What Inspires You? Author Interview with Amy Croall, Author of A Cure For The Condition
Welcome to a new series called “What Inspires You? Today we hear from Amy Croall, author of A Cure For A Condition, and what inspired her novel.
“What you have is called PVC.”
I looked up at my doctor and swallowed the choking breath of emotion. I had what? What was PVC? Did that mean I had a block of pipe growing inside my chest? Was that the reason my heart had been kicking up a nervous frenzy inside my chest the past three days?
“What’s…PVC?” My normally shy voice quavered with anxiety.
My doctor shrugged. “Premature Ventricular Contractions. One of the ventricles in your heart beats before it’s supposed to.”
“Like a hiccup?” I asked.
He smiled. “Sure. And just like a hiccup, there’s nothing I can give you unless you feel pain. You just have to…learn to live with it.”
Where do I get my inspiration? It’s a question I’m asked quite often. As a writer, I could get my inspiration from many sources—sightseeing, people-watching, reading, and even my own breakfast sometimes. Well, to answer the question, my greatest inspirations come from two sources: my dreams and my reality.
A year ago, I had the above conversation with my doctor. It started innocently enough, with a couple of heart palpitations while sitting at my desk one day. For those of you who’ve never had palpitations in your heart before, they feel like a flutter in your chest. The best way I can describe it is like a muscle spasm in your heart. But those innocent little spasms soon turned into a full-blown, I-can’t-breathe, what-the-heck-is-wrong-with-me catastrophe. I started thinking of what my new husband would do if something happened to me. How would my parents react? What would I have to show after twenty-four years of life?
Okay, so maybe the condition I have isn’t necessarily life-threatening. And it usually happens in spurts—in the summertime when it’s hot. But it scared me and got me thinking just the same. Then, one night not long after, I had a dream about a young Princess who stumbled upon the murder of her mother. She was so afraid, so helpless, and so angry that I could literally feel each emotion gripping me. And when I woke up the next morning, I grabbed a pen and wrote down every detail.
Catherine of Cannary—as she became known to me—was born that day. She is strong, capable, independent, and wise for only seventeen years of age. But when she’s thrown into governance after her mother’s murder, she has no choice but to punish the one man she truly loves—Malcolm. Because she is forced to control everything on her own, keep her emotions in check, and endure events without the twitch of a muscle, she develops a weakness elsewhere. In her heart.
Because my “condition” isn’t at all dangerous by today’s standards, I set the period for the book in the Late Victorian Era. Now, before starting this project, I knew nothing about history. So, I turned to the man that inspired me to be what I am today, my father. He has a degree in history and knows more facts about American Presidents that any teacher I’ve ever had. He and I spent long phone conversations going over historical aspects of my novel. He is the biggest reason A Cure For The Condition is the best it can be.
That being said, history isn’t everything. The book must be engaging; the reader must love the characters. As I drafted Catherine, she became real to me. I know her as well as I know myself. And she led me to her ideal mate, Malcolm. Malcolm is the only man who can make Catherine blush—be it from passion or anger. But Malcolm was not as easy as Catherine. You see, Malcolm has secrets. And some of them, he won’t even share with me. But, perhaps he’d be willing to share with his readers, if he likes you enough.
Thinking back on that fateful day with my doctor, I can honestly say that this condition is one of the reasons I was pushed into writing. It gave me my first inspiration—my first idea that blossomed into a novel. Since then, I have written three sequels to it (the second of which is coming out in October 2012) and another Young Adult series. I’ve come a long way from that girl stricken with shyness and a messed up ventricle. I am now an author. Because of that, I am now a person, with a name, a job-title, and identity. I thought I knew who I was before I started writing, but stoking this creative flame has allowed me to become familiar with depths of knowledge and passion I hardly though I was capable of.
Because of this book, I am cured.
Amy Croall has been writing since the age of ten, helping her father write and illustrate short children’s stories about ducks and frogs playing in the swamp. She now lives with her husband in Northern California. To him, she dedicates all her success, because, without him, Malcolm and Catherine wouldn’t be here.