When looking back on my youth, the ability to form intelligible words was always a formality. Discovering that I was a natural storyteller, I held great passion for a well told story and my creative expression began as playpen babbles. Now holding degrees in Creative Writing and Humanities, I have compiled my early writings into the volume you now hold in your hands. I live surrounded by my loving and ever supportive family in Tucson, Az.
How long did it take you to write this book?
The first poem in the collection was written in 2001 however I started compiling works for this book earlier this year and the editing process took about six months to complete. Sixteen years is a long time to be writing a book and I confess I was not actively writing for this collection all of that time. A better example can be found in my first novel. It took about a year to write and another year to edit. Hopefully with time I can streamline and shorten the process!
How did you know this collection was complete and ready for publication?
I am a chronic editor! For me perfection is something unattainable, only to be glimpsed behind keyholes. But this year, the year of my thirtieth birthday, I realized that I wasn’t drawing any closer to living my dream of being an author by sitting on nearly-complete manuscripts and the reality that I wasn’t getting younger, only older, was a bitter pill. That drive to achieve my goals and the process of divesting myself, to the best of my ability, of perfection is how this collection found its way into your hands.
Why did you publish this collection under the name “Amanda Ashley Herman” when everywhere else you go by “Amanda Baus?”
In Before 22, I talk about the multifaceted transformation that was set in motion the year I was married and began to wear the name “Amanda Baus.” However the content of this book in large part came into being when I was still “Amanda Ashely Herman” and it would feel in many ways like plagiarism for “Amanda Baus” to claim credit for her hours of inspiration and toil.
What inspired you to begin writing?
My mom tells me that I was a storyteller from birth. She says that I would babble on using indistinguishable words to weave intricate stories about which I seemed highly captivated and passionate! I loved words and I used to acquire new ones from observed conversations between grown-ups, trying them out with moderate success (we have the home videos to prove it). When I got older, I found it difficult to find the sorts of books that I wanted to read written with the same passion for language and storytelling that I possessed. I knew that I wasn’t alone, that there must be others like me who wanted to get lost in the same sorts of stories I did so I set about to pacify us both. Thus began my journey as a writer.
What authors inspire you?
I was initially inspired by the classic writers like Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, and the Bronte sisters. Like many people, as a child I was an advanced reader, devouring books faster than it seemed authors could conjure them. Another challenge was finding material that was challenging but still appropriate for a child. The answer: the classics. They also both satisfied and stimulated my lust for dense vocabulary. Today I love reading books by Kate Morton (or rereading them while I wait for the latest).