Warrior,Writer,Historian – Amanda Paige


Today I sit and chat with Warrior of words and keen historian: Amanda Paige. Amanda hails from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA. Amanda is part of the Face Book Warriors that was formed for NaNoWriMo 2010. I have had a fascinating interview with Amanda where we discussed the importance of history, writing, the differences between non-fiction and fiction and compelling stories. As an avid fan of all things historical, I found this interview to be revealing and very interesting. Amanda is a true history buff who believes we can learn so much from history that she translates that into all her writing. She tells me about her new WIP; a compelling biography of a chickasaw woman. The little she tells me about it makes me eager to buy the book when it is published. If you love history and love reading about history, this is one interview you do not want to miss out on. Now without further ado, I will introduce you to the very knowledgeable

Amanda Paige…

girl with a quill: Firstly, Welcome to Warrior Wednesdays.

Amanda: Thank You for inviting me.

girl with a quill: Tell us a little about the woman Amanda Paige and the writer Amanda Paige.

Amanda: Well the woman Amanda Paige is a historian and archivist living in Little Rock, Arkansas. I am currently unemployed but volunteer at the Sequoyah National Research Center so I can stay current in my field. I process archival collections and do research related to Indian Removal (Trail of Tears) in Arkansas for the Center. I am single and a “Mom” to my four-legged children: Merlin (Terrier mix), Momma Cat, Bigguns and Baby Girl, all rescued pets by the way.

As I writer, I am just beginning with my career. So far my published writing has been nonfiction. I began writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for an internship. I edited selected writings of two American Indian women, Susette LaFlesche Tibbles and Carrie LeFlore Perry. Dr. Daniel F. Littlefield, the professor I interned for, asked me to join him on a project documenting Indian Removal through Arkansas. Under that project I contributed to and wrote numerous site reports documenting Indian Removal as well as articles and conference presentations.  Last October my book Chickasaw Removal was published by the Chickasaw Press. Chickasaw Removal came from our North Little Rock site report and we just continued researching the process of removal. For the three of us, we felt Chickasaw Removal was one of if not the most compelling story to tell about removal in Arkansas. I recently contributed articles to the Encyclopedia of American Indian Removal as well. Right now my current work in progress is a biography on Susette LaFlesche Tibbles, based on my internship and what also became my master’s thesis for Public History.

On the fiction side: Last year I made a decision to begin working on my fiction writing. For years I had written down some ideas for stories and I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo using an incident from my childhood as the basis for the story. Right now I am reworking this story and beginning to plot out a series that just sort of came to me one day as I rode the bus home from the SNRC.

girl with a quill: You are a historian and archivist. Do you find that history tends to play a part in your stories?

Amanda: Oh yes. I am reworking my NaNo story to incorporate some historical incidents that will play into the plot. The other series I am working on is very much influenced by the early republic era of American history so yes I can say that history will play a role in my stories. History has been a large part of my life.

girl with a quill: Who is your biggest influence in writing and why?

Amanda: I would have to say Dr. Daniel F. Littlefield. I went back to finish my degree in January 2000 and his course on World Literature was the first course I took to ease myself back into the grind of the university as it had been awhile since I attended. Because of this course and my hard work, he offered me an internship. Any writing I hand him he will be brutally honest with me. I still remember getting back the first draft of my report on Cherokee removal; it was so marked up with red.  I think he left an “and” and a “the” untouched. At the bottom of the paper he had written good job for a first draft. He has really made me a better writer. (Brutal Honesty from someone you respect and trust is invaluable. You are lucky to have him in your corner, egging you on and pushing you to be your best.)

girl with a quill: Did you know what genre you wanted to write in from the beginning of your writing career? Or did you experiment with a few genres?

Amanda: I am wrestling with this right now actually. The two stories I am working on are completely different genres; contemporary romance for the NaNoWriMo and the other is fantasy. I tend to read a lot of Sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, nonfiction, mysteries (especially cozy). I have an idea for a cozy mystery and other ideas (don’t we all!) but I don’t want to overdo it right now and burn out. I have enough on my plate and need to finish the Susette LaFlesche Tibbles biography and then I plan to focus more on the fiction. I won’t completely give up on nonfiction as I have already planned to write a book on Arkansas and Indian Removal which will better explain some arguments my coauthors and I made in our site reports and Chickasaw Removal on the importance of Indian Removal in the early development of Arkansas.

girl with a quill: You are a co-author of the book “Chickasaw Removal”. Can you tell us a little about this book and what led you to co-write it?

Amanda: Well, like I said earlier it grew out of our site report on North Little Rock Arkansas for the National Parks Service to certify North Little Rock’s riverfront as a spot on the national trail. When we three looked at the tribes Cherokee, Chickasaw, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, and Choctaw, we felt the Chickasaw Removal had the most potential for a compelling story of Indian Removal through Arkansas. And I have to say we were right. The book tells the story of the Chickasaw Nation before, during, and right after the removal process especially a lot of the financial fraud that occurred with removal at the expense of the Chickasaw Nation and their resilience as a nation through hardship and adversity.

girl with a quill: After your experience of being a co-author, what tips would you give an author who was thinking of co-authoring?

Amanda: First of all make sure you can get along with the people you are writing with. I had worked with Fuller and Dr. Littlefield closely for a few years and so that helped immensely! Also you will have to decide how you will make the different authors’ voices mesh and flow. You can’t let ego stand in the way and like I said you need to be able to get along with the people you will collaborate with.

girl with a quill: Now I understand that Chickasaw Removal is a non-fiction. Would you say it is more difficult to write a non-fiction or to write a fiction and why?

Amanda: I think they are both equally difficult. In nonfiction you still have to tell a story and it can be just as difficult as fiction. Of course in a few years my opinion might change on that as I write more fiction!!

girl with a quill: Tell us a little about your writing process…How do you start a story?

