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Archived / Author Q & A's > Spoiler Free Q & A with Amy Harmon Author of Where the Lost Wander

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Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
I am very excited to ask Amy Harmon some questions about Where the Lost Wander and see some of her insight into the story. Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon


Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (lindsaylivi) | 78 comments Mod
Very exciting Brenda! I’m a big fan of hers!


message 3: by MarilynW (new)

MarilynW (huecotx) | 20 comments I have a hard time thinking of things to ask but I have a question or two for Amy 😁


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
Hi Amy! Thank you so much for joining us!! I am excited to have the chance to talk to you about Where the Lost Wander!!

You can answer each question by replying to each message


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
Let's get started right away with the idea for the story. You have a personal connection to the story and the characters. Can you tell us about that?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
From the prologue, we know something tragic happens to the family. Why did you decide to start telling the story with that?


message 7: by MarilynW (new)

MarilynW (huecotx) | 20 comments Do you have a vision of how life might proceed for the May and Lowry clan, in the future. The Civil War is coming and there will also be the development of the Buffalo Soldiers, who were used to "control" the Native Americans. You portrayed various groups so well and so fairly in this book, did you look to the future and see how things might go for the Mays/Lowry clan?


Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (lindsaylivi) | 78 comments Mod
Hi Amy! Thanks for being here with us! I adored John and Naomi. Were their characters/personalities inspired by anyone?


Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (lindsaylivi) | 78 comments Mod
I’m curious to know if you plan out your novels ahead of time. Or do you simply let the characters and storyline take you wherever they go?


message 10: by Debra (new)

Debra  | 27 comments Hi Amy! Thank you so much for joining us!!! Are you working on another book currently?

Can you tell us who some of your literary influences are? Who do you enjoying reading? What types/genre of books do you enjoy?

I loved Where the Lost Wander and that it was inspired by your husband's family. Can you tell us what it was like blending fact with fiction?


message 11: by Debra (new)

Debra  | 27 comments Can you tell us more about the research that went into writing this book?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
I read somewhere that authors feel like their characters speak to them and that plays a part in creating their characters. While the characters are talking to them it also helps create the dialogue between the character. You have a few close relationships here between your characters and that are developed so well to provoke emotions from us readers.

How did you go about capturing that with your characters? Do your characters speak to you and each other while you are writing?


message 13: by Leslie (new)

Leslie - MamaNeedsABook (mama-needs-a-book) | 6 comments Hi Amy! Thank you for coming and answering our questions :) I am reading and loving Where the Lost Wander! I have a few questions for you:

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

What authors (or books) would you say have had the greatest influence on your writing?

I'm curious, as others are, what your writing process is? Do you outline a book from beginning to end?

Did you do any traveling to research the places in your novel, Where the Lost Wander?

I love the connection to your personal history in Where the Lost Wander. Since this book is about your husband's family history, have you put any thought into researching your side of the family tree to inspire a new novel?

Thank you again for taking the time to answer our questions!


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
One of the things I love about reading is learning something from the characters and their actions and I did here with yours in the story. There were a couple of passages I highlighted that really stood out for me.

"Hope feels like the best air you've ever breathed after the worst fall you've ever taken. It hurts"

"The hardest thing about life is knowing what matters and what doesn't If nothing matters then there is no point. If everything matters, there's no purpose. The trick is to find firm ground between the two ways of being"

"Life is just a continual parting of the ways, some more painful than other"

My favourite "The moment you share your emotions with someone, those feeling are no longer yours" I learned something about myself with that.

Where do you feel this insight came from? Was it something from your experience or did your characters guide you with this insight?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
What would you like your readers to get from your books? Is there anything you would like to share with us?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
Are you working on anything you can share with us right now?


message 17: by DeAnn (new)

DeAnn | 19 comments I loved "Where the Lost Wander" and I didn't want to say goodbye to the characters at the end. Have you thought about a sequel at all?


message 18: by DeAnn (new)

DeAnn | 19 comments Naomi was my favorite character in the book. What was your inspiration for her?


message 19: by Amy (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "I am very excited to ask Amy Harmon some questions about Where the Lost Wander and see some of her insight into the story. Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon"

Thank you so much for inviting me!


message 20: by Amy (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "Let's get started right away with the idea for the story. You have a personal connection to the story and the characters. Can you tell us about that?"

My husband and I both enjoy genealogy, and the real John Lowry, the main male character in my story, is his ancestor. We didn't know much about him beyond the fact that his mother was Pawnee Indian. There was some question about whether his father was Cheyenne, but we know that it was a white man (a man also named John Lowry) who married his Pawnee mother and raised him in Missouri until the young John Lowry headed out west to make a future for himself. According to family history, he was "pale" enough to pass as a white man and because he'd been raised by one, he was able to live in a white man's world pretty successfully. Little is known beyond bare facts, but it gave me somewhere to start.


message 21: by Amy (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "From the prologue, we know something tragic happens to the family. Why did you decide to start telling the story with that?"

