Reading Group Choices Q&A with Amy Stewart

Amy Stewart

Amy Stewart continues to delight with the newest installment in her Kopp Sisters Series

Amy Stewart recently visited Wisconsin to read and discuss her work with an audience. Amy also kindly took the time to answer our Q&A after she shared part of her book.

702WI: What book changed your life?
Amy Stewart: Amy’s Long Night, a Little Golden Book that I memorized long before I could read. I read it aloud to anyone who would listen, turning the pages as I went although I had no idea which words went on which pages. It was about a little girl named Amy who wanted to stay up all night, something I have never, in my own life, wanted to do.

What book(s) are coming out this year that you’re looking forward to reading?
Because I’m writing books set in the 1910s, I’m mostly reading books set in the 1910s. I honestly don’t know what’s coming out this year! Usually after a book is out, I’ll pick it up if I hear people raving about it, but I don’t pay much attention to what’s coming up.

What books are currently stacked next to your bed/on your desk/in your pile-to-read?
A stack of women’s World War I diaries and letter collections, all as research for my next novel.

What book did you most recently recommend to someone else?
This weekend I recommended Andrew Sean Greer’s Less to a friend who wanted something lighthearted but rewarding.

What was your favorite book when you were a child?
Apart from Amy’s Long Night, I loved all the books that girls growing up in the seventies loved: A Wrinkle in Time, the Narnia Chronicles, all the Judy Bloom books, Nancy Drew, Little Women

Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit

Who are your favorite writers?
Weirdly, I don’t think I have favorite writers anymore. The whole notion of having favorites is just something I’ve lost touch with. I can’t explain exactly why. After I wrote The Drunken Botanist, people always asked me what my favorite drink was, and I would think, “Favorite? Why would I have a favorite?”

Do you commonly use a word or phrase that is specific to a place you lived/from childhood/from family that you don’t hear often in day-to-day conversation?
Well, I am a native Texan who lives in the Pacific Northwest, so I say ‘y’all’ and people immediately peg me for a southerner. Dadgumit is a kind of old Texas word that nobody uses in Portland. A phrase like “God willing and the creek don’t rise” doesn’t come up much on the West Coast.

What book/s could you never part with? Think “stranded-on-a-desert-island” books.
So here’s a funny thing about being attached to books: When my husband and I bought our bookstore (Eureka Books, in Eureka, CA), I walked into that store as soon as the paperwork was finalized and looked around and thought, “I own 50,000 books.” From that moment on, it became much less important to me to actually own books. There’s an endless stream of used and rare books available for our store to buy (as well as all the new books coming out, of course), and because of that, I don’t feel as attached to any one book anymore. They’re all out there, available, at any time. I recently moved and downsized to a much smaller space, which meant getting rid of thousands of books. It didn’t bother me at all: there’s a library down the street, and I can get any book back anytime I want to read it again. That’s not a very helpful answer, I know! On an actual desert island, I’d want a book about how to get off a desert island.

Were you ever embarrassed about a book you loved?
No.

Do you have a favorite musician or genre of music?
My dad is my favorite musician.

What do you wish you knew more about?
Languages. I’d like to perfect my Spanish, and pick up some French and Italian.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Constance Kopp, the woman I’m writing these novels about. I have so many questions for her!

Vinyl, cassette, CD or digital? Typewriter, notebook, tablet or computer?
Digital. I finally got a paid Spotify account and Sonos, and it’s changed my life.  I mostly write on a computer but I do seem to fill up notebooks, too.

What is your most meaningful place?
My office, which is on the third floor of our townhouse.

What’s your favorite bookstore?
The one I own! Eureka Books, in Eureka, CA

What do you enjoy most about doing a reading or talking about your book?
Making people laugh.

What is something you know about or have heard about Madison or Wisconsin?
The artist who created the copperplate etching illustrations for Wicked Plants and Wicked Bugs went to UW Madison’s printmaking program. She was able to view actual bugs from the university’s entomology collection to do the Wicked Bugs illustrations.