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The Write Up: The Story Behind the StorytellersWhat does it mean to be a writer? What is the creative process? How do you publish your work? What inspires you to write? When did you become a writer?Each month screenwriter, novelist and performer Owen Egerton sits down with all sorts of writers—from playwrights to poets—to talk about their lives and careers.“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” — Ernest Hemingway“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” — Gustave Flaubert“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”― Jack KerouacSupport for The Write Up comes from Headwater’s School, providing a Montessori foundation leading to an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.

Amanda Eyre Ward on Gratitude, Compassion and 'The Same Sky'

Amanda Eyre Ward is not afraid.

In researching her first novel Sleep Toward Heaven, Amanda sat down with convicted murderers waiting on death row to explore their regrets and hopes. While writing her novel Forgive Me, Amanda traveled to South Africa to experience the ethnic tensions of Johannesburg first-hand

In this episode of The Write Up, we discuss her latest novel The Same Sky her penchant for telling stories of the voiceless and powerless, the importance of looking past political divides to tell the stories of real people and how exploring the lives of others has impacted her own own.

Ward has driven the roads of her characters, stepped into their thinking, and done the dark work of imagining the motivations of the most frightening of criminals.

Her travels and research provide her work with a rich authenticity. The details of her worlds - the smell of a waiting room, the feel of burning sand, the pang of thirst – ring true because she has either experienced them or taken efforts to know and speak with those who have.

As a novelist and short story writer, Amanda traces her characters’ physical journeys as she simultaneously maps out the surreptitious paths in her characters’ hearts, so much so that the Dallas Morning News crowned her “the reigning doyenne of 'dark secrets' literary fiction.”

But don’t expect Amanda Eyre Ward to be a brooding grief hunter. A conversation with Amanda is laced with laughter. Her enjoyment of the simple pleasures of friends, family, and a shared meal come through as clearly as her willingness to investigate tragedy. She is able to hold both life’s joys and horrors in her thinking and that balance is the heart of her writing.

Recently, when offered to an opportunity to travel to the border of Mexico to meet the detained children caught trying to illegally enter the United States, Amanda packed her bags.

The result of her time spent with those children is her latest novel, the beautiful and harrowing The Same Sky. The narrative follows the journey of a young girl and her brother from a poverty-stricken Honduran slum to the Texas border. Along the way she faces violence, hunger and unthinkable choices. She parallels this journey with the story of a young Austin barbecue restaurateur with dreams of beginning a family.

Amanda describes her writing as bearing witness to a tragedy many of us would rather turn away from. She describes how stories enable us to see the humanity behind the headlines. This drive has led to five novels and a collection of short stories. She’s been awarded the Violet Crown Book Award, the Elle Letters Readers' Prize, and found herself on numerous best books of the year lists.

Rebecca McInroy is an award-winning show creator, host, and executive producer for KUT, KUTX, and KUT.ORG.
Owen Egerton is an author, performer, and screenwriter. His works include the short story collection How Best to Avoid Dying, the Zach Scott produced play The Other Side of Sleep and several screenplays. As a screenwriter he has written for Warner Brothers, Fox, Disney and many others. He and his partners’ screenplay Bobbie Sue was ranked on the 2008 Blacklist before selling to Warner Brothers. A new paperback edition of his novel The Book of Harold, the Illegitimate Son of God will be released in 2012 by Soft Skull Press. Egerton has been honored as one of Austin’s top comic performers and voted Austin’s favorite author in 2007, 2008 and 2010 by the readers of the Austin Chronicle.
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