My editor thought maybe I shouldn't start the novel with that because it might scare some readers away. But I felt very strongly about it. I knew the reader would have to be forewarned, otherwise the violence and the shock would be too much when it did come. I also thought it created some tension throughout the story that otherwise would not have been there. Much of the action in this book is simply the slow travel in a wagon train, so starting with that scene infuses the book with danger that it otherwise would not have had.


message 22: by Amy (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments marilyn wrote: "Do you have a vision of how life might proceed for the May and Lowry clan, in the future. The Civil War is coming and there will also be the development of the Buffalo Soldiers, who were used to "c..."

Tragically, it wasn't until after the Civil War that things got truly terrible for many of the western tribes. I actually have another relative who fought with Custer--he was a French immigrant who joined the army as a way to support himself as a young man in a new country. He was sent home right before the Battle of Little Bighorn for "drunkenness" --perhaps the only time alcoholism has saved someone's life. But I wonder about the demons that must have haunted him. It was a terrible time. No two ways about it. The native people wanted to retain their lives and their ways, nomadic and untethered. And it was not to be. I look back on it like so many do and just feel sadness and helplessness. It didn't have to be the way that it was . . . the Native people were treated so unjustly. And yet I can't see how the way of life they'd enjoyed for a thousand years could have continued. It was untenable. And that is the sadness that permeates all of Native American culture and history.


message 23: by Amy (last edited May 12, 2020 11:54AM) (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments marilyn wrote: "Do you have a vision of how life might proceed for the May and Lowry clan, in the future. The Civil War is coming and there will also be the development of the Buffalo Soldiers, who were used to "c..."
As far as the second part of your question, I simply looked at how things continued on for the real John Lowry. He made a life for himself in a small settlement and raised a family, who raised a family, and so on. Chief Washakie also managed to retain the lands of his father, and the Shoshoni lands still belong to the Shoshoni people. But as beautiful as those lands are, and as positive an example Chief Washakie was to all people, it is still sad. There is no happy ending because it WAS an ending, and it felt inevitable. It still feels inevitable. I've visited the Shoshoni lands in Wyoming, and their is a feeling in the air that I can't even begin to put words to.


message 24: by Amy (last edited May 12, 2020 11:47AM) (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments Lindsay - Traveling Sister wrote: "Hi Amy! Thanks for being here with us! I adored John and Naomi. Were their characters/personalities inspired by anyone?"

John Lowry was inspired by my husband's five X's great grandfather, John Lowry. But his personality was formed from my own study, my own imaginings about a young man like John, with all of his challenges, would have formed and grown.

Naomi was tough in the way all the women in my family--particularly my mom--have been. Resourceful. Good. Smart. Determined. My mom's maiden name was May, and it was her ancestors that were my family's first pioneers.


message 25: by Amy (last edited May 12, 2020 11:47AM) (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments Lindsay - Traveling Sister wrote: "I’m curious to know if you plan out your novels ahead of time. Or do you simply let the characters and storyline take you wherever they go?"
I plan them in part--meaning I know the history, I know the characters, I know the main struggle, the overriding difficulty, that will plague them.
I also know what it is each character desperately wants (or needs) so that their desire propels them (and me) forward. I don't outline each chapter or know each twist and turn, but I don't just start writing blindly either. I've usually assembled all my ingredients before I start "cooking."


message 26: by Amy (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "Are you working on anything you can share with us right now?"

I just finished a book called THE SONGBOOK OF BENNY LAMENT which will not be released until next year (2021). It's set in 1960 in NYC in the music scene. I'm excited to reveal more about that one in coming months, but the book is written and currently with my publisher.


message 27: by Amy (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments Debra wrote: "Hi Amy! Thank you so much for joining us!!! Are you working on another book currently?

Can you tell us who some of your literary influences are? Who do you enjoying reading? What types/genre of bo..."


I just finished another historical set in 1960 - music, civil rights, the mob. Oh my! And I am currently plotting and writing a fantasy (medieval, vikings) which is a spin off from The First Girl Child.

As far as what books I like reading -- I like everything. My only criteria is it has to be well crafted (I can usually tell if an author has the chops in the first page) and I really prefer a romance at the heart, even if it's just faint. But there are great books in every genre, and I think the fact that I read everything as a child informs my work now. I like writing everything!

