to. I want my children to grow up seeing that God is a God of big dreams, and that He will accomplish in and through us all the amazing good He has planned.
Beth: Tell us about the writing process for you. Does it begin with a character, setting, or plot?
Amy: My writing process has evolved from just sitting down to type in that blissful state of ignorance and excitement to doing fairly detailed chapter-by-chapter outlines and character sketches before I begin to write. Because the Defenders of Hope series is about Crimes Against Children FBI agents, I have tons of research to do before I begin crafting the stories. Once my research helps me define the timeline, I set to work on the chapter-by-chapter and character details.
The first Defenders of Hope novel began with two distinct characters and fuzzy sense of plot that became well defined through research. The other two books in the series started with a question, “What would happen if…” as well as knowing which character would take center stage in each story. So character and plot tend to come to me at the same time. Working on both as I research makes the story come alive in my heart and enables me to transfer that onto the page.
Beth: Tell us about your latest book.
Amy: Healing Promises is a high-voltage suspense novel which explores how cancer and the search for an elusive serial kidnapper affects even the most solid, loving Christian marriage and poses a key life question: Can God be trusted?
Beth: What inspired you to write this particular story?
Amy: One of the major storylines for Healing Promises came from a question I posed to the amazing Secret Service agent I interviewed before I wrote Ransomed Dreams. I had the seed of an idea about a character’s journey, so I asked, “What would a federal agent do if he was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness?” My expert advisor said that many agents would end the battle fast. I knew then I wanted to explore how a Christian federal agent would handle a life-altering medical diagnosis. The decision for that diagnosis to be cancer came through a series of prayer requests at church and two dear friends facing the beast of cancer and hanging onto Jesus.
Beth: What is the message you hope to get across in this story?
Amy: My prayer is that readers will experience a deeper sense of the goodness and trustworthiness of God, even when life doesn’t go according to plan. I also hope readers will see that at the end of ourselves only one truth remains—God is good. What we do with that fact changes everything.
Beth: What do you think is the hardest part of writing a mystery?
Amy: For me the most difficult part was repeatedly going over the series of clues and making sure I didn’t tell too much too soon but laid the groundwork for readers to be satisfied with the ending. That’s not my favorite part of writing. I much prefer delving into the characters and digging into the law enforcement investigations.
Beth: Tell us about your experience at the Citizen’s Police Academy and as a volunteer for your local police force.
Amy: What began as time-consuming research (two nights a week classes for ten weeks) ended up being an incredible learning experience, a place where friendship grew and fodder for all sorts of stories. One of which was getting thrown in jail. Not arrested, though! 😉 Our class toured the county jail, and our instructor thought it would be good for us to have a taste of what it’s like when those metal bars clanged shut. Let me just say the experience was far less than pleasant. But it found its way into Ransomed Dreams through a character who ended up in that very jail, and I was able to write the intense feelings with depth because I’d walked through it.
My family and I enjoyed the time we spent serving as volunteers for our police department. We made birthdays special, did holiday dinners and would stop by just to drop off some candy and remind these amazing folks that the people they served cared and appreciated their hard work. Not glamorous, but it reminded us how important it is to pray for our law enforcement officers.
Beth: What are your future writing plans?
Amy: Very soon I’ll be editing the third Defenders of Hope book, Enduring Justice. This is Michael and Hanna’s story and focuses on a painful secret and a racially motivated killer. When circumstances simplify the options to fight or fear, Michael and Hanna learn that the difference between executing vengeance and pursuing justice is their choice to heal.
After that, I’m excited about working on a new suspense series that includes stories which have been brewing in my heart a long time. As to what they’re about…let’s just say they include law enforcement, families with children, and intense storylines.
Beth: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Amy: Keep your focus on Christ and your behind in the chair. 😉
Another valuable piece of advice came from my amazing writing mentor, Mary Griffith. She taught me to bleed into my work and bring the story alive by pouring out to the Lord and into the pages everything I am. In the end, our stories are an offering to God, and as such they require us to pour out all we are, knowing that our heavenly Daddy receives our offering with outstretched arms and a loving smile.
ABOUT THE BOOK
When FBI Agent Clint Rollins takes a bullet during a standoff, it might just save his life. But not even the ugly things he’s seen during his years working in the Crimes Against Children Unit could prepare him for the overwhelming powerlessness of hospital tests revealing an unexpected diagnosis. If only Sara weren’t retreating into doctor mode…he needs his wife now more than ever.
Frozen in fear.
Sara Rollins is an oncologist with a mission–beating cancer when she can, easing her patients’ suffering at the very least. Now the life of her tall Texan husband is at stake. She never let the odds steal her hope before, but in this case, the question of God’s healing promises is personal. Can she hold on to the truth she claimed to believe?
Faith under fire.
As Clint continues to track down a serial kidnapper despite his illness, former investigations haunt his nightmares, pushing him beyond solving the case into risking his life and career. Clint struggles to believe God is still the God of miracles. Especially when he needs not one, but two. Everything in his life is reduced to one all-important question: Can God be trusted?
If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE.