Sunday, February 9, 2014

WRITERS AFLOAT: An Interview with Amy Biddle, Sailor and Author of "The Atheist's Prayer"

Welcome to "Waterblogged: Writers Afloat" -- interviews with sailors who write and writers who sail. Read how my talented and interesting guests have managed to blend writing, sailing, family, work, and their passion for life at sea into fascinating stories, best-selling books, and successful writing careers.

Today's Writer Afloat is Amy Biddle. Her debut novel, The Atheist's Prayer, is scheduled for release by Perfect Edge Books on February 28th, and available for pre-order now on Amazon! Amy is also a book reviewer at Underground Book Reviews (

Author photo
Author Amy R. Biddle hard at work!
Book Cover
The Atheist's Prayer, available for pre-order NOW!

Welcome, Amy and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me. 
LYNNE: What came first, writing or sailing?

AMY: Writing, no contest. I’ve been writing since before I learned the alphabet. I used to read stories aloud from my scribbles. As for sailing, I’ve always loved the ocean but I grew up in the mountains and didn’t get many chances to get on the water until I was in high school.

LYNNE:  Tell us a little bit about how you came to both your sailing and writing life.

AMY:  When I was in high school, I enrolled in a semester-long alternative education program on a traditional, wooden schooner and it changed my life. I never thought I’d make a career out of it, but somehow I just couldn’t escape the pull of the ocean. I ended up going to college at Massachusetts Maritime Academy to get a license to work on big ships. My career has brought me to all corners of the globe, and has also afforded me the time to pursue my writing goals.

LYNNEWhen and where do you prefer to write?

AMY:  I travel so much there isn’t a particular when or where. My laptop goes with me wherever I go. In order to really get into a story, I need a few hours of alone time. I find a coffee shop, hole myself up in my room, or get comfortable in a hammock.

Most of The Atheist’s Prayer was written on boats. It started as a short story when I was working on a schooner and the rest of it I wrote on a research vessel. When I’m not traveling or working, I have an apartment in Cambridge, and I work at a desk in my room.

LYNNE:  Do you follow a schedule for writing? How do you juggle sailing, work, book reviews, and writing?

AMY:  For six months out of the year I spend every day on the bridge of a ship. Sometimes it’s hectic, and sometimes it’s excruciatingly slow. When I’m on watch I dream up crazy characters and impossible plot twists, then scribble notes on scraps of paper which eventually accumulate at the bottom of my dresser drawer. I used to spend a lot of time writing new material when I was at sea, but since I’ve gotten involved with Underground Book Reviews I can barely keep up with my reviews. Luckily, the two other co-founders, Brian and Katie, are able to pick up my slack when I’m at work.

The other six months out of the year I have all the free time in the world. If it weren’t for that time off, the first version of The Atheist’s Prayer would be sitting in draft form somewhere, unedited and forgotten.

LYNNEWhat's the most difficult part of being a writer afloat? The most rewarding?

AMY:  The biggest difficulty for me was breaking into the literary world without an English major or a single piece of published work. Underground Book Reviews helped immensely with that, but it was still a struggle.

Writing is my reward. When I’m on the ship, writing is my escape. When I’m off the ship, it’s my life. And of course, there’s community. Meeting other writers is a thrill. The people I work with at Underground Book Reviews helped me write The Atheist’s Prayer and have supported me through thick and thin. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help.

LYNNE:  Tell us about The Atheist's Prayer and when and where readers can buy it.

AMY:  The Atheist’s Prayer is about an alcoholic mall Santa and a coke-dealing stripper who get tangled up with a fairy-worshiping suicide cult. It’s dark, and it’s funny, and I like to think that there’s some meaning underneath the crass humor.

It’s being published by Perfect Edge Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing. The authors at Perfect Edge are a fantastic bunch, and in fact two of them will be reading with me for an event at the Harvard Coop in Cambridge, MA on March 27th.

LYNNE:  What else have you written or are you working on now?

AMY:  I’ve been writing some short stories, but I’m not ready to start a new novel until after The Atheist’s Prayer comes out. I’m putting all my efforts into the book release and Underground Book Reviews. But the ideas for my next novel are always brewing…

LYNNE:  Do you have a favorite character that you've written, and why?

AMY:  I put a little bit of myself into every character I write, and I make sure none of them are perfect. I love them all in their own right. It might be easy for readers to choose a favorite, but not me.

LYNNEWho is your favorite author and why?

AMY:  I have a lot of favorite books, but Kurt Vonnegut is by far my favorite author. He gets you laughing and thinking at the same time. It’s an underrated talent.

LYNNE:  What inspires you, both in your writing and in your sailing?

AMY:  I’m inspired by the world around me. Wherever I am- at sea, in the car, at a party, on a hike- I’m thinking about how I’d capture that scene in writing. How do I capture the essence of the experience? A description of a bus stop from the point of view of a weary traveler might be dirty and overcrowded. From the point of view of someone on their way to meet the love of their life it might be bustling with life and excitement. Experience is so subjective. It’s not what you write about, but how you write about it that really makes the impact.

LYNNELast question. Underground Book Reviews is a great showcase for new and emerging authors and gives you a great opportunity to get to know them and their experiences. Based on your reviews, interviews, and your own experience, what advice do you think new/emerging authors most need to hear?
AMY:  Passion, inspiration and obsession get a book written. Sweat, pain and perseverance get a book ready for publication. Editing is a bitch, but it’s also necessary. Be hungry for feedback, and be open to criticism. But in the end, remember that you are the master of your world. Consider advice with an open mind but don’t feel obligated to please everyone, because you won’t. Ever.

And learn how to sell yourself. Stand on that street corner and strut your stuff, because no one will notice you otherwise.


I urge you all to run over to Amazon and order a copy of The Atheist's Prayer. It's a thoroughly enjoyable read that had me laughing out loud. Funny and poignant, The Atheist's Prayer is a fast-paced, comic exploration of belief, disbelief, gullibility, and faith. Biddle seamlessly blends the lunacy of a fairy-worshipping cult with a cast of quirky characters searching for answers, usually in all the wrong places. Written with style and humor, The Atheist's Prayer will pull you in, make you laugh and think, and want more. I'm eagerly awaiting Amy's next novel!
You can read more by and about Amy's life as a sailing writer at her blogs and website:

You can pre-order The Atheist's Prayer HERE.


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