Winter of Beauty by Amy Hale Auker ... A Review and an Interview

I finished reading Winter of Beauty by Amy Hale Auker a few nights ago. As I closed the book and held it in my lap, I sat with barely open eyes relishing the characters that Amy created, each of them with a story and each as if they were your own circle of friends.  This is the story of people who live each day working hard and caring big in the shadow of a mountain called the Bride.
Of all the characters so vividly drawn, I found this story to be the story of Shiney, the ranch owner, who I fell in love with almost immediately. Shiney watches quietly but with a keen eye over her ranch and over those working for her and has an understanding heart for each of them. She struggles with the losses of the past, the hardships of the present and she struggles with what the future will bring as she gets older but ultimately she knows she would never leave the ranching life as hard as it may be. She is the ranch, she is the story, and she is very much like the Bride, a steadfast overseer.
Amy has a talent for bringing you to a quiet place where people live their lives simply and naturally and her use of language to create that place is exquisite, making you hungry for each coming paragraph, each coming sentence.
As an ex-ranch wife, I felt the raw authenticity of this story, memories flooding back to me as I could place a similar character and I could smile at the coming together of individuals who create a community and ultimately a family.
Thank you Amy!
For more about Amy and her previous book Rightful Place, pay a visit to her website.

Interview with the Author, Amy Hale Auker:
When did you openly call yourself a writer and feel comfortable doing so?
"I had an amazing experience in 2005 with my friend and editor Andy Wilkinson. He was teaching a creative process workshop in South Dakota and I had gone along for the experience. We were having lunch alone one afternoon and he asked me when I was going to begin to call myself a writer. The conversation stayed with me, and from then on, I did begin to privately taste the words "I am a writer," on the back of my tongue. That evolved over the next year to the point where I began to say so openly to others." When you were younger, did you ever think you would author books?
" I did dream of being an author someday, just as I dreamed of being a nurse a la Cherry Ames, a horse trainer, or a marine biologist. However, words are what come naturally to me, and in the mid 90s I began to seriously consider that I would write a whole book and see it in print."
What do you love most about writing?
"I love painting a whole world with words. I love the solitude of writing. I love it when the sparks start flying and the ideas are popping. And I love having a whole book-length manuscript, the raw figure, the form-able clay.... I love editing and shaping what is already on the page in some form."
Do you use any specific technology application?
"I love ink on paper. I love Word (and I type very fast). I have downloaded Scrivner, but don't think it is going to augment my process much. I think it is important to switch mediums from time to time... write in longhand, brainstorm on yellow legal pad, type on Word with a new font, make a visual collage with scissors and glue to match a character or bring an idea to life, even speak the words into a recorder."
Have you ever received a negative review and, if so, how did you handle it?
"I have not received a negative published review yet (fingers firmly crossed). However, when I finished my first (horrible) draft of Winter of Beauty, several of my beta readers hated it, including my husband. How did I handle it? I listened to what they had to say and I went back to work."
Describe your writing style?
"I am a very sensual writer... I want to bring my reader into the world I am creating... and to do that requires all the senses. I also am enamored with the metaphors in the natural world around us, and I can't help but make the land a character in the story."
You've written two books so far, which is your favorite and why?
"I have written two books.... true. But one was creative non-fiction and one was fiction, so apples and oranges. My favorite book is the one I am currently writing... it always is!"
In your current book, "Winter of Beauty", who is you favorite character and why? 
"My favorite character in Winter of Beauty is very easily Jody Neil. Jody captured my heart from the moment he walked onto the page, and I gave him Del as a gift... as a guide into manhood. And then, I continued to give him fathers because he needed them. In return, Jody gave me Shiney. I will always be in Jody Neil's debt because he gave me Sunshine Angel Lewis. After Beauty was born into the book, she quickly became a favorite for me even though she never speaks a word. Beauty is the powerhouse in the book, the one who changes so many lives, simply by arriving on the planet."

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