Q&A with Amy
1. What is your area of focus as an artist?
I write narrative nonfiction and the occasional short story.
2. How did you get started in your field? Who or what has helped shape your pursuit of excellence in your art?
At traditional Korean first birthday celebrations, the guest of honor is presented with a group of items: a camera for a career in photography, a bowl of puffed rice for prosperity, a book for a scholar, etc. In the name of good fun, whatever the baby selects first is said to betoken his or her future. I picked the pen.
More accurately, I picked the pen to see if I could scoop up puffed rice with it, later abandoning the scheme and planting my entire face in the bowl, but let us remain undistracted: my writing journey began at that table, and prosperity has flowed from it as easily as a single pen scooping up grains of puffed rice.
Aside from this auspicious beginning, I think reading books must have been my greatest influence; my childhood is dotted with journal entries to “Dear Kitty," short stories, a hand-drawn family newspaper, and poems politely returned by children's magazines.
Since then, I've found excellent teachers in unexpected places. Some of my best training came from an undergraduate history course for which each paper was limited to two pages. I learned a bit about “showing up to the desk" when I wrote a monthly short story for three years for a young adult devotional. And I'm grateful for a friend's long-ago mention of the Anselm Guild; participating in this community continues to make me want to better my writing.
3. What are some themes or motifs that appear in your work?
Most of what I write is driven by a sense of homesickness brought on by what C.S. Lewis called stabs of joy, which I've come to simply refer to as Homeward longing. Beyond this, other recurrent themes -- (funnily enough, it's hard for me to recognize them!) -- seem to be: standing firm amid anxiety, and finding and celebrating beauty where it illumines truth, family life, and wonder.
4. Where do you go for inspiration?
I revisit the works of authors I love, and have found different watering holes for different moods and challenges. C.S. Lewis, L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, J.R.R. Tolkien, Corrie ten Boom, Patricia MacLachlan, Seamus Heaney, O. Henry, and G.M. Hopkins are favorites among my favorites. I follow some contemporary writers as well, to whom I bear such a great debt and affection that I can't bring myself to mention them all in one fell swoop here.
Nature is another deep spring -- trails and mountains and gardens -- as well as music, especially pieces that usher me into “thin places."
5. How has your faith shaped the development of your art?
I saw that my own story was woven into a far greater one of redemption at eleven years old, and I haven't been able to unsee the connections since. Everything I create finds its root in what I know of the Author of my faith, even the foolish misconceptions I no doubt still hold. For this reason, I try (at least behind the scenes) to find sure footing in Scripture for the things I put forward, because the beauty in the words is only so good as the truth that it reflects. Meanwhile, finding Him to be “bigger every year" has begun to lend a greater freedom and joy to what I do.
6. What role do you hope your art will play in the renaissance of the Christian imagination, and in encouraging and serving others?
I hope to invite others, in whatever small ways I can, to anchor their yearning in the One who is making all things new. I'd like to create a space where readers may begin to see His truth, beauty, and goodness in their own lives -- especially those who are locked in a sense of futility or fear.
These are such lofty ambitions, and whether or not my idealist efforts hit home is a thing out of my power. I write and will continue to write simply because I'm pressing on toward my “true country," and fighting to not let my desire for it “get snowed under or turned aside" (C.S.L.), and yet... because I know it matters to Him, I do pray that somewhere along the way I might help someone else to see Him a little better and desire to love Him more fully. I can't think of a greater privilege.
7. Where can we find your work?
Sunsteepeddays.com is my chief outlet.
My writing found me at an early age; childhood journals are strewn with short stories and entries to imaginary friends. Since those sincere endeavors of delighted childhood innocence, I've striven to delve deeper into the great beauty and truth that words can convey to reflect the generous goodness and beauty of our Creator.