Amanda Skenandore's beautiful, heart-wrenching debut tackles the tragic white-run boarding schools for Native American children. It's my pleasure to share some more information about Amanda's story and her writing process.
What's the book about?
Amanda: The main character, Alma, is the only white child at the “savage-taming” boarding school run by her father. The school was intended to assimilate the children of neighboring Indian reservations. Instead, it robs them of everything they’d known—language, customs, even their names. As an adult Alma must reckon with the school’s destructive legacy; with love, racism, and betrayal; and the sacrifices made in the name of belonging.
"Between earth and sky" is a beautiful quote from the book. How did you decide to make that the title?
Amanda: I’m terrible with titles. The story went through two working titles before my agent and I settled upon BETWEEN EARTH AND SKY. I didn’t love the title initially and thought the publisher might change it, but my editor really liked it. Seeing it now on the cover of the book, I’m glad that’s the title we went with.
How long did it take you to write and publish the book?
Amanda: I began writing BETWEEN EARTH AND SKY in 2012. It took four months write the first draft and another four years to revise and edit. After I found an agent and publisher it was two years (almost to the day) that the book was released.
What was your favorite part of writing Between Earth and Sky?
Amanda: I love the research phase of writing because history, especially the quirky details of day-to-day life in bygone eras, fascinate me. I also really enjoy the revision process. It’s both creative and analytic. It’s where that lump of coal of a first draft becomes a diamond.
How do you find time to write?
Amanda: I work part-time as a registered nurse and unusually write on my days off. I like to have several hours of interrupted time to devote to my story. When I’m under deadline, however, I’ll go to a coffee shop or library after my shift at the hospital and write then too, even if just for a few hours.
Which books influenced you the most?
Amanda: A few come to mind: Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
And finally, what are you working on now?
Amanda: I’m working on a story about an undertaker’s assistant set in New Orleans during the waning months of post-Civil War Reconstruction.
Intrigued? Amanda is a talented writer, and you won't forget this moving story. Check out Between Earth and Sky here, or request it from your local library!
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