Amanda: Nonfiction:  first I decide what am I going to write about and then I just do a basic outline. Then I gather as much info on the topic that I can. From there I begin to digest the info I gathered and does it change my basic outline. Then I begin to write.

On my fiction, well that is a work in progress as you can see below!

girl with a quill: Are you a panster or a plotter?

Amanda: Both in a way. More of a plotter in nonfiction and working more on being a plotter for fiction. My NaNoWriMo story I did not have a plan and was definitely a pantsed story. I do try to have a plan when I write but you know as they say “Man plans, God laughs.” (Love that quote…so true..a bit like Murphy’s Law.)

girl with a quill: Are you working on a new writing project?

Can you tell us a bit about it?

Amanda: Well right now I am finishing up a biography of Susette LaFlesche Tibbles, an Omaha Indian woman who lived in the 19th century. She achieved notoriety in the late 1870s and early 1880s speaking out for the American Indian Reform movement. In 1890 she was the only American Indian writing for a newspaper on the events at Wounded Knee. Then in 1893 she served as the Senate correspondent for a populist newspaper. (Susette does indeed sound like a “woman of gumption and guts”…a woman that someone could look up to. This story will be a must-read!)

girl with a quill: Writers can be superstitious people. Are you superstitious when it comes to your writing? Can you give us some examples if you are?

Amanda: No I am not superstitious, sorry!

girl with a quill: Do you belong to any writing groups and do you have a critique partner? Do you think writing groups or critique partners are important for writers? Why?

Amanda:
Yes. Mine are online. Of course I belong to the Warriors and I joined a yahoo group called Roses Colored Glasses that focuses on romance writing but I lurk there. I am more active with the Warriors. I do think writing groups are important for writers. We all need support no matter what we do. The Warriors group has helped me immensely and has been a kick in the pants to get back and write when I get off track. I have met many amazing men and women who I would not have otherwise worldwide because of this group who inspire and help me everyday. It is wonderful to know you are not alone and that others have similar problems and frustrations as yourself. (I so agree…A writing group makes you feel included in a group of people just like you. People with a passion for words and a drive to write them down.)

girl with a quill: What is more important to you? Story or Character? Why?

Amanda:
Character. You need a compelling character I think to drive your story. Of course ask me this again in a few years as I write more fiction! LOL.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character that you have created and why?

Amanda: Well right now I don’t have one since I am just starting out. I could say all of them but…there was one character in my NaNo that I ended up killing off. He was intended as the heroine’s love interest but he did nothing for her or me and well off he went.

girl with a quill: Who is your favourite character in the literary world and why?

Amanda: Gee pick one? Well I do love Scarlett O’Hara. She had the nerve and gumption to let nothing get her down and as the Old South died she was willing to break social norms and do what was needed to survive while the Old Guard sat around whining. She is a flawed character though, as she doesn’t realize til too late she had the perfect man for her.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 famous creative people, who would they be and why?

Amanda: Lets see Bobby Flay could cook dinner, I would love to have Vanessa Mae because she could also play some music after dinner, then I would probably just invite three of my friends because actually the friends I have tend to be very creative in their thinking and things they do! LOL.

girl with a quill: If you could throw a dinner party and invite 5 of your favourite fictional characters, who would they be and why?

Amanda: Right now I can’t think of any because I have been reading a lot of paranormal and if I invited some of them they might eat me. Of course now I am thinking of writing a story where Vlad the Impaler, Dracula, and Edward Cullen meet for dinner. Hmmmm……..(Now that would be one dinner I would be terrified to join but a story that I would be “compelled” to read….Could be your next fiction Amanda?)

girl with a quill: If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?

Amanda: Write every day.  No matter if it is just one word, sentence, paragraph, chapter etc, any writing counts as progress towards your ultimate goal.

girl with a quill: What is the one piece of writing advice you could give your future self, 10 years from now?

Amanda: See above! Lol. No really it is so important to write every day. I find when I let a day go by where I don’t write something I find it hard to get back into my groove. So I would have to say just make sure you sit your backside in that chair and write something no matter the amount because progress is progress even if it is just a sentence. (So true Amanda.Backside in chair and one sentence is still progress.)

girl with a quill: What do you want your lasting legacy, as a writer, to be?

Amanda: Ack! This is almost like what do you want on your tombstone, ha! Lets see I guess I want people to know me as a writer who wrote well researched and compelling stories and that I stayed true to who I was.

girl with a quill: Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?

Amanda: My About.me site has direct links to all my social media sites
including facebook and twitter
http://about.me/amandalpaige

Here are some links:
[Internship projects]
http://anpa.ualr.edu/digital_library/The%20Newspaper%20Writings%20of%20Susette%20La%20Flesche.htm
http://anpa.ualr.edu/digital_library/An%20Oklahoman%20Abroad%20from%20Sturm’s%20Oklahoma%20Magazine.htm
[Page with Site Reports]
http://ualr.edu/sequoyah/index.php/home/research/trail-of-tears-research/places/

girl with a quill: Thank you so much for such an interesting interview and a revealing look into history’s lens. It is so true that we can learn so much about history. I for one cannot wait for your biography to be published. Susette’s story sounds fascinating. Thank you for being part of the Wednesday Warriors series. You are indeed a worthy warrior of words.

– girl with a quill

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5 Comments

  1. Kim and Amanda, this was wonderful… Amanda, i can’t wait to read the biography too… I love books that bring history to life. kids need that these days… the older history seems to be forgotten… it’s books like Amanda’s that keeps it “alive”… and helps kids enjoy reading about it… can’t wait for your books, Amanda!

    Love,
    Denise of ingleside, pei

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