1. Tell us about your most recent project (written or published). What inspired it?
I have a novel, Mist, forthcoming from Thurston Howl Publications. It’s not recently written, as I first wrote it a few years ago – back when I was in high school! But it’s a “recent” or more accurately a current project because I’m going to be working on it over the coming year as we prepare it for publication.
I never really knew what inspired Mist until I dug through an old journal and realized that before I started writing or even outlining the book I had a dream about five animals made of mist in this gray, veiled, mysterious place: a wolf, a stag, a hare, a lynx, and a snake. Those animals ended up representing the five main characters of Mist, though the hare later morphed into a mongoose. The wonders of the subconscious mind!
2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?
It really depends on the project. With short stories, I tend to get an idea and then just run with it and see what happens. Sometimes I know exactly where I’m going and sometimes I don’t, and sometimes I think I do and then the story has its own plan. With novels, I like to have more of an outline and a sense of the overarching structure before I begin. But it’s still somewhat fluid, and I am often surprised.
Poems usually come in sporadic bursts, like desert monsoons, and get refined later.
3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?
I like to write speculative fiction – stories that ask questions, pose “What if?” scenarios, take the reader on a journey to a place where strange and wondrous things can happen.
4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?
Hmm. This is a hard one. They are all their own people/creatures, but they all have little pieces of me inside them I suppose.
I can relate to the dragon narrator of “The Monster’s Story”, published in A Menagerie of Heroes (the RainFurrest 2015 Charity Anthology). He has such a wealth of love in his heart and just wants to be generous and kind. In the end the world uses that against him, though, in a sense, his love helps him to transcend it.
5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?
Growing up, I loved the Harry Potter series, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the Animorphs series, and The Last Unicorn. I also loved fiction and nonfiction about animals, including works by Jean Craighead George, Gary Paulsen, and Jack London. I think this amalgamation caused me to want to write stories involving magic and animals. A lot of my writing thus far has involved those two elements.
The Last Unicorn, The Lord of the Rings, and Animorphs also gave me an interest in stories with bittersweet, ambiguous endings. I don’t usually favor neatly tied-up happy endings. Such stories don’t haunt me. They don’t continue to live and breathe in my brain. And they aren’t consistent with reality.
Poetry-wise, Mary Oliver, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Stafford, and Naomi Shihab Nye are a few of my biggest influences.
6. What’s the last book you read that you really loved?
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It’s a surreal, beautiful, richly detailed fantasy love story.
I am a wildlife biologist, so I spend a lot of my time chasing animals around. I also like to draw and play musical instruments, neither well. I enjoy reading about anything from astronomy to comparative mythology. I love traveling and exploring and seeing the world.
And I pray, because I am continually astounded and humbled by the universe and I’m grateful to be one small part of it.
8. Advice for other writers?
Don’t give up. If you love to write, make time for that passion in your life. If you want to be published, don’t let rejection stop you. Listen with an open mind to suggestions, refine and improve your craft, and keep trying.
Most importantly, daydream and have fun.
9. Where can readers find your work?
My author website is in the works, but for now, you can find a few samples of my work through my page on Goodreads. Contact me there if you’re interested in reading more!
10. What’s your favorite thing about the furry fandom?
I am a relative newcomer to the furry fandom, so I have never been to any conventions, nor am I a member of any furry websites other than the FWG forum. But I would love to attend a convention someday and meet others who share my interest in anthropomorphic animal characters.
What I like so far about this fun, dynamic place is its vibrant creativity, its diversity, its inclusiveness and friendliness, and its wonderful ways of combining two of my favorite things – fantasy and animals.
Check out Amy Fontaine’s member bio here!