Writers on Writing: Aimee Gilchrist

AG Writing space 2Aimee Gilchrist lives in New Mexico with her husband and six children. She writes mysteries for both teens and adults. She calls her lifetime of jumping from one job to another ‘experience’ for her books and not an inability to settle down. Aimee loves mysteries and a good, happy romance. She also loves to laugh. Sometimes she likes all of them together.

A fan of quirky movies and indie books, Aimee likes to be with her family, is socially inept, and fears strangers and small yippy dogs. She alternates between writing and being a mom and wife. She tries to do both at the same time but her kids don’t appreciate being served lunch and told, “This is the hot dog of your discontent.” So mostly she writes when everyone else is in bed.

Aimee also writes YA and Inspirational Romantic Comedies under the name Amber Gilchrist.


What is the most important thing you’ve learned about writing?

Personally, I don’t really think classes and books on craft are helpful.  I know some people swear by them, but I think the only way to learn to be a good writer is to write, write, and write.  And when you’re not writing, be reading.  Those are the best teachers.


How has this helped you as a writer?

The twenty years I spent writing before I started writing for publication were something I did because I enjoyed it.  I didn’t ever consider publishing because the business side of writing wasn’t something I wanted to deal with.  I have half a dozen children, literally, and my time is limited.  I wanted to spend the time I had writing and I wanted to just enjoy it for what it was.  There came a point where I decided I had to take it more seriously if I was going to waste my time doing it.  So as soon as I started trying to get published I was successful very quickly, as I’d done my time for years before I got to the point I wanted to bother with the ‘hard part’ of query letters, synops, and social media chatting with readers.  New writers sometimes want to jump right in before they are ready.  Years of writing for the sake of writing was very helpful to me.


Mac or PC?

Definitely PC.  I’m very low tech haha.  The more confusing something is the more likely I am to avoid it.  PCs have remained fairly static over the years, so those are my best friend.  I always write on a desktop.  I hate laptops with a passion.  When we’re on a trip or something and I’m forced to use my husband’s laptop, there always comes a point where I will inevitably yell, “I hate laptops!”  I know they are becoming obsolete, but I don’t care.  The high tech masses can have my desktop when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

 AG Writing space 1

Do you use Word or Scrivener?

For reference, see above 😉  I’ve tried using Scrivener before, but I was stymied by my complete inability to use technology.  I should mention here that I’m not as old as I make myself sound.  I’m a Gen Xer, and technically technology should be in my blood, but it’s just not.  I hear there are amazing benefits to Scrivener, but the only part I could ever figure out was the cork board/note card features. Then I just decided to just put three cork boards on my wall and put note cards on them.  Problem solved.


Do you write or take notes with an iPad or tablet?

I feel like I’m going to come across as primeval here, but again, I don’t do technology much.  I do take notes and plenty of them, but I do them in notebooks.  I have a wicker basket of notebooks on my desk. I take notes in them.  Then I invariably leave them somewhere I can’t remember and have to make the whole thing up again, but hey, there’s value in just taking notes, right?


Do you have any writing rituals?

Not a one.  As mentioned above, I REALLY have a lot of kids.  My bio says I only have three, but that was written many moons, and kids, ago.  If I had rituals I needed to follow to get work done, I swear I’d never get anything done.  My process is to sit down and write when I have a chance.  Loud, chaotic, crazy, I have to ignore all of it if I want to write.

 AG Writing space 3

Do you start by writing or researching first?

Actually, neither.  I start by spending serious time, sometimes weeks, thinking about the characters.  I’m really an intensely character driven writer, and to me there’s no sense in writing if I don’t know the characters very, very well.  So I spend a long time letting the characters talk to me before I even start writing.  Some are chattier than others, so this process is variable.  I don’t plot.  I just write.  But the reason I can do that is because the characters tell me their story.  I just write what they say as I go along.  Which can sometimes lead to me not knowing what will happen next, but it works for me.

I was writing a romantic suspense once, and the character was kicking in a door in an old theater.  He didn’t know what was behind the door, but, hey, neither did I.  That’s how much of a pantser I am.  Once the door was open, he and I got to figure it out at the same time 😉  If I do need to research, I stop what I’m doing in the middle of writing and research whatever that specific topic is.  Sometimes it can be annoying, but I rarely know what the topics will be beforehand.  Which is probably why it’s best that I don’t write historicals…


Favorite spot to write in the winter?

I always write at my desk, so the season doesn’t matter.  I am very attached, as mentioned above, to my desktop, and I do have a designated office space where I work every day.  It does have a window, but I’m a terrible hermity sort of person when I’m writing, so I never open it.  I don’t know if it’s winter or summer from where I’m sitting.
Interview first appeared in Long Island Book Reviews Examiner.
Copyright © 2016 by Diane Morasco


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