Amy L. Peterson became a stepmother in 1994 after unwittingly falling for a guy with four great kids, ages three, five 13 and 15. Since many other stories about step motherhood were as uplifting as lead balloons, Amy wrote From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds, a humorous memoir filled with over 50 tips. Consider Tip #22: A teenager can say, “I love you, I hate you, you’re cool, you suck,” in one breath to the same person. And mean every word. And Tip #38: A woman’s desire to get rid of junk is directly proportional to a man wanting to hang onto it.
At the same time Amy was getting used to becoming a stepmother, her husband, Mark was bringing home one pet after another. Something Furry Underfoot is Amy's humorous, heart-warming memoir about frogs, iguanas, hedgehogs, ferrets, hamsters, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs, dogs, mynah birds, and tropical fish Mark wanted, and, well, admittedly, Amy's the one that brought home the cat, a domestic duck, and a rabbit, but only because Mark encouraged her. As with her first book, Something Furry Underfoot includes lots of tips. Consider Tip #25: Most pets bought for children end up being cared for by the most responsible adult in the family. And Tip #26: Sometimes the person you hope will be the most responsible adult isn’t.
Amy also created four animal photo e-books for kids, each of which rhyme and are told from the animal's perspective. Goodnight, Big Wuzzy, is a ferret’s story about life with two dogs, a cat and three other ferrets. Purrkins, the Cat, is a cat’s perspective on a less than perfect life in a pampered house. Bumpkin Gets Big is about a domestic duck. And Dusty, the Angel Pup is about the very best guard dog in the world. Each photo e-book ends with a message to parents.
When Amy’s not tending to or writing about pets, she feeds dozens of birds and squirrels in her backyard, spends time outdoors, and photographs wildlife. She also enjoys traveling, especially if it involves fishing and having a go at catching more fish—or bigger fish—than Mark. Such adventures may be the making of her next book.
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
Both of my books—From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds and Something Furry Underfoot—are memoirs, so it was easiest to tell the stories in chronological order. That didn’t require too much planning on my part. My husband, however, did a lot of planning. Consider the planning involved in getting my sister to drive eight hours from St. Louis, Missouri, to Michigan just so our female hedgehog could mate with a male hedgehog from a different gene pool. Then consider the planning involved in getting rid of several litters of baby hedgehogs. Indeed, my husband is a good planner. I just wrote about it.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
Something Furry Underfoot ends with a few little blurbs told from some of the pets’ perspective, so you could say my characters took over at the end. I included the pets’ perspective mainly to show that no matter what I did to try to spoil all of the pets, some (especially the stray cat we took in) let me know that I still have a lot to learn.
What is your favourite food?
On week days, it’s anything my husband cooks that allows me to get back to writing and marketing quickly.
On the weekend, I seek good Mexican food with a tall glass of beer in a frosty mug complimented with a slice of lime.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I’m the regular-working-hours type of person, because I have a 9-5 type job. I do most of my writing after work and after everything else is done: dinner, some exercise of some kind, and all the critters are taken care of. Our critter count right now is one middle-aged cat, seven mostly older hamsters, two young mynah birds, two puppies, and a mouse we trapped in a live trap in our basement, released, and caught twice in our barbeque grill before taking him in and allowing him a plush retirement in an aquarium in our bathroom.
Where do you dream of travelling to and why?
I dream of going back to the Amazon River to go peacock bass fishing a second time. I was blessed with a trip in February 2013 and it was the most intense fishing trip I’ve been on—I spent 8 hours dragging these 6-inch lures with propellers on them across the water to attract a fish that hits harder than any other fish I’ve gone after. After about four days, my hands were all puffed up and yet I couldn’t wait to get out on the water. It was loads of fun.
Do distant places feature in your books?
Not yet. But I hope my next book will be about some of the places I’ve visited and how I tend to get into trouble everywhere I go. For example, I was scolded for touching a seahorse while scuba diving in Bonaire; pulled over by a park ranger in the dead of winter in Yellowstone National Park for driving my snowmobile too close to the center of the road; accused of teaching a baby dolphin to bite while snorkeling in Honduras; and frowned upon for feeding a Kea (a type of parrot) an apple while in New Zealand . . . near the “Do Not Feed Kea” sign. - oh, we remember the Keas very well when were in New Zealand, they were very keen on biting anything rubber, car tyres, windscreen wipers etc. :)
Do you listen to music while writing?
No, because I’m usually writing at the kitchen table, where I am already surrounded by pets in need of spoiling and where my cute, chatty husband likes to tell me about the fishing lures he just ordered and for which lake. It’s hard enough tuning them out; music would put me over the edge.
Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?
Something Furry Underfoot is about raising and falling for a whole bunch of pets my husband kept bringing home. He starts with a few frogs and iguanas, which, thankfully, find permanent homes elsewhere, but then the pets start coming to stay: one female hedgehog is joined by a male hedgehog and the first litter of babies are born a month later; one ferret get three ferret pals to play with; the first frou-frou dog gets a frou-frou puppy pal to play with; the stray cat develops a unique relationship with a rescue rabbit; and one of our female hamsters has eight babies and we keep all of them. And that’s only some of the pets. In every case, I’m right there trying to spoil each one. Something Furry Underfoot also includes 50 tips, mostly about pets but also about the spouses that love them. Some proceeds will benefit animal rescue organizations.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
Book marketing takes up as much time as writing a book and there’s usually nobody there to cheer you on. Some nights, it’s about as rewarding as vacuuming or going to the grocery store, both of which are also under-rated sports.
Is there anything you would do differently?
Buy a new computer with a “market-book” button on it that would automatically send my book to a marketing company so they could market my book while I start writing the next one. How nifty would that be? -oh, that would be wonderful, wouldn't it? Especially if it was free ;)
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
Erma Bombeck set a high standard for humor writing, and I set out at first to be like her. Yet as I wrote, I found I had a serious message underlying my writing. In the case of my first book, From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds, it’s that with the right guy, being a stepmom (to four kids in my case) is a great experience. In the case of Something Furry Underfoot, it’s that every animal has a story and I think our job as humans is to make their stories as good as possible.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
Opportunities like this here interview are great for self-published authors, so be sure to take advantage. And say thank you!
What are three words that describe you?
Funny, feisty, animal-lover.
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
Erma Bombeck. Hers is funny, journalistic writing that pulls the reader in.
Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book
“Want to know what it’s like living with a houseful of pets while still holding onto your sanity?
Then you’ve got to read Something Furry Underfoot, Amy Peterson’s warm and funny book about her experiences coping with and caring for all manner of animals. Not only will you get a lot of laughs but you’ll also pick up some valuable tips about co-existing with your own critters!” - Bob Tarte, author of Enslaved by Ducks, Kitty Cornered, and Fowl Weather.
List of previous books if any. From Zero to Four Kids in Thirty Seconds.
Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.
Amylpeterson.com is my web site. My books are at Amazon and Smashwords