As for the third question - melding fact and fiction--that just requires knowing enough about historical settings and people that you can make a character that could live and blend into the time. I find it fascinating and fun!


message 28: by Amy (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments DeAnn wrote: "Naomi was my favorite character in the book. What was your inspiration for her?"

I think we look back on women in history as being somewhat subservient, and maybe they were in some ways--different ways that we are, for instance--but I also think they were incredibly strong and resourceful. Naomi May was named after my mother's ancestry. My mother's maiden name was May, and her family came across the plains and settled Utah in the late 1840s, early 1850s. Naomi made me think of my mom. Her brilliance, her beauty, her toughness, her commitment to family.


message 29: by Amy (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments DeAnn wrote: "I loved "Where the Lost Wander" and I didn't want to say goodbye to the characters at the end. Have you thought about a sequel at all?"

I don't write thinking about sequels, actually. Sometimes one will come to me, but usually it is a story that branches off with a new character, for instance one of the May boys might get a story of his own at some point. Wyatt, Webb, or Will. Who knows? Or maybe they all will. I wish I had the time and stamina and mental strength to write all the stories that whisper to me.


message 30: by Amy (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "What would you like your readers to get from your books? Is there anything you would like to share with us?"

This time in history is actually looked at with a great amount of derision. We tend to judge people in groups, and depending on who is out of favor in society, their history gets derided or scorned. I think the thing that writing and studying history has revealed to me is that people are just people. Good, bad, selfish, saintly. Painting all history or all people in big strokes of blame or condemnation is unfair and it also robs us of the lessons of history. There is so much to learn and appreciate in historical fiction. It teaches us about ourselves. It helps us ask questions. It helps us forgive and forge ahead on better paths. I would hope that readers will not only be entertained and edified by my stories, but that they will learn about themselves too.


message 31: by Amy (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "One of the things I love about reading is learning something from the characters and their actions and I did here with yours in the story. There were a couple of passages I highlighted that really ..."

One of the best things about writing, for me, is that truths reveal themselves. I discover what I know, what I believe to be true, when I am writing. These things come out, these words, and I find myself shaking my head and saying, "YES!" Yes, this is true. This is what I know to be true. Those are the little nuggets of wisdom that my characters find and that I find as well. My dad calls them "thoughts wrapped in light." I think it's a perfect description.


message 32: by Amy (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments Leslie wrote: "Hi Amy! Thank you for coming and answering our questions :) I am reading and loving Where the Lost Wander! I have a few questions for you:

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

What autho..."


I think I answered this in part in another post, but let me answer some of this. When did I know I wanted to be a writer? I don't know! I think I always just knew I was. I wrote to express my feelings from an early age. It was my medium. It was my art. Poetry, essays, letters, song lyrics . . . and eventually at the age of 35, my first full length novel. I wrote my first novel to see if I could, not to publish it, necessarily. Then life slapped me in the face and I needed to find a way to support my family and took my novel and just went for it, self-publishing the book without knowing anything at all about the publishing world. And here I am sixteen novels later.


message 33: by Amy (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments Debra wrote: "Can you tell us more about the research that went into writing this book?"

I have answered this in part in other comments, but for Where the Lost Wander, I found every pioneer account I could (I actually had some in my own family tree, though not John Lowry's) and read them several times. Then I studied the maps of the time and the landmarks and the terrain. I studied Washakie in depth and went to Wyoming to the Shoshoni lands. I visited parts of the trail and watched documentaries on the Overland trail and many early settlements. And then I started writing, constantly referring back to different records and maps so I could keep it all straight.


message 34: by Amy (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "I read somewhere that authors feel like their characters speak to them and that plays a part in creating their characters. While the characters are talking to them it also helps create the dialogue..."

I don't feel like they speak to me so much as they just burrow inside of me and start becoming part of me. I start feeling a "oneness" with them. I start to understand them, to feel their fears and their desires. I guess I become a conduit. I feel them. That's the best way I can explain it.


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
Hi Amy! Thank you so much for joining us! I enjoyed reading your answers. I love seeing more insight into the characters and stories I love.

I look forward to reading your future work and your other books!

Stay safe and well!!


message 36: by Amy (new)

Amy Harmon (amyharmon) | 17 comments Brenda -Traveling Sister wrote: "Hi Amy! Thank you so much for joining us! I enjoyed reading your answers. I love seeing more insight into the characters and stories I love.

I look forward to reading your future work and your ot..."


Hi Brenda - thank you again for having me. xxxoo


Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (lindsaylivi) | 78 comments Mod
Thanks so much for being with us today Amy! Loved reading your answers. Looking forward to your next book